They’re alone in Arthur’s office when Eames decides to try his luck.
Arthur is talking about— well, something or another. Something to do with the progress of Eames' training, most likely, and Eames really ought to be listening; it’s concerning his future, after all. What he’s actually doing, however, is pondering what Arthur would find more appealing: Eames sitting where he is now - maybe slouching a little more, knees splayed apart - or Eames perched presumptuously on the edge of Arthur's desk.
The desk, he decides after some careful deliberation. Slouching would probably just earn him a mild, but pointed rebuke on how sitting like that is ungentlemanly.
“Your test scores are even better than I expected, and your performance in field assignments is just as good,” Arthur is saying, leaning back in his chair and ticking points off on his fingers.
Eames thinks about those long fingers wrapped around his cock, stroking him to completion, and that brief, vivid fantasy is enough to spur him into action. He gets up without preamble and rounds Arthur’s desk, fingers trailing along the glossy wood.
Arthur stops talking, and raises his eyebrows in question.
Eames gives him a quick, thoroughly unprofessional smile in answer, and follows it up with a longer, equally unprofessional appreciative look.
He doesn’t have to fake it. Arthur may be something like twice Eames’ age, but he’s unbelievably fit, all slim lines and compact muscle encased in bespoke tailoring, and Eames’ fingers itch at the thought of peeling Arthur out of those layers.
He settles himself on the edge of Arthur's desk, his body angled toward Arthur in blatant display.
Arthur's gaze flicks up and down the length of Eames' body, lingering for a moment or two on the curve of his arse. It isn't particularly overt - there's probably a rule somewhere in the Kingsman code of conduct about how gentlemen never ogle - but Eames is observant, and his time with Kingsman has only made him more so.
There's a beat, and then Arthur looks up at him, saying, very evenly: “What’re you doing, Mr. Eames?”
Eames doesn’t bother feigning innocence. He highly doubts that innocence is what gets Arthur going, anyway. Instead, he says, “Do you really have to ask?” and leans back, bracing his hands against the desk.
Arthur glances down again - lingering on the length of Eames’ thighs this time - and Eames grins.
Just a kiss will do for now, he decides.
It isn’t as if he and Arthur will be going anywhere any time soon. Eames still has three months of training left to go - assuming he isn’t washed out before then - and Arthur’s out of commission until his shoulder heals properly.
So it’s with supreme confidence that they’ll have all the time in the world that Eames pushes himself forward, wraps his fingers around Arthur’s tie, and kisses him.
Arthur’s mouth is soft, warm, and the kiss would be almost sweet, except Arthur opens his mouth on an almost-gasp, and the kiss turns wet. Eames leans into it, grinning, his mind already skipping ahead, and it takes several long seconds before his brain registers that Arthur is suddenly no longer reciprocating. At all.
Puzzled - he hasn’t read this wrong, has he? Eames is sure he hasn’t - Eames eases up on the pressure, and Arthur takes that as an opportunity to push him back gently, one hand pressed against Eames’ chest, until Eames is sitting upright again.
Eames’ brow furrows. “What—”
“Nice try,” Arthur says, pulling his hand away. His gaze is trained on some point past Eames’ shoulder, and his mouth is twisted up in a way that’s probably meant to be a smirk, but looks more like a pained grimace. “Not very subtle, though. And if you wanted to make it more believable—”
“—you probably should’ve laid the groundwork a bit more than with just one look. The look itself was very good, though, I’ll give you that.”
It takes Eames several long moments to process that. “You—” he blinks. “Are you seriously giving me a performance review on picking up?”
Arthur smiles dryly. “I’ve been at this job for decades,” he says. “You’re not the first recruit to have gotten... ideas, let’s say, after completing their neuro-linguistic programming training. Trust me, if you go back to your barracks now, you’ll find the rest of the recruits trying out techniques on one another.”
He probably means for that to be kindly, but, to Eames’ ears, it mostly comes across as terribly patronising; Eames is gripped by the sudden urge to do something childish, like push Arthur out of his chair. He reins the urge in by gripping the edge on Arthur’s desk with both hands.
“Arthur,” he says slowly, “do you think I was just messing about or something? Trying it on because you just happened to be around?”
There’s a short pause.
“Yes?” Arthur says. He at least has the grace to look sheepish, but that’s little comfort, seeing as— “Because as far as seduction attempts go, that was pretty lazy. If you were being assessed, it probably would’ve been scored as average.”
“Average?” Eames echoes, outraged. “How was that average? You were into it. You looked at—” he gestures up and down at himself.
“Well, I’m not blind,” Arthur says, sounding a touch defensive. “I’m just—” he stops, wincing. “Actually, nevermind.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Look— can I offer you some advice?”
Eames stares. “Are you being serious? God, you are being serious,” he says, when Arthur’s expression remains unchanged. “Do you offer constructive criticism to everyone you turn down?”
“No, Eames, you’re just special,” Arthur says, deadpan.
Despite himself, Eames grins. “Alright,” he says, “what’s this advice you’ve got for me, then?”
“The thing is,” Arthur says, his tone already starting to edge into lecture territory, “the people we target—”
“The supervillains, you mean,” Eames says, just to see Arthur pull a face at the word.
“The people we target,” Arthur repeats, pointedly, “aren’t small trade. They’ll have money, they’ll have power— some of them might have even won the genetic lottery, alongside the actual lottery. That almost guarantees that they’re going to be very accustomed to having the young and the gorgeous throwing themselves at them.”
“Arthur, you flatterer.”
Arthur rolls his eyes, then continues: “What that means is, in a honeypot mission, you can’t rely solely on your looks. You’ll risk failure if you do. You have to be able to offer them something more, something no one else can give them. Or, at least, you have to be able to offer the illusion of that.”
Eames squints at him. “What’s your point, exactly?”
“My point,” Arthur says, as he stands up and gestures for Eames to get off his desk, “is that you need to try harder.” He ushers Eames to the door, and opens it - a clear dismissal. “My point is that can do a hell of a lot better than that half-assed attempt you made before, and we both know it.”
“Wait,” Eames says, pausing in the doorway, “are you telling me I need to try harder to get into your pants?”
Something akin to panic flashes across Arthur’s face.
“That was just general fucking advice,” he says, practically shoving Eames out into the hallway. It doesn’t escape Eames’ notice that Arthur didn’t say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. “Christ, go test out your techniques on the other recruits like a normal person. Work each other into a frenzy and have an orgy, even.”
Eames raises his eyebrows. “Was that last bit also advice, or is that what happened with your cohort?”
Arthur slams the door shut in his face.
“Huh,” Eames says.
It isn’t the first time Arthur has told Eames he can do better.
In fact, the very first time Arthur told Eames he could do better was a mere half hour after he got Eames released from a holding cell, all charges of vehicular theft mysteriously dropped.
“Tell me something, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said, after they were well away from the police station, “where exactly do you see this car theft career of yours going?”
“I dunno,” Eames said, then added, deliberately misunderstanding: “The chop shop, maybe?”
“And in the long run?”
Eames made a show of mulling that question over. “...still the chop shop?” he suggested finally. He gave Arthur his best empty-headed, simple stare. “I mean, I don’t exactly have the resources to take these cars apart myself, so—”
“The way I see it,” Arthur said, pointedly, “you keep going the way you are, you’re going to end up serving a long stint in jail before you’re thirty.”
Eames, already accustomed to this spiel from teachers, well-intentioned youth workers and, later, coppers trying to scare him straight, shrugged.
Arthur caught him by the elbow, forcing Eames to stop walking and look at him.
“You can do so much better than this,” Arthur said, eyes serious and intent, with an inexplicable amount of conviction. “You’re perceptive, you’re adaptable, you’re intelligent— intelligent enough to realise you’re squandering your talents, I think.”
His scrutiny felt like a vivisection, and Eames pulled his arm away, disconcerted, so he could jam his hands into his pockets. “The last time you saw me, I was— what? Eleven, twelve years old?”
“Eleven,” Arthur confirmed. “Just before you were packed off to boarding school. The first one, anyway.”
“Right,” Eames said. “In other words, ages ago. How would you know what sort of potential I’ve got now?” He regretted the words the instant they left his mouth. They sounded pathetic, like he was fishing for compliments.
That regret was soon forgotten, however, as Arthur said:
“I know what sort of potential you have because I’ve read your files.”
“Wow,” Eames said, recoiling. “That isn’t scary in the slightest, of course.”
“And because I’ve read those files,” Arthur went on, unbothered, “I know how well you did in school. How well you were doing in university and the Officer Training Corps.” The until you dropped out remained unspoken. There was a pause, in which Arthur seemed to be waiting for Eames to say something, and then: “Your father was very proud of your accomplishments.”
Well. That was the first he’d ever heard of it. And wasn’t that just like the old bastard, to keep a sentiment like that to himself, all the way to his grave?
Eames pursed his mouth, abruptly more irritated than disconcerted, and said, “What’s the point of going over all that? Like I said, it was ages ago.” He squinted at Arthur. “Why’re you even here? Did my mum put you up to this?”
Eames’ mum had never been one for lectures, but he wouldn’t put it past her to fob the task off onto somebody else.
“No, she didn’t,” Arthur said. “All she wanted was for me to get you out of that holding cell.” He hooked his umbrella over his arm and made a show of adjusting his cufflinks. “I’m here because I want to offer you an opportunity.”
“Like a job opportunity?”
“Yes,” Arthur said, his mouth quirking up into an odd little smile. “Exactly like a job opportunity.”
He told Eames about Kingsman. He told Eames that Eames’ father - recently departed, and not that dearly missed (by Eames, at least) - had been a secret agent. And then he invited Eames to take a crack at taking his father’s place.
“You’re meant for better and greater things than stealing cars and pickpocketing tourists, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said, at the conclusion of his spiel. “If you weren’t so hellbent on sabotaging yourself all the time, you might have realised that already.”
“Better and greater things?” Eames repeated. He was reeling - part of him captivated by the allure of being a secret agent (a spy!) - but not so much that he’d let a comment like that slide. “That’s incredibly condescending of you. Did it ever occur to you that I might enjoy stealing cars and pickpocketing tourists?”
“I’m certain you do,” Arthur replied. “But I’m also certain it won’t be enough for you, in the long run. The choice is yours, Mr. Eames. You can spend the rest of your racking up criminal charges and hurtling towards incarceration, if you like. Or you can take this opportunity I’m offering you, and put your talents to use in the service of something that’s actually worthwhile.”
Eames tilted his head, studying Arthur carefully. In all honesty, part of him was tempted to tell Arthur ‘no’. Arthur’s condescension - his presumption - was galling. Except—
Except there was that conviction in Arthur’s voice, in his eyes. That baffling certainty that Eames could - would, Arthur’s conviction seemed to say - achieve great things.
It’d been a long time since anyone had had that sort of faith in Eames.
“I might be interested,” Eames said, with studied nonchalance. It wouldn’t do to seem too eager, after all. “It depends.”
Arthur raised an eyebrow. “On?”
“Well,” Eames said, giving Arthur a blatant, bordering on offensive, once over, “what’re the rules on fraternisation between agents?”
Arthur didn’t glare, or stiffen up, or shut down. He only smiled faintly, and returned Eames’ once over with poorly veiled interest. “Is that really all it would take to sway your mind?”
“Would it really bother you if that was all it took to sway my mind?” Eames stepped closer, getting into Arthur’s personal space. Arthur allowed it, and Eames didn’t think it was his imagination that Arthur even tilted his body toward Eames’.
“I suppose not,” Arthur said. And then he blinked, shaking his head. The smile slipped away, replaced by something more formal and polite. “There are no rules regarding fraternisation between agents,” he said, straightening up. “But I’d advise against basing major life decisions on the whims of your libido.”
Eames shrugged. “It’s always worked out fine for James Bond,” he said, and grinned when Arthur snorted.
That had set the tone for their relationship.
Try harder, Arthur says. Do better, I know you can.
And Eames does.
Making a show of grumbling and complaining, calling Arthur an overly demanding, condescending wanker, and needling at him all the while— but, nevertheless, doing better.
It’s quite possible, Eames reflects, that he has a complex.
He upgrades that to ‘highly possible’ when he holes himself up in the computer lab, the following evening, researching and reviewing footage - some of it decades old - of Arthur’s assorted honeypot missions.
He does so with more clinical than prurient interest.
Do better, Arthur said, and Eames will - as soon as he determines what, in Arthur’s opinion, qualifies as better. Besides, the footage, preserved as it is for trainees to study, consistently cuts out before anything truly indecent happens. And, having been recorded via Arthur’s surveillance glasses, the bulk of the footage is taken up by Arthur’s marks, not Arthur. Eames catches the odd glimpse of him, every now and then, whenever Arthur happens to pass a reflective surface, but those glimpses add to little more than a handful of minutes.
In his earliest missions, he looks startlingly, jarringly young - no grey at his temples, and his face unlined. Eames pauses the footage, just once, to scrutinise Arthur in the reflection of a serving dish, then moves on. That isn’t the Arthur he knows. The image doesn’t interest him much, beyond the aesthetic.
What does interest him, however, is Arthur’s technique.
Or, rather, the lack of it.
Eames rewatches the half dozen or so missions again, just to be sure. He is seeing things from Arthur’s point of view, after all; perhaps he missed something subtle— but no.
No, he didn’t miss anything, because there Arthur is: young and fresh faced, on a mission in Budapest in 1991, using absolutely nothing but his looks to draw his target in.
“Arthur, you bloody hypocrite,” Eames says to the screen, gleefully.
He skips through the rest of the mission files, at double speed now, for the sake of completion. He’s no longer giving the task his full attention - mind already busy sorting out the best way to poke fun at Arthur - which is why it takes him half a minute to notice when Arthur’s modus operandi— changes.
Attention recaptured, Eames slows the footage back to normal speed.
The accompanying mission report says Arthur is in Sydney, in 2009. The target is one Robert Fischer, heir to Fischer-Morrow, a company that is, ostensibly, energy conglomerate, but is, in reality, a front for Fischer Senior’s terrorist syndicate (which, Arthur’s report seems peevish to note, has no known official name).
Fischer, in the mission report photos, is unfairly handsome, if somewhat severe-looking, with sharp cheekbones and cold blue eyes. Eames can well imagine the man reclining in a chair, stroking a long-haired white cat, as he watches his enemies being fed to a tank full of sharks.
What he probably wouldn’t have imagined - not straight off the bat, anyway - was Fischer on his knees, hands bound behind his back, gazing up at— well, gazing up at Arthur, of course, but thanks to Arthur’s surveillance glasses, it looks more like Fischer is gazing straight at Eames, pupils blown and mouth slack, before he lowers his head—
To lick Arthur’s shoe, tongue dragging slowly over the polished leather.
“Christ,” Eames says, with a startled laugh. Honestly, some of the things that get people going—
His laughter dries up a moment later, when Arthur speaks.
“Look at you,” Arthur says, his voice rough and low. “You could get off just by doing this, couldn’t you?”
It’s— a marked contrast to the missions that had come before.
In all prior missions, Arthur seemed to have an air of aloofness to him - an almost disdainful amusement as he went about luring his marks. Here, with Fischer, though— Arthur actually sounds affected as he watches Fischer lave his shoe with his tongue, which is just— well—
“Well, fuck me,” Eames says to himself, blinking.
If Eames was ever asked to sum up his Kingsman experience in ten words or less, he’d describe it as ‘constantly having the rug pulled out from under your feet’.
Everything in Kingsman is something else (a fact that shouldn’t be that surprising, perhaps, considering they’re meant to be a covert spy agency); every innocuous situation masks a test, and all the actual tests turn out to be secretly testing something else. Even Arthur’s bloody umbrella is a multi-tool offensive weapon in disguise.
Eames considers the possibility that this situation is another one of those tests, then discards it. He considers the possibility of this being a test set by Arthur alone, then discards that, as well. It’s far too convoluted for blunt, direct Arthur, who tends to cut a surprisingly straight path through the loops and corkscrew maneuvers of the espionage world.
Which leaves Eames with a few other possibilities: either what he saw in the mission footage is was a persona constructed to appeal to Fischer, or it’s what Arthur is actually into, or—
Or, option two-point-five: it’s a little bit of both.
If it’s the former, then Eames is in no worse a position than he was before he embarked on this borderline voyeuristic venture. If it’s the latter… well, Eames isn’t so pessimistic as to say he’s buggered (metaphorically), but this isn’t quite what he expected.
Eames frowns, thinking.
He’s never really asked much from his bed partners, other than to enjoy their bodies and have his enjoyed in return. He’s never thought much about indulging in kink, either - it always seemed to be an extra layer of effort to achieve the same result, and Eames has never a believer in exerting more effort than necessary.
Now that Eames has a probable indicator of which direction Arthur’s predilections actually lie, perhaps it’s time he gave it some thought.
What Eames really wants - has always wanted, even from the very beginning - is to see Arthur ruffled, knocked off balance. And if that means getting down on his knees rather than pushing Arthur into that position— well. Eames can work with that. After all, he’ll hardly make a good Kingsman agent if he can’t switch tactics on the fly.
“You’re so full of shit,” Eames declares cheerfully, as he walks into Arthur’s office, unannounced.
Arthur looks up from his laptop, and frowns.
“I know, I know,” Eames says, closing the door behind himself. “Walking in without knocking and waiting to be invited is rude and unbefitting of a gentleman.”
Arthur’s frown slips into a wry smile. “At least you’ve progressed to the self-correction stage now.” He leans back in his seat, arms folded across his chest. “And why am I supposedly full of shit?”
Eames snorts, then lowers his voice in a mimicry of Arthur’s. “‘You have to be able to offer them something more, or at least the illusion of it’. Pfft. I watched all your honeypot stings. You didn’t follow your own advice very much.”
There’s a brief pause, and then, to Eames’ surprise, Arthur gives him a sheepish grin, and shrugs.
“Yes,” Arthur says, still grinning. “You’re right. I didn’t. This is one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do’ things. It took me a while to learn that you couldn’t coast by on looks alone. I didn’t want you to make the same mistake.”
“Or,” Eames says slowly, stepping forward, “you were just saying whatever came into your head, to get me out of here faster.”
Arthur leans back in his seat, so he can keep Eames in his line of sight, as Eames circles his desk. “And why would I do that?”
“I don’t know,” Eames says, perching on the edge, just like he had the other day. “You tell me.”
Arthur’s smile is disbelieving. “You aren’t actually trying the same thing again, are you?”
“Seemed to be working alright last time,” Eames says, shifting, and, sure enough, that gets him another one of Arthur’s furtive glances at his arse. Arthur isn't nearly as subtle as he seems to think he is. “But if you want something different—”
Eames slides off the desk and sinks to his knees, so he’s bracketed neatly by Arthur’s thighs.
He remains frozen as Eames wraps a hand around his ankle, and after a brief scrutiny - it’s an alright foot, as far as feet go, Eames supposes - and a fleeting moment of hesitation, Eames lifts Arthur’s foot and presses a kiss to it, a mimicry of Fischer.
“Is this more to your liking, sir?” Eames asks.
His tone too flippant to be taken as honest subservience, but, then again, maybe Arthur likes the bratty sort. He’s certainly never tried that hard to dissuade Eames, whenever Eames was being less than appropriate.
Arthur makes an odd sort of noise, and Eames glances up, just in time to see Arthur’s expression shift from confusion to unabashed interest, before finally settling on chagrined.
“This,” Arthur says, wincing, pulling his foot out of Eames’ grip, “is not a good idea.”
“Right,” Eames says, undeterred. “It is, in fact, a great idea. One might even go so far as to say say it’s an amazing idea.”
“It’s an incredibly inappropriate idea, is what it is.”
“Inappropriate?” Eames repeats, scoffing, looking up at Arthur. “Now, hang on— when I asked you if there were any rules against fraternisation between agents, you said no.” He heaves a melodramatic sigh. “Don’t tell me you were lying. My poor heart won’t be able to take the disappointment.”
“I wasn’t lying,” Arthur says. “There aren’t any rules against fraternisation between agents. But the operative word is agents, and you’re not an agent yet.”
Yet, Eames notes fondly. Such faith, Arthur. “So the only problem is that I’m not an agent?”
Arthur’s wince returns, more pronounced. “No,” he says. “That’s not the only problem. It’s— Jesus, Eames, will you get up off the fucking floor?”
Eames does, eyebrow raised. “You’re not going to give me some dross about how you’re too old for me, are you?” He peers at Arthur, taking in his pursed mouth and sudden frown. “Wait— you were going to say that? My God, Arthur, that’s condescending, even for you.”
“I’m practically twice your age,” Arthur says, grimacing like it pains him to say it. “That’s not something to be taken lightly.”
“And yet, here I am, taking it lightly.” Eames waves a hand. “Haven’t you heard? Age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel.”
“Trite aphorisms duly noted, thank you,” Arthur says, with something a little like his usual dry humour. Said humour then vanishes, as Arthur sighs and scrubs at his face, pushing his glasses to his forehead. “Eames— listen. It’s not just the fact that I’m older than you. It’s also the fact that I’m the one who recruited you, and anything like this—” Arthur gestures back and forth between them rather than say what ‘this’ is, “—could be misconstrued as undue bias.”
“You recruited me, you’re sponsoring my candidacy— you’re already biased when it comes me,” Eames replies easily. “That’s why Merlin’s in charge of training and testing, not you. If I pass, I’ll pass fairly. No one’s going to accuse you of favouritism, Arthur, never fear.” He leans back, hands braced against Arthur’s desk. “Any other objections you need me to knock over?”
Arthur glances up at the ceiling like he’s hoping for divine intervention.
“I’ll be the equivalent of your superior officer, if you make it to agent,” he says, looking back at Eames. “There’s a power differential—”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Eames says, and, inexplicably, Arthur winces. “It doesn’t have to be. You know, the ancient Greeks had this system, right, where an older man would—”
“Oh, so now you decide to whip out your public school education?” Arthur grumbles, and Eames snickers.
“I didn’t learn about pederasty in ancient Greece at school,” he says. “And I don’t know if you’ve realised, Arthur, but you’ve just given me three excuses—”
“—and none of them were ‘I’m not interested’.”
Arthur’s mouth thins. “Well, Jesus, Eames,” he says, sounding supremely frustrated, “maybe I’m just not ready to surrender to that stage of my life where I start having sex with b— with men half my age.”
The laugh bursts out of Eames before he can stop it.
“Sorry,” he says, tamping down on his grin as Arthur narrows his eyes at him. “It’s just—” it’s just it’s hilarious, “—technically, you’ve already surrendered to it, haven’t you? You slept with Fischer, and he was only a few years older than I am, at the time.”
“That was for a mission, and, at the time, he was eight years older than you are,” Arthur bites out. “Also, in case you didn’t notice, I haven’t taken on any more missions with targets who are— like Fischer.”
“Because it makes you feel old?”
“Ugh,” Arthur says, rolling his eyes, and Eames’ grin threatens to emerge again. Arthur has never seemed quite so human as he does right now. “Why didn’t you just take my advice and go chase the other recruits? I assure you, they’re just as sex-starved as you are.”
“I haven’t been hitting on you because I’m starved for sex,” Eames says. Arthur raises a skeptical eyebrow. “Alright, I am, a bit. That really isn’t the reason, though." Eames takes a deep breath, then fixes Arthur with his best, most solemn stare. “The thing is— I’m into older men,” he says. “Always have been. I think it’s because I lacked a positive male role model in my life, growing up, and—”
“Oh God,” Arthur says, glancing at the window like he’s considering leaping out of it. They’re only on the second floor, though. The worst he’d probably end up with is shattered ankles, to go with that injured shoulder.
Eames’ solemn demeanour cracks. “Not appealing?”
“Not—?” Arthur blinks. “What the fuck, Eames,” he says, as Eames lets out a fresh peal of laughter.
“You’ve got to stop making it so fun to fuck with you,” Eames says, mock-scolding, and pats Arthur on the hand. “It only encourages me.”
“So glad to be a source of amusement,” Arthur says sourly, and that won’t do. Poking fun at Arthur is… well, fun, but actually pissing him off is less so.
Eames considers his options.
He doubts Arthur would fall for some dross about seeming younger (and, if he did, Eames is quite certain his respect for Arthur would fall accordingly). He also doubts that simply telling Arthur the unvarnished truth - that Eames thinks he’s fit, that Eames genuinely likes him, and that he thinks they’d have a pretty good time in bed - is likely to sway Arthur. Arthur could have all the under-twenty-five year olds he wanted, except Arthur apparently views that as the first step onto a downward slide that ends in becoming the creepy old man who leers at sixth formers at bus stops.
“Look, do you want to know the truth?” Eames asks, leaning forward, projecting an air of honest earnestness, which Arthur greets with a certain measure of suspicion.
“Are you even capable of telling the truth?” Arthur wonders.
“Pathological lying would be a terrible trait for a spy,” Eames replies. “You see, Arthur, the thing is— I’ve shagged a fair number of people my age already, right? And there’s a lot of fucking about involved. Literally and metaphorically.” He half-grins when Arthur makes a reluctantly amused sound.“And I’m not saying that’s bad or anything, but it does get old, after a while.” That was a poor choice of words, perhaps, so Eames hastens to add: “It makes me want something different.”
“Different how?” Arthur asks, wary.
“Maybe I’d like to sleep with someone who already knows what he likes,” Eames says. “Maybe I’d like to sleep with someone who could show me a few things I haven’t tried before.”
He edges closer, and Arthur lets him, tilting his head back so he can continue looking Eames in the eye.It feels odd to be practically looming over Arthur, though, so Eames leans down, bracing his hands on the armrests of Arthur’s chair. It has the added benefit of bringing their faces closer together, too, and so he sees it, when Arthur wavers, his resolve crumbling, banked desire coming to the fore.
Arthur shifts, moves forward, until his mouth is almost brushing Eames’, and then—
“Yes?” Arthur says, his tone brusque.
“Yes?” he repeats, doubtful, because that isn’t quite the lust-filled capitulation he was aiming for.
Arthur’s eyes are focused on some point beyond Eames, but he glances at Eames after few seconds, his expression sheepish.
“Yes, he’s here,” Arthur says, obviously not to talking to Eames. He taps his glasses and mouths Merlin. “He’s— of course. Sure.” Arthur fiddles with his glasses, then refocuses his gaze on Eames. “Merlin wants you to report to the barracks.”
“Bullshit he does,” Eames says, scoffing. “You’re trying to throw me out again.”
“I am not, and you’re wasting time.” Arthur pulls away - Eames can practically see him pulling his defenses up again, like a medieval fortress under siege - and points at the door. “Go, Eames.”
It turns out Eames really is wanted in the barracks.
So are Mal and Yusuf, which means it’s time for another round of skills testing. This time, their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to attend a party in London, to locate, seduce and bed their assigned target, which, after months of involuntary celibacy, sounds like a gift rather than a test. But—
There’s got to be a catch, Eames thinks. This is Kingsman. There’s always a bloody catch.
The catch reveals itself a few moments later, when Mal turns the photo of her target around, and Yusuf follows suit.
“Well, this will be interesting,” Eames says, holding up the photo of his target - who is identical to everyone else’s.
Eames goes to a party in London.
He locates his - and everyone else’s - target. He flirts with her, while imbibing more champagne than is probably advisable, considering it’s been more than half a year since he’s had a drink, thanks to the alcohol-free Kingsman training facilities, and—
Fantastic, Eames thinks, as his vision wavers, and his limbs grow heavy. Absolutely fucking fantastic. He’s going to the first recruit in the history of Kingsman to wash out of training because he partook in a bit too much free champagne.
The last coherent thought he has, before the fog swallows his brain up entirely, is: Arthur is going to be so disappointed.
Eames passes out in a party in London, and wakes up in a tunnel, tied to a set of train tracks.
This is not ideal.
Even less ideal is the shady figure who sidles up to him, grinning discomfortingly, brandishing a knife the length of Eames’ forearm. When the figure pauses beneath the dim, sickly glow of a safety light, Eames belatedly recognises him as one of the waiters who’d been circulating at the party, platter of (damnable) free champagne on hand.
The questions who are you? and where the hell am I? are on the tip of Eames’ tongue, but Eames swallows them down in favour of saying, “What do you want?” because the man obviously hasn’t tied Eames down and threatened him with a knife for nothing.
Instead of answering, the waiter-turned-psychopath raises the knife higher and waggles it, saying, “This could save your life.”
Eames doesn’t get it, doesn’t comprehend his meaning, until a warm, stinking gust of air blasts down from one end of the tunnel, accompanied by the rushing rumble of an approaching train. The vibration travels along the tracks that Eames is bound to, and Eames jerks, swearing, thrashing against his bindings like he’s been shocked with a livewire as the horrifying realisation sets in.
His heartbeat is thundering in his ears, and, combined with the growing rumble of the train, he almost misses it when the nutjob-formerly-known-as-a-waiter says, “My employers have only two questions they'd like you to answer. One: who or what is Kingsman? And two: who is Arthur Cohen?”
That’s not his last name, Eames almost says - because he’s seen Arthur’s driving license (after nicking Arthur's wallet) - then bites it back.
His non-answer makes his captor scowl, and the man takes a step back, knife held out from his side, obviously preparing to toss it aside.
“One more chance,” he says, raising his voice to be heard over the noise of the oncoming train. “What is Kingsman, and who the hell is Arthur?”
The train is so close now that Eames can feel the vibration shuddering up his spine, through his chest, and it hits him - really hits him - that he’s going to die here if he doesn’t do something.
The answers are on the tip of his tongue. The answers are the only things that will get him out of this fucking nightmare, because Eames can’t hear the distinctive screech-squeal of train brakes, which means the driver hasn’t spotted him - or, worse yet, is in on this soon-to-be murder - which means Eames' only chance of survival is getting that knife, which means—
As one of Eames’ headmasters had been so fond of saying, whenever Eames was brought before him, the truth will set you free.
The truth will also condemn Arthur and the rest of Kingsman to interrogation, torture, or death, and Eames’ stomach swoops sickeningly.
“I—” Eames croaks. It’s comes out so quietly that he thinks there’s no possible way the waiter from hell could’ve heard him, but the man moves closer, expression tense and alert.
“Yes?” he says, urging.
“I’ve got two answers for you,” Eames says, as loud as he can manage, and flips the waiter the two-finger salute.
The glare of the train's headlights floods the tunnel, blindingly bright, and Eames squeezes his eyes shut. The rumbling builds and builds, until it reaches a deafening roar, until Eames' head is filled with nothing but noise, and then the train is rushing over him, too fast for Eames to even feel pain.
At least, that's what Eames thinks happened.
He feels himself rising up, being lifted, and holy shit, is he actually ascending to heaven? Eames had kind of figured himself as being marked for the realm of fire and brimstone and pointy pitchforks, but—
There's a distinctly unheavenly ka-chunk-chunk of something metallic unlocking and then locking back into place.
Eames opens his eyes.
He's still in the tunnel, still tied to the track, and still in one piece.
"What," Eames says. He turns his head at the crunch of footsteps over gravel, and finds himself looking up at Arthur,who's inexplicably dressed in the waiter's trenchcoat and clutching that giant knife.
“Congratulations,” Arthur says, smiling warmly. “You passed.”
Eames stares. His heart is still going like the clappers, and he thinks there might be something wrong with his hearing. "What?"
"You passed," Arthur says again, enunciating clearly. He gestures toward the end of the tunnel. In the absence of blinding headlights, Eames can now see the giant, obtrusive surveillance camera mounted in the tunnel ceiling.
A weak, unsteady laugh punches out of Eames' lungs at the realisation. "Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me."
A test. Of course. Kingsman and their crazy mindfuck tests.
"You did well," Arthur says, a little stilted, but sincere. "I'm proud of you.”
Eames feels his ears go warm. Yeah, he thinks, a little despairing, it's definitely a complex.
Arthur sits down on the tracks beside Eames, paying no mind to the dirt he's getting on his clothes. "I'm not going to lie, though. You had me pretty worried for a while there."
Eames cranes his head to look Arthur in the face. "Oh?"
"It seemed like you were going give everything up," Arthur says, with an apologetic shrug. "Ah," Eames says. He laughs again, not so shaky this time, although his ears are still ringing from the roar of the train passing overhead. "Well, since we're being honest— I considered it." As much as anyone can consider anything when there's a fucking train coming towards them. "I mean, I didn't exactly want to die."
Arthur tilts his head. "But?"
"But—" Eames licks his lips. "It would've meant fucking you and everyone else in Kingsman over, yeah? I've done some pretty shitty things, Arthur, but I'd like to think I'm not that shitty."
There's a huff of laughter from Arthur. "Right," he says. "I know what you mean."
Eames raises an eyebrow, slightly skeptical. "Do you?"
"Mhm," Arthur says. He leans in and says, confidingly, "I went through the exact same thought process. I didn't want to die, but fuck living as a traitor. Besides, what guarantee did I have that they wouldn't just kill me anyway, after I told them everything?"
"That's right, you can't trust criminals," Eames says, nodding mock-gravely. He's rewarded by a dimpled grin.
Arthur finishes cutting through the bindings, then rises, holding a hand out to help Eames to his feet. “Come on. I think you deserve a drink after tonight’s ordeal.”
“Not champagne,” Eames says quickly.
“Not champagne,” Arthur agrees, nodding.
Arthur has a mews house in South Kensington, paid for, he says, by Kingsman.
“Christ,” Eames says, looking around Arthur’s home office. “You should’ve just told me I’d get free housing for the rest of my life. I would’ve signed up in a heartbeat.”
“But you seemed so keen to find out if there were any rules forbidding fraternisation between agents,” Arthur says, deadpan, as he hands Eames his drink: a dry martini. Eames cracks a grin.
And he doesn’t quite intend to say it - he had, in fact, been meaning to tell Arthur that he does know how to take a ‘no’, so if Arthur isn’t interested, all he has to do is say the word - but Eames’ brain won’t let him ignore a James Bond reference, especially one offered up by Arthur.
“You know, in the movies, Bond usually gets a shag after doing something daring. I think I deserve it after nearly dying.”
He expects Arthur to roll his eyes, or say something like, ‘You weren’t in any danger of dying,’ or at least let out a long-suffering sigh as the spectre of his seeming mid-life crisis rears its head again.
Instead, Arthur nods thoughtfully, like Eames had just finished outlining a clever, foolproof plan to infiltrate a supervillain's lair, and says, “Mm, you’re probably right.”
“Wait— what?” Eames says. He gives his martini a suspicious look, even though he hasn’t taken a sip yet, then turns that look on Arthur.
Arthur gazes back, his expression dead fucking serious.
Eames sets his untouched martini down on a side table, and approaches Arthur in a manner not dissimilar to a snake handler approaching a cobra. “Was it— do you have a fetish for people almost dying or something? The danger?”
Arthur huffs out a laugh, leaning his hip against his desk as he watches Eames come nearer. “What? No.” He pauses. “Well, I like danger, I suppose. But not other people being in danger.”
Eames comes to a stop, the tips of his shoes almost touching Arthur’s. “What happened to—” how had Arthur put it again? “What happened to not being ready to surrender to that stage of your life, et cetera, et cetera?”
Arthur shrugs, his thin, mobile mouth curving into a smile. “What can I say? You made a very convincing argument as to why it might not be an entirely bad thing.” There’s another pause, one with a more hesitant quality to it. “That is— if you were being genuine about it.”
It takes Eames a moment to comprehend Arthur’s meaning, because he thought he’d always been rather genuine about wanting to sleep with Arthur, but, no— that’s not what Arthur is referring to.
Maybe I’d like to sleep with someone who could show me a few things I haven’t tried before, Eames had said.
“It was genuine,” Eames says. “Unless—” and now it’s his turn to hesitate. “...do you want me to kiss your shoes again?”
Arthur’s brow furrows. “Why’re you fixated on that?” he asks, baffled. “Do you want to kiss them?”
“Not really,” Eames admits.
“Then no, I don’t want you to.” Arthur hooks a finger into the zipper of Eames’ jacket, but he doesn’t yank the zip open, or use it to tug Eames closer. Still, there’s intent behind that gesture, Eames’ body (which, up until now, had been mired in surprise) starts taking a definite interest in things.
“You aren’t going to tie me up, are you?” Eames says, because while his body is on board, his brain and his mouth seem to have other ideas. He’s never actually been tied up before, and— “Only, I think I’m a bit off that, same as I’m off champagne.”
“Nothing you don’t want,” Arthur says, voice low and reassuring. “I’m not interested in coercion.” His gaze is trained on Eames’ mouth, but, after a long moment, he lifts his eyes to meet Eames’. “But Eames— what do you want?”
Eames wonders if Arthur expects him to detail a litany of deep-seated, possibly unexplored kinks. If he is, he’s going to have to find a way to deal with the disappointment, because Eames finds himself reverting to one of his earliest fantasies, and saying, “I think I’d like you to blow me.”
Arthur blinks, startled. But a moment later, he smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Alright,” he says lightly, with no trace of disappointment. “I can do that.”
When Eames first thought about fucking Arthur, it had been exactly that: him fucking Arthur.
It’d be a pushy kind of sex, he figured, as Eames did his level best to make Arthur lose control, and Arthur worked just as hard to hang onto that control. Maybe he’d knock Arthur down and pin him during an impromptu sparring session, or maybe he’d push Arthur to his knees, when Arthur was in one of those moods where he’d forget himself (or, at least, forget Kingsman’s oddly stuffy rules regarding behaviour and decorum), and respond to Eames’ casual flirting rather than look reluctantly pained.
The fantasy doesn’t quite match up with the reality.
There are the little things that hardly ever feature in fantasies, like how - when Arthur pulls Eames into a kiss - their teeth clack somewhat painfully, and how the edge of Arthur's glasses dig against Eames’ cheekbone until Eames yanks them off.
And then there are bigger things, like how Arthur does all the pushing, even though he’s the one who’ll be going down on his knees. He backs Eames up, all the way to his bedroom, and when Eames’ legs bump up against the mattress, gives a gentle-firm shove that sends Eames sprawling across the bed.
Eames had imagined that Arthur would be good at giving head, though, and - after Arthur divests him of his trousers and underwear - is more than pleased that he imagined correctly.
Arthur isn't prim, or neat, or delicate about it. He sucks Eames down, wet and messy and filthy, like the very best blowjobs are, until Eames is arching up and panting, open mouthed, head pressing back into the mattress. He can feel his orgasm building - a low, hot pressure - and grits his teeth. His thighs tense beneath Arthur's hands—
And then Arthur pulls away with a wet pop.
Eames jerks his head up, shoves himself back up onto his elbows so he can give Arthur a wild-eyed what the fuck? stare.
“That’s a little quick,” Arthur says, with a grin, before adding, gratifyingly, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’d like to draw it out more.” Then, with wry solicitousness: “If that’s alright by you?”
Eames flops back against the bed, gesturing in a hopefully mock-magnanimous manner to match Arthur’s wryness. “Be my guest.”
Arthur does - seals his mouth tight around Eames, sucks and pushes Eames right to the brink, waiting for Eames’ body to go taut, before backing off. And then he does it again, a frustrating, good-but-not-enough tease, and so fucking hot that Eames feels likes he’s gone half-mad from it.
“Arthur, Arthur—” he says, barely aware of what he’s saying until he’s saying it, “I want— fuck, I want you to fuck me.”
Because surely even Arthur can't keep up tease if he's balls deep in Eames’ arse. And right now, Eames wants - no, needs - to come.
He thinks he hears Arthur says, “You’re sure?”, and spends a few seconds being irrationally irritated - what does Arthur think he is, some wide-eyed blushing virgin? - before his sex-addled brain processes that Arthur actually said, “You’re sure you can last?”
“And if I can’t?” Eames asks, with a slight frown.
Arthur laughs quietly. “I’m not going to dock points from your scorecard, if that’s what you’re worried about.” A beat. “Not that there is a scorecard.” He gets one knee up onto the bed, and his voice drops to a lower, grittier register. “I was just curious to see if you could.”
It’s said in the same tone Arthur employs when he’s exhorting Eames to do better, to put that extra bit of effort in, and Eames has no fucking idea why that does it for him, but it does.
“Don’t know,” Eames manages to say, cock twitching, because, Christ, Arthur’s voice. He wraps his fist around the base of his cock, squeezing, staving off orgasm. “Give it a shot.”
Arthur approaches fingering Eames open in the same manner he’d initially given head: steady, with no let up, and - thank God - no backing off. He goes from one slicked-up finger, to two, then three, and then he’s nudging Eames’ legs further apart, the blunt, condom-covered head of his cock brushing Eames’ hole, and pushing in, in.
They’ve just established a rhythm - Arthur bracing himself over Eames, Eames rolling his hips up to meet Arthur’s, pleasure zinging through every line of his body - when Arthur lets out a distinctly unsexy noise; it’s something like a cross between a grunt and an argh, and then Arthur half-topples over, pulling out of Eames gracelessly.
“Oh, fucking fuck,” Eames gasps. He rolls onto his side to look at Arthur, see what he’s playing at this time, and finds Arthur sitting against the headboard with a pained grimace on his face, hunched in on himself a little, and—
Oh, Eames thinks. Arthur’s shoulder. And then he thinks: well… shit.
They could pull one another off, he supposes. But after all that effort, a spot of mutual masturbation feels a bit— if not disappointing, then definitely anti-climactic.
This never happens to Bond, Eames thinks, glumly.
And then he has a bright spark of an idea, and shuffles over to Arthur, knees on either side of Arthur’s thighs.
“You alright?” Eames asks, eyeing Arthur closely. Arthur’s face is still pinched with pain, but not overly so, and - very important to note - he's still hard.
“Mhm.” Arthur nods, and looks up at Eames (after an appropriately admiring glance at Eames’ reddened cock, the head wet and glossy). “Feeling somewhat ridiculous, though.”
“Don’t,” Eames says. “No need.” He grips Arthur's cock with one hand, steadies it, then sinks down. He isn’t entirely sure if the resultant groan came from him or Arthur.
In this position, Eames has both the leverage and weight advantage, and he has no qualms about using either, is ready to set a pace that’s just this side of punishing— but he doesn’t. He waits, until Arthur winds his fingers through Eames’ hair, his grip firm, and says, “Okay. Go on.”
Only then does Eames move, grinding down while Arthur thrusts up, and it’s stupidly arousing, fucking this way, with Arthur clothed and Eames completely naked, the fine fabric of Arthur’s trousers drags against Eames’ sensitised skin.
The new position seems to be doing something for Arthur, too, because Arthur is talking. Nothing lurid; no stern, degrading edge to his voice like Eames remembers from the Fischer mission - just murmured encouragement and praise that becomes increasingly disjointed, interspersed with gasps.
Eames is torn between wanting to draw it out - to see how far he can push Arthur, just like Arthur’s been pushing at him - and wanting to come, right fucking now.
In the end, the decision is made for him, when Arthur clenches his hand on Eames’ hip, his thrusts losing their smoothness and rhythm, turning jerky, and he groans. It’s that little sound, of all things,that tips Eames over the edge that he's been skirting for what feels like an age, and he comes, his body going lax as his orgasm rolls through him.
Afterwards, relaxed and satiated, sprawled out on Arthur’s rumpled bed, Eames eventually becomes aware of Arthur combing fingers through his hair. Actually combing it, arranging Eames’ hair into a neat side parting that Eames is about twenty years too young for.
Eames casts a suspicious glance at Arthur. “You’re not trying to make me look older, are you?”
Arthur rolls his eyes. “I’m not delusional. The oldest you could pass for is being in your late twenties, maybe.” He clears his throat, and pulls his hand away from Eames’ hair. “That being said, I really am too old for you, you know.”
Eames reaches up and pats Arthur’s uninjured shoulder. “It’s alright. The truth is, I’m secretly a gerontophiliac— although I guess it’s not so secret now, since I’ve just told you— ow,” he says, batting away the pillow that Arthur had just hit him with.
“God, you’re a little bastard,” Arthur grumbles, with no apparent heat, as he retrieves the fallen pillow. “You never take anything seriously, do you?”
Eames gives him an unrepentant grin. “I take you seriously.”
“No, I do,” Eames says. “I was willing to let myself be run over by a fucking train for you. Well— mostly for Kingsman,” he amends, “which is an organisation you happen to be a part of.” He sits back. “Just because I don’t take your mid—”
“Don’t say it.”
“Just because I don’t take your mid-life crisis seriously,” Eames continues, doggedly, “it doesn’t mean I don’t take you seriously.”
“Ugh,” Arthur says, shaking his head, but there’s a smile playing about his mouth, too. He flops back against his pillows, and pokes and prods at Eames, until Eames lifts up and lets Arthur pull the blanket back. Then he pokes and prods at Eames some more, until Eames gets underneath said blanket with him.
“What, no second round?” Eames asks cheerily.
“Not all of us have non-existent refractory periods granted by youth,” Arthur replies, closing his eyes firmly. “Go to sleep, Eames. We’re getting up early tomorrow.”
“You have an appointment with the tailor in the morning.” Arthur gestures in the general direction of his wardrobe, without opening his eyes. “For a Kingsman suit.”
Eames raises his eyebrows. “I haven’t finished training yet.”
Arthur opens his eyes to mere slits, and smiles. “You’ll make it to agent,” he says, with a simple confidence that renders Eames momentarily speechless. “Of that, I have no doubt. Now go to sleep.”
Eames does, grinning.