On the third day in Barcelona, Eames corners her in a room that shoots off of their workspace. “I’m not trying to embarrass you, Ari,” he says, quiet, “but you’re making a lot of rookie mistakes.”
Of course Eames isn’t trying to embarrass her, but she can feel herself flushing red all the same. Eames is so sly, he even knows all the tricks to soften the blow; he’s so damn good at people, with his aggressively poor posture and injecting her name too often when he needs her to keep it together. “I,” she flounders.
“Are you letting your education get in the way of your criminal career? Is it finals?”
Ariadne’s eyes flick through the doorway without her permission. Of course, it’s hardly socially appropriate to say I can’t focus on dream architecture because I can’t stop thinking about how much I want him to put my shoulder in his mouth . “It’s — I’m sorry,” she says, mouth clumsily headed in more than one direction.
Eames gives her a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Do you want to go under with me for ten minutes?”
“What? No!” Ariadne huffs.
“To spar, to clear your head,” Eames says, somehow both warm and reproving, “you saucy minx.”
Ariadne looks him up and down. “We’re not exactly in the same weight division.”
Eames grins at her.
Of course, Eames can be in any weight division, as he swiftly reminds her, as soon as they both have a needle in a vein.
“Oh, come on,” Ariadne says. “That’s just offensive.”
“The thing is,” Eames says, grinning catlike out of a girl’s face. She’s not so much small as she’s clearly a Lilliputian. “This is the size handicap I have to give myself, taking my ability to actually fight into account.”
“Alright,” she says, and puts her fists up.
Eames lets out a laugh. “Easy killer, I’m just pulling the other one. I just wanted to get you away from there so you’d tell me what’s got you nervous up there. Is Rivero giving you the heebies? Because honestly it’s just a wonky eye.”
“No!” Ariadne says, horrified. “He’s just a guy. I would never judge someone just because he can stare at both of us at the same time.”
“Alright, then,” Eames says, suddenly somber, and snapping back to his own form and face like an extended rubber band, sudden and a little shocking. “If you don’t have an excuse up there, I’m going to need you to put your big girl trousers on.”
“Last chance,” Eames says. “Anything I can help you with?”
“It’s Yusuf,” she blurts. She doesn’t want to be the silly girl on the team, and she probably wouldn’t say it to Arthur or Dom but she’s not doing this job with either of them; she’s working with Eames, who is both unprofessional friendly and completely unphased in all circumstances and who, against all odds, rarely talks down to her.
Eames’ eyes narrow a fraction. “Yusuf,” he says, putting out a hand to indicate his height. “Curls? Probably someone's mild-mannered alter ego? He’s the one freaking you out?”
“He’s not freaking me out,” Ariadne mumbles, toeing the ground.
“This is priceless, ” Eames is grinning, voice climbing higher with clear excitement. “Can I be the one to tell him?”
“No one is going to be the one to tell him,” she says, giving him a glare for good measure. “We’re going to get back to work, and I’m going to chew on ice and stop making mistakes.”
“If you’re making mistakes because of your sexual frustration,” Eames says, practically oozing amusement, “I don’t see how you’re going to go back in there and be any less distracted by sending you out there, in breathing distance of his pheromones.”
“Ugh,” Ariadne huffs, palming her own face. “This is not happening.”
“It’s hardly going to be a hardship for him to find out that a nubile young virgin is lusting after him.”
“What the fuck, Eames! Is that an actual sentence that just came out of your mouth? You can’t possibly think that’s true.”
Eames squints at her. “No, probably not, darling. But it’s part of the fantasy, you see.”
Ariadne punches him in the arm.
“That was terrible,” he says, frowning at her but barely looking down. “If that was an actual attempt, I think we are going to have to have actual sparring sessions. You're very weak.”
“That’s not the point, you dick,” she says, still angry.
“Alright, alright,” he says, with open palms. “I apologize for insinuating you are both nubile and virginal.”
Ariadne hits him again for good measure before time is up, but she's not sure if Eames even notices.
She goes back to her model, fixing the unintentional dead-ends and improving the one she actually wanted, keeping herself in check, practically running a scathing monologue in her own head reminding her to keep her shit together.
He's just a man. She doesn't even notice men all that often. In her undergrad she'd always insisted that it was a never sort of occurrence, but she's worked out some of her internalized biphobia by now.
Except, once she’s started noticing his steady-handed competence, she can’t unnotice it. Yusuf has commandeered a wall to put up a roll of butcher paper so he can do his calculations standing up because it “helps him think.” Sometimes, while doing said calculations, Yusuf chews on his bottom lip and Ariadne has a fleeting impulse to say, “no, let me. ”
It’s ridiculous, and eventually, she’s somewhat used to his proximity, warm and friendly but mostly keeping to himself. They both keep to themselves, but while Eames is out tailing the mark’s brother in law, and Rivero is tailing the actual mark for best kidnapping options, she finds herself sharing elbow room with him often.
She redesigns her model twice before the job is over, but mercifully, it finally ends and she is free to extract herself with no further shame.
“It was good working with you,” she tells Eames, sticking her hand out. “Thanks for giving me a call.”
Eames lifts her up into a hug, taking the opportunity to whisper into her ear: “Now’s your chance.”
He might be right; after he and Rivero leave, Yusuf takes longer to put away his own supplies, everything sliding into fitted impact foam. Seriously, for all she knows, he cut them himself with a hotwire.
She lingers in his periphery until he turns his attention to her. “Ah, Ariadne,” he says. He has a very attractive voice, she notices, not for the first time this week. “How can I be of service?”
Ariadne plucks at the hem of her sweatshirt. “I just wanted to tell you, I’m headed out. But it was really good working with you.”
Ari knows that she’s got wispy flyaway hairs and fading foundation and that her shirt is rumpled from the last fifteen or sixteen hours, but Yusuf at the end of the job looks remarkably like Yusuf in the morning. “Thank you,” he says, smiling in a reserved, secretive way. “It was a pleasure working with you, as well.”
The way his mouth curls around the word pleasure makes something in her blood kick. “Well,” she says, sticking out her hand.
Yusuf takes it in her own, less of a handshake and more of a warm hold. “I imagine you’ve got a flight to catch.”
“Not for a couple days,” she tells him. “I’ve never been in this part of Europe before. I thought I’d stick around for a few days.”
“In that case,” Yusuf says, with careful elocution, “would you like to have dinner with me?”
“Oh jeez,” she says, panicking around the edges, her hand suddenly feeling too hot in his. “Did Eames put you up to this? Did he mention my virginity?”
“Are you a virgin?” Yusuf asks, looking a bit alarmed around the eyes.
“No, it’s just that he’s an ass,” she says.
Yusuf lets go of her hand, laughing a little. “Sorry, for a second I thought you were trying to make a racial joke.”
“God, no!” Ariadne yelps, tripping over herself to explain. “No, earlier he and I — well. I accidentally told him I wanted to jump you and then, oh God, I didn’t mean to say that. I’m going to go drown myself in the hotel toilet now.” she rambles, “It’s been nice knowing you.”
Yusuf is grinning, beign but amused. “The offer still stands,” he says.
Ariadne may be a babbling idiot, but she’s not dead. Flushed with mortification, she nods. “Yes, please.”
Yusuf, fresh pressed, says, “Would you like to share a cab back to your hotel?”
“I didn’t mean dinner euphemistically,” he says.
“Oh,” she says, because she’d assumed he had, not initially, but when he’d offered to share a cab.
“I thought that you might want to change.”
Ariadne has already said oh, and she almost says it again before she catches herself. “I thought,” she says.
“I can see exactly what you thought,” Yusuf says, sliding closer to her, sleek like she’s never seen him. Surrounded by equipment, he’s confident, sure of himself, but now he’s something else entirely.
She can feel arousal swishing low in her belly as he moves in, before he even touches her, two fingers on the back of her wrist. Ariadne’s vision starts to go hazy, and she says, “What about after?”
His mouth curls, indulgent. “Eating after? It’s been a long day. Aren’t you hungry?”
“Starving,” Ariadne says, and pulls him close. His mouth meets hers with a quiet mobility, and in short order, she finds herself plastered against the front of him, one hand curled in the layers of his linen shirt, breathless.
Ariadne hasn’t encountered many situations where she is happy with the size of her — there are things she can’t lift and shelves she can’t get to — but when Yusuf picks her up, as if he hardly notices the heft of her, all the air goes from the room.
“Unf.” He brings her up, pressing her between his strength and the unyielding hotel door, his hands holding her up by her hips above the cold metal of the handle. “That’s new,” she says, haltingly.
“No,” Yusuf says, palms on the swell of her hips. “You’re so small.”
“I usually only sleep with women. I mean, mostly.”
“Oh,” Yusuf says, and Ariadne is mentally pleading don’t say anything gross because she’s really, really enjoying herself, and she’d hate to have to leave in a huff. His mouth turns up. “Happy to be of service.”
Relieved, she pulls his mouth back to hers. She’s still in the denim of her jeans, legs stretched wide to accommodate the breadth of him between them, and she’s hot and stifled, wants them off but doesn’t want to move, writhes against him to get some sort of pressure against her.
He moves one arm so he’s only supporting her with the other, and presses his knuckles, unerringly, exactly where she wants them, blunt pressure through the fabric. She makes an embarrassing noise, squirming in his arms. The strength of his seemingly effortless hold is intoxicating.
She has a lot of conflicting needs that all want to be catered to immediately: she wants him to keep his hand exactly where it is, she wants to get her jeans off, she wants to get him down to his skin and explore the panes of his ribcage with her mouth, she takes a thready breath and tries to imagine her priorities. It doesn’t take too long to decide.
“Off,” she mumbles, reaching for his shirt. “Off off off.”
“Might be a little difficult, like this,” Yusuf says.
“Bullshit,” she groans, still tugging, “you’re a genius.”
“I don’t know about genius,” Yusuf says, but he manages to negotiate himself out of his shirt without dislodging her, pinned between him and her hotel door.
“Case closed,” she says, stroking a pectoral reverently before she leans down to put her lips, feather soft against his neck, and growing in fervor when he tilts his head to give her access. She’s got one hand on his shoulder for balance, like she had before, but the feeling of his bare muscles under her hand is different than it had been separated by his shirt.
“This is nice,” she says, coming back to his mouth to kiss him again, one hand planted on his chest, thumbing a nipple idly.
“Very nice,” Yusuf agrees, bringing the flat of his forearm under her to adjust her, stabilizing her like a bar.
“Do you need to put me down?” Ariadne asks.
“No,” Yusuf says, breath making her hair tickle the side of her face. He jostles her with the arm he’s got under her, just to make a point. She lifts briefly, and then lands against him, legs open around his torso, giving her a quick, delicious jolt, she lets out a small, unintended whimper. “Would you like to be put down?” Yusuf asks.
“On the bed,” Ariadne says. “Please.”
“If you’re going to say please,” Yusuf says, and carries her over to it, grinning. He lowers her so slowly, knees on the bad and back bending to follow her in incremental angles, her legs wrapped around him like a vice, and he obediently follows her down, his glistening bare skin against her uni sweatshirt.
She arches beneath him, getting friction where she wants it most by hiking one of her legs up higher, rubbing herself against his hipbone and he grinds down against her in response, supporting himself on one elbow beside her ear. She turns her head to give him a quick nip at the meat before his elbow.
“None of that,” he says, playful, and goes to the hem of her sweatshirt, working it over her head.
“Ow,” she says, as her hair gets caught.
“Sorry,” Yusuf says, and spends a minute extricating it with competent, gentle fingers.
“You’re fine,” she says, finally down her outer layer, and wiggling her shoulders helpfully until he peels off her shirt, and her bra after that. “Ah,” she sighs, down to her skin. The hotel duvet beneath her is cool against the skin of her back.
“Beautiful,” he pronounces, looking down at her fondly. “But I forgot something. Up, up.”
“What,” she says, climbing off the bed.
“Sorry,” he says, “I definitely do not get involved with hotel blankets. The sheets get washed almost every day but there’s no way someone goes through the steps of doing the duvet all that often.”
Ariadne blinks at him. “Okay.”
“Sorry,” Yusuf says, but he doesn’t stop stripping the bed, depositing the duvet onto the floor.
“By all means,” she says.
“I know it’s not sexy to fuss about hotel blankets.”
“You’ve been doing an ace job so far,” she assures him, and makes a leap back onto the bed when he’s done, the mattress bouncing beneath her. “Now please get your pants off and get over here.”
She doesn’t have to ask him twice.
She is ridiculously charmed by his cock. It sounds silly, especially because she has actively written out very marginally bisexual any time she's been asked to indicate her sexuality (and that’s after her high school years of being pretty sure she was a lesbian plus one Teflon lust for Han Solo ) but lying here with him, she feels giddy. Weightless. She’s spent all week with him in her periphery braiding her nerves into a bundle, and here he is, sexy and sure of himself and just mysterious enough to make her tingle with anticipation.
She can’t spare any thoughts for what eighteen year old Ariadne would say to her if she could see her now, having such a gleeful romp.
After a considerable amount of friction, kissing and suckling, the slide of newly sweaty skin against skin, he moves his mouth from her, and rests his head briefly against her hipbone. He swipes with his thumb, making a thoughtful noise, and she feels embarrassed, knowing what’s coming. You don’t have to explain it to women, and she’s been spoiled having not been with a man in a year and a half.
“Ari,” he says, his hand still resting there, still. He seems to consider his words carefully. “Is there something specific that would help here or would you like me to run downstairs and pick up a lubricant?”
She keeps being impressed with him, and she’s just glad the actual words vaginal dryness didn’t come out of his mouth, because she would have had to excuse herself to the ensuite to drown herself in the toilet.
She pushes at his shoulder to get him on his side. “Give me a minute, I should be able to get there,” she says. "If not I can go down there myself."
“Take your time,” he says, but she can see his cock, engorged and leaking, and takes it in hand. She guides it between her own legs, letting it smack against her clitoris with a blunt, fat pressure, leans into it, grinds against it.
“Oh,” Yusuf says, eyes alight. With both of them on their sides, they're looking right at each other, indulgent and open. Ariadne uses it like a toy for a few minutes, letting her head fall back, closing her eyes against the rising sounds coming from Yusuf.
“I’ll give you this back in a minute,” she tells him in fits and stops.
“You’re making great use of it,” he reassures her.
“I really just need a few minutes,” she says, “of blunt pressure,” she says. “But not too early because, you know, I only get so wet, you know. Hate to — waste it.”
“They should put that in the user’s manual,” Yusuf says, moving back. His gorgeous, unyielding cock slips from her grip and she groans with the loss. He shushes her before giving her a smacking kiss, pushing her from her side to her back. He places the heel of her palm right where she needs it and she arches up into his hand, just his hand pressing hard against her. It doesn’t take long before she’s slick, slick enough for her to let her knee fall to the side.
“Please,” she gasps.
As Ariadne has already discovered, Yusuf does not need to be told twice. He gets a condom on so fast she hardly has time to see it, moves into her, presses down against her, his pubic bone grinding down against her, rhythm steady from the beginning. Ariadne wraps her legs around him, a steady stream of nonsense rising in her. Above her, Yusuf punctuated his breathing by swearing.
Afterwards, it is so very satisfying she fails to relinquish her hold on him, all four limbs like some rost of sloth. “Stay,” she mumbles.
“You’ll get squashed,” he says, from beside her head. “And the condom. Needs to get tied off.”
“Implant, unless you're worried about something else,” she says sleepily. “Just squash me for a five minute nap.”
She realizes after that he was probably exerting a bit of effort to stay where she wanted him for five minutes that crawled into ten but not actually exerting enough pressure to bother her, because she felt deliciously crushed without ever actually having a problem breathing.
Which, if you ask her, is just fucking thoughtful, like everything else about him . Hands-down the best experience she’s ever had with a man, and maybe that’s the thing, that last time she was having sex with boys and Yusuf is just an adult. She doesn’t think so — just because the bar was set low doesn’t mean he wasn’t spectacular.
Anyways, she feels spectacular. She’s definitely not done with him, if he doesn’t have any objections. She means to bring it up, but she dozes instead, sweaty and sore and sated.
“I don’t have one night stands,” she says, behaving indecorously with her room-service pasta when it comes and he wakes her to eat it. Somehow she’s ended up back in a bra, which is convenient when a noodle lands on that instead of a nipple.
Yusuf rifles through his satchel, making an assenting noise. Ariadne tried not to ogle the expanse of his chest while he pulls out what looks like a day planner. “I’ve got a blue sky tomorrow,” Yusuf says.
She finagles him back into the hotel bed, sheets terribly rumpled and comforter on the floor, and puts her hands through his hair. It's so soft. He waves her off with very little conviction. “You’ll leave it fluffy,” he grouses.
“Blue sky tomorrow,” she reminds him, but waits for him to lean back into her in consent before she puts her hands back. Somewhere in the back of her mind, a checklist is forming.