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"Darling, is it true you bathed in the blood of your enemies?"

"Pardon?"  They'd watched Bridget Jones last night, but Eames wasn't going to call attention to Arthur's choices in polite-noises.  He scrolled up and down through the email from Ariadne, partly cobbled together from some sort of email chain from an extractor who was woo-ing her.  Professionally, not personally, mind.  Apparently, his argument was that he and his point (Hoa Nguyen, delightful woman, shame about the annoying husband) were actually sane, whereas if Ariadne kept hanging about people like Arthur and Eames, her "very promising" career might get curtailed in the bloodiest of manners.  

"Ariadne just sent me the most charming list of things people say about you."


"That Korean architect who made a pass at you?  The one whose fingers I broke?"

"I remember the breaking.  Not so much him."

"As it should be, petal."  Eames scrutinizes his phone.  "He forwarded something from someone who says he actually saw you do it."

"Well, with a provenance like that, who am I to argue?"  Arthur's pause takes on a decidedly nostalgic air.  "Was this somewhere near New Delhi?  Because it wasn't bathing, exactly."


"So much as being bathed in."  At Eames' look, "who'd want to bathe in blood, anyway?  Makes a terrible mess."

"That vampire countess, for one."

"Had to be virgins, didn't it?  For the immortal beauty?"

Eames looks him up and down and murmurs, "apparently not."  That gets dimples from Arthur, just a flash of them.

Eames clucks.  "If this is what they say about you, I wonder what they say about me these days."

"Hmmmm."  Arthur contemplates.  "There are too many stories, and all of them disagree.  I figured you started most of them."

"Darling!  What a compliment.  I probably did."

They snuggle up together a little closer, but Eames still doesn't share the phone.  "Tell me your favorite story about me."

"My favorite isn't all that exciting, I just like the idea."

"Which is?"

"That you actually are something like 10th in line for the throne."

Eames laughs.  "I rather like the one about my being secretly Irish."

"Put those two together and it's even better."  Arthur sighs and shifts, hand drifting along Eames' thigh.  "Your gossip isn't so…exclusively violent as mine."

"Well, you do glower quite a bit more than I do, darling."

"Comes with the job.  Your gory gossip is impressive, though."  Arthur looks up, remembering.  "But the focus tends to be on your Jedi mind tricks instead of the actual gore."  He laces his fingers.  "There's the one about being found in a house with three dead and a bloody knife in your hand, and still talking your way past the police. Oh, but then there's one about strangling a pimp with his own intestines because he hit one of his girls in front of you."

"My.  I did that?"

"So they say.  Wire or rope works better, though.  You're a protector of women.  I, on the other hand -"

"Murdered your way out of a Defense Department installation without breaking a sweat,"  Eames reads.  "Yes.  I see the difference."

"You're the charming rogue.  Bates once told me you were a porn actor when you first started out, but I always assumed it was wishful thinking.  And then there was something about a Senator's wife, son, and daughter, at some DC party."

"Goodness," Eames says mildly.  "I do get around."

"Apparently you're a great seducer.  Whereas I'm a sociopathic killer."

Eames scrolls some more.  "Well.  I think I'll email her back and tell her that you denied everything but in a very shifty manner."

"You think I'm shifty?"

"Mm-hm."  He taps for a moment at the smartphone.  "There.  Let's see what the gossip mill says to that."

"Eames."  Arthur's voice sounded breathy, low and pleased in his ear.  "How romantic of you."