Arthur didn’t know why drunk Eames ended up being his responsibility. He didn’t know why the rest of the team had been so willing to just leave Eames.
“He’s a big boy,” Felix had said, shrugging, as he’d slunk out of the bar. “He can take care of himself.”
Arthur, appalled, had crossed Felix off his list of People Arthur Deigned to Work With, and rescued Eames from the ensuing bar fight, and bundled him into his car, and said, “If you throw up on my leather seats, I’ll kill you.”
“Ahthr,” slurred Eames, grabbing clumsily at Arthur’s tie.
Arthur choked and extracted his tie from Eames’s grasp.
Eames continued, “You won’t kill me.”
Arthur snorted. “What makes you so sure?”
“You just put my seat belt on me.”
Arthur, who hadn’t quite moved away after fastening the seat belt, frowned into Eames’s smug face. “Shut up,” he said, annoyed.
Eames smirked and bopped Arthur on the nose.
“Oh, my God,” said Arthur, rolling his eyes and straightening away and slamming the door. He should have left Eames to the bar fight. It would have served him right. “I should have left you to that bar fight,” he told Eames as he slid into the driver’s seat.
“I would have won,” said Eames. His head was tipped back and his eyes were closed.
“Yeah. I feel like all the bruises blooming on you tomorrow are going to beg to differ. Why the fuck would you have gotten into whatever ridiculous dick-measuring contest ended up with you in this state anyway?”
“I don’t require this state to win a dick-measuring contest,” Eames informed him loftily.
“So what’s this state, then? Just a special bonus for all of us?”
“Oh, my God,” said Eames suddenly, sitting up so abruptly that the seat belt caught and jerked against him.
“What?” Arthur asked in alarm, actually slamming the brakes on instinctively.
“That was a Whole Foods!” exclaimed Eames.
Arthur stared at him. Behind him a horn honked.
“What the fuck,” Eames complained. “We’re having a fucking important conversation. Fuck.” Eames was slapping at Arthur’s passenger door.
“What are you doing?”
He finally succeeded in getting the window open--apparently his objective--and shouted, “Bugger off!” out the window, following it with a two-finger salute.
“They’re going to think you’re sending them the peace sign,” Arthur said drily.
“Arthur, you are going the wrong way.” Eames tugged on his arm. “We have to go to Whole Foods.”
“To Whole Foods? What? Why?”
“Because I need something at Whole Foods! We need to stop there!”
“Stop tugging at my arm,” Arthur said, trying to shove Eames away.
“Please take me to Whole Foods,” begged Eames. “Please, please, please. I will never ask you for anything ever again if you take me to Whole Foods.”
“Really?” Arthur said skeptically.
“Really. I mean it.”
“Hmm.” Arthur swung the car around and headed back to Whole Foods.
Eames said joyfully, “Oh, thank you, Arthur, I could kiss you!”
“Not necessary,” Arthur said, as he parked the car. “Before you go, though.” He held up his cell phone. “Tell me how you’re never going to ask me for anything ever again.”
“Never,” Eames said. “Are you recording this?”
“I am definitely recording this because you are never going to remember this tomorrow and this is very important. So say very clearly how you are never going to ask me for anything ever again.”
Eames drunkenly reached out and held Arthur’s wrist, as if to keep the phone steady while actually making it bob all over the place. He spoke seriously into it. “I promise that I will never ask Arthur for anything ever again. Unless he wants me to ask. If he wants me to ask, Arthur would probably be amazed how very excellent I am at begging, in the right circumstances.” Then Eames licked his lips and winked and started to unbutton his shirt.
“Okay,” said Arthur, ending the recording and telling himself he definitely wasn’t going to use that for unspeakable purposes later. “That’s enough. What do you need to get at Whole Foods?”
“Whole Foods!” exclaimed Eames, and undid his seat belt and leaped out of the car.
Arthur sighed and followed him.
Eames grabbed a shopping cart.
Arthur said, “How much are you planning to buy here?”
“Just one thing,” Eames said, peering very closely at every piece of produce they were passing. “One very important, very rare ingredient. Very difficult to find. But Whole Foods has it. Whole Foods has everything. Like this. What is this?” Eames held up a cucumber.
“It’s a cucumber,” Arthur said.
“Is it really?” asked Eames, sounding fascinated. “Not what it looks like, is it?”
“Exactly what it looks like, because it is a cucumber.”
Eames tutted and shook his head and replaced the cucumber. “And what is this?” he asked, picking up a bell pepper.
“It’s a bell pepper,” Arthur said.
“Arthur, you know everything.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty amazing in the produce section.”
“That’s what I always say about you.”
“That I’m pretty amazing in the produce section?”
“No.” Eames leaned over and poked at some mushrooms. “I just say that you’re pretty amazing. Period. Full-stop. ‘Arthur is pretty amazing.’ That’s what I say.”
Arthur wished Eames would stop poking at produce and turn to look at him. He couldn’t really decide if Eames was being serious or not. He couldn’t believe that Eames was being serious. He knew he and Eames respected each other professionally but this seemed...not what he had expected Eames’s recommendation of him to be. “Do you?” he asked, thrown off-balance.
Eames looked at him incredulously. “Of course I do. This is very disturbing.” He lifted up a piece of ginger root.
“That’s ginger,” Arthur told him.
“Would you put this in your mouth? Because that makes me worry about you.”
“It’s edible, Eames.”
“Just because it’s in the produce section doesn’t mean it’s edible. I mean, some people think this is edible and it’s clearly not.” Eames brandished a stalk of Brussels sprouts.
“Those are Brussels sprouts.”
“That’s how Brussels sprouts come? Fascinating.”
“Eames, have you ever been in a grocery store before?”
“Yes,” Eames said, sounding indignant. “When I go shopping.”
Arthur decided to try to move this along. “Speaking of, what’s this rare ingredient you’re looking for here?”
“I’ll know it when I see it,” said Eames, still wandering through the produce.
“Maybe you could give me a hint,” Arthur suggested.
“A hint.” Eames considered. “It’s important,” he announced grandly. “That’s your hint: that it’s important.”
“That’s not such a great hint. Is it savory? Is it sweet?”
Eames looked distressed. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s...it’s white, and it is the nectar of life.”
Arthur regarded him flatly. “If this is some gross pick-up line you’re trying on me here...”
“Arthur, Arthur, Arthur,” said Eames, shaking his head. “If I try a pick-up line on you, you’ll know it, hmm?” Eames took a step closer to Arthur, crowding into his space, and they were standing much too close for the produce section of Whole Foods.
Arthur wanted to shove Eames away, and really should have, but the problem was Eames had stupidly beautiful eyes. Arthur had often thought that. Those eyes were close to the top of the list of what Arthur hated about Eames.
Eames leaned very close to Arthur, so close Arthur felt a little drunk himself off the alcohol on Eames’s breath, which made Arthur wrinkle his nose in reaction. Eames said in a soft voice, “Is that a cucumber in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”
“...What?” said Arthur.
“That’s a pick-up line I’m trying on you. Did it work?”
Arthur pushed him away, frowning. “No. That did not work. That was a terrible line.”
Eames shrugged. “Worth a try.” Then he wandered off, still pushing his stupid shopping cart.
Arthur took a deep breath of air that no longer smelled inescapably of Eames, found it a little steadying, and headed off in Eames’s wake.
“Eames,” Arthur said. “Seriously. Let’s just get you to bed and--”
Eames halted abruptly and shouted very loudly, “THERE IT IS.”
The other Whole Foods shoppers--not that there were a lot at this hour--gave them funny looks.
Arthur said to Eames, “Shh!”
“But, Arthur!” exclaimed Eames. “There it is!” And he bounded over to...
“Milk?” Arthur said. “We’re in Whole Foods right now so you can get milk?”
“Nectar of the gods,” said Eames, hoisting aloft his milk. “Very important.”
“Fine,” said Arthur, telling himself he didn’t care that Eames looked delighted beyond belief over his milk, telling himself it wasn’t a charming and irresistible look on him, telling himself he didn’t want to make Eames look like that a lot and not over milk. “Let’s buy it and go home.”
“We don’t have to buy it,” Eames said, still talking too loudly. “I can just steal it.”
“Yeah, no, you can’t,” said Arthur, and snagged the milk away from Eames.
“I’m a very good thief, Arthur,” said Eames, pouting extravagantly. “Don’t you think I’m a good thief?”
“I think you are an excellent thief but I like to save your services for things that aren’t milk in Whole Foods.”
Eames didn’t look appeased.
“I mean,” Arthur went on, “this wouldn’t be a challenge for a thief of your caliber.”
Eames brightened a little bit. “That’s true.”
“Exactly,” said Arthur, and paid for the milk and gave it to Eames.
“Excellent,” Eames said, and cradled the milk like it was a baby. “Now we need to get chocolate.”
“We just left the market,” Arthur pointed out. “We could have gotten the chocolate right there.”
“No, we need British chocolate. All of this American chocolate is rubbish. I weep for you that you’ve had to deal with non-British chocolate all of this time. Like I weep for you that you’ve had to deal with non-British cock.”
“Is that another line?” asked Arthur.
“No. Just fact.”
“Somehow I’ve managed to make do with non-British cock all this time. But I’ve had plenty of British chocolate.”
“Arthur,” Eames said, as they reached his car, “I really do despair over all of your terrible orgasms of the past.”
“Get in the car,” said Arthur.
Arthur, for reasons he didn’t examine, took Eames to his house instead of to Eames’s hotel room. It was a stupid move on his part, he thought, and yet, as he sat in the car in his garage and thought it over, he couldn’t bring himself to regret it. He really wanted to see Eames in his house. He had wanted it for ages. He wanted to bring Eames home with him, and he knew that, and this was crazy, but here they were.
Eames said, sounding shrewd, sounding sober, sounding no longer drunk, “This is your house.”
“Yeah,” Arthur said, and shut off his car. “Don’t read anything into this.”
Eames didn’t say anything. Which was worse than if Eames had been flippant and teasing. Eames took in Arthur’s house with eyes that seemed too steady for Arthur’s comfort.
“Here,” he said, turning the light on. “This is the guest room. I’ll get you some water, you should probably have some before bed.”
“No need to find me pajamas, darling,” Eames told him. “I sleep in the nude.”
“Great,” Arthur said. “Not information I needed to know.”
“Definitely information you needed to know,” Eames corrected him.
Arthur went to grab a couple of water bottles and when he arrived back in the guest room, Eames was standing at the window staring out it.
“Your house,” he said to Arthur, “has an incredible view. But I don’t know why I would ever have expected anything less. Because that’s how you are. You like...nice things. Beautiful things. The best things.”
Arthur looked at Eames looking out the window and said, his voice thick, “Yeah.”
Eames turned his head to look at him, pinning him with that penetrative gaze again. I thought you were drunk, Arthur wanted to say, feeling off-balance.
Eames said, “Why did you stay? At the bar.”
“I couldn’t leave you to deal with that by yourself,” said Arthur, trying to shrug.
Eames said, “Everyone else did.”
“They...” And then Arthur didn’t know what else to say. Everyone else had walked out. Because they didn’t care about Eames. They genuinely didn’t care what happened to Eames, one way or the other.
And Arthur did. Arthur cared a lot about what happened to Eames. Arthur wanted to make him beam over a stupid gallon of milk. Arthur wanted to make sure he was safe and sound under Arthur’s roof, sleeping off his stupidity. Arthur wanted to be there in the morning when he woke up and make sure he had painkillers and proper ice packs.
Arthur said instead, “Fuck them. I’m never working with them again.”
Eames grinned. “Are you going to have them killed?”
“I’m considering it.”
“Thank you, darling,” Eames said, his voice impossibly warm.
“Yeah,” said Arthur, embarrassed. “Whatever.”
“Tomorrow do I get to wake up under Arthur Roof? In Arthur Bed? In an Arthur House?”
“It’s not a fucking children’s book,” Arthur said.
“It better fucking not be,” said Eames. “But that’s a conversation for tomorrow. Tonight, I think I might have to go throw up.”
“Charming,” said Arthur. “This is really irresistible. These are really good lines.”
“I,” Eames said with a smile, “have never needed a line when it came to you.”
Which was fucking true, annoyingly enough, so Arthur said, “I hope you wake up with the world’s worst headache tomorrow.”
“No, you don’t,” said Eames.
It was true: he didn’t.