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In Our Line Of Work

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“Fuck, bleeding buggering shitting fuck.” 

Eames is in a fair amount of pain, pain that doesn’t have a hope of being numbed by hospital-strength painkillers anytime soon, so he’s planning on getting as much swearing as he can out of the way before Arthur gets huffy.

"Shit god ow, fucking ow-"

“Eames for god’s sake you’re not helping yourself here -” and well, there goes that then.

 Eames groans, leans back on the seat and tries not to move. Up front, Brandon pulls hard on the wheel, sending their jeep squealing out of the car park and onto the road, Eames skidding across the seat and barely staying on.

“Jesus,” he mutters, and closes his eyes against the wave of pain, so intense he’s seeing stars.

“Don’t be such a child, it barely touched you.” Eames thinks Arthur would sound a hell of a lot more impressive if his voice wasn’t shaking quite so much.

“Piss off Arthur, I know you got hit too.”

Arthur scoffs. “Yeah, and you don’t see me rolling around whining about it do you?”

Eames half-laughs, half-sobs and dares to blink open his eyes, glance down at his side where his dress-shirt is wet and clammy with blood.

“If you stop putting pressure on that thing so help me I’ll-“

“Alright, alright, c’mon give me a break here pet,” Eames protests and glances up at where Arthur is crouched in the footwell by his side, back pressed against Brandon's seat. He’s unhealthily pale, but more from shock than blood loss Eames suspects (hopes).

“Y’all alright back there?” Brandon calls over his shoulder, dropping the nasal German accent that’s been pissing Eames off for weeks on end for his standard Texan fare as easy as you please.

“Oh we’re peachy,” Arthur grits through his teeth, and Eames grins, because if Arthur still has the capacity for sarcasm he’s got to be alright.

He shuts his eyes again as another shuddering pulse of pain takes hold of him, rippling through his body, and Jesus, is it him or is the car spinning much more wildly than it should be-

“Eames, Eames- fucking- don’t pass out on me –“ 

“Christ, but it hurts Arthur,” he mumbles. Or at least he thinks he does.

“Yeah I know, jackass, I was there when you stepped in front of a fucking rifle.” 

“Yeah but it was a rifle s’was aimed a’you.” Oh now slurring can’t be good.

Arthur makes a pained noise, and Eames feels a hand, sticky and reeking of iron, land on his clavicle. He thinks it’s meant to be a caress, or at the very least a reassuring touch, but as it is Arthur just sort of pats him feebly.

“I know, fuck, you’re such an idiot, I honestly don't know how you've made it through life so far when you're so completely irresponsible and-“

“How much blood are we talking back there?” Brandon hollers, and the car swerves hard again in a screech of tyres.

“Just fucking drive!” Arthur snarls and Eames eases his eyes open to look at the ceiling again.

“I jus’ got you back,” he says quietly.

Arthur’s face, stricken and even paler than before fills his vision. 

“What are you talking about? Jesus I can’t deal with it if you go delirious on me Eames-“

Eames smiles at him fondly. The pain is kind of fading now. 

“No, I mean, you jus’ got back. I got back. We were back together for like, 36 hours, tops.”

Because regardless of Eames bleeding out over the backseat of a jeep somewhere in the Ukrainian wilderness, they both know they’re going to have to split up because of this fuck up. Again.

Arthur’s expression crumples and he ducks his head to press a hard, bruising kiss on Eames' forehead.

“I know, it fucking sucks, but when we meet up again I swear we’re talking 2 months vacation minimum.”

Eames nods, attempts a smile.

“Lookin’ forward to it.”

Arthur grins at him, lightning flash of dimples, and then presses his hands against Eames’ where he’s holding his jacket into his side. Or at least, Eames thinks he does. His hands are kind of numb at the minute. 

Bullets shatter the rear window and glass explodes onto them. Arthur swears violently in Ukrainian, and leans over Eames, shielding him from the falling shards. 

“Shit- Arthur! Give us a hand?”

Fucking Brandon.

Arthur doesn’t say anything but the next second he’s leaning over Eames, lining up a fucking machine gun, where does he procure these weapons from, it’s a wonder to Eames it really is, and is firing at the cars following them.

The pain is really fading now which is worrying Eames a tad if he’s honest, and he feels like he should probably let Arthur know. At some point. Maybe. In the meantime, he decides on giving up on holding his jacket against his side and lets his arm loll into the footwell. He’s tired. He’s tired and he’s missing Arthur already because he just got him back, just got his hands on him after 6 bloody weeks of lonely dark days and even lonelier nights, and Arthur doesn’t even know how much Eames misses him because they don’t talk about feelings like that, don’t talk about how much they are to each other or why Eames always sleeps on the right hand side of bed even when he’s on his own, or why Arthur has at least a draw, if not a whole cupboard, somewhere in all of his properties that is permanently full of Eames’ shit, or why neither of them have slept with anyone else for pushing two years now even though they’ve never said they were going to be exclusive-

Arthur’s face is suddenly in Eames vision again. 

“What are you talking about?” His mouth is twitching like he’s trying not to smile. And he says Eames is the one who is wildly inappropriate.

“It’s s’all true,” Eames says, or rather tries to say, because Arthur’s brow furrows like he didn’t quite catch that.

“Please let's not break up again,” Eames says, making sure to enunciate this time.

Arthur looks like he's caught halfway between wanting to punch him and wanting to cry.

“That’s not fair Eames, we’re not breaking up, you know it’s just-“

“A safety precaution, yeah yeah.”

Because he knows. They both do. ‘In our line of work…’ is one of Eames’ absolute least favourite phrases, but it’s also usually prelude to his least favourite truths. Truths like the fact that really, they both know they’re a disaster waiting to happen, that someday, probably not too far in the future, one of them will be used as leverage against the other and it’s going to fucking work, because they’re too far gone now, too invested, too emotionally attached and too stupidly in love-

Arthur’s laughing. Arthur’s white as sheet, blood dripping from a cut in his eyebrow from fucking flying glass, and he’s laughing.

“Blood loss makes you so melodramatic,” he says by way of an explanation and has the decency to look mildly apologetic.

“Bastard,” Eames mutters, and closes his eyes again. “Fuck off and let me die in peace.” 

“Absolutely not,” says Arthur, somewhat primly, but then there are more cars to be shot at, so he presumably goes back to playing at being a black ops sniper.

Eames loses track a bit after that - he’s aware of the car swerving round a seemingly infinite number of corners, aware of Arthur running out of Ukrainian, German and French swear words and having to revert to Russian (his least favourite because he can’t say them with enough emphasis for his liking), aware of Brandon being shot at least twice if the shitty handling and furious shouts from the front seat are anything to go by-

- Arthur’s hand on his cheek, shuddering warm breath over his lips-

“Eames, c’mon, stay the fuck with me here-“

- Eames’ head rocks to the side because he can’t be bothered to keep it up anymore, he’s just so goddamned tired-

“Eames, Eames, for fuck’s sake, this is your own fucking fault jesus- can you even- Eames! Don’t make me use your Christian name, I will, I swear to god-“

- Arthur sounds sort of anxious now and Eames wants to reach up and pull him into a kiss, wants to rub his back because when Arthur’s voice gets all tight and pained like that it usually does shit to his back and then Eames will have to massage all the tension out of him again-

“Eames? Shit- Brandon! Fuck the escape plan, we need a hospital now, he’s fading-“

- Eames always thought it was funny to say someone was fading. Imagined the colours of someone bleaching out, blending together, blurring with the background and slowly becoming more and more muted until they weren’t there anymore, nothing left behind but a shadow of a person that once was-

“I’ll come back to you, I promise-“

- Eames thinks Arthur might be crying.

 


  

When Eames comes to, Brandon is the one sitting at his bedside. He looks exhausted and far older than his 26 years.

“Enjoyed your first tour of Europe then huh?” Eames croaks, internally horrified at how abused his voice sounds. How fucking long has he been out?

Brandon startles then rolls his eyes in a way that reminds Eames painfully of a certain point man.

“Sure yeah, you folks are real hospitable over here.” It mollifies Eames somewhat that Brandon sounds just as bad as him.

There’s a pause, as Eames shifts in the hospital bed, cataloguing his bandaged torso and fucked knee, checking for further damage. He’s not done too badly really, all things considering. 3 weeks taking it easy should allow most things to heal up-

“He’s gone you know,” Brandon says suddenly, quietly.

Eames looks up. “Who, Arthur? Oh I know.”

Brandon frowns, glances at the door. “You guys, uh, just seemed pretty close. He was pretty damn keen on getting you to the hospital when you passed out. Completely lost his shit when the first town we drove through didn’t have one.”

Eames smiles fondly. “Bless.”

“But he fucked off before you had chance to come to?” Brandon still sounds confused. “Doesn’t seem mighty generous of him.”

Eames wriggles slightly on stiff bed-sheets, trying to get comfy on a bed that feels like it’s missing a mattress. Eastern Europe is a lovely part of the world but fuck if their health care doesn’t leave a little to be desired.

“Occupational hazard. It wouldn’t do him or myself any favours if he were to weep by my bedside,” Eames says casually.

Brandon gets to his feet and presses something behind Eames’ head that shifts the bed into a vague sitting position. Eames nods at him gratefully.

“Still, that must suck.”

“Oh it sucks royally, believe you me. It needn’t be for too long though. A month at the most.”

Brandon looks sympathetic, and then uncomfortable. He eyes the door again.

Eames sighs. “I appreciate the bedside manner, but you can be on your way now too.”

“Really?”

“Really. Sensible thing to do after a job goes as south as this one. Split up. Make sure your client hasn’t put a hit out on you. Keep your head down.”

Brandon nods fervently. Eames half expects him to be taking notes. Oh to be young and an amateur.

“Well, I hope you feel better soon,” Brandon says jovially, and Eames absolutely does not snigger.

“Cheers,” he offers, and watches Brandon limp into the corridor.

The room is quiet without him.

Eames checks his phone, out of habit if anything, he knows there won’t be any messages, when it abruptly buzzes in his palm-

It’s from an unknown number.

Seattle. 2 weeks. Fuck the rules, we made the fucking rules in the first place and they suck. 

Eames grins so hard it hurts.