Actions

Work Header

An Inevitable Orbit

Chapter Text

Tommy had long grown weary of the human species, bored on his task at gathering information about the stagnant aliens who inhabited Earth. They seemed to repeat themselves, never moving forward, too obsessed with trivial disputes. War, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, nationalities, politics, the lack of space exploration; how did they ever get stuck with such a primitive planet? Honestly, they even referred to those in their own species as ‘aliens’ just for being from a neighboring country. Such small minded creatures.

Perhaps more bewildering was the social obsession with sex. Tommy had been the oldest in his crew when they had taken on human form, and adjusting to the rush of hormones in going through puberty was blinding. It had lead to his asexual logic being overrun by impulsive and rather unnecessary relationships. Eventually he realized the drama brought on by these self absorbed humans who couldn't even see beyond the limitations of their own small spec in space. He had watched the ridiculous going on of Dick’s attempts to adjust to this planet, though he was the youngest and quite juvenile in how he handled things. It seemed his blinding relationship with Dr. Mary Albright had diluted Dick’s connection with their origins, and Tommy wanted nothing to do with it. Pursuing relationships was merely a roadblock in his mission, which was what drove his purpose anymore.

Moving on to college made him realize what a joke his public high school education had been, but he absorbed all the information he could, nonetheless. He graduated with a 4.0 within two and a half years, head of his class, but Tommy resisted the idea of a typical human job which would hardly sate his appetite for knowledge. He was uninterested in the trivialities of gaining wealth, this concept of capitalism all so primitive. Instead, always intrigued by conspiracy theories, Tommy sought a military career to see what truths he might be able to unravel.

Dream share had been in the beginnings when Tommy had been introduced to and excelled in it. He hadn't meant to be distracted by the project, but it appealed to him in a way nothing else about humanity had been able to.

When Tommy had first experienced dreaming in his sleep as a human teenager, it had been overwhelming. He had never been the most creative type, enjoying systems and logic, but dreams it seemed were beyond his control and wildly illogical. Adjusting to his human brain had been one thing, but the onslaught of sudden visions in his sleep had intrigued him in a way he'd been disillusioned to.

He began experimenting with lucid dreaming into college, to see just how to manipulate and inform the workings of his own subconscious. It was a guilty pleasure for some time, being so obsessed with learning about a dimension of humanity that wasn't so cut and narrow, so easy to understand. So when the opportunity to expand that knowledge in a before unexplored facet called dream share arose, Tommy found himself jumping at the opportunity before he'd really thought about it.

His education allowed Tommy to appear exceptionally brilliant, and he was quickly accepted to work on the dream share project. His first task had been to design the settings in the dreams, to be an architect. He was exacting and geometric in his designs, wowing his employers with Escher like designs that weren't possible in reality, but seemed so in dream design.

After a while Tommy felt as though the project was stagnating and it lost momentum. The organization he worked for was too obsessed with warfare and working out military strategies. It had its merits for a while, but Tommy was less interested in the violent aspect, the repetitive tactic that humanity had used for resolving conflicts for far too long.

The project gradually lost funding as the scenarios were foiled by projections of the host’s mind. Tommy saw the impending downfall of the operation, and so worked his hardest at strengthening his own subconscious. He would spend after hours working away when he couldn't sleep, used to insomnia when he grew obsessed about a subject. The nearing of the project’s end, despite the denial of the project leaders, only seemed to further fuel Tommy’s need to gather all information possible. Tommy was at the forefront of something groundbreaking, and he wanted to be the best in the business, just in case.

When his organization brought in outside affiliates as a last ditch effort to supplement their lack of advancement, Tommy was unimpressed by Dom and Mal, to say the least. He thought bringing on new recruits at this stage was an obstacle, considering most of his comrades already in the program paled in comparison to his dedication and competence.

That was until Tommy got the chance to teach Mal about the physics of a dream and how to build. She soaked up information and structure with next to no hesitation, and within the first day she was erecting architecture from the streets of France that Tommy had only seen in textbooks. Mal had an eye for detail that Tommy envied a little, though the emotion was one he quickly suppressed. If he was always surrounded by inferior beings how would he ever excel?

Mal had a cultured, well traveled and educated air about her, and was a fantastic storyteller. Tommy hadn't laughed like that since his adolescent years, not in a genuine fashion that wasn't condescending. He was so drawn to Mal and began looking forward to their time in dreams together. When the organization began to militarize the dreams Mal met eyes with Tommy, disappoint readable only to him, and in that moment he fell for her. Mal later confided that such violent endeavors were a waste of potential, and Tommy readily agreed, expressing his honest opinions for the project for the first time to another.

Cob on the other hand, Tommy held a great distaste for. Dom was quiet and reserved in a way that made Tommy unable to read him, even though he'd grown well versed in human psychological structures in his time as one. He didn't outright see the value in Dom’s presence in the dream share project, and was exceedingly cold toward the other man. Tommy had never seen himself as the type to be trite and prideful until he was confronted with another human who made him uneasy. He had to keep himself in check so as not to try and sabotage Dom’s place in the organization. It was only in their first shared dream between he and Cob that Tommy began to understand the man's merits.

Cob had an uncanny instinct when it came to dealing with the hostile projections in a foreign person’s mind. Despite his seeming lack of knowledge in military strategies, he took to the unrealistic rules of a dream with ease, like it was second nature to him. Not even Tommy had adjusted to the structural constraints of dream manipulation so quickly.

Then Cob suggested the concept of extracting ideas from a person’s mind, and Tommy's whole world was turned upside down. Despite the efforts of the three to pull off an extraction in a very limited set of time, the production was too little, too late. The project had been surviving on the dregs of its funding for two months already, and it was finally squashed out by the higher ups.

Tommy could more feel the moment when the idea of the project’s termination sunk into Mal. Her response was a visceral sort of anger which Tommy could tell resonated with both he and Cob quite heavily.

They had been introduced to something quite groundbreaking and it had become integral to their personal being. Mal’s ability to create in dreamscapes was limitless, Cob’s ability to manipulate and deceive had just been becoming apparent, and Tommy felt a master of the intricacies of dreaming, having become the unofficial director of the dream plots himself.

There was a bewildering emptiness following their parting. They felt interconnected with each other, had seen parts of one another's psyche that was intimate beyond explanation. And now Cob was going back to his life of unspoken corporate espionage, Mal back to France because she felt she didn't fit in in the states, and Tommy was offered a position higher up the ladder in the military hierarchy.

It took Tommy all of five months for him to grow weary of his new position, providing pivotal information for projects he didn't even have the jurisdiction to know more about. Weeks of letter correspondence back and forth to Mal from Paris made him long for the world beyond his desk job. After all, he always told himself he wouldn't end up in this exact professional situation.

Never much of one to spend money on anything luxurious beyond a small collection of rather fancy suits, Tommy secretly began to transfer his earnings into a foreign mutual fund that Mal’s father had recommended. His cryptic messages to Mal which privately referred to dream share began to talk of travel and adventure.

When Tommy requested assignment overseas for a specific information gathering expedition, he promptly and somewhat mysteriously died when his helicopter was shot down.

When Tommy died he adopted a new name, and began going by Arthur.
the process he implemented was similar to the one used to introduce the Solomons into existence when Arthur's crew first became human.

Arthur introduced himself as such to Mal when they met in Prague, and she handed him the passport that verified his identity. From there the two kept on the move, visiting major cities all over the world and spending money on what they both considered a worthwhile expedition. All along the way Mal absorbed and sketched and memorized the variation in contemporary and ancient architecture.

They made their way through the les hostile parts of the Middle East, into Southern Asia and up the countinent’s eastern shore before moving south toward Australia. They avoided the States, heading to Africa and South America, until Arthur was over saturated with cultural information and Mal had drown in the arts.

Under the surface of their travels had been the pursuit of certain persons of interest who Arthur had gathered the names of while still part of the dream share project. Of course, if the United States were developing such an advanced procedure, then there was value to it for other countries, especially in development for the black market.

Mal was under the impression that dream share should be like an open sourced software, free for others if they so desired to test and develop it. Arthur was a little more weary, but figured if they could unearth other people trying to make dream share a success, why not exchange information for information. After all it was the most valuable thing he knew of.

In Berlin they'd met a small group of independent technology enthusiasts who were trying to build their own dream device. In exchange for a comprehensive explanation of what was necessary to make a shared dream a reality, Arthur and Mal received contact for a team relatively near their home base in Paris.

The group expressed the desire for advice building the machine, but Arthur simply explained that was up to them since they had no experience actually putting one together. Of course, he had memorized the schematics that the United States government had employed, but at the start of this Mal and he had made a decision. They would not share more than they needed to gain loyalty, and the information to be shared last would be the actual building of the machines. That was not actually something they had experience with, but we're sure they would be able to build one without much difficulty.

The point was not to share that information until they themselves had time to create their own device, so as not to give too much advantage to the competition. Besides, if these individuals could not reach the ability to dream share in their own ambition, perhaps it was because they weren't yet meant to.

And so Arthur and Mal moved forward. In Stockholm they met a couple obsessed with lucid dreaming and the ability to be someone else in a dream. They had theorized that if one invaded another's subconscious they could potentially pass themselves off as another person entirely with enough practice. Mal explained to them a theoretical potential for actual dream share, hinting that it could be done. Intrigued, the couple began researching further, and introduced Mal and Arthur to a scientist in Singapore they might be interested in visiting.

The scientist was apparently exploring how to best sedate an individual for prolonged dreaming, and had a whole research division under her guidance. Intrigued, Mal and Arthur requested that they be put under with the drug, and then offered to become future clients of the product, whether it was legal or not. She introduced them to some of her brightest pupils, and the pair left with an extensive list of ingredients for what was later termed somnacin. They never had been able to secure the sedative used in the states or a list of its components.

Their travels continued in a similar fashion, from Dubai to Tokyo, Moscow to Seoul, Sydney to Cape Town. Arthur and Mal traveled the world creating their own private dream share network. Sometimes they would share clients names with one another, expanding the available collaborators and ideas in the community. As they got to know one group, the name of another would arise, until a number of preexisting connections became apparent.

Nearly two years later, Mal and Arthur were exhausted and ready to settle down once more. They moved to a fresh place in Paris, sleek and minimalist for Arthur with small historic accents for Mal. Upon contacting her father, Mal was reminded of several correspondence from Dom Cobb urging that he would like to come see Mal. After a short break, she made a few day trip to England to visit her father, and came back assured she’d found the next step in their expedition. She wouldn't fill Arthur in, but when he read Cobb’s letters he seemed to hint at having built his own passive device.

Not two weeks later Arthur opened the door to Cobb at their doorstep.

“What are you doing here?” Arthur asked none too sincerely.

“Arthur,” Cobb responded shortly. “Is Mal in?”

“Dom!” Rang Mal's voice from inside, and she brushed by Arthur to extend her arms for a hug. “How were your travels? You must tell me all about them.”

“From what I've heard you and Arthur are the ones with stories to tell.”

“Are we ever,” Mal said cheerily. “Come, let us toast. This is an occasion for celebration! Non?”

Dom smiled softly, the way Arthur had only ever seen him smile around Mal. It was heartfelt and ate at Arthur a little, but as the night went on and high class wine was shared, he lightened up. Dom seemed to loosen a little as he spent more time with the two of them, as if for the past two and a half years he hadn't shown anything but a professional demeanor.

Arthur never thought he was capable of connecting on a deeper level with other humans. Mal and Dom tore down those barriers and dug themselves in, deep.

And so began their notorious development and exploits at the head of dream share.

Chapter Text

After the Fischer job, Arthur had been reluctant to work with anyone he already knew for some time. He still had his updated version of the dream share international network outlined in his head: extractors, architects, chemists, forgers…

The problem with building new connections was separating the rumors from the realities. He needed competent people to work with and if he'd already found a few, why fix what isn't broken?

But working with Ariadne, Yusuf and Eames brought back painful memories of Mal's part in the inception job. Arthur liked to think he'd never been one to be driven by emotion, say for his teenage years when the inability to cope with his human body was the norm.

Now there was a certain anxiety that ate away at him. Dom had retired, after all he'd lead Arthur through, after all Arthur had done for him after Mal's suicide.

Arthur sighed. Damned emotional species.

Arthur zoned back into the public chess game he started with himself. The day was overcast but the air lacked the distinct smell of oncoming rain.

“Darling, if you wanted company all you had to do was ask.”

“Don't you have somewhere to be Mr. Eames?” Arthur startled, unable to come up with anything else to say.

“And where would that be?”

Anywhere but here, Arthur wanted to say.

“Mind if I join?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“I suppose you do,” Eames smiled with a shrug.

Arthur setup the board in concede.

“I spoke with Dom,” Eames said after nearly 20 minutes playing in silence. He hadn’t actually, Dom had been so distracted by the opportunity to see his children he’d left them all, but it seemed like a good way to confront Arthur.

Eames made for a formidable opponent. Arthur could feel Eames’ eyes on his face, perhaps looking for some kind of emotional strain or tell. If Arthur gave anything away he didn't much care, he was too exhausted to keep up with a facade.

“What did he say,” Arthur stated more than asked.

“He suggested that I might accompany you in your next endeavor.”

Arthur's brow furrowed, he couldn't help it. He figured Dom knew with some paternal instinct that Arthur had grown used to having someone around. He had left an old life to begin again and Mal had been there for the whole ordeal. Then when she was gone there was Dom, fighting for his right to see their children, to see the small humans Mal had left behind.

“I don't need looking after,” Arthur said but his heart wasn't in it.

“I know you don't,” Eames offered. “But I would like to accompany you nonetheless.”

Eames reached to rest his hand over Arthur's in support for his grief. He tensed, jaw clenching, but Eames’ hand was cool and firm and Arthur felt himself relax a little. He slumped back in his seat with a huff and Eames smiled softly. His thumb rubbed along Arthur's hand before pulling away.

Arthur wasn't one to long for another’s touch, he'd always taken care of his human needs as they arose, but he missed the weight of Eames’ heavy hand. It made Arthur more comfortable that Eames touched long enough to assure, but not to insinuate a desire for more. Arthur appreciated the other man's ability to respect boundaries when it was appropriate, to observe and absorb the other person’s desires. That was what made him a good forger after all.

Arthur was a little confused, identifying as aromantic because he watched so many people in human relationship sacrifice their dreams and life goals just to settle down with another. It made his life simple and drama free, easy to do whatever he wanted with his own life. However, as he approached his thirties, Arthur was a little unsettled. He'd grown used to always having someone at his side, Mal and Dom, but never someone for himself.

“Check,” Arthur called, brow furrowing. “Mr. Eames. Did you let me win?” Arthur demanded.

“Of course not, Darling. It must have been your solid strategy,” Eames assured with his poker face as he moved a piece to block Arthur's queen.

Arthur was so distracted he knew very well he was not playing the game well considering how poorly he'd already been playing against himself before Eames showed up. If Eames played chess like he gambled, there was no way Arthur could have won.

“Check mate,” Arthur said, knocking over Eames’ rook.

“Best two out of three?” Eames offered in submission.

“Only if you actually play this time Eames,” Arthur glared as he set up his side of the board again.

“Of course, Arthur.”

---------------------

Following that day in the park, Arthur and Eames toured around working small jobs that came their way. Once word of Dom Cobb's exploits spread throughout the dream community, the point man and forger had no trouble finding work. The hard part was explaining to some who wanted to hire them why their ideas for inception weren't feasible, and that it was Arthur and Eames’ choice how they wanted to handle a job once they were on it. It seemed that while jobs were in abundance, so were clients who felt the need to micromanage.

Arthur had been in the dream share community since its conception, could almost say he and Mal were the ones who had built the "community" to begin with. Having Eames by his side made his work considerably easier when it came to choosing a job or negotiating with clients. Dom had always known what to say or how to sell something, but Arthur just didn't have the patience for it anymore. Eames however, seemed to know how to not only listen, but just what to say to convince the client to agree with him.

Arthur was reluctant to grow used to Eames' presence and was frustrated once he realized he'd already done so. It seemed Eames was used to his own solitude, leaving Arthur for several spontaneous hours to explore the city or go for a walk. The alone time between them made their time together more comfortable, and a sense of companionship and understanding began to arise.

Eames sometimes looked at Arthur with more longing than he'd admit, and was sometimes grateful for the man's obliviousness. Other times Eames wished he could kiss Arthur when he grinned because something Eames had done pleasantly surprised him. However, Eames could read the reasons why Arthur kept a physical and emotional distance from others. He had spent so much time people watching and getting to know every personality he could, that it was easy to see Arthur's complete disinterest in sexual partners.

He never spent time looking for companionship or friends with benefits. Eames was astonished he'd even managed to become a consistent part of Arthur's life. Lucky for him he had something valuable to offer Arthur: his skills as a forger. Becoming unspoken business partners just evolved naturally and before he knew it, Arthur was asking his opinions on different people to work with in the community.

Finally they came to the end of a period of non stop work without much serious in the lineup for the next few weeks.

"Would you stop pacing about," Eames looked up from his book at Arthur.

“I can't help it,” Arthur snapped. “I need a job.”

“We just pulled off one of the most complicated heists in dreamshare history a few months back and you want more work?” Eames scoffed. "As if the last six months of easy jobs was nothing to you." Leaning back Eames sighed contentedly in the sun where he lounged on the deck. “Take the time for a holiday before you work yourself to death.”

“I hate sitting around,” Arthur argued.

“Clearly.”

Arthur scoffed then retreated back into the apartment.

“Ey!” Eames called after him, turning his head but Arthur wasn't visible. “If you come back out here with that laptop I'm going to throw it over the railing!”

“Did you say something?” Arthur asked as he sat down a moment later to open his laptop.

“Hol-i-day, Arthur," Eames said. "It means when you take a proper week or two where you don't work so you don't go mad. You should try it sometime."

"Waste of time," Arthur said distractedly as he skimmed through his emails.

"No wonder you've got a bloody stick up your-"

“Becket and Wiler have some positions open for a job,” Arthur said.

"Becket is a kleptomaniac who just wants to steal all of his client's secrets and Wiler can't hold loyalty to her client for more than 24 hours. I wouldn't bother with them," Eames suggested, lowering his sunglasses over his eyes and reclining further in his chair.

 

“Have you even worked with them or are you just repeating rumors?” Arthur said defiantly.

“Rumors, Arthur, are rooted in truth,” Eames said pointedly.

"Well that's the only lead we've got at the moment," Arthur huffed in disappointment.

"Looks like you'll just have to take the day off then," Eames said triumphantly, reaching over to snap Arthur's laptop shut.

Arthur sighed and flopped back into his own chair, arms overhead. Eames laid back again, reaching down and across himself to pick up some fruity cocktail he'd made up and handed it to Arthur.

"Relax, Darling," Eames said softly. “Seriously.”

"I'm not your darling," Arthur mumbled, taking the drink defiantly so he could scrutinize its concoction after the first sip. He paused, Eames eyeing him speculatively, then began to drink again, apparently enjoying the taste. Eames just smiled.

Arthur and Eames enjoyed the silence between them, listening to the constant hum of the city streets beneath them. Impressed Arthur was able to sit still for so long, Eames looked over to see Arthur's eyes half lidded beneath his sun glasses. It seemed the heat of the sun both warmed Arthur and seemed to enhance the exhaustion he hadn't let himself admit in a long time. As Arthur relaxed further, he drifted into sleep and Eames decided to nap as well. Something about seeing Arthur relaxed put Eames in a deep state of unexplainable ease.

They both dozed in the afternoon sun, Eames waking to look over, not expecting Arthur to still be there. He smiled at Arthur's gentle expression as he slept and dared to creep his own hand over. Eames threaded his fingers with the hand that Arthur hung off of the chair and let himself doze off again.

Arthur slept strangely hard in the light of the sun. After the tragedy with Mal, Arthur only knew how to distract himself with work. Emotions were the last thing he needed to deal with.

But as Arthur dreamed, one of those rare times since those in dream share rarely naturally did, his emotions surfaced. He saw Mal, and Arthur moved toward her before she burst into flames. Mal became the little sun at the center of the Earth's solar system and she overwhelmed Arthur. He was too hot in his own skin, feeling like he might combust, when the sun changed into the one he knew from his home system, hotter and blueish white.

Arthur tried not to approach it, having left his home planet and his life and that sphere behind, but it seemed the system's gravitational pull drew him in. Arthur orbited his home planet, intense in purple as if he could see it in the spectrum his species could. He never had been sure what his planet would look like in human visible light, limited in its color range.

Arthur plummeted suddenly, through the orange and yellow atmosphere, whispers of gaseous mass wetting his face. He impacted the surface and found himself surrounded by familiar gelatinous purple masses operating a technology that came second nature to him. As Arthur tried to communicate with them, the creatures didn't respond and he realized he was displaced, still in human form. Arthur ventured through the planet for what felt like ages, unable to communicate and seemingly invisible to his people. He panicked in the loneliness.

Then a familiar voice rang out over him and Arthur looked up, halting in his search.

"Incoming message from the Big Giant Head," resonated through the empty corridors in Harry's human voice. It was the first familiar voice he could understand for a long time, and Arthur searched the skies for its source in desperation. But the voice seemed to come from afar, so far that it must have been beyond this planet, carrying from a distant solar system, from the third rock from its sun.

Harry's voice carried a message about the inferiority of humanity and the necessity for its extinction, voice changing into the human form of the Big Giant Head himself. When the message ended, Arthur was filled with dread and he was returned to the silence of loneliness.

"Arthur," he heard and startled, looking down from the sky to find a familiar human, finally in all his time searching. Eames stood before him, clear and just out of reach, and as Arthur approached him he seemed to grow further away.

"Eames," Arthur called after him, willing him closer as if that were enough. Then a massive beam descended from the sky in slow motion, right above where Eames stood.

"Arthur," Eames said as he smiled. That quirk of lips tore through Arthur's chest.

"Eames!" Arthur shouted, trying to get Eames to see it, to move out of the line of fire, but the roar of the beam overpowered his voice. The beam consumed Eames, leaving nothing but a fiery, singed place on the earth where he'd stood a moment before. Arthur fell and wept, "Eames! Eames," he mourned.

Arthur looked up long enough to realize it wasn't just Eames he wept for, but an expanse of scorched earth enough to cover the surface of a planet where a whole civilization once stood.

He was on Earth.

Arthur sat bolt upright as Eames shook his shoulder.

"Arthur, are you alright mate?” Eames coaxed, fingers pressing the inside of Arthur's wrist. “Talk to me.”

"Eames," Arthur said, breathing more heavily than he realized. He was drenched in sweat despite being cast in shadow by the setting sun.

"Are you alright, Darling?" Eames asked, concern writ raw across his face.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Arthur said. "Just a dream."

"That was one hell of a dream," Eames said, leaning forward to wipe the sweaty bangs back from Arthur's forehead. In all his time with Arthur, Eames hadn't seen him so physically disturbed by a dream. Normally Arthur would have withdrawn from another's touch, but Eames' palm was cool and soothing, with just the right amount of compassion.

"I didn't know I could dream without somnacin anymore," Arthur breathed with a forced smile to assure Eames not to worry. Eames' frown only seemed to deepen with Arthur's efforts. His transparency through Eames' eyes was always disarming.

"What was so dire it had you calling out in your sleep?" Eames asked softly, not demanding but clearly wanting to know.

"Never mind," Arthur said with a huff, collapsing back against his chair with a sigh. He was disappointed when the exhale didn't cleanse his anxiety the way he hoped.

"Was it the end of the world or something?" Eames half joked aloud and completely regretted his words when all of the color drained from Arthur's face. "Darling, I'm sorry. You don't have to tell me."

"Eames," Arthur said, shutting the other man up instantly. "I need to go see someone." Eames remained silent as if Arthur might continue and decided to back off and give him space. "My family," Arthur continued after a pause, "In the states."

"Is it so urgent?" Eames asked. "We can look for plane tickets to leave as soon as possible."

"You're not coming," Arthur declared and the hurt in Eames' eyes sent a familiar jolt through his chest reminiscent of the time in the dream when that beam had landed.

"Darling," Eames said, half pleading.

"Look. My family is a particularly unpleasant bunch. It's just better if you don't come, alright?"

"If a nightmare upset you so much you must immediately return to your family, I would like to come to be moral support."

"Eames," Arthur tried to say in frustration, though his heart wasn't in it. Apparently Eames saw right through him immediately. Of course.

"Besides, I wouldn't dream of missing an opportunity to meet your family," Eames smiled, trying to distract Arthur from his inner turmoil. "I bet this will be delightful!"

"Uuuugh," Arthur groaned as he ran a hand through his hair. "Don't exploit my vulnerability to get your way, Mr. Eames.”

“Darling,” Eames said sincerely, trying to make it evident he was not making light of the situation. “If this is important I would like to be there to support you.”

Arthur sighed in frustration. “This is going to be a catastrophe.”

Eames smiled sweetly. Arthur wanted to punch him.

Instead, after a long pause, Arthur stood abruptly. Eames sat back to give him space and was startled when Arthur leaned down to his upturned face and kissed his lips gingerly.

“Mr. Eames,” Arthur regarded shortly, then turned to walk inside.

Eames sat there a little dazed before smiling like a giddy schoolboy who'd just gotten his first kiss.

Two days later they were on a plane to the United States.

Chapter Text

“Tommy?” Sally exclaimed in surprise as she pulled him into a fierce hug. “Where have you been? We've missed you so much!”

Eames was a little taken aback by Arthur's submission to the embrace but it looked as though he might not have been able to break away from the Amazonian woman even if he wanted to.

“I must say, Darling, you have perhaps the strangest family I've ever met,” Eames said next to Arthur as he watched Harry prance about reenacting some encounter he'd had.

“Don't remind me,” Arthur bit out.

“Honestly. It's like you're the only human in the lot of them,” Eames said nonchalantly. He turned to eye Arthur who has sputtered and was choking on his drink.

“Please Mr. Eames, never say that again.”

Eames watched him sidelong, like he knew there was something Arthur wasn't letting him be privy to but would wait until a more exacting time to bring up. Arthur ignored his gaze, or so he told himself, though he could feel his ears prickling. Eames’ eyes could be so invasive at times.

“Tommy! Son!” Dick said cheerily as he entered the room. He approached as if to hug Arthur but the suited man sidestepped him. Dick paused before straightening up. “That's right! You are a man now!” Dick extended his hand with a firm posture and serious expression. Arthur took his hand reluctantly but supposed it was better than dealing with a hug. Dick held his eye contact and slowly squeezed his hand unnecessarily hard. Arthur supposed the oaf was trying to gauge his manliness or something, perhaps who was the authoritarian figure now, he was sizing him up. Arthur squeezed back, no restraint and it was only a moment before Dick buckled and yanked his hand away. “Alright.” He said as he straightened back up with pride.

“Wait! You're dead!” Dick exclaimed suddenly and Arthur would have face palmed if he hadn't grown out of such actions by now.

“Impressive, it seems I fooled even the great High Commander,” Arthur countered. Dick sputtered briefly before breaking out in a manic smile.

“Well done my boy!” Dick laughed rather unnecessarily. “You played this inferior species like a well tuned fiddle!” Arthur tried to avoid the arm that slung over his shoulder but didn't have enough foresight to dodge it. Dick drew him in close as if to have a private conversation between them. “This ploy of faked death will be handy in our conquering of this world!”

“Wait, I thought we were on a research mission,” Arthur interrupted, pulling back in surprise before he could restrain himself.

“Missions change,” Dick said as if it was merely a changing of the winds, waving his hand to encourage Arthur envision it. Dick smiled toothily. “We've been upgraded!”

“Since when do we pursue military action?” Arthur asked.

“Since never,” Dick answered. “But this comes down directly from the Big Giant Head himself! The order is to exterminate all human life.”

“This wouldn't have something to do with the Big Giant Head’s time spent as a human himself would it?”

As up if on cue, Vicki Dubcek walked in through the kitchen door.

“Honey! I'm home!” She exclaimed.

“Vicki!” Harry answered and ran to hug her. Dick and Arthur watched the engagement. Arthur gaped a little.

“Vicki?” Arthur hissed. “The mother of the Big Giant Head’s baby?” He finished in disbelief.

“Yes.” Dick said solemnly, “Father was not pleased. But who can blame him? If Mary had gone off with some subpar transmitter beacon, well! I don't know what I'd do!”

“Exterminate her entire species, apparently,” Arthur breathed through his scowl.

“Oh lighten up Tommy! You haven't actually gotten attached to these inferior wads of flesh and bones!” Dick chided.

“Dick. You do realize Mary is one of those humans to exterminate.” Dick spluttered.

“Mary? No, no,” Dick laughed awkwardly. “She doesn't count.”

“She can't just not count, Dick. She's one of them.”

“Nonsense! I'll just take her with me,” Dick said stubbornly. “I'm High Commander and what I say, goes!”

“But she's one of them,” Arthur countered and as usual, Dick avoided what he didn't like or couldn't handle.

“So, Tommy, who is this well dressed human specimen?” Dick demanded intrusively as he held out his hand, expression taut.

“The name’s Eames. It's a pleasure to finally meet Arthur's family,” Eames said politely and with more sincerity than Arthur had any desire for.

“Arthur? Who's Arthur?” Dick said dumbly, shaking Eames’ hand. Arthur was just grateful Dick didn't decide Eames needed sizing up too.

“I'm Arthur,” he gritted out. “It's the name I took after my death.

“Ah, very clever,” Dick nodded in understanding. “But you are still my son and you will be referred to as Tommy in this family,” Dick declared authoritatively, finally releasing Eames’ hand. “Now, who are you?” Dick asked Eames.

“He is my colleague from work,” Arthur answered quickly before Eames could. Arthur's intense gaze toward a cheery Eames only made the man's smile widen.

“And what is work?” Dick asked, head held high as if interrogating.

“Diplomatic stuff, that sort,” Eames said and Dick nodded as if he had any idea what their profession was.

“Well Tommy, you seem to have done well for yourself,” Dick stated and for a moment Arthur panicked, thinking he was talking about Eames. But Dick came closer to examine Arthur's suit instead and he exhaled his tension silently.

“Let's stop stalling. You summoned me here on urgent business,” Arthur interrupted.

“What's got your panties in a wad?” Sally asked. “What happened to the Tommy who used to have fun?”

“Clearly he died,” Dick interjected.

Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Honestly, less than half an hour with these “people” and he was already reverting to childish impulses. Did humans normally deal with their families this way? It'd been so long since he'd seen them he couldn't remember.

“Due to the alteration in our mission objectives, we have been permitted to return briefly to the home planet.” Dick explained, gone High Commander.

Arthur went icy inside. Eames had accompanied him with the expectation there had been a family tragedy. Arthur had hoped that was what it was. He hadn't anticipated the mention of their own planet and space voyage and Eames there to hear it all at once.

“Eames,” Arthur interrupted Dick’s ramblings. “Why don't you go out for a smoke.”

“But I quit--”

“NOW,” Arthur demanded.

“Alright, alright,” Eames conceded from the sheer ferocity in Arthur's flat tone. He was reluctant to miss out on what Arthur clearly didn't want him to hear, but that was the nature of dream share. Privacy was respected, for the safety of everyone involved. He descended the stairs to the first floor and out the back door.

“That's right! Walk away human! Walk away from your world’s destruction!” Dick shouted after Eames following up with malicious laughter.

Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose and rubbed his eyes none too gently. He inhaled with a gust, then exhaled very slowly, allowing some tension to ease from his shoulders.

“When do we receive the mission briefing?” Arthur asked, relieved when Dick gained some semblance of seriousness.

“Two weeks,” the High Commander said, posture formal and authoritative. “The Big Giant Head will be coming here himself!”

“Two weeks,” Arthur breathed.

 


 

“Eames, we need to talk,” Arthur said seriously. He and Eames had returned to their hotel room after visiting Arthur's family a few hours before. It took a while for Arthur to gather the courage to tell Eames what he felt was necessary.

“Alright, Arthur,” Eames said as he looked up from the information Arthur had collected for the current job they were planning.

“When we met my family I assume you realized that they're a bit...odd.”

“Couple of nutters that lot, starting to understand why you disassociated yourself from them,” Eames said with a nod.

“That's because they're aliens,” Arthur said quickly like ripping off a bandaid. “I'm an alien,” Arthur finished, running a nervous hand through his hair. “Like the outer space kind,” Arthur added for clarification.

Eames just stood there and watched Arthur's expression, the man more uncomfortable in his own skin than Eames had ever seen him. Eames’ hesitation to respond was only making Arthur more fidgety.

“Wait a tic,” Eames deadpanned. “Who are you and what have you done with Arthur?” Eames finally responded, not believing Arthur would joke with him, especially in such a ridiculous way.

“What? No Eames, I'm serious.”

“Right. And I'm second in line to the British throne,” Eames said with eyebrows raised.

“Look, we came here on an exploration mission to learn about humanity,” Arthur tried to explain. He figured if he was in this deep he might as well just go for it. “We inhabit human bodies to fit in with your culture and learn about you from assimilation.”

“Uh huh,” Eames agreed skeptically. “Please, go on.”

“Dammit,” Arthur rubbed his eyes in frustration. “I knew this wouldn't go over well,” when Arthur's hand lowered Eames could see the dejection in Arthur's eyes, even if his face appeared emotionless. “Look, nevermind.”

Eames was confused as Arthur turned around to walk away. He figured it wouldn't be so bad to indulge Arthur, considering Eames was blinded by his withheld affection for the man. Honestly though, who would believe something so ludicrous at face value. Assured in his suspicion Eames pushed genuine interest into his words.

“Is that why the lot of your family kept mentioning a home planet and your dad kept declaring himself the ‘High Commander’?” Eames asked as though considering it for the first time in a serious light. He smiled inwardly when Arthur's footsteps paused.

“That's because Dick is the High Commander,” Arthur confirmed. He seemed reluctant to face Eames again, but turned slightly anyway.

“So that wasn't just some strange quirk,” Eames said. “Your family isn't just a loony bunch, they're outright space men.”

“I'm an outright space man,” Arthur said with a slight lift to his lips. “Although technically we don't have genders until we're placed into a human body.”

“I always knew there was something off about you,” Eames agreed. “And I don't mean the gender bit, I mean the too serious beyond your years bit.”

“I am older than the rest of the crew,” Arthur said, turning fully to face Eames again. While he was still a little uncomfortable, Eames could see some of the tension and dejection leaving Arthur's body.

“Wait, how old are we talking? You're not like three hundred years old or some such?”

“Add a few centuries,” Arthur said a little timidly, lips quirking. “In Earth time anyway.” It seemed talking to someone about all of this amused Arthur in some way, too.

“You mean all this time I thought I'd been pursuing a younger bloke and here you're something like twenty times my age?” Eames said in disbelief, his expression visibly gaping.

“Something like that,” Arthur smirked, a little more satisfied with having genuinely surprised Eames than he should have been, considering the magnitude of the situation.

“You don't actually look like big headed green creatures with massive eyes, do you?” Eames asked, now more taken by his curiosity rather than disbelief. His dumbfounded expression cleared a little when Arthur winced as if the idea disgusted him.

“Honestly Mr. Eames, you know very well not to trust the depiction of Hollywood media,” Arthur said, his expression betraying his sincerity. “That is one of humanity's most regrettable mistakes. What makes your species think we all look like a deformed, discolored, miniature versions of yourselves with bloated eyes?”

“What does your species look like then?” Eames quarried, smirking from Arthur's offense. He was charmed when Arthur's serious demeanor softened again to timidity.

“The best way to describe it in your language is purple, tubular beings,” Arthur said. “And we don't have eyes in the sense humans do.” He remembered the closest in appearance on Earth to their species being some sea dwelling plant form lacking sentience. He straightened his back with pride, not willing to compromise the respect for his species despite how unimpressive they may sound to humans. Afterall, he came from a very intelligent and prosperous species, able to traverse the stars and transmit their consciousness into vessels from other solar systems.

“Huh,” Eames said as if trying to process that. “Arthur, if all of this is true, why are you telling me? Have you told others?”

“You're the first,” Arthur admitted. “And I'm telling you because the leader of my species desires to exterminate the human presence on your planet.”

Eames’ eyes widened. “So,” he paused, again trying to process, “you're telling me because--?”

Arthur sighed. “Because, Mr. Eames, my crew and I have come to the consensus to explain the situation to our loved ones.” Eames’ attention snapped into focus. “In case our attempts to destroy humanity are successful, we should like to ensure the safety of those we have grown to value most of your species.”

“Wait,” Eames said, licking his lips to supplement how his mouth had gone dry. “Rewind to the part about loved ones?” Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“I believe I'm being quite transparent in my meaning, Mr. Eames.”

“Right,” Eames confirmed, the corner of his mouth lifting. “Just wanted to make sure I heard all that right. Out of curiosity, is there anyone else you'll be sharing these details with? Dom or Ariadne by chance?”

“No, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said as if talking to a simpleton. Eames ignored his tone of annoyance, grinning quite unreservedly.

“Right, very well then.”

“For being informed of your species impending doom you sure seem at ease,” Arthur said.

“Ah, that, well, it's not like you actually want to destroy humanity and all that, do you?”

“No, but I have orders--”

“Orders? Arthur,” Eames purred his name, “Those have never held you back before.” Arthur scowled at the scheming tone in Eames’ voice. “What are you going to do about it?”

“About what? It's been decided. This is the head of my entire species I'm talking about here.”

“Considering exterminating your other species. You're not just them anymore, you're human too, Arthur,” Eames said. Arthur paused, searching out Eames’s eyes and found certainty there. It shook him a little, Eames’s apparent solid faith in Arthur's abilities. Smug fucking forgers.

Then something hit Arthur.

“My species has never been outright hostile like this before,” Arthur segwayed as he brainstormed. Eames let him go on, smiling slightly, knowing when Arthur had an idea it was usually quite good. “The Big Giant Head turned into a bit of an idiot when he took human form. In fact that seems to be a recurring theme with the transition to human,” Arthur wondered aloud.

“That is an awful name for a leader, by the way, The Big Giant Head. It sounds like some terrible sexual innuendo.”

“It sounds much more elegant in my species’ language,” Arthur assured, wincing a little at the innuendo part, he admittedly hadn't thought of that before. “It refers to the intellect of the leader and their ability to make judgements to progress our species.”

“Your Big Giant Head doesn't seem to be thinking that levelly at the moment, does he? Not sure about you, but I'm pretty sure humans are no threat to your species, being in a whole other solar system and all. We can hardly make way to our own moon,” Eames said, managing to make Arthur chuckle.

“Your species ability to get caught up in trivial matters is rather a bit of a long running joke among my ‘family’,” Arthur admitted. “Your mind’s capacity for physics is a little embarrassing.”

“Alright, Mate,” Eames said in mock offense, nudging Arthur's shoulder. “I get we’re inferior and all. You don't have to rub it in.”

Arthur smiled at him, actually smiled, dimples and all. Eames was a little taken aback. Suddenly Arthur seemed to have a weight lifted off his shoulders, softening his serious exterior.

“At any rate, the Big Giant Head didn't start acting so irrationally until he became human,” Arthur repeated.

“You said that,” Eames encouraged. “Must be our inferior brains and all,” he pressed, playing hurt. Arthur ignored him, not buying it for a second.

“For some reason the transition also made us obsessed with relationships,” Arthur observed.

“All except you,” Eames stated as if it was a little unfortunate.

“I learned to deal with the human urges by going through puberty and growing beyond it,” Arthur continued, oblivious to Eames’ expression as he thought out loud. “Dick, Sally and Harry all sought out some human to connect with, and so did the Big Giant Head. As soon as he got here he wound up dating Vicki.”

“Vicki? You mean your uncle’s girlfriend?” Eames interjected as the pieces slowly fell into place.

“Yes,” Arthur nodded. “She had The Big Giant Head’s baby.”

Eames rubbed a hand over his face.

“That'll do it,” Eames said and Arthur turned to study him. Eames looked at him sidelong. “So let me get this straight. Your leader dates your uncle’s ex-girlfriend, said girlfriend has leader’s baby, girlfriend ditches leader to be with ex-boyfriend? And now the leader wants to annihilate the entire human species.”

“Humans are so simple,” Arthur sighed, shaking his head in disappointment.

“We've probably wiped out entire cultures over lesser disputes.”

“How have humans managed not to go extinct this long?” Arthur pondered as if he hadn't fully considered the idea before.

“We seem to thrive in overwhelming challenges, I suppose,” Eames shrugged. “As I suspect you will do now.”

Arthur looked at Eames, puzzling out grey eyes as his lips quirked.

“Not such high expectations, Mr. Eames,” Arthur retorted, stepping a little closer to him. “I may not be able to live up to them,” he warned.

“Whatever the outcome, darling,” Eames said in a near whisper, closing the distance to mere inches between them. “At least we will have tried.”

 Eames took Arthur's hands in his own, pressing right up into his space. Eames brushed his lips against Arthur's, gentle and inviting, but not pushing.

 “If it's anything, we should try,” Eames whispered, lips brushing Arthur's as he spoke. Referring to more than just saving the world, Eames wanted to share something more with Arthur, if he would only give him the chance.

Arthur inhaled as his eyes fluttered, unaccustomed to physical contact with another, at least not for a long time and he let his lips move softly. When Eames groaned at Arthur's response, fire shot through Arthur and he impulsively kissed harder. Arthur raised his hands to Eames’ shoulders and gasped when arms wrapped loosely around his waist, pulling their fronts flush.

Eames use the leverage of his arms about Arthur to roll their hips together, and Arthur's lips fell open on a choked whimper. Eames was warm and soft against Arthur's hips and he pressed into that warmth. Eames licked at Arthur's parted mouth, thrilled when the tip of his own tongue was met by Arthur's. Eyes opening, Arthur leaned back enough to look into Eames’. The open uncertainty writ on his face worried Eames.

“Arthur darling, if there is to be an end of the world, I want to show you just what my time with you has meant to me,” Eames whispered. “I promise it won't go further than this, just let me show you.” He nipped at Arthur's lips who was a little stunned. “Let me love you,” Eames said, barely audible, both an offer and a plea. He watched Arthur's dark eyes, lips beautifully parted and wanted badly to devour him, but knew that would be beyond the boundaries. He didn't want to scare Arthur off, who was extremely averse to committing to another individual.

Eames’ heart leaped into his throat when Arthur nodded slowly, arousal drunkened. He looked down at Eames’ lips, pressing the pad of a thumb against his full lower lip and dragging it across. Eames ducked his head, sucking the tip of Arthur's thumb between his lips and Arthur's breath hitched as he inadvertently groaned. Arthur let his forehead lean to rest against Eames’.

Eames nearly lost his balance when Arthur was the one to press his hips tentatively into Eames’. Arthur's thumb lowered, his hand pressing to Eames’ throat in question, and Eames answered by leaning his head forward to intensify the pressure. Arthur seemed to be somehow testing unspoken boundaries of what their relationship could be and Eames wanted Arthur aware he was willing to give and take just about anything he could get. Arthur made an abandoned sort of sound and he kissed Eames, breath growing heavy and reckless. His hand wrapped more fully around Eames’ neck, not adding more pressure but more feeling the way Eames’ throat worked as they kissed, the suggestion of the pose enough for Arthur's pleasure. Hands skimming along Arthur's hips, Eames found the button at the front of his pants.

“May I,” Eames said hoarsely against Arthur's hand, and was pleased when lips met his own. Eames made quick work of Arthur's buttons and zipper, sliding Arthur's pants and underwear down around his thighs to expose him, despite his haze. Eames cupped Arthur's cock who inhaled sharply when his strong hand squeezed. Arthur's hands tightened as Eames stroked him slowly until he grew impatient.

“Get on with it, Mr. Eames,” Arthur commanded, voice hoarse. Eames’ heart leaped and he quickly unbuttoned his own pants, letting them fall down haphazardly and pressed into Arthur.

The heat of their cocks touching left Arthur's mouth agape, eyes closed as Eames’ arms wrapped back around him. Skimming his hands up Arthur's bare back beneath his dress shirt, Eames kneaded along his spine. Arthur pressed into him, his own hands lowering to Eames’ hips to slot them tighter together. His hands slipped around slowly to Eames’ backside, as if awaiting rejection, but was only met with an approving whimper from Eames.

Feeling encouraged, Arthur squeezed Eames’ ass, jerking their hips together. Eames rolled his hips needily in response, completely losing his self control at Arthur's initiative. Arthur seemed equally as desperate, thrusting along Eames’ cock with abandon. They rutted noisily, Eames’ lips grazing Arthur's though they were both a little too far gone to kiss properly.

When Arthur pulled away, Eames almost panicked, cold washing over his groin. But then Arthur was gripping the collar of his shirt, turning Eames in a dizzying 180* and pushing him backwards. He stumbled through the living room doorway, trying to keep his footing but bounced backward onto the chaise lounge when the edge of it hit the back of his knees. Arthur tumbled clumsily down over him, not letting go of Eames’ collar in time, but adjusted immediately to slot their cocks together as he crawled and wriggled over Eames.

Eames revelled in Arthur's near feral movements, like he didn't know anything but the sex between them. Arthur kissed him briefly before he leaned up to gain better leverage, hands and weight resting on Eames’ chest and constricting his air flow. Eames’ hands gripped Arthur's hips, encouraging the rough friction as they ground their cocks together, precum and perspiration letting them slide smoothly. Arthur let all of his weight rest on one hand, lifting the other to Eames’ lips which parted for him. Eames sucked in Arthur's fingers again, tongue lapping at them and Arthur's head dipped down, unable to support himself anymore.

Eames’ hand caressed around Arthur's backside, parting him until his fingertips grazed Arthur's entrance. Eames moaned when Arthur's rhythm stuttered and sped up.

“I won't,” Eames whispered as Arthur's fingers slipped from his lips with the attention. “I just--” Eames’ fingers circled Arthur's entrance, adding just enough pressure for pleasure to shoot straight to Arthur's cock.

Arthur's arms trembling beneath him, he groaned loudly, thrusting with desperation against Eames’ thick cock. Each thrust back added more pressure to Arthur's entrance and he came across Eames’ belly. The insinuation of Eames’ fingers had blurred his vision and Arthur's brain went numb, collapsing on top of Eames.

Arthur continued to thrust futilely post orgasm, whimpering as Eames’ hands gripped his hips and thrust up into them a few times. Slick from Arthur's orgasm and the extra glide from his cum, Eames came as he gripped Arthur with near bruising force.

Overstimulated and needing the pressure to lift from his groin, Arthur moaned aloud and sunk his teeth into Eames’ neck in warning. Eames made a rather undignified yelp when Arthur bit him, and he smiled sleepily against Eames’ throat, not letting go until he thought it would make a mark.

Eames’ grip and hips finally subsided, hands moving up Arthur's damp back. Arthur removed his lips, shuddering at the brush of Eames’ hands. Arthur sat back, lifting his arms as Eames stripped off the shirt that had been rucked up his torso. Arthur stood then, removing his own soiled shirt and Eames stripped while still lying on the lounge. They wiped themselves clean and Arthur laid down on the plush rug next to Eames, wrapping himself in a blanket, since they likely wouldn't both fit on the lounge side by side. He needed space to cool off.

Eames rolled over onto his belly, arm draping off the side of the lounge to rest his hand on Arthur's chest. Arthur opened his eyes sleepily and smiled up at Eames who grazed along the center of his belly and back up.

“The world should threaten to end more often,” Eames smiled. Arthur lazily pushed his hand away.

“Get over yourself Mr. Eames,” Arthur tried to bite back, but more just sleepily whispered somewhat nonsensically.

“Of course, Darling,” Eames agreed, sliding off the lounge to lay beside Arthur, dragging another blanket and long pillow with him. He stuffed the pillow under Arthur's stubborn head and covered them. Eames smiled against Arthur's shoulder when he threw an arm over him and wasn't brushed off. "Anything, Darling," Eames said into Arthur's sleeping neck just before dozing off himself.

 



"Mr. Eames!" Arthur commanded, "It's time to get up. We have work to do."

Eames groaned, body stiff from having slept on the floor. He was disappointed he couldn't at least wake with Arthur in his arms to take the edge off of his aching muscles. Eames dozed off again until he was rudely awaken by a wad of clothes to the face. He sat upright, regretting the sudden movement when his aching back spasmed and he fell back to the rug, arms spayed lazily.

"Arthur, Darling, wake me when it's a decent time, not," Eames paused to look at his wrist watch. "Ten in the morning," he finished, frustrated it wasn't actually early at all.

"Come Mr. Eames, we have a job to do," Arthur demanded and Eames submitted with a huff.

"Yes, High Commander!" Eames mocked and Arthur made a noise between a scoff and an awkward burst of a laugh.

Satisfied with himself, Eames got up off the floor to confront a freshly showered Arthur in one of his suits.

“What did you have in mind?” Eames said as he stood up and took his time to stretch. He didn't bother covering up his own nudity and chuckled when Arthur tried his best to keep his eyes on Eames’ face despite his flush. Arthur swallowed.

“I thought we could work in a feeling of remorse and regret for what is to come,” Arthur said a little hoarsely. He cleared his throat quietly before continuing, turning to face the window so he didn't have to see Eames’ backside enter the bathroom. “Perhaps we can also try to subdue the Big Giant Head’s need for revenge as well, convince him that Vicki regrets leaving him, that she did it for the baby. The easiest exploit is the Big Giant Head’s child.”

“Do continue,” Eames said before sticking his toothbrush back in his mouth. He'd been decent enough to wrap a towel about his waist so Arthur could focus. Honestly, nudity had never been such a big deal before.

Arthur continued to brainstorm as Eames offered input and solutions so the job could run more smoothly.

So they were doing this. Arthur sighed out his apprehension and lost himself to Eames’ conversation.

Chapter Text

“Harry! I want that kitchen spotless by the time I get back!” Dick commanded from the living room. “Sally, go outside and patrol the perimeter. I want tomorrow when the Big Giant Head visits Earth for the final time before his departure to be perfect,” Dick said as he propped his feet up on the table and changed the channel.

 

“Funny how when the Big Giant Head is on his way the Supreme Leader gets to sit on his butt while we do all the work,” Sally said in hushed tone as she leaned toward Harry.

 

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, eyes narrowing.

 

“That pompous, self righteous--” Sally said angrily, cracking her knuckles.

 

“You could say,” Harry started, “that his head is getting a little big, and giant, if you know what I mean.”

 

“Heeeeey,” Sally said through a smile and pointed, “I see what you did there.”

 

“I try,” Harry smiled triumphantly to himself.

 

“Hey! Enough chit chat in there!” Dick ordered from the living room. “Get to work!”

 

“Ugh,” Sally scoffed as she went out the kitchen door with a slam. She descended the stairs into the back yard and began setting up perimeter while muttering about Dick in frustration. As Sally rounded the corner of the DupChek house she spotted Arthur getting out of his car along with Eames.

 

“Tommy!” Sally called and Arthur turned toward her in greeting. “And Eames,” she acknowledged with suspicion.”

 

“Hello Sally. Is Vicki around?” Arthur asked.

 

“What's it to you?” Sally asked, eyes narrowing in full security guard mode.

 

“I just thought I'd drop in and say hi,” Arthur said with a half shrug.

 

“Well, that tramp’s upstairs taking a shower. Harry and her are gonna watch movies on the couch or some mushy crap like that,” Sally said.

 

“Thanks,” Arthur said, heading toward the front door. Eames followed, but was caught by Sally's outstretched hand.

 

“It's good to see some more muscle around here,” Sally said, sizing Eames up. She lowered her voice, eyes narrowing, “Don’t try any funny stuff, I've got my eyes on you.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Eames responded with a smile. “Only when such a lovely lady as yourself demands it. Sally smiled, all charm and seduction.

 

“Hey Tommy, I like this one,” Sally said.

 

“Mr. Eames.” Arthur commanded and Eames tried not to bark a laugh at Arthur's blatant possessiveness.

 

Another car pulled up with Mary Albright behind the wheel and she waved, rolling down her window for a proper hello.

 

“Is Dick in?” She said cheerily.

 

“DICK,” Sally shouted suddenly. “Get down here!”

 

“What Sally? I told you enough chit chat! Now get----MARY,” Dick exclaimed when he finally made it to look out the window. “Don't move, I'll be right down,” he said sweetly.

 

They passed Dick on the way up the stairs.

 

“Eames,” Dick acknowledged. “Tommy, you're the man of the household while I'm gone.”

 

“Sure, Dick,” Arthur agreed without much enthusiasm.

 

They continued upstairs to find Harry on the couch in front of the television.

 

“Hey Harry, mind if we join you?” Arthur asked.

 

“Hey, Tommy! Of course, please, sit down!” Harry greeted.

 

“Harry, do you want butter and salt on your popcorn?” Vicki asked from the kitchen.

 

“Extra salt, hold the butter,” Harry said. “So what brings you here, Tommy?”

 

“Well, I thought since I'm back in town for a few weeks, we could visit for a while, catch up,” Arthur offered.

 

“Gee, Tommy! That's a great idea,” Harry agreed with a flattered smile. “Vicki, come say hi to our guests.”

 

“Guests?” Vicki asked before she rounded the corner of the kitchen doorway. “Oh, hey Tommy. And Eames, right?” Vicki drawled as she set the popcorn down on the coffee table. Arthur nodded.

 

Eames held out his hand to her, and Vicki took it before he brought her hand to his lips. “It's a pleasure, dear,” Eames purred and Vicki swooned.

 

“Oh my,” Vicki said softly before she backed away to sit slowly on the couch next to Harry, eyes never leaving Eames.

 

It was frustrating to say the least, watching Eames being so outright flirtatious with another person. He had only acted that way around….Arthur. It struck him then that Eames must actually really be into him, because Eames only ever had his eyes on Arthur. His heart swelled in his chest. Okay, maybe he had been a little oblivious. Besides, there was assurance that this was just an act. Vicki was just too...simple for Eames’ tastes.

 

“We’re not interrupting plans this evening, are we?” Arthur asked with mock apology.

 

“Well we were going to watch movies,” Harry started defiantly.

 

“Harry, hush,” Vicki said, swatting Harry's arm to get him to shut up. “Why don't y’all stay a little while? There's popcorn, and beer and Diet Coke in the fridge.”

 

“Thanks Vicki, we’d love to,” Arthur smiled.

 

“Why don't we play some games?” Eames suggested, eyes on Vicki. Harry was clearly not thrilled by the state of things but it didn't take long for him to become cheery again.

 

They began with simple card games and progressed to opening up the liquor cabinet. Eames could mix just about whatever cocktail anyone he was with could name, and then some. He ended up stirring up drinks to go around, just to get started. It was gone in no time.

 

Of course Eames was extraordinarily good at card games, but he seemed to be withholding himself. He paid consistent attention to Vicki, trying to understand and study all of her quirks.

 

They started playing drinking games, and the flirtation between Eames and Vicki became more intense. Eventually it grew to bother Arthur just as much as it did Harry, and he stood suddenly, swaying after so many drinks.

 

“Mr. Eames, kitchen please,” Arthur managed not to slur.

 

“What is it Arthur?” Eames asked despite his own suspicion as he followed int the kitchen.

 

“Stop acting like that at Vicki,” Arthur hissed.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Don't play dumb with me Eames, you know what I'm talking about.”

 

“I'm just getting to know her so I can forge her,” Eames explained calmly despite his excessive intake of alcohol that evening.

 

“It's unprofessional,” Arthur accused.

 

“What? Unprofessional?” Eames said, eyebrows lifting. “I'm doing my job. You're the one letting jealousy interfere with your job, making you unprofessional .”

 

“Jealousy? Oh please, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said, jaw clenching.

 

“Darling, you have nothing to worry about,” Eames said, voice changing and lowering. “She's no match for you,” he assured, moving in close to Arthur to brush their lips together.

 

Arthur whimpered quietly, having had a few too many drinks to restrain himself. He shoved at Eames’ chest, pushing back the grinning man as Arthur came away breathless.

 

“Oh my,” Vicki gasped. Arthur and Eames both startled, turning to look at her. “Don't stop on account of me or nothin’” she said, turning on her heels to walk back into the living room.

 

“Dammit Eames,” Arthur huffed, grabbing Eames’ shirt collar to move him out of the way. He walked over to the reflective glass doors of a China cabinet to straighten his own dress shirt. “Get your job done and let's get out of here.”

 

“Anything for you, Darling,” Eames whispered in Arthur's ear who jumped, not having heard him approach. Eames rested his chin briefly on Arthur's shoulder, hand on his hip before pulling away.

 

Eames went back into the living room to grab his coat where it hung on a rack. “Well Harry, Vicki, it's been fun, but I think it's time Arthur and I took our leave. He's had a few too many I suspect and is getting a little grumpy,” Eames said softly.

 

“Ooooh,” Harry said with a crooked grin and a short laugh of understanding. “You guys are welcome here anytime, don't be strangers,” Harry encouraged.

 

Arthur glared daggers through Eames from the kitchen doorway. The car ride back to the townhouse they were renting was admittedly tense. By the time they got in the front door Arthur's vow of silence was making Eames anxious. All he wanted was a sardonic quip, anything, from Arthur.

 

“Arthur, I,” Eames began before Arthur rounded on him and pinned him against the living room wall by the stairs.

 

Arthur had a hand around his throat, not choking but suggesting it as he crushed his lips into Eames’. Whimpering, Eames gasped as Arthur nudged into his groin with his thigh. Arthur's hand snaked under the bottom of Eames shirt, skimming up Eames’ side, dragging his nails along the way. Eames shuttered, his hands resting against Arthur's upper back.

 

Arthur removed his hands to grip at Eames’ arms, then wrists, pinning his hands against the wall on either side of Eames’ head. Arthur ground his hips into Eames, catching his lips again in a less clumsy kiss, more affectionate.

 

“Arthur,” Eames breathed into him.

 

“Mr. Eames,” Arthur whispered against his lips. Arthur let the tip of his tongue skim Eames’ upper lip, teasing and testing. Eames sighed, anticipation building until Arthur dipped his tongue in to meet Eames. He melted back against the wall, letting Arthur finally take what he wanted, forfeiting control. Eames played coy, chasing softly after Arthur's tongue devoid of aggression.

 

The kiss was oddly sweet compared to the iron grip Arthur had on Eames’ wrists, until he slid his hands further, palm to palm. Arthur interlaced their fingers, thrusting gently into Eames hips until it just wasn't enough and the man against the wall thrust back.

 

Arthur broke the kiss rather abruptly, resting his forehead on Eames shoulder.

 

“Arthur,” Eames purred.

 

Arthur let go of his hands suddenly, shoving Eames back into the wall when he tried to take Arthur in his arms. When he lifted his head, realization dawned on Eames, cutting through his arousal.

 

“Arthur,” Eames said with concern before Arthur turned quickly and ran for the connecting kitchen.

 

He barely made it through the doorway before throwing up, not entirely making it to the sink. Arthur groaned in misery as he gripped the faucet with one hand and heaved.

 

The sound of Arthur's retching was hard to stomach, but Eames went to the kitchen doorway to survey the damage. He grabbed a few of the towels from the rack and laid them over where Arthur had missed the sink before leaning against the edge of the counter. Eames ran a hand through Arthur's hair who cradled his head in his crossed arms on the edge of the counter. Arthur raised a hand to clumsily swat Eames’ away, but was too exhausted to be of much success.

 

“Think you got it all out?” Eames asked. After a long pause, Arthur nodded just as Eames began to suspect he might have fallen asleep like that. Arthur made himself stand and Eames caught him, supporting Arthur flush against his side. “Come on, Darling, let's put you to bed,” Eames mouthed against Arthur's temple, finishing it with a kiss. They stumbled together back into the living room.

 

“This is so embarrassing,” Arthur thought aloud as Eames unbuttoned his shirt which had remnants of his sickness.

 

“Don't concern yourself with such things,” Eames assured softly. “You could never truly embarrass yourself to me.”

 

Eames knelt to unbutton Arthur's pants next, but before he could strip them off of Arthur a hand rested in his hair. Eames stilled, looking up at Arthur who ran his hand along Eames’ cheek and five o'clock shadow, thumb grazing the corner of his lips.

 

“You're too good to me,” Arthur said, hushed.

 

“Arthur,” Eames said, kneeling up and wrapping his arms around Arthur's waist. He nuzzled Arthur's bare belly, cheek pressing into his warmth as Eames hugged him.

 

“I don't deserve it,” Arthur whispered anxiously.

 

Eames nipped at Arthur's navel with his teeth and smiled when he was rewarded with a yelp from the man above.

 

“Don't say such rubbish,” Eames said, looking back up to Arthur before pulling back to strip off the man's pants. Arthur's hand still grazed Eames’ scalp lazily until he stood. “Come to bed,” Eames said, taking Arthur's hand, leading him slowly through the doorway. He sat down on the bed, back against the headboard and piled up pillows and opened his arms, inviting Arthur into them. Arthur went to Eames sleepily, collapsing against his broad, clothed chest.

 

Eames skimmed his fingers through Arthur's hair, mimicking the way the man had done for him only moments before. He regretted not keeping better track of how much Arthur had been drinking, clearly distracted by Eames’ play to seduce Vicki the way he thought the Big Giant Head might. Arthur hadn't been paying attention to how many drinks he had had himself, and Eames knew he always limited himself in every other situation. Arthur would take this as his own personal failing and Eames wanted to ease that any way possible.

 

Eames dozed off after pulling the covers over Arthur sleeping against his chest, vowing to take better care of his darling next time.

 

 


 

 

“Well done, Mr. Eames,” Arthur acknowledged as Eames forged Vicki in the dreamscape.

 

“Thank you, Darling,” Eames said in a feminine drawl and Arthur winced.

 

“Don't call me that when you're wearing another person,” Arthur said.

 

“Does it make you uncomfortable?” Eames asked, chuckling softly. He let the guise of Vicki fall to become himself again before adding, “Thank you, Darling.”

 

Eames shifted immediately back into Vicki again, turning away to practice his expressions in the mirror. Arthur let him work, watching in wonder at how Eames could so flawlessly change from one person to another. He was impressed, and proud, he realized, for another person's capabilities as if they were his own. It was a bewildering feeling, more intense than the camaraderie and understanding he'd felt with Mal.

 

Arthur walked away to work on building the dreamscape of his home planet. His nightmare had done some refreshing of what its surface and atmosphere had looked like, but it was some particular details he was struggling with. Arthur would have time to observe some of the details when he visited Stone’s bachelor pod for the mission briefing to destroy Earth, but he wanted the preliminary designs in place beforehand.

 

Eames came up to him after a few hours in the dream to observe Arthur's progress.

 

“Is your planet really such bewildering colors?” Eames asked casually, though internally he was intrigued. It was finally sinking in that Arthur was indeed an alien from another planet, a whole other part of the galaxy in fact. Arthur had always been great at building systems or places he'd seen in real life but wasn't much of one for creativity, at least not on this scale. He would had to have seen this place in real life to make it so convincingly corporeal.

 

“A assure you it's no more bewildering than your taste in fashion,” Arthur quipped. His uncertainty seemed to be manifesting in mild irritation.

 

“Perhaps we should start spending more time together unclothed if it bothers you so much?”

 

“Please Mr. Eames, refrain from the blatant flirtation in the job,” Arthur said.

 

Eames smiled inwardly. It least Arthur was beginning to openly acknowledge his advances. If Eames was interpreting Arthur's recent tendency for lingering glances of irritation, he was perhaps taking Eames’ offers into account.

 

Eames was distracted from his thoughts as they entered a particularly offensive room.

 

They stood at the precipice of some kind of command room, one portion of the rounded wall coated in screens. In the center was an elaborate throne like chair that seemed dwarfed by the expanse of the space it anchored and the massive desk circling part way around it. There were a few strange purple tube blobs milling about, apparently working at stations in the room. Their color was offset by intense purples and blue highlights streaking the odd bulges in the walls, accented by an orange that was painful to look at.

 

It was starting to make Eames feel a little nauseous. As he turned to leave, Arthur called out to him.

 

“What do you think?” Arthur asked, some hesitancy coming through in his voice. Eames doubted Arthur realized he was doing so, Eames was just so well tuned to the nuances of his speech patterns by now.

 

“The colors are indeed garish,” Eames said honestly, trying to focus on Arthur and not the room around him. Arthur recognized why Eames was squinting painfully.

 

“We see in a different part of the light spectrum than you do,” Arthur nodded toward the orange accents. “Here, come this way,” he instructed and Eames followed. They entered a small neighboring room that was mostly windows to empty, dark space which greatly relaxed Eames’ senses.

 

“Thank you,” Eames said graciously. “This is all a lot to take in.”

 

“Yeah,” Arthur said softly before continuing into mission mode. “This is on Stone’s, the Big Giant Head’s, bachelor pad. Although most of its interior was designed to appear quite human, the Big Giant Head had a replica of his command room built into it. The tubular workers are actually holograms of the real ones functioning on the home planet. There the Big Giant Head is a hologram as well, but is able to retain his correspondents and leadership.”

 

“Holograms? Are they part of the architecture in this setting?” Eames asked curiously.

 

“No, those are projections,” he tried to ignore the way Eames looked taken aback.

 

“You can have projections in a completely different species despite being human?” Eames spoke aloud. “Interesting. Although I guess that could make sense.”

 

“I didn't realize it was possible to do to be honest. They just came with the dreamscape.”

 

“Like your subconscious adjusted to the design of your original state of being? Very interesting,” Eames rubbed his chin in thought. Arthur shrugged.

 

“Will we need to be present in any other part of the ship? Have you built that yet?”

 

“No,” Arthur responded. “The Big Giant Head will be too prideful to immediately show that part of his life to Vicki again. Instead he will meet her here, to display his power and dominance.”

 

“Ah, there's the human in him,” Eames chuckled and Arthur's lip quirked.

 

“Actually that part existed before he was ever human. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the competence of him as leader,” Arthur said, seeming to zone out a little as he remembered. “I suspect that is in great question now.”

 

“Do you think your species might do something to overturn his ruling?”

 

“Perhaps,” Arthur responded, “but almost definitely not in time to change his order. That's why we need to try and take this situation into our own hands.”

 

Eames made a considering sound as he walked to examine the design of the rooms interior structure, though Arthur was sure his was more engrossed in his own thoughts.

 

“Do you believe me now?” Arthur asked suddenly, referring to his origins. “About the being an alien thing,” He elaborated.

 

“It's not that I didn't believe you before,” Eames said. Arthur responded with an expression saying ‘yeah, right.’ “All of this does make it rather convincing though.” Eames gestured to the room’s design. “I think this terrible choice in architecture is beyond your ability to just make up.”

 

“This certainly isn't my style,” Arthur agreed. He hadn't given twice a thought to how much their surroundings did completely disagree with his human sensibilities.

 

“I think the hardest part is imagining you as one of those purple tubular things in there.”

 

“Speaking of which,” Arthur said, coming closer to Eames. “Do you think you could teach me to forge one of them?” Arthur asked. ‘To forge himself,’ he didn't say.

 

“I could try, but I'm much more accustomed to human anatomy than I am your species.”

 

“I understand, but for this assignment I may need to be able to be one of them to convince the Big Giant Head of my loyalties.”

 

“Let's get to work then,” Eames nodded, tone shifting to the serious determination he often wore when it came to forging.

 

Forging was a hell of a thing. Arthur didn't understand how Eames managed it. When he asked Eames explained it's all subtle variations in his own physique, sculpting each feature with concentration to get all of the attribute correct. Then he spent time further observing the person in their lives to pick up mannerisms and tells so he could convince the right people he was actually their friend or business partner or sister.

 

“As with many things in life, it is the little things that matter the most: the way a person stands when idle, whether they bite their nails, nervous habits and tics. Then there were the big features: accents, limitations of language use, personality traits like a short temper, that defined the person themselves.”

 

“How,” Arthur paused in wonder, “how do you manage so much at once?”

 

“Passion and practice, darling,” Eames smiled, “which is, I imagine, why you're so good at information gathering, analysis and memorization.”

 

“I guess that makes sense,” Arthur sighed, standing in front of the mirror with Eames. “My initial assignment was as an information officer.”

 

“That explains your inhuman ability to be anal,” Eames said and chuckled when Arthur glowered at him, failing to completely ignore Eames’ sarcasm.

 

“Seriously Eames, I don't think this is working,” Arthur said, attempting to return to the task at hand.

 

“Not to offend your faculties Arthur, but this isn't something you learn over night, or in just under two weeks for that matter,” Eames explained. “It's taken me nearly three years in dreamshare and a lifetime of acting, people watching, especially under stress in gambling, and various legally questionable business pursuits dealing in identity theft.”

 

“Fuck. Yeah, okay,” Arthur gave in, a frustrated hand running through his hair.

 

They'd been at Arthur trying to forge Eames or someone that looked like him for two hours in dream time. Arthur had tried becoming one of his own species but only managed to slightly tint his skin purple and looked ridiculous. Eames had finally decided to call it quits because if Arthur wasn't picking it up at all yet, there was no way he could make enough progress by the time the Big Giant Head came to Earth one last time.

 

“We should kick ourselves back up soon. I think it is best to take a rest and revise our plan,” Eames suggested.

 

“On to the next plan then,” Arthur sighed.

 

“Might I ask just how many plans you had?”

 

“Six,” Arthur said, “So through Plan F. But those are just pre-job plans. Once one is chosen and in motion there are more options in case something goes awry,” Arthur explained.

 

Eames chucked at him just as music began to play.

Chapter Text

“Now that you have Vicki forged, I'd like to work on her son, Eric Travis. We need him to be an adult and to show remorse toward his father for having decided to destroy humanity and left him alone.”

 

“I've been working through that,” Eames said. He'd been studying photographs of Stone Phillips for the previous few hours before setting up the passive. He changed himself then, becoming narrower but just as tall. Eames focused on becoming the appearance of the Big Giant Head, then shifted his character down in age to his late teens.

 

“Not bad, Mr. Eames,” Arthur approved, moving around his estimation of a grown up Eric who in reality was only just old enough to start public school. “Perhaps you could add just a little bit more of Vicki to him, though?”

 

Eames pointed the tip of Eric's nose more downward and darkened his hair from blond to brunette.

 

“Very good,” Arthur said.

 

“Thank you, Arthur,” Eames said in a younger voice that wasn't his own.

 

Eames rehearsed Eric for hours as Arthur ran him through questions about his upbringing. Here and there Arthur suggested alterations to Eric's personality or phrases he used, but overall Eames had come up with much of his own convincing character.

 

Ultimately the goal was for Eames, or Eric, to make his father feel like a jerk for having wiped out his son’s species. Eames threw out his own complains about having a human body and having to look at the garish colors of their home planet. He played the teen overwrought with angst because of his loneliness, and Arthur was impressed by every moment.

 

Eric reminded him a bit of his own teenage years.

 

Once they were satisfied with the development of Eric, Arthur and Eames just spent some time building their own private world. They were both relatively well traveled and erected not quite accurate replications of architecture from various cultures. By keeping their designs just surreal enough, Arthur and Eames prevented the possibility for mixing up dream from reality.

 

“Do you think we should be working on the formulations for the job?” Arthur asked after a few hours strolling through a picturesque hillside Eames had been interested in making.

 

“We need a break from time to time,” Eames justified. “And we have most of the dream already planned out, with the arrival of Stone Phillips in just a week. Everything will be fine, Arthur.”

 

“If you're so sure,” Arthur mumbled in doubt.

 

“Come on,” Eames coaxed. “I think it's time we got back and made something to eat.”

 

Arthur nodded and they kicked themselves back up.

 

--------

 

They sat on the balcony in content silence, eating Chinese takeout from a local restaurant, then decided to go for a walk. Their bodies sometimes felt stiff after laying on one position while their minds were immersed in a shared dream. They trekked a few blocks to a nearby park to circle it a few times.

 

“You know Eames, it's like you've mastered your own art form,” Arthur said suddenly, betraying his sheer amazement in Eames’ capabilities. He'd been thinking of how smoothly Eames had shifted from Vicki to himself and back. Then remembered how Eames had adjusted Eric's physical appearance to look like both his parents, even when the real Eric wouldn't be that old for another decade at least.

 

Perhaps he'd taken forging for granted before; okay, he definitely had. Arthur hadn't expected the task of playing another human in a dream to require so much constant consideration and concentration. Arthur suspected he'd assumed that forging whole human identities in dreams just made it easier, like if you just thought of yourself as that person the rest would come on its own.

 

“Art form, huh?” Eames said with interest. “You don't suppose I could sell it somehow, do you?”

 

“In a way you already do, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said. “And besides, the likelihood of you getting acclaim for your work during your lifetime is highly unlikely, let alone wealth. Your culture seems to consistently undervalue its artists during their lifetimes.”

 

“Alright, alright. Don't go crushing dreams before they even fully form,” Eames chuckled, clutching his chest like he'd been wounded.

 

“Sorry,” Arthur said sincerely, he hadn't meant to think aloud like that. Or, well, not in a way that ruined what Eames was planning. He was the creative one after all, and Arthur learned with dreamers like Eames and plotters like Dom, they could make amazing things happen despite his own scepticism and criticism.

 

“That's alright, Arthur,” Eames said, drawing Arthur against his side with one arm. “I appreciate your input. Sometimes us dreamers need someone to bring us back to reality.”

 

“Yeah,” Arthur smiled, wrapping his arm around Eames’ lower back. He figured why not, what with the end of the world coming and all. “Just don't let that get in the way of what you want to do because you care about my opinion or something.” Eames looked at Arthur who averted his eyes. “I think you'll amaze me no matter what you decide to do,” Arthur said. “Or how much of a pain in the ass you are,” he added, ears flushing a little and trying to cover up his blatant admiration with humor. He needed to stop talking.

 

“Thank you, Darling,” Eames said, tipping Arthur's chin up to plant a soft kiss on his lips. Arthur's body had gone stiff and he hesitated a moment as Eames drew back, eyes examining Eames face with intensity as if trying to piece out the meaning of the gesture. “Don't forget the same applies for you,” Eames said with a sweet smile. Arthur realized belatedly that his heart was racing.

 

They walked in silence for sometime, hips brushing in step, Eames content and Arthur not sure what to say. He was piecing out something in his mind but couldn't seem to find the right way to put it into words. Eventually, as the the setting sun cast the sky in pinks, Arthur's internal nagging forced him to talk.

 

“Eames,” he traced his fingers up the center of a broad back.

 

“Hm?” Eames hummed in question.

 

“I’m not sure about what we did before,” Arthur forced out beyond his tight throat.

 

“You mean the plan for the job?”

 

“No,” Arthur said, frustration mounting slightly in his tone. He tried to stifle it because the agitation was with himself, not Eames, and he didn't want to give off the wrong impression. “The sex part,” Arthur forced out, body stiffening.

 

“Ah, what about it?” Eames coaxed casually. He appreciated hearing what Arthur had to say, communication was integral to not only their work but what this could become between them.

 

“I don't usually do that. I mean, my species, we’re asexual, and when I adjusted to being an adult human I just accepted my inability to be sexually attracted to anyone.” Eames waited patiently for Arthur to continue, dreading that Arthur might choose to revoke their progress, but ready to respect his wishes, even if it killed Eames.

 

“I mean, it made things easier, not dealing with the drama of relationships and just focusing on my education and career. I just took care of my bodily needs as was necessary. I haven't done something like that with someone before, haven't wanted to before.”

 

“Was that your first--?” Eames asked with a little more enthusiasm than he meant to give off. He wasn't one for favoring stealing virgin chastity or anything like that, but Eames favored the idea of Arthur's love life belonging solidarily between just the two of them.

 

“Not really,” Arthur said with some uncertainty. “I mean there was the awkward thing with my high school girlfriend when I was convinced I should lose my virginity, but I'm not sure I would call it sex. It was more just fumbling and teenage lust.”

 

Eames chuckled in understanding, having educated himself many a time with fumbling encounters in locker rooms and bars he'd slipped into despite being underage in his own youth.

 

“Girlfriend, huh? Didn't know about blokes back then?”

 

“I'm not sure it matters,” Arthur half shrugged. “Alissa was smart and beautiful and kind, but we went different ways. My mission as information officer kind of consumed my life, even though at the time I hadn't recognized the obsession for what it was.”

 

“There's nothing wrong with having passion for something,” Eames commented, having taken a similar although slightly less legal path in his own life. Sexual and romantic conquests had always been at a distance and never lasted long, it was just easier that way. He wasn't sure what he'd gotten himself into with Arthur. “When there's uncertainty in your life it's often the smartest route to focus on developing yourself first.” Arthur nodded in agreement. It brought you to me , Eames didn't say.

 

“Sometimes that self development was all I could see though,” Arthur said with self criticism. “It took getting into dreamshare and finding myself incapable of perfecting every aspect of something to break out of that. When Mal and Dom were brought onto the project it was the first time I'd had someone like a friend for years.”

 

“Were you ever attracted to either of them?”

 

“God no,” Arthur blurted before he refined himself. “Mal was my best friend, for lack of a better term. As for Dom, I put up with him because he was frustratingly competent. Our friendship didn't come until many years later.

 

“Anyway, my point is that you're the first person I've been attracted to like this, and it's difficult for me to wrap my head around it. It's disorienting to say the least, and I still don't like the idea of being tied down by someone.”

 

“I understand,” Eames said graciously and the defensive tension in Arthur's shoulders eased.

 

“You do?”

 

“Are you familiar with the term demisexual?” Eames asked.

 

“It's a facet of asexual, right? I remember looking it up in college but I'm not sure what it means anymore.”

 

“Yes, because asexuality, as all sexuality Darling, is a spectrum. Demisexual means you still identify as asexual but can develop a sexual attraction if a deep psychological one already exists.”

 

“So you're saying I'm romantically attracted to you?” Eames gave an agreeable shrug but seemed to recede a little, letting Arthur map out the realization for himself. “Your skill level is quite impressive, few others have felt like such an equal,” Arthur admitted as his eyebrows quirked. “Otherwise you can be insufferable.”

 

Eames barked out a sudden laugh at Arthur's serious expression.

 

“Perhaps you enjoy the challenge,” Eames said as he leaned closer into Arthur's space.

 

Arthur scoffed as Eames pulled him in. He expected to be kissed and stiffened, but was relieved when he was only hugged tightly, Eames’ palm cradling the back of his neck and squeezing pleasantly. The pressure was almost painful but sent shivers of pleasure through his body as Eames kneaded.

 

“If ever I overstep boundaries Arthur, just tell me and I'll always stop. I'll take whatever you'll give me and be happy with it,” Eames whispered into his ear. Arthur's arms tightened and he indulged enough to bury his nose into Eames’ neck and inhale to ease himself. He had always liked the way Eames’ choice of cologne smelled, but had seldom been close enough to take in Eames’ scent. He was rich and earthy under the subtle cologne, with a hint of spicy from his shampoo.

 

Eames pressed his dry lips to Arthur's neck, moving to his jaw as he slowly drew back. Arthur let Eames kiss his cheek, then his lips. Eames moved slowly and softly, like he was talking gently against Arthur, almost hesitant with restraint. Arthur kissed him back after a few moments of the lingering kisses. He dominated the kiss, almost biting Eames’ lips, teasing, until Arthur leaned back to see his work. Eames’ mouth was parted and panting softly, lips swollen, slick and pinkened from Arthur's attention. He couldn't help but wonder at where else Eames’ lips would look good.

 

It wasn't like Arthur hadn't thought about sex before, he had just never been attracted to someone like this, had never truly desired another human the way he did Eames. Masturbation had been a bodily necessity, but now that he had Eames to get close to, the past all seemed so empty. He felt like he'd been missing this warmth all his life but couldn't realize he had been until he found Eames.

 

Wait, that couldn't be right, could it? Had he been longing for this closeness?

 

Perhaps. But he had refused to settle for anything that didn't feel like a natural attraction. Arthur needed someone to challenge him, he realized, but who matched his intellect. He'd always been attracted to the creative, and Eames held a skill even he couldn't seem to master.

 

Arthur enjoyed order, but even Eames crooked teeth past his swollen lips seemed like defiance and Arthur was bewildered to find them attractive too. He supposed it was just because it was a part of Eames.

 

“Let's get back home,” Arthur said a little hoarsely, but managed to graciously overcome the lump in his throat. “This is hardly appropriate behavior in public,” Arthur chastised, but Eames could see right through him, grinning as Arthur still held his hand on the walk home.

 

----------

 

Eames briefly recalled when he and Arthur had started sharing a bed some months before. Arthur had suggested sharing a hotel room because he was concerned about an overly aggressive mark who may have hired thugs to tail them. Eames wouldn't say he jumped at the opportunity, surely he'd professionally agreed, but the memory still made him smile.

 

He slid into the queen bed next to Arthur who had protested, gesturing toward the other bed. Eames had suggested it was safer this way, without distance between them so they could properly have each others backs. Eames had assured Arthur this was in a professional interest of safety for his business partner, and was thrilled when Arthur took a moment to actually consider.

 

Arthur had turned over, turned off his bedside lamp, and rolled under the covers to face the window, hand resting under his pillow where Eames knew Arthur held his gun. Eames followed suit, back toward Arthur as he faced the door before they both fell into some much needed sleep.

 

When Eames continued to lay in bed next to Arthur, he was delighted when he wasn't thrown out, making sure Arthur watched him tuck his gun under his own pillow. This arrangement was all a safety measure after all.

 

Now Eames came back from the bathroom to find the bed empty. He checked the time on his cell phone on the bedside table to find it was only 4am. He and Arthur had gone to bed around 1 and Eames knew very well the effects an inconsistent sleep schedule could have on a job. Arthur in particular could get rather moody when he lacked sleep, especially when he suffered from bouts of insomnia because he couldn't stop thinking.

 

“Arthur, Darling,” Eames said as he went out onto the back porch at their townhouse. “Can’t sleep?”

 

“Obviously not,” Arthur snapped, not turning toward Eames. He was clearly exhausted and wanted to sleep despite his inability.

 

“Even if you lie in bed without sleeping it can help your body rest and recuperate--”

 

“Every time I lie there I get to thinking about how easily this whole job can go wrong,” Arthur said in frustration. That tone of voice would have bothered Eames when he'd first met Arthur, but the important part was that Arthur was honestly sharing his concerns. The temperamental aspect of his personality when it truly arose often revolved around being frustrated with himself. “So much rests on the successful completion of this job.”

 

“I understand Arthur, and I'm right here with you, Darling,” Eames said. “But come back to bed, let me try to help.”

 

Arthur looked at him, accusatory. “I'm not in the mood, Eames.”

 

“Arthur--”

 

“Look, could you please just fuck off?”  Arthur bit out, trying not to blow up further. Eames could see the strained tension in his body and nodded.

 

“Very well then,” Eames said and passed quietly through the door to leave Arthur with his angst.

 

Arthur hadn't meant to be so blatantly harsh with Eames, and regretted it the moment Eames wasn't there to apologize to, but he needed some alone time. Part of the guilt he was feeling had to do with Eames being pulled into this job in the first place. Arthur thought it was hardly his place to get Eames into this whole situation. He wanted to revoke this whole thing, but couldn't stand the idea of just not trying and watching Eames die for it.

 

Arthur rubbed tears from his eyes, not sure if it was because he was so sleepy or frustrated. He left the chill of the night air to search the kitchen for a snack. After nearly half an hour of deep contemplation later, Arthur finally returned to the bedroom.

 

He paused by his side of the bed, watching Eames sleep for a moment, before crawling in. Arthur pulled back the covers and pushed Eames’ bare shoulder so the man lay on his back. He climbed on top of Eames’ hips and straddled him.

 

“Arthur, what are you doing,” Eames asked sleepily, eyes barely slipping open.

 

“Maybe, if you want, if you could wear down my body, I could sleep,” Arthur said suggestively. Eames could tell this invitation for him to fuck Arthur was part of his exhausted apology without actually saying sorry. Arthur ground down into Eames hips but they were both so soft it was almost painful.

 

“That was not what I meant when I said I wanted to help,” Eames said sternly.

 

“What did you mean then?” Arthur asked and moved submissively when Eames rolled him off from atop himself. Eames shifted up into a sitting position and piled the pillows behind him.

 

“Come here and sit,” Eames gestured between his spread legs. “Back to me,” he instructed and was contented when Arthur did as he was told. “Take off your shirt.” Eames watched Arthur's taut back flex with the movement.

 

He pressed his thumbs into either side of Arthur's spine at the base of his neck as soon as the shirt lowered to the bed. Arthur made a pained moan as Eames’ hands closed over his shoulders and squeezed. Eames didn't let up on the pressure despite the way Arthur hunched forward a little to avoid the mix of pleasure and pain. Arthur didn't outright tell Eames to stop though. Eames let out some of his earlier frustration with Arthur through his kneading hands.

 

Arthur's pained groans began to subside into pleasured ones as Eames’ touch gradually softened. He moved up Arthur's neck, squeezing along his spine, hands wrapped around his neck.

 

“Are you ticklish?” Eames whispered, dancing his fingers along pulse points, and Arthur sighed “No” with relief. His body still shivered with the sensation of Eames fingers along his neck, but Arthur didn't laugh or move away. Eames massaged back down to Arthur's shoulders before moving down his spine.

 

Arthur was so tense Eames felt like he was squeezing rocks under flesh, but he slowly worked out that tension. Soon Arthur's body moved slightly, backward and forward, with the pressure of Eames hands. He grew loose and compliant as Eames moved back upward to press around Arthur's shoulder blades.

 

Arthur seemed in a daze, reduced only to guttural sounds of pleasure, and Eames playful stroked his short nails down Arthur's spine. Arthur gave a full body shudder in response and whimpered as Eames scratched in light circles back upward. His hands gripped Arthur's shoulders again when he got that far, and he pulled Arthur back gently to lean against his own warm front. Eames’ hands kneaded over Arthur's shoulders and down his biceps. Arthur squirmed when Eames’ thumbs pressed into a particularly tender muscle at the back of his arm. Eames immediately softened his pressure but worked at that spot until Arthur was groaning. Eames moved down along Arthur's forearms, pressing his thumb along the inside of Arthur's wrists before reaching the palm of his hands. Arthur leaned his head back onto Eames’ shoulder as he held one hand at a time, working along the palms and down the knuckles of each finger to circle around the pads.

 

When Eames finished Arthur's hands, Arthur took his wrists. He pushed Eames hands down to his lap and Eames teased him. Arthur's cock was straining taut beneath his pajama pants, the head of him wetting the fabric. It was with an intense amount of self control that Eames denied touching Arthur. He remembered the way Arthur's cock arched, flushed and rigid as his mouth watered.

 

“Arthur,” he purred, “I thought you weren't in the mood.” Eames easily resisted Arthur's insistent grip, instead moving up his body to knead at his pecs. Arthur groaned with a confused sound between frustration of denial and the pleasure of more of Eames’ massaging attention. He wiggled his hips backwards, until he could feel the ridged cock pressed tight against Eames belly from the rub over. Eames’ hands faltered as Arthur pushed himself upward, hands on Eames thighs, to press his ass backward and slide down.

 

“Arthur,” Eames warned, but his heart wasn't into it. His grip tightened, forcing Arthur to stop trying to lift his hips again who groaned with Eames’ display of strength. “The more you interrupt what I'm doing, the more times we'll have to start over,” Eames said and Arthur groaned, resting back against Eames whose hands started back at his chest.

 

Eames moved even slower this time around, squeezing Arthur's chest until the man in his hands couldn't help but thrust forward into nothing. Eames kept purposefully kneading Arthur's nipples with his fingertips and he couldn't stop writhing in Eames’ lap. However, Arthur didn't try to make Eames change his intent by grinding back into his hips or anything like that, so Eames finally rewarded him by pressing lower into the muscles of his abdomen.

 

“Eames,” Arthur whimpered when his hands crept just below his belly button. The back of Eames’ hands were so close to brushing the clothed head of Arthur's cock that he was wiggling his hips nonstop now. But Eames pressed into Arthur's belly, still just out of reach and Arthur groaned with such a needy sound Eames could feel the desperation shoot through his own cock.

 

He finally released Arthur who quickly took the hint, climbing clumsily forward until he was on all fours to go to the end of the bed to shimmy off his pajama pants. Eames was so tempted to lean forward and grip Arthur's bare ass, but he pulled down his own boxers instead. Arthur climbed right back into Eames’ lap who had crossed his legs, calves overlapping and knees far apart for Arthur to sit in. Arthur looked over his shoulder as he pressed his ass back against Eames cock, pushing it against Eames’ belly. Eames couldn't resist squeezing the lobes of Arthur's ass, parting his cheeks so he own cock rode right against his cleft. Arthur groaned, legs spread far apart on either side of Eames legs, hands on his knees as he ground backward. Eames reached around him, squeezing Arthur's cock once in his hands.

 

“You're so wet, Darling,” Eames sighed, eyes half lidded with arousal at the idea that Arthur had been leaking so much for him. “You want it so badly, don't you.”

 

“Yeah,” Arthur said in a breathy rush of air, arms trembling with the effort of keeping himself upright. He thrust forward into Eames hands with his teasing words, then back to draw his cock through Eames’ tight grip, shuddering and groaning without restraint. Arthur managed to grind back all the way up to the head of Eames cock against his belly, then rubbed his ass down to Eames balls with his thrust forward into tight hands.

 

Arthur's movements were wild, feral and needy. Eames imagined the grip of his own hands around Arthur's cock as Arthur fucking into him, and it was too much.

 

“Arthur,” Eames croaked in warning and Arthur only sped up, fucking into his tight grip until it was making wet sounds of suction. Arthur leaned back, hands wrapping tight around Eames’ until Eames thought it must be tight enough to bruise. Arthur didn't stop thrusting, back arching backward and forward, basically sitting on Eames’ cock as he rubbed it. Eames lost his vision as he came, the enduring pleasure lasting until he felt like he couldn't breath. Eames barely felt when Arthur came against the pad of his thumb, pressing into the slit of Arthur's cock, but it seemed to intensify Eames pleasure. Arthur was all guttural moans that seemed to hitch in his throat as he road out his own orgasm, still grinding back as the head of his cock slid between Eames’ fingers until he was too soft and slipped from them.

 

When Eames regained enough composure to see again, still panting heavily, he found Arthur lounging lithe against the side of the stack of pillows next to him. He panted just as heavily as Eames, if not more so at that point. Arthur's eyes were closed and Eames suspected his was so near sleep he would be incoherent. Eames shifted forward enough to grip Arthur's shirt from the end of the bed to wipe his hands and belly on. There was cum all over his body he realized, spattered across his own chest, a spot on his neck, some even on his forearms and coating the insides of his groin and thighs. It was so messy and dirty and Eames loved the state of it, almost reluctant to wipe it all of. In his hesitation he sat back to observe himself until he heard a soft noise from Arthur.

 

Arthur's lips were parted and he panted softly between them, dark eyes on Eames before moving downward. He took his own shirt from Eames, swiping up along Eames’ belly so slowly. Arthur's breath grazed Eames shoulder as he leaned to reach his far arm, and it took some time to clean him completely. Arthur was as methodical as he was in most tasks but moved so lazily that Eames reveled in it. This encounter was so very endearing.

 

When Arthur finished he was on the brink of sleep and could barely lift the shirt from Eames leg let alone toss it on the floor. Eames stretched his legs forward, feet sliding beneath the covers as he propped himself up just enough to grab them and pull them up. He discarded the shirt over the side of the bed, slipping it gently from Arthur's hand before rolling enough to face a sleeping Arthur. He pressed a tender kiss to Arthur's damp forehead atop the pillows and scooted close enough to loop his wrist over Arthur's hip. Eames dozed off almost immediately afterward.

 

Arthur slept until nearly noon the next day, reprimanding Eames noisily for making him sleep so long and the absolutely soiled state of his own dress shirt.


Eames however, regretted nothing, and took the challenge of seeing what other things he could get Arthur to reprimand him for into grinning consideration.

Chapter Text

“The Big Giant Head will be here within the hour!” Dick said, anxiety seeping through his words. “I have reservations to his favorite overpriced, ritzy restaurant, he'd better not be late.”

 

“Dick, no matter what time he gets here you know very well he won't be ‘late’,” Sally said.

 

“Oh I know,” Dick said in frustration. “I just want everything to be perfect. As High Commander it would reflect poorly upon my leadership for it to be any less.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Alright, Dick, we know,” Sally said with an eye roll. She leaned over toward Eames to mutter in his ear. “The Big Giant Head is his father.”

 

“Daddy issues?” Eames said with a broad nod of understanding.

 

“Could be a little more subtle, ya think?” Sally said.

 

Arthur nudged Eames in the side with his elbow to shut him up.

 

“Quiet you two,” Arthur instructed.

 

“Who put you in command, Tommy?” Sally asked defiantly. “You think after your time playing dead from your family you get to call the shots?” Sally said as if Arthur had another thing coming.

 

“None of that!” Dick snapped and Sally shut up. She just didn't want to deal with Dick when he was frantic like this, none of them did really.

 

“Do you think this suit makes my butt look fat?” Harry came in after a pause of awkward silence in the room.

 

“No one is going to be looking at your posterior, Harry,” Dick said short temperedly.

 

“Well gee,” Harry responded, “You don't gotta be like that, Dick. I'll have you know women love a man with a nice posterior. Just ask Vicki.”

 

Dick rolled his eyes. “I suppose when you have few other attractive traits one must determine a mate’s worth by other means,” he eyed Harry condescendingly. “Not all of us could be gifted with my good looks.”

 

Eames nudged Arthur with his elbow. Is he serious?

 

Yes, don't . Arthur pressed the back of his hand warningly to the side of Eames hip in response. It will only make things worse , Arthur glanced in Eames’ direction with arched eyebrows.

 

Of course, Darling , Eames brushed his fingers along the outside of Arthur's hand for just a moment.

 

Eames was delighted when Arthur pressed a shoulder into his own and didn't move away from his side.

 

“Tommy,” Dick barked. “You have the car fueled and ready to go?”

 

“For the fifth time, Dick, yes,” Arthur said impatiently as if Dick was doubting his intelligence.

 

“Good, good,” Dick nodded. “I'd expect no less from the son of the High Commander,” Dick said assuredly, keeping up the guise of Arthur's dad for Eames, surely.

 

“Why don't we get going a little early?” Sally said to Dick. “Let Tommy take care of being chauffeur for the Big Giant Pain In The Ass. We can go ahead and make sure the reservations held and get some drinks to prepare ourselves for the evening,” Sally suggested. It had been Arthur and Eames to get Sally to encourage this play.

 

“I want to be here for when the Big Giant Head arrives,” Dick said with finality. Of course that only made Sally's argument more irresistible.

 

“Do you really, though, Dick? Come on, a little time at the bar before will make the evening a lot more enjoyable, don't you think?”

 

“I always have a few before going out to dinner with Vicki’s mom,” Harry added. “That way when Ms. Dupcheck talks about her sex life I can just listen to the static in my head and tune her out.”

 

“Does it really help that much?” Dick asked with blossoming interest.

 

“Like a charm, every time,” Harry assured.

 

“Oh alright. I guess a little liquid intoxication couldn't hurt.”

 

“That's more like it,” Sally smiled. “Come on, let's get going. Tommy can take care of this.”

 

“I won't let you down, Dad,” Arthur said, stepping forward and offering his hand.

 

“That's my boy,” Dick said with pride as he shook Arthur's hand. Arthur smiled, Dick was walking right into their hands.

 

“Come on,” Sally said, patting Dick on the shoulder to get him moving.

 

“Making sure the reservation went though this time would be good. I'll call Mary and tell her we’ll be early. Tommy. Eames,” Dick addressed. “I'll see you on the other side.”

 

Arthur and Eames nodded shortly.

 

As soon as their obstacles left, the two got to work. Eames pulled out a briefcase to set up a vial of sedative and somnacin. Then it was just a matter of waiting. Nearly an hour and fifteen minutes later, Stone appeared in the livingroom of the Dupcheck household.

 

“I,” Stone Phillips paused for emphasis. “Have arrived,” he completed with an expression of superiority.

 

“Greetings Big Giant Head,” Arthur said with a solute out of the corner of Eames’ eyes which startled him a little. “Welcome back to Earth.”

 

“Yes,” Stone said slowly. “Where is Dick, I have much to discuss with him.”

 

“We will be your transport to your destinations during your stay,” Arthur responded, gesturing to he and Eames.

 

“And you are?” Stone turned to Eames.

 

“Eames, sir,” he said, holding out a hand. Stone only glanced at it before continuing .

 

“Human, I presume?” Stone asked.

 

“Yes, Sir.”

 

“Ah,” Stone said with underlying disgust. “At least this one is polite and has some respect for authority!” He approved. “Now, I'm starving. An intergalactic voyage can really take it out of you! Let's get going.”

 

As Stone walked around Arthur and Eames for the stairwell, the two exchanged glances. Eames raised his eyebrows and Arthur sighed silently in agreement.

 

As they approached the rental, Stone was pleasantly impressed with the sleek, red drop top sports car in the driveway.

 

“Very nice,” he said, walking around it and running a hand along the car’s side. “You have far superior taste to Dick when it comes to automobiles,” Stone praised. “I want to drive.”

 

“For efficiency and accuracy, I will be driving,” Arthur stated without room for disagreement. Given that Stone had been late to arrive as was, Arthur clearly didn't have the patience for adhering to Stone’s every beck and call. There was too much subtle anxiety coursing through him, excitement mixing with it. “However, we will have ample time on the drive home for you to go joy riding.”

 

“Fine,” Stone agreed, letting Eames squeeze into the back of the car through a suicide rear door.

 

Twenty minutes later Arthur pulled them into a warehouse district north of downtown. It was quiet with many buildings unoccupied being the weekend.

 

“What a shabby looking place,” Stone commented.

 

“Just a shortcut,” Arthur explained, “We will arrive shortly.”

 

Eames leaned forward and slid the syringe into Stone’s neck and he helped before falling unconscious. Arthur sighed slowly, relaxing back into his seat. Eames’ hand rested on his shoulder in support and Arthur took a moment to raise his hand to meet him. When Arthur raised his hand, so did Eames, and it was all business from there.

 

Eames got out to open the manual garage door so Arthur could pull into the warehouse to work discreetly. As Arthur parked, Eames extracted the collapsible wheelchair from the trunk and set it up. Arthur opened the car passenger door and they both worked to hoist Stone Phillips into it.

 

Arthur wheeled Stone up to the elevator as Eames cut on the circuit breaker box and set out to scope the perimeter. Eames checked all the locks to the warehouse before going up to the office by stairs to meet Arthur with the passive device.

 

They worked silently, efficiently, having become accustomed to one another's movements after so many jobs together.

 

Once Stone was sedated with somnacin and all set up, Arthur and Eames took the reclining seats they'd set up ahead of time and injected the needles. The last taste of reality before falling into voluntary sleep was the sensation of Eames’ finger grazing his own.

 

-----

 

Arthur awoke standing in the replica of the side corridor on his planet with the large window turned toward space. It was a part of Stone’s bachelor pod and Arthur hoped it would be enough to convince the Big Giant Head himself.

 

Eames was across the room, readying himself in a particularly reflective window. He wore Vicki quite well, all done up as she would be if she were going on a date and wearing a dress Stone favored her in.

 

He turned toward Arthur who approached him and raised a hand to brush back some of Vicki’s stray strands from her face.

 

“You're ready for this?” Arthur asked and Eames nodded with a familiar quirk to Vicki’s lips.

 

“You know Arthur, I'm aware you done favor improvisation on the job, but I was thinking to secure Stone’s faith in Vicki I could always offer to sleep with him,” Eames said in Vicki's voice, but it was Eames’ intonation. Arthur's jaw ticked from him clenching it.

 

“Mr. Eames, you are not to go sleeping with the target. I have faith in your ability to convince Stone without sex,” Arthur said, resisting the urge to pinch Eames because he was Vicki.

 

“Oh, Darling, don't be jealous---”

 

“Eames,” Arthur interrupted darkly, but there was an underlying hint of impatient humor Eames could see in his eyes. Arthur knew Eames was just trying to get him to lighten up and it seemed he was letting it happen.

 

“Yes, Arthur,” Eames smiled, trying not to call him darling again as Vicki. Eames reached forward to smooth down the front of Arthur's shirt. They parted then, moving to the door which rolled out of their way upon a strange sound and apparent alien word that came from Arthur's voice.

 

“Tommy,” Stone said sternly, “What is she doing here?”

 

“Vicki has something she wants to tell you,” Arthur said. “I escorted her here myself to do so and ensure she wasn't up to anything suspicious.”

 

“Very well, what is it, Vicki?” Stone asked, head held high as he condescendingly looked down on her.

 

“Stone, I wanted to tell you that leaving you was so hard for me,” Vicki said in a whimpering drawl.

 

“Go on,” Stone coaxed when she paused and sniffled.

 

“I still love you, you have to understand. I only left because Eric needs to grow up on Earth,” Vicki explained. “That's the most important thing for him.”

 

“I don't see why my son needs to grow up among those meat sacks,” Stone said indignantly. “They will only make him weak! He is he son of the Big Giant Head! He has leader in his blood.”

 

“But he's human too,” Vicki said, not giving in though she seemed to be pleading. “You can't just ignore that part of him.”

 

I give the orders around here,” Stone said, “And I say he's going to grow up on SHRIRMOSHN,” Vicki winced at the shrill sound of the name of Stone’s home planet in human tongue. “ That's where he belongs!”

 

“Dammit Stone, you can't---”

 

“Bah!” Stone interrupted. “Enough. I've made my decision and there's nothing you can say that will change it, Vicki. Now leave,” Stone commanded with a wave of his hand.

 

“Vicki,” arthur said quietly as he approached then, placing a hand on her arm gently to walk her out.

 

“Get off me, Tommy,” Vicki said. “We’re not done here!” Vicki tried to shake off Arthur's hand but was too focused on Stone.

 

Arthur crowded around her, one arm across her front.

 

“Vicki, this will only anger him,” Arthur said as he directed her backward.

 

“Good!” She protested as she made her way as slowly as possible to the door. “Stone, listen to me! You're being an idiot! Eric needs to grow up with his mommy, not on some space ship or with a bunch of aliens!

 

“He’ll be lonely there! He has to make friends, go to school, don't do this to him!”

 

Arthur managed to lead Vicki through the door and it slid shut, even as she continued to shout at Stone.

 

Vicki finally eased, placing her hand on Arthur's arm as she changed back into Eames.

 

“How was it Darling?” He asked and Arthur frowned.

 

“You did well but I had expected her to have more impact on Stone’s composure.”

 

“Wait for this one Darling,” Eames said softly and he changed into a rebellious teenager.

 

Arthur left his hand on Eric's shoulder a moment longer with a short nod.

 

“Good luck, Mr. Eames.”

 

“I don't need luck,” Eric said with a snide upturn of his nose. “I have skill.”

 

Arthur tried to stifle his smile as his arm fell away. He straightened himself, running his hands down the front of his suit and turned toward the door as Eric hid around the corner, out of sight.

 

“Tommy, what do you want?” Stone asked, a little dazed.

 

“There's someone here to see you,” Arthur said, gesturing toward the space balcony.

 

“I already saw Vicki, dammit,” Stone said as Arthur walked toward the doorway.

 

“Vicki?” Arthur asked, bewildered, brow creasing as if he worried for his leader’s sanity. “She's been dead for over an Earth decade.”

 

“Dead?” Stone asked.

 

“Yes, she was destroyed with the rest of the human species, when we exterminated them some ten or so years ago.” Arthur made a flippant motion with his hand, “I can't be bothered with the details of such an inferior species.”

 

Stone paused to check the stardate on his computer, which Arthur had adjusted just a few moments ago. His eyebrows raised.

 

“Then, who is here to see me?” Stone asked, “And why are we both still wearing these ridiculous skin suits?”

 

Arthur's heartbeat picked up; there was the question he'd been dreading, the reason he wanted to forge his native species.

 

“For him,” Arthur answered. “Do you not remember your own request?”

 

“For who, dammit, Tommy,” Stone asked, getting frustrated with impatience.

 

Arthur walked up to the door, hand on the keypad though he paused for suspense.

 

Eames took a moment to focus on the other side of the door, carefully channeling Eric to look like both his parents. He set his shoulders to defiant and got ready to be pissed off the way only a human teenager could be.

 

“Eric, your son, of course,” Arthur said and opened the door. “Who you've charged me to look after.”

 

Eames, Eric, stormed in, all angry defiance. For a moment it made Arthur wonder what kind of a teenager Eames had been.

 

“Dad,” Eric began.

 

“You will address me as The Big Giant Head,” Stone commanded. “Not in those human terms.”

 

“Yeah? Then maybe you shouldn't have had a human for a son,” Eric snapped haughtily. “Or you should have just let me perish with the rest of my species. Then you wouldn't have to wear that stupid skin suit you hate so much just to talk to you clearly inferior son.” Eric's jaw clenched and Arthur startled, recognizing that expression. It was the one he wore himself when he got annoyed with Eames.

 

Arthur looked to Stone’s expression and could see the underlying hurt there. Eames was doing a good job as Arthur doubted Stone had ever anticipated the complexities of a resentful, emotional teenage human, especially when he'd let Eric’s mother die with the rest of the species.

 

Stone seemed at a loss for words.

 

“Your mother wasn't that impressive of a human being,” Stone said. “You, you're---”

 

“What? An anomaly? A freak hybrid between you and an otherwise extinct species? You don't think I could have determined my own mother’s worth for myself? At least she would have been around. She wouldn't have been too busy being The Big Giant Head,” Eric intoned mockingly, “to even spend time with her only fucking son.”

 

“Eric,” Stone said, “Calm down, you're not thinking clearly--”

 

Arthur was pleased, Stone was so blindsided he was basically feeding Eric with defiant ammo. He was walking right into this encounter.

 

“Thinking clearly? You mean thinking human?”

 

“Eric, that is not what I--”

 

“Ugh,” Eric scoffed. “Not what you meant? I suppose these are because I'm not thinking clearly either, huh?” Eric sneered, yanking up a sleeve to reveal cuts on his forearm.

 

Stone was taken aback.

 

“What are those?” Stone asked.

 

Eric rolled his eyes in disbelief as Stone turned to Arthur for clarification.

 

“Suicide attempts, Sir,” Arthur said flatly, allowing a little disapproval at how Stone handled his only sun seep through.

 

“Suicide?!” Stone blurted, rage replacing his bafflement. “Tommy, how could you let this---”

 

“Don't you fucking do that!” Eric interjected and Stones jaw snapped shut, startled at the reprimand. He'd clearly never had anyone defy his power so readily, or anyone in the appropriate position to do so. “Don't you go blaming Tommy! You're the one who killed everybody. At least Tommy gives two fucks that I exist!”

 

“Eric. I care that you exist.”

 

“Bullshit. You know for someone in your position you sure don't like to take responsibility for your own choices. Go fuck yourself, The Big Giant Head ,” Eric said before turning on his heels and storming out, not giving a stunned Stone the chance to rebuke.

 

As the door slid shut behind Eric, Stone stammered, taking a moment to realize all of his purple workers had turned to watch the commotion.

 

“Should I keep an eye on him?” Arthur suggested, and Stone waved him out distractedly. His face was pink with rage and frustration and Arthur could hear Stone shout at the workers as he left the command room.

 

“Get back to work!”

 

When the door fully closed with Arthur and Eames safety on the other side, they both sighed. Eames shifted from Eric, becoming broader and taller as Arthur approached him.

 

“Do you think it stuck?” Eames asked.

 

“Only one way to find out,” Arthur responded, moving into Eames’ space for an intimate moment. He drew the gun from the waistband of Eames’ pants and held it up to him.

 

Eames took the gun briefly planting a kiss to Arthur's lips before he shifted back into Eric. He reached up to ruffle his own hair, put on a pout and cocked the gun. Eric cut around on his heels and stormed back into the command room, gun raised.

 

“Hey Dad,” Eric sneered as he rushed a shocked Stone. Mouth falling agape, Stone tried to stand in time to get out of the line of fire before freezing as a bullet impacted his forehead. Eyes rolling back in his head, Stone toppled to the floor as the projections began to panic from the madness. Eric opened his mouth, barrel between his teeth before he shot himself back up.

 

As soon as Eames and Arthur were awake they took only a moment to readjust. Arthur carefully removed the needle from Stone’s arm as Eames unlocked the wheels of the chair. Arthur wiped down any door knobs or surfaces they might have touched before picking up the passive and following Eames. They stowed Stone, the chair and the passive device safely in the car before climbing in to head toward the restaurant.

 

“You call that driving?” Arthur shouted. Stone came to with a jolt as the car slammed on the breaks and he was jarred by the sudden lean forward, caught by the seat belt.

 

Stone looked around, disoriented and dazed. They pulled into the parking lot of a high rise in the city, the bottom floor or which was a fancy restaurant. Dick, Sally and Harry would be waiting for them with table reservations inside.

 

“Where are we?” Stone asked, blinking to clear his vision.

 

“At the restaurant,” Arthur answered. “It was a bit of a drive, I guess you dozed off.”

 

“Huh,” Stone responded, wiping his mouth then eyes to clear cobwebs. The sedative they'd given him still required a kick to wake the mark and left them in a state of haze which left the dream more visceral and likely to take.

 

“Dick is probably upset already,” Arthur said, pointedly looking at his watch. “We managed to hit rush hour traffic.”

 

“We’re meeting to enjoy Earth before the final plan is inacted,” Stone recalled aloud.

 

“This is the restaurant you wanted to go to?” Arthur clarified as if he were open to Stone choosing another last minute.

 

“Actually I'm not really hungry,” Stone said, mind clearly on something else. “I'd like to visit Vicki.”

 

“Vicki?” Arthur asked with surprise. “But the plan--”

 

“I've made up my mind,” Stone demanded grumpily.

 

“Alright,” Arthur said as he started up the car. “What's her new address?” He asked as he tapped the screen of his gps.

 

Stone sighed heavily as he read off the address he'd memorized.

 

As they pulled into the driveway of Vicki's home, Stone seemed to stumble from the car, hell bent on seeing his son. He knocked on the door which a disheveled Vicki answered, rollers in her hair and a bathrobe on.

 

“What are you doing here?” Eames read her lips from the back seat.

 

As Stone negotiated his chance to get into the house to see little Eric, Arthur glanced in the rear view mirror.

 

‘It stuck?’ His eyes asked and Eames acknowledge him long enough to nod shortly. As soon as the door closed with Vicki and Stone in the inside, Eames got out of the back seat and moved to the passenger side.

 

“Eames,” Arthur said in question before Eames leaned over and captured his mouth. He didn't kiss softly this time, instead running a hand up through the hair on the back of Arthur's head, keeping him close. Eames’ lips moved expertly, kissing wantonly with soft breaks between so Arthur could keep his breath. It still didn't keep him from panting softly, exhaustion from the adrenaline rush during the job seeping in and he let Eames take this.

 

His other hand resting on Arthur's chest, Eames pressed further into him, breaking long enough to speak.

 

“Arthur,” he groaned into panting lips. “Darling,” Eames managed to slip out before taking Arthur again, seemingly unable to bare parting for too long. “You did so wonderfully,” Eames praised.

 

Arthur groaned softly which turned into an embarrassing mewling in his throat as Eames consumed him again. He felt dizzy with the lack of air and even more so with Eames’ compliment. Arthur managed to break from Eames long enough to call his name and he spoke between reciprocating kisses.

 

“Eames,” Arthur said before another kiss on the lips. “Let’s not, hm,” Arthur groaned prematurely when he was met with a tongue. “Celebrate pre--” he gasped. “Prematurely,” Arthur finally got out, pushing Eames back with a hand to his chest so he could breath.

 

Eames still planted kisses along his jaw.

 

“That, Pet, is not what I want to be making you do prematurely,” Eames said suggestively. He yelled with a jolt when Arthur slapped the inside of his thigh.

 

“Keep it in your pants, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said as Eames chuckled next to him.

 

Boundaries, Eames thought and sat back in his seat, satisfied that Arthur didn't seem to be removing his hand from Eames thigh. They both relaxed and worked to regain their breathing when Stone was lead out of the house by a child holding his hand. Little Eric was adorable and it made Arthur's heart ache how much he seemed to adore a father that was never around.

 

Arthur glanced over to Eames who was grinning as he watched Stone try to keep up as Eric showed him his favorite toys in the front yard.

 

“Would you ever consider having them,” Arthur thought aloud with a nod toward Eric.

 

“What?” Eames asked, glancing at Arthur for clarification. “Children?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Never really gave it much thought in all honestly,” Eames admitted. “Our profession isn't exactly kid friendly.”

 

“Hm,” Arthur agreed, and Eames turned more fully to look at him.

 

“You?” He asked.

 

“Well, with this threat of the end of humanity it's making me rethink some of my obligations,” Arthur admitted.

 

“Want to gather information on child rearing, do you?”

 

Arthur shrugged, making it seem nonchalant but Eames could sense Arthur's underlying seriousness in the suggestion.

 

“If we can make this work,” Eames said, meaning their relationship. “And one day when we retire from dream share,” Eames said as he took Arthur's hand on his thigh into his own. “Then I would like to, yes.”

 

Arthur leaned forward, pausing just beyond Eames lips. Eyes intense, Arthur whispered, “I think you'd make a good father,” lips brushing with each word. Eames kissed him, trying to convey the sincerity and affection that washed over him with the promise of a future with Arthur.

 

Arthur whimpered breathily before his eyes fluttered open and he jerked back.

 

“Eames,” Arthur nodded shortly and Eames huffed as he sat back, lips parted as Stone and little version of the teen he'd forged turned back toward the front door.

 

Stone waved goodbye enthusiastically to little Eric and Vicki's bitterness seemed to be subsiding as she watched Stone with their son.

 

“He's always here, you know, when you want to see him,” Vicki said and Stone smiled sadly but graciously. It was the most raw and emotionally exposed Arthur had ever seen Stone. He was curious how a child could have that effect on a person.

 

As Stone walked back toward the car Eames didn't give up the passenger side seat but he did reluctantly let go of Arthur's hand. Arthur was about to say something, but Stone seemed appreciative of the ability to sit along when he plopped down in the back seat.

 

“Where to now, Big Giant Head?” Arthur asked obediently.

 

“Please,” Stone said, raising a hand. “Just call me Stone. Let's just go back to Dicks place and order some takeout or something.”

 

“Yes, Sir--er, Stone,” Arthur said with a nod in the rear view mirror.

 

As Arthur began to back down the driveway his phone began to vibrate. Eames glanced at it.

 

“Want me to get that?” He asked and Arthur picked it up as he drove. 11 missed calls.

 

“Is it Dick?” Stone said from the back seat. Arthur held the phone over his shoulder in answer and Stone took it from him.

 

“Dick,” Stone answered.

 

“Tom--Stone? Where is Tommy? I have a bone to pick with him. For that matter, where are you?” Dick rambled off before Stone could get in another word, “we've been waiting here for an hour and a--”

 

“Dick, the mission is off,” Stone ordered, leaving no room for question.

 

“Off!?” Dick yelled into the phone loud enough for Arthur and Eames to hear from the front seat. It sounded to Arthur like there might have been a missed opportunity for Dick to get a promotion in there somewhere.

 

Arthur tuned out then for the rest of the drive back to Dick’s house as he and Stone fussed at one another until The Big Giant Head reestablished authority and the High Commander fell back into place.

 

The three of them sat around the living room quietly eating Chinese takeout. The comfortable silence was broken when a drunken Dick and Sally got home, Harry trailing after them. They were complaining about the apparent several hundred dollar bar tab they'd worked up in Stone’s absence so loudly they could hear them coming from the driveway with slammed doors.

 

“Looks like it's time for me to return to the Bachelorpod,” Stone stood suddenly. “Tommy, Eames, it's been fun” Stone said though he was solemn. He disappeared a moment later with a nod of acknowledgement from Arthur and Eames.

 

“Bachelorpod?” Eames mocked and Arthur smiled cheekily, playfully punching Eames’ arm.

 

Arthur could tell Eames was about ready to jump him and stood suddenly, taking Eames by the hand and leading him toward the back door with a finger at his lips. Eames grinned conspiratorially as he heard Arthur's drunken family stumble noisily through the front door as Harry apparently smashed something of Mrs. Dubcek’s.

 

Arthur and Eames walked silently down the back stairs and hurried around to their car out front. Eames took the driver’s seat and peeled out of the driveway just as Dick stuck his head out the window to yell something after them.

 

Chapter Text

"I love you," Eames said.

"Is it strange loving an alien?"

"Darling, I loved you long before I knew you were an alien," Eames admitted, pressing his face into the crook of Arthur's neck. "Besides, you look human enough." Eames inhaled, "smell human." Arthur jerked back a little.

"Mr. Eames," Arthur said before a tongue lapped at his pulse point and he startled.

"Taste human," Eames said, tongue withdrawing so his lips could close on Arthur's neck and kiss and suck him diligently.

"Eames," Arthur gasped, hands gripping broad biceps. Eames' palms ran over Arthur's sides before looping around him, drawing him close.

"Well done, Arthur," Eames praised. "You never fail to impress me." Eames lifted his face to meet Arthur's eyes before brushing their lips together. Adding a little more pressure into the kiss, Arthur whimpered softly, causing Eames to let loose a little groan. They moved slowly, all the time in the world.

"You weren't so bad yourself, Mr. Eames," Arthur smiled fondly. Eames' heart melted a little and he couldn't resist, he kissed Arthur fervently. Arthur gasped into it as Eames licked at his lips, overwhelmed by how full they were. Eames delved his tongue in once, twisting slowly along Arthur's tongue before withdrawing.

They paused for a breather, but before Eames could quite catch his breath Arthur was on him, aggressive and devouring. Arthur's kiss was sloppy and a little inexperienced as he licked past Eames' lips, but he made up for it in passion. Eames groaned in the back of his throat when Arthur sucked then nipped at his lower lip.

Eames found himself and hoisted Arthur up to lead him to the bed. Once he sat him on the edge of the massive rounded mattress, Eames peeled Arthur's shirt off, then his own. Eames stripped off his own pants before kneeling in front of Arthur who looked down at him.

"Arthur Darling, do you trust me?" Eames asked, a little charmed by the flush creeping up Arthur's neck at his nudity.

"I believe that's been made quite evident by now, Mr. Eames," Arthur said a little hoarsely. He sounded like it was a dumb question, but Eames needed to ask, and Arthur secretly appreciated his pursuit of permission.

"Lean back," Eames instructed, fingers brushing Arthur's exposed chest. As Arthur began to recline, Eames leaned up and stole Arthur's lips, causing him to freeze in his fall back until Eames eased him down. Leaning over Arthur, Eames rubbed his hands up Arthur's sides, a little disappointed he wasn't ticklish. Eames paused to thumb at Arthur's nipples who gasped into his full mouth.

Eames' hands moved downward, palms skimming Arthur's belly before working on the button of his trousers. Eames raised himself from Arthur, watching dark eyes and parted lips as he unzipped and bunched the waistband of Arthur's trousers and underwear in his fists. Sliding Arthur's pants down in one fluid motion, Eames followed his hands down Arthur's legs until they were fully off. Then Eames moved slowly back upward, absorbing the sight of Arthur's long legs and half erect cock. Arthur awaited Eames to join him where he lay, but Eames paused halfway up his body and ducked his head instead.

When Eames licked a stripe up the underside of Arthur's cock then sucked the tip into his mouth, Arthur writhed and moaned. He managed to lift his head long enough to see Eames suck down his cock between sinfully puckered lips before he couldn't hold himself up anymore. He slumped back, sagging into the bed as Eames swallowed him up and Arthur groaned, unable to restrain himself. Eames’ mouth was nothing like Arthur had felt before, wet and warm and irresistible.

 

As Arthur remained blissfully distracted, Eames fumbled under the edge of the bed where he'd stashed his toiletry bag to extract a little tube. He coated his fingers generously and circled the tip of one at Arthur's entrance, barely sliding in, his mouth still sucking in Arthur's cock. Arthur groaned with a guttural, wanton noise, knees falling wide open and Eames had to suddenly reach down to grip the base of his own cock so he wouldn't come at the sight.


Eames pressed his finger in deeper as his mouth worked Arthur's cock, coaxing a string of nonsensical groans and whimpers. Arthur raised his arms above his head, fisting the sheets and rolling his hips slowly. He tried to lay still but just couldn't help his need to writhe. When Eames moved his mouth down to suckle at Arthur's balls the lower to his perineum, his whole body jolted.

 

“Eam--!” Arthur half shouted when Eames pulled out his fingers to replace them with his mouth. The unrestrained moans and whimpers coming from Arthur had Eames’ gut clenching and his cock pulsing. Eames’ tongue circled Arthur's tightening ring from his lack of fingers. He slurped noisily and Arthur's breath hitched, hips wiggling like they wanted to fuck down onto Eames’ mouth. That idea made Eames grip the base of his own cock again as his other hand guided Arthur's leg to the side and up, spreading him wider. When his fingers dragged down the inside of Arthur's thigh to press up the underside of his arching, gorged cock, Eames thrust his tongue in. Arthur arched and came with a spasm, head pressing back into the mattress as his hips pressed up into Eames’ rubbing hand.

 

Eames caught Arthur's cum in his hand and reached down to fist himself, fucking into his own hand. His mouth was still on Arthur, and he moved upward, tongue lapping slowly. Eames licked up Arthur's balls and the underside of his softening cock, sucking the head into his mouth and tasting Arthur with a groan.

 

Post orgasmic haze clearing enough to see what Eames was doing, Arthur took a tight fistful of blond hair.

 

“Clean it up, Eames,” Arthur demanded and he didn't have to be told twice. Eames groaned at the demand and slurped at Arthur's cum from the head of his sensitive, soft cock. Eames’ mouth caused Arthur to wiggle at the wet, awkwardly pleasant sensation, enhanced by watching Eames.

 

By the movement of the arm Arthur couldn't see beneath the bed, Eames was jerking himself frantically. His soft cock twitched in Eames’ mouth. Arthur jerked at Eames hair, shoving his face into his own groin. Eames groaned loud and hot against Arthur's lower belly before Arthur yanked him upward.

 

Eames followed Arthur's guidance clumsily until Arthur could devour his mouth. Eames was thrusting into his own hand, and tentatively pressed himself against Arthur's hip, rutting breathlessly.

 

“Cum on me,” Arthur said so quietly Eames wasn't sure he hadn't made it up. But then Arthur's hand reached downward to grip Eames’ thrusting cock, encircling his cum slicked head almost painfully tight. The wet sound of Eames’ cock fucking Arthur's hand was mingling with his groans and heavy breathing as he came.

 

“Oh, Arth--ah, uhh, uhn--!” Eames groaned, cut off as Arthur captured his mouth and jerked his hand violently. Eames collapsed on top of Arthur, pinning his arm awkwardly between them as Eames’ hips still rolled softly.

 

For a moment Arthur let Eames press him into the bed, reveling in his warm weight until his breathing became difficult.

 

“Eames,” Arthur said, shifting until Eames rolled off of him. Arthur looked at Eames’ face, intense grey eyes barely open and lips parted as he panted and he wanted to devour him all over again. But Arthur could tell Eames was on the edge of sleep, so he just rolled toward him, laying an arm across Eames chest as they cooled off and dozed.

 

-------

 

Eames awoke a few hours later to walk to the edge of their balcony which looked out through a massive window stretching up across three tiers.

 

“Enjoying the view?” Arthur asked as he wrapped his arms around a naked Eames from behind. Tilting his head back enough to nuzzle Arthur's cheek, Eames paused to absorb the man's warmth.

 

“I don't think I'll ever tire of it,” Eames said softly.

 

They stood together looking out at Earth from their orbit of its moon.

 

“Good of your people to lend us a ship during your extended vacation,” Eames said as he peered out the window again, covering Arthur's arms with his own until their fingers interlocked. “I never even dreamed of seeing this,” Eames gestured with a slight nod, a little lost for words.

 

“I never really took the time to appreciate it before,” Arthur admitted. “Once we landed we weren't permitted space travel. It didn't meet the needs of the mission.”

 

“But you're free to do as you please with this promotion, eh?”

 

“Yeah, apparently the new regime that overthrew the Big Giant Head saw merit in our discoveries with the human species thus far,” Arthur paused to kiss the juncture of Eames’ shoulder and neck before he continued. “I'm not sure a position in the exploration and recon division is what I'm interested in right now, though. I was just starting to appreciate being human.”

 

“Then stay,” Eames said, leaving off the unspoken ‘with me’ at the end. Arthur rested his chin back on Eames’ shoulder as he considered.

 

“I think I would like to live out the rest of my human lifetime,” Arthur decided. “It's such a short amount of time to begin with. Besides, there's still so much information to be absorbed.”

 

Eames chuckled when Arthur pressed his hips languidly forward.

 

“And what information is that?” Eames asked. “Please, Arthur, do elaborate.”

 

What Arthur said next was not what Eames had anticipated.

 

“Well,” Arthur began a little hesitantly, “I was thinking of starting a family.”

 

Eames paused, breath catching as he peered at the blue orb against black in the distance. He pulled a little more on Arthur's arms who complied, tightening the hug so that they were flush. It was Eames silent agreement, intimate as he turned his face until his and Arthur's cheeks pressed together. Eames closed his eyes as Arthur kissed his cheek.

 

“Does that mean we can try getting you pregnant?” Eames asked to break the silence and Arthur tsk’d.

 

“Mr. Eames,” Arthur said impatiently, “Just because I'm only half human doesn't mean I'm not restricted by the limitations of the male body.”

 

Eames chuckled at Arthur's serious tone but almost regretted it when Arthur pulled away. When he helped a second later from a swat on the ass Eames barked with surprised laughter.

 

“Besides, I was hoping I could be the one to try getting you pregnant,” Arthur said smugly, but Eames thought he could see some underlying uncertainty there. He suspected Arthur wasn't ready for that yet, for Eames to top him. However, the suggestion of the opposite suddenly struck Eames as extremely hot.

 

God yes , Eames resisted saying so he didn't seem too eager.

 

“Whatever you're into, I'm all for it,” Eames said instead with a smile as he took Arthur's hand.

 

They walked slowly to the bed and Eames watched as Arthur sat down on the edge of it. His hands rested on Eames’ hips as he looked up with hesitation in his eyes.

 

“I only know what I'm doing in theory,” Arthur admitted to Eames who stood before him. When Arthur's eyes flicked down to Eames half hard cock it twitched with interest. Deft fingers brushed along the underside of Eames’ cock, tilting it upward to meet Arthur's uncertain, parted lips.

 

Eames groaned loudly as Arthur's lips sucked in the head of his cock, he couldn't help it. Arthur was looking up at him with dark eyes, gauging Eames reaction to placed an encouraging hand in Arthur's hair since he was unable to form words at the moment.

 

Arthur broke eye contact, clearly focusing determinedly on the task at hand as he fucked his own mouth on Eames cock. The sounds coming from Arthur were wet and his mouth was hot and one hand was wrapped around the base of his shaft while his other hand wasn't visible, hidden between Eames legs.

 

“Fuck, Arthur!” Eames exclaimed when fingers traced tentatively behind his balls before kneading into his perineum. In just a split second, Eames grew painfully hard, and Arthur was looking back up at him.

 

Eames gently pulled Arthur's head from his own groin, his lips coming away wet with a string of saliva. Eames groaned again, crouching suddenly to meet Arthur at his own level and devour his mouth. Eames tasted himself, sucking on the loose way Arthur's lips moved, recovering from being stretched taut by Eames girth.

 

Arthur groaned onto him and Eames swallowed up the sounds graciously. He could taste a hint of his own precum in Arthur's kiss and he groaned, climbing over Arthur until he lay flat on the bed. Eames purposely kept distance between their bodies, he wanted this to last, but he ached for the idea of Arthur pen--.

 

Eames groaned loudly at the thought, breaking away suddenly to reach toward the bedside table to grab a condom. He left Arthur panting and barely aware enough to realize what Eames was doing until there was a hand around his cock. Then there was the pop of a lid and Arthur's haze cleared as he watched Eames lower a hand between his own legs.

 

“Eames,” Arthur groaned. “I want to see.”

 

Eames paused, meeting Arthur's eyes who watched him hungrily.

 

“Oh, Arthur,” Eames sighed, even more aroused at the idea of Arthur watching him, wanting to watch him. He shifted, moving to sit back against the wall at the head of the bed and Arthur got the message, rolling over for a better view. Eames’ wet, dripping fingers moved between his own legs and he winced as he pressed into himself. Arthur watched, captivated and expression open with arousal.

 

“Does it hurt?” Arthur breathed, unable to choose between Eames’ hand or face.

 

“It's,” Eames gasped as he entered himself and his cock twitched. He was going to say it was a strange sensation, difficult to explain really, but the way Arthur went half lidded and lips parted at Eames own penetration left him breathless. “It's good,” Eames croaked, thrusting into himself with an indecent sound of wet suction.

 

Arthur glanced up at his face before whispering, “you're getting soft,” and reaching a hand forward. Eames couldn't even reply before Arthur's hand stroked his cock tentatively, once, then twice, then in a steady rhythm back to full hardness. Eames totally lost the uncomfortable sensation, replaced by overwhelming pleasure from Arthur's hand as he fucked himself with his own fingers.

 

“Arthur,” Eames said, free hand stilling the hand on his cock.

 

Arthur looked up, brows arching in question as Eames pushed him backward, fingers slipping wetly from himself. Arthur complied and sighed as Eames climbed over him, hand guiding Arthur's cock to his entrance.

 

“Was that enough?” Arthur managed to get out before he gasped and Eames lowered himself slowly on Arthur's cock. “Eeeeames!” Arthur moaned, hands going to Eames’ hips for support. Slowly Eames speared himself open, lifting to adjust here and there before sinking lower. When he finally sat back on Arthur's fully sheathed cock, Eames belatedly realized he'd been groaning and panting roughly the whole time. He was burning, stretched and loving the mingle of tension and pleasure. Arthur seemed barely aware beneath him, though he looked a little pained.

 

“Darling, are you alright?” Eames stilled long enough to speak. He leaned forward to cup Arthur's cheek, running his thumb along Arthur's lip.

 

“Tight,” Arthur managed to gasp out. “So tight.”

 

“Does it hurt?” Eames asked softly and Arthur gave a short nod.

 

“Like it,” he breathed and Eames groaned. He dared to swivel his hips on Arthur's cock and they both moaned loudly. Eames had found the spot to fuck himself on and rose up a short distance before dropping his weight back down. Arthur was all guttural pleas and Eames repeated the motion again and again until his hole was comfortably loosened.

 

Eames was riding Arthur's cock with little restraint a moment later, fucking back into Arthur was beginning to desperately dig his fingers into Eames hips and fuck up into him.

 

“Fuck me Arthur,” Eames whined and Arthur lost it. He began thrusting without restraint, groaning at the wet slap that rang through the room as he fucked up into Eames. Arthur watched Eames thick cock bounce, occasionally slapping his belly until he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore.

 

Practically bouncing on Arthur's cock, Eames couldn't even get a hand to his own prick before Arthur was wringing his orgasm out of him. He came with a shout, still shoving back onto Arthur's cock to meet his thrusts. Arthur could feel the tight suction of Eames’ insides squeezing his cock almost painfully and came with a full body shudder, fucking up so hard his leg and abdomen muscles were straining.

 

Eames groaned through the whole thing, his thick body taking the pounding until he was supporting himself from collapsing on Arthur with trembling arms. Eames’ breathing was ragged, his body spent but he still rutted his hips softly on Arthur's quickly softening cock.

 

“Eames,” Arthur breathed, barely audible as he slipped from the larger man atop him. Eames collapsed onto his side finally, front up against Arthur's side, his soft cock and balls laying over Arthur's hip.

 

Arthur reached down, running his forefinger through Eames’ cum on his belly and brought it to Eames lips. Eames lapped at it obediently and Arthur's breath hitched as he leaned into Eames, devouring his mouth almost before his fingers had even had a chance to lower.

 

“You liked it, didn't you,” Arthur whispered against Eames lips. “Getting split open by my prick.”

 

Eames could only groan, trying to kiss Arthur fervently but too spent to do more than nip.

 

“Arthur,” Eames whined into his mouth. He wanted to say he wanted Arthur in him always, to fuck him senseless next time, to dominate him, but all he managed was an undignified mewl sound.

 

Arthur hummed appreciatively, nuzzling Eames nose with his own as they fell into sleep.

 

Chapter Text

“It didn't work,” Arthur said in disbelief. Of all the jobs to fuck up. Perhaps the plan had been too simple after all. Or maybe he and Eames just weren't enough for this one.


“Arthur,” Eames breathed, breaking the silence between them following the mission briefing.


“Eames, I'm to return to my planet. I--c-can't take you.”


“Can't or won't?”


“What? Eames, Stone would have you killed himself if I brought you back.”


“So Darling, what are our other options?” Eames said, sliding his fingers to twine with a still stunned Arthur.


Arthur stared at their joined hands for a moment, brow furrowing in concentration.


“There will be a ship sent to pick us up,” Arthur restated the mission parameters from weeks before. “Dick, Harry and Sally will not want to leave their partners behind. They'll want to save them from the destruction of the species,” Arthur thought aloud, looking up at Eames.


“So we confront them, plan to make all of this happen together,” Eames said. “There's a better chance that way.”


“But you'll all be left alone,” Arthur said. “You'll be the last of your kind if this doesn't succeed.”


“Better than being dead, I suppose. And you'll be one of us, Arthur, an endangered species. That is, unless you return to you previous state of being.”


“No,” Arthur breathed, “This is who I am now.” He sighed heavily, admitting such a thing to himself was a little hard to do.


Eames leaned to kiss his cheek.


“Perhaps there are more on the surface you're capable of saving than you think,” Eames suggested. “Surely someone would believe you.”


Arthur’s head snapped up, his stance changing, going almost instantly from defeat to purpose. He broke away from Eames who faltered before Arthur turned quickly to give him a peck on the cheek.


“Where are you off to, Darling?”


“I have to call Dom,” Arthur said.


Eames smiled, there was the Arthur he knew so well. Eames was relieved he would at least be around to make sure Arthur's tenacity stuck around, no matter how much guilt Arthur felt.


------------------


When Eames boarded the alien ship he was relieved to find it relatively humanoid on the inside. He suspected it was designed that way for the temporary transportation of their research party who revert to their purple tubular states once they arrived at their home planet. He was just grateful the thing wasn't garishly colored like Arthur's dream had been. It was the small fortunate things that maintained Eames’ optimism at this stage.


Thankfully the ship was also spacious enough to accommodate Arthur's nuclear and extended family. Eames wasn't sure he could tolerate the obnoxious group for too long otherwise. Sure, he was an extrovert and thrived in social situations, but some element of Eames’ being needed only select people in his life for extended periods.


Eames looked out the window at the night side of earth once they broke atmosphere and could remove their seat belts. It was unreal, seeing Earth from what he'd only seen in photographs or movies; it overwhelmed Eames a little, making the whole situation so visceral. Eames couldn't help but reach in his pocket for his totem.


Arthur exhaled deeply as he came to stand silently next to Eames. Eames leaned into Arthur's space until their shoulders pressed together. Arthur's tension didn't lessen, but Eames could feel Arthur let him take some of his weight.


“We’ll be staying on the dark side of the moon,” Arthur said. “That way we can keep an eye on Earth.” And watch the extent of the damage, he didn't say.


“You managed to get ahold of Cobb?”


“Yes,” Arthur exhaled with mixed emotion. He was clearly feeling both relieved and anxious. “He’ll be staying in a bunker in a secluded part of Greenland with his children and father-in-law, Ariadne, and a few select others. Yusuf is going to remain at his dream den, where he believes he's well equipped to handle the destruction to come.”


Eames reached to squeeze Arthur's shoulder.


“I'm sure they'll fare just fine, Darling,” Eames assured, withholding his own uncertainty. More than ever he felt he needed to stay strong for Arthur. “It's not an option to bring them along?”


“We're already risking so much bringing you four,” Arthur said, hushed. “Dom, he's family, but,” Arthur hesitated, “I can't risk Phillipa and James.”


Eames nodded. At least Eric was being adopted by his father and saved from the planet. The idea of Dom's children as stowaways put them in a very unpredictable setting. At least on Earth they wouldn't be split up, Dom could handle this. Though Eames had never been particularly fond of Cobb, he respected his closeness with Arthur, though he still didn't totally understand that dynamic.


“The aftermath will take about a month to dissipate before we can return to the surface.”


“What do you plan to do then?”


“Look for survivors,” Arthur sighed as if the idea was just that and he doubted it could be much more. “If only humanity had developed space travel by now,” Arthur said in frustration.


“Darling, you can't compensate for all of humanity's shortcomings. You did your best.”


“If only there was more time,” Arthur said with a huff, frown deepening.


“Why don't you show me where our quarters are?” Eames suggested to change the subject.


Arthur paused for some time before turning from the window, Eames waiting patiently by his side. Eames followed him to the door before Arthur reached for him, hugging Eames suddenly. Arthur's grip was tight and he exhaled with a shuddering breath. Eames matched Arthur's strength in the embrace, letting the narrower man lean his weight into him, concede just a little. Eames wondered if he might be crying, but when Arthur pulled back a moment later there were no tears.


“Come on,” Arthur instructed, taking Eames’ hand. They walked quietly through corridors, slipping past an open doorway where Dick and Sally were conversing noisily. Once they were clear, Arthur spoke up again. “How is it you've managed to stay so level through all of this?”


“I know when I'm going to lose,” Eames half shrugged, “That there is no reason to let emotions take hold, that reaction may even be what guarantees the loss. Instead, keeping a level head is the best strategy to turning the situation in your favor.”


Arthur exhaled steadily, Eames’ words reassuring and somehow rejuvenating.


“You think there's still a way to win this?”


“I don't know,” Eames admitted.


“Well,” Arthur started as-a-matter-of-fact. “There is this group at home who don't believe The Big Giant Head is suitable for command.”


Eames’ eyebrows raised in interested.


“You made it sound as though your species was solidarily obedient.”


“Not necessarily. I admit questioning command is quite taboo, and I had no particular interest in doing so while I was,” Arthur paused for the appropriate wording, “My other self. However, there was a small uprising upon his instatement. I would have thought The Big Giant Head would have been assassinated or something by now with these radical plans to take out a species we were tasked to research and watch over.”


“Perhaps they don't know,” Eames thought aloud, a little surprised when Arthur's expression went flat.


“It is imperative The Big Giant Head share all information with the council.” The idea was unthinkable.


“Well, it wouldn't be the first time he exceeded your expectations.”


Arthur glared at Eames and he wasn't sure if it was out of annoyance or in thought.


“We have to get back to my planet.”


“Can't we just shoot them a message?” Eames asked with uncertainty. The view from their little vessel orbiting the moon was intriguing, but the idea of actual space travel unnerved Eames. The idea of being an astronaut was romantic but Eames found that childhood fantasy crushed when he realized they didn't need actors or artists in space. Not to mention it meant completely abandoning his own home planet for a period of time. Eames had hoped to at least be in orbit to keep an eye on Earth.


“I don't have the passcode for directing a message from Stone’s ship,” Arthur frowned. “And Harry is directly routed to communicate with The Big Giant Head and his faithful workers.”


“Your uncle? Er, whatever he is to you-” Eames didn't understand exactly what Arthur meant by Harry’s exclusivity to speak with The Big Giant Head.


“He's a transmitter beacon,” Arthur nodded and Eames almost gaped. That explained Harry's limited….capabilities.


“Wait a tic, you're an intelligence officer, Dick is the High Commander and Sally is a Security Officer, but Harry's basically a radio?”


Arthur nodded impatiently, eyes looking at Eames like he was clearly dense. Eames rubbed over his face.


“When I came along with you I expected to meet your family, embarrass you in front of them, maybe be a sympathetic shoulder to cry on if there was some kind of tragedy. Saving the world? Sure, I could go along with that. Interstellar space travel to be the first real human on an alien world? I did not sign up for that.”


“I know,” Arthur's expression softened at Eames’ raw exasperation. “I'm sorry,” Arthur said with a sad quirk of a smile. It made Eames’ heart ache.


“Fuck,” Eames grumbled. “Guess I haven't much of a choice now.”


“Well, I could leave you here on one of the small escape pods, at least you'd be safe in orbit outside of your moon. We could hook you up to an IV and a Passiv and you could live in the dreamscape until we retu--”


“Arthur, I'm not abandoning you to go through this all on your own.”


“Eames, this,” Arthur gestured between them, “you don't have to do all of this because of the relationship that's developed. I don't hold it against you if you don't want this anymore--”


Arthur startled when Eames stood abruptly. He closed the distance between them in an instant and Arthur had a sudden flash of fear course through him, body going stiff and defensive. When Eames reached him the grip on Arthur's jaw was demanding but deceivingly gentle, the voice above him surprisingly soft.


“You're not going to get rid of me so easily, Arthur,” Eames growled. He ignored the flash of threatening violence in Arthur's eyes, watching them soften as he continued. “This,” Eames mimicked Arthur's gesture between them from a moment before. “Apparently means more to me than the end of the bloody world,” Eames confessed, apparently blindsided by his own realization. “You make me mad, Arthur. Mad enough to forfeit humanity because I'd lost faith in it until you came along. Then it turns out you're not even human,” Eames felt his nerves were causing him to ramble at this point, overwhelmed and confounded. Arthur had relaxed beneath him as Eames’ distress escalated. “You've gone and made a right mess out of my life, yet somehow I can't imagine my life without you--”


Arthur lunged upward to crash his lips into Eames whose next word was devoured and distorted into a whimper. He couldn't bear to hear Eames come apart at the seams, knowing it was his rather convoluted way of saying he would stay by Arthur's side in this whole mess.


“Eames,” Arthur gasped, pushing into Eames through his biting kiss all the words he didn't know how to say. Eames was lost in the way Arthur had gone possessive and devouring, forgetting whatever protests he had begun to spew.


Arthur toppled Eames, climbing over him and straddling his hips before kissing him again. Eames groaned as Arthur's strong hands were running up his sides, beneath his shirt. Thrusting his tongue into Arthur's mouth, Eames felt the body atop him relax, his weight pulling their bodies flush. Eames rebelled in the heat of Arthur's body as the kiss broke, both left panting heavily, hot breath between them.


“Tommy!” Came Dick’s voice over the intercom, loud and invasive.


Arthur grit his teeth, stilling as Eames watched his flush face.


“WHAT.”


“We need to talk. I want to decide on our next move. Come to the command bay.”


“In a moment,” Arthur said through his clenched jaw.


“Sally is already here. Come now.”


“FINE,” Arthur sneered, voice flat and there was a quiet click of the line going silent.


Eames exhaled beneath Arthur who set his head on Eames’ shoulder.


“Continue this discussion another time,” Eames suggested reluctantly.


Arthur began to climb off of him, but kept dipping down for more kisses until Eames was breathless and chuckling.


Arthur, angry and aroused and cockblocked, was beautiful. Eames stood after him as Arthur turned for the door.


“Arthur,” Eames said and was met with dark, dilated eyes. Arthur said nothing as Eames combed his fingers through his rumpled hair, questions answered as fingers moved down slowly to straighten his collar. Eames slowed in his work, drawing it out as he fixed up Arthur's rumpled suit. Arthur let Eames compose him before he huffed and impatient lips were pressing into his own.


“Eames,” Arthur nearly whispered, “the sooner I go the sooner I can come back.”


Eames smiled, soft and longing and Arthur turned abruptly, rushing out the door so he could come back as soon as earthly possible.


“Ah, Tommy,” Dick greeted, “what took you so long?” Dick stilled himself at the twitch in Arthur's jaw that suggested he was grinding his back teeth impatiently. Dick deliberately ignored Arthur's irritation and diverted his energy to Sally. “Sally! Fill Tommy in on the mission parameters.”


Sally gave a salute, clearly pleased at the chance to be on new assignment and the opportunity to further her own position back with her people. Arthur could see she had steadily grown more dissatisfied with being an earthling, the same way he'd grow restless years before.


“The Big Giant Head has ordered that we observe the destruction of the species then return home for reassignment!”


So we're out of the way and the home planet won't know about humanity's destruction until it's already done with, Arthur thought, haze of arousal clearing quickly for the job at hand.


“What are we to do with the,” Arthur cleared his throat for emphasis, “cargo.”


“They're coming with us,” Dick said with an obvious lack of foresight.


“For the rest of their lives? Dick, be realistic. How are they as humans going to fair once they’re on our planet, endangered and surrounded by a completely different species,” Arthur tried to be sensitive, saying all of this aloud hurt him as well. Once their old mission was forced into completion because Earth was no longer inhabited with the species they were studying there was no choice but to go home for reassignment. They likely wouldn’t even stay around their home world for long before having to move on to another planet or system altogether, leaving their human partners behind.


“Mary is coming with me,” Dick declared.


“And what?” Sally asked and Arthur was relieved to have her at least understand. “Do you honestly think she’ll want to be a purple gelatinous blob too once we revert back?”


“Dick,” Arthur said sternly. “Our entire relationships with these people is based on our humanity, once that’s removed we’ll lose that connection.” Arthur’s heart ached as he persisted with a flat tone.


“But, what was the point in saving them if we can’t even have them?” Dick said aloud what they were all thinking, voice croaking at the end, betraying his grief.


“What indeed,” Arthur sighed in frustration as he plopped down on the sofa.


“Don has to go back to the planet,” Sally said flatly, laying out their emotional thoughts so they were all on the same page.


“It will be uninhabitable within a month of the exposure to radiation,” Arthur said. “I expect there will be at least a few survivors. Perhaps we can seek them out before leaving Vicki, Mary, Eames and Don behind.”


“Everyone will be gone,” Sally said in despair. “What will I tell Don?”


“You didn’t tell him the reality of the situation,” Arthur said flatly with realization. He looked at Dick who shuffled awkwardly. “Either of you.”


“Mary wouldn’t have come if she knew,” Dick said, exasperated. “I asked her hypothetically if she would be okay with us being the last humans on Earth. Let’s just say she responded by telling me she’d rather die with the rest of humanity.”


Arthur winced, his heartbeat picking up because he knew exactly what Eames would have said, had been trying to say earlier. He wondered if Mary was so shallow or had thought Dick was kidding. Arthur looked at Sally who was biting her lip.


“Let me guess, you just asked if Don wanted to see space, huh?” Arthur sighed.


“Something like that,” Sally confirmed and Arthur didn’t press for elaboration. Instead he swivelled his head to distract from the disparaging atmosphere in the room.


“Where is Harry?”


“He wasn’t invited,” Dick declared.


“But he has a say,” Arthur stated, “For Vicki.”


“He can’t be trusted.”


“What? Why?” Arthur quarried.


“Because he’s the transmitter,” Sally hissed. “What if he is transmitting to The Big Giant Head and doesn’t even know it?”


As if on que, the grate clattered overhead and with a loud crack a body fell from the ceiling. Arthur was on his feet, gun drawn in an instant, ready to shoot whoever had stowed away on the ship.


Harry groaned as he rolled over and stumbled to his feet, rubbing his head.


“Harry! What have you heard!” Dick demanded.


“Nothin,” Harry said none too convincing. “But there’s somebody up there!”


Everyone turned to look at the hole in the ceiling where Harry had fallen through except for Arthur who pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.


“Who--” Sally began to demand before Arthur cut her off.


“EAMES.”


There was a moment of silence before a body shifted with the slightest of sounds above.


“Eames. Down here, NOW,” Arthur demanded and the body shifted again, as if turning back toward them, caught in its escape. With a pattern of rhythmic shuffling feet, knees and hands, Eames’ faced popped into view with a sheepish grin as he slid gracefully from the ceiling. As Eames straightened he tried is damndest to avoid Arthur’s glare of daggers.


“Well this is just great!” Dick exclaimed. “So much for a private meeting.”


“You two!” Sally exclaimed, “I should have known!” Eames raised his hands in surrender as Sally approached, stopping in front of Harry first. “A spy for The Big Giant Head, aren’t you Harry! Ready to report back to him about our plans!”


“No, Sally, I--”


“And you!” She said, turning toward Eames with eyes narrowed. “I knew there was something off about you! Who are you a spy for? The government? Here to report back so they can send missiles to blow us up!”


Arthur resisted the urge to ease his oncoming headache by rubbing his temples. Sally had seen too many movies, humans were too wrapped up in politics and idiocy to even dream of protecting their planet from this. And Eames working faithfully for the government? Arthur accidently let out a snort of a laugh.


Everyone turned toward him and Arthur regretted it immediately, holstering the gun he realized he’d lowered as soon as he recognized Eames was the target in the grate.


“You,” Sally turned on Arthur, accusatory. “Are you a spy too? Here with your comrade,” She jeered toward Eames with a violent finger. “Is that what you were doing all those years away? Betraying the mission? Betraying your people? Us?”


It was Eames’ turn to bark out a laugh and he drew everyone’s attention except for Sally who was just about nose to nose with Arthur.


“Sweetheart, Arthur is less likely to betray you than even I, faithful to a fault that one is. He’s the one who decided on a whim to return to you lot when he knew you were in need. And he’s here now to help you all as well. Just hear him out.”


Sally straightened, eyes still glaring as she pointed with two fingers from her own eyes to Arthur’s.


“Tommy,” Dick addressed. “What do you have to say for yourself?” Arthur sighed to steady himself.


“Eames and I would like to propose a scenario in which everyone wins,” Arthur said, “All except The Big Giant Head himself.”


His eyes turned to Dick, studying his reaction very closely.


“And,” Dick encouraged, clearly shaken by the idea of betrayal, no knowledge of Arthur and Eames’ having already disobeyed and trying to change Stone’s mind.


“We don’t think the council knows about The Big Giant Head’s decision to eliminate the human species,” Arthur began, filling in the stunned silence of his shipmates. “We plan to inform them by traveling back home before the process can begin.”


“But that will insight resistance,” Sally said, “If they don’t already know…”


“I cannot betray The Big Giant Head!” Dick said, physically putting his foot down.


“Because he’s your father?” Harry asked defiantly.


“Yeah Dick Head,” Sally addressed seriously, “What has he ever done for us? He’s gone and blown the whole mission!”


“And he wants Mary Albright dead,” Harry said bluntly, and Vicki, he didn’t say.


“But this---!” Dick began to argue before Sally held up her hand to silence him.


“Let’s hear what Tommy has to say,” Sally demanded and Dick shut up as her poise threatened physical violence.


-------------

 


“Are you nervous?” Eames asked though he clearly knew the answer, looking up from the computer to watch Arthur pace. Eames was downloading music and whatever media he could think of to salvage from Earth before it wouldn't be there anymore. Just in case.


Arthur paused to blink at Eames, torn from his insistent need to overthink everything. Eames huffed and gestured for Arthur to come to him and thought Arthur was denying him when he didn't leave the place he stood. It gave Eames a moment to take him in, poised in a suit before the expanse of space with a tiny Earth in the distance. The whole thing seemed so surreal and Eames’ hand dipped into his pocket for his totem.


Arthur's eyes sharpened at Eames’ movement; he'd been doing that a lot recently. Arthur figured it made sense, all of this was just ridiculous compared to the routine they'd fallen into as earthlings.


As Eames’ body relaxed, realizing he wasn't in a dream, Arthur approached him. There was concern writ in his eyes, and Eames knew for a fact no one else could have deciphered that from Arthur but himself. His ability to read Arthur made the moment feel intimate.


Arthur stood in front of Eames, looking down as he carded his long fingers tentatively through Eames’ hair. Leaning his head into the touch, Eames kissed Arthur's palm as it smoothed over his stubbled cheek. Eames’ arms wrapped around Arthur's waist, pulling him close as he yanked up the dress shirt from where it was tucked in.


Arthur exhaled as Eames pressed his face into the warmth of his belly, jawline chaffing the pale flesh. Eames kissed Arthur's belly, looking up as his fingers lingered over the button of dress pants. He was awaiting Arthur's withdrawal or lack of permission and sighed when Arthur just licked his lips in anticipation, hips angling just slightly forward.


Eames moved smoothly then, slipping Arthur's pants down his hips in one smooth motion. He dipped his head, causing Arthur to groan above him when his lower lip just grazed the head of Arthur's flaccid cock.


“I'm going to make you hard for me,” Eames whispered, arousal peaking when Arthur's hand tightened in his hair. That was all the encouragement Eames needed as he sucked down Arthur's cock.


“Fuck,” Arthur moaned, arms looping haphazardly around Eames head for a lack of someplace better to be.


“Eames,” Arthur said as he pulled back Eames by the hair, finding saliva wet, parted lips and dazed eyes. Eames followed Arthur's guidance and leaned back far enough for the man above him to get a good site at the bulge in his trousers. “Touch yourself,” Arthur commanded, voice strained. “I want to see it.”


“Christ Arthur,” Eames moaned, fumbling instantly with his own pants. He’d lost his bearings along the way, hands clumsy and groaned when he took himself in hand, not realizing just how hard he was from sucking Arthur. He squeezed harder when he heard a slight gasp from above him and looked up to meet Arthur’s eyes.


Arthur rubbed along Eames’ scalp before gripping his hair and pressing Eames face into his groin. Groaning, Eames stroked himself hard in fist as he nuzzled Arthur’s dark haired groin, lips panting hot against Arthur’s erection. Eames teased, looking up to meet Arthur’s eyes as he licked at his shaft, kissing and suckling until Arthur was writhing and panting. He was clearly trying not to thrust forward for more contact, not shove his cock into Eames’ lips and it was hot, so much so that Eames had to slow his own hand.


Then Arthur shifted so that Eames had to lean to the side where he sat, so Arthur could, oh god, get a better view of Eames stroking himself he realized.


“Arthur,” Eames whined, drawing Arthurs eyes back to his face so he could suck down his erection again.


Arthur’s eyes fogged in arousal, his eyes on Eames’ stretched lips as his hand tightened in his hair. Then Arthur was thrusting ever so gently into Eames’ mouth and he realized the idea of Arthur face fucking him was incredibly hot. Eames groaned around Arthur whose hips stuttered before he got the message and started to thrust with a little more urgency. Both his hands were in Eames’ hair then, caressing and yanking and steadily losing control. Eames bobbed his head to meet Arthur’s twitching hips, drawing rhythmic groans from the man above him. Arthur could only hear the wet suction as he fucked a little harder into Eames mouth. When he glanced down to see Eames frantically stroking himself Arthur groaned and fucked into Eames with abandon, shuddering full bodied as he came, burried deep as his throat swallowed around him.


It took a moment for Arthur’s vision to clear as Eames pulled off of him, both out of breath and panting. Eames was fucking into his own fist, so close but plateauing out without Arthur’s growing precipice to provoke him.


“Arthur,” Eames pleaded, watching a little haze clear in blown black eyes. Then Arthur got down on his knees, startling Eames who thought he might of collapsed until there was a mouth breathing heavily against the head of his gorged cock. Arthur’s fingers pressed up under Eames balls and he lost it.


Eames groaned, long and hard at the implication of Arthur’s mouth on his cock as he came. He had wanted to last long enough for Arthur to fit a finger into him, but the idea alone had him gone.


When Eames vision cleared he was slumped back in the chair, Arthur’s face resting on the inside of his clothed thigh. He stroked Arthur’s cheek who cracked open orgasm drunk eyes.


“Bed, Darling,” Eames suggested softly. Arthur didn’t move for a long moment until Eames shifted forward, ready to stand. He held out a hand to Arthur after he stood, and pulled him up clumsily. Arthur was a compliant weight against his side as they plopped own on the bed and fell immediately into sleep.

Chapter Text

Back inside their more human looking vessel, Arthur helped Eames unbuckle his foreign space suit once again until they were back down to human garments.


“That wasn't so bad,” Eames said cheerily as the entered the main entry way.


Of course it was just as the main hatch, promising consistent supplies of human life support, closed behind them that Don rounded the corner, alien gun drawn.


Eames avoid Arthur's irritated glare. Clearly he spoke too soon.


“Don,” Sally said in disbelief, hands raising in surrender. “What are you doing?” Her eyes narrowed, ready for action.


“Sally. There is a visitor on board who is making some demands.” His next words were in a conspiratorial whisper. “It's a hostage situation---”


“Don. Enough chit chat, bring them here,” The Big Giant Head’s voice rang out on the speaker overhead.


“Don! What's going on?” Sally hissed.


“Come with me!” Don commanded with a theatrically loud voice. He nodded his head and circled the three to lead them forward.


Arthur met Eames’ eyes, both with hands raised in mock surrender. As soon as he felt they had an advantage, Eames was certain Arthur would act.


“Come in, take a seat,” Stone said politely as they entered the command bay of the ship. His posture was anything but polite, gun in hand standing over Mary and Dick who lay unconscious on sleek, minimalist couches. “Wake up Dick,” Stone commanded, gesturing ah him with his weapon.


“He's on a time sensitive sedative. It could be dangerous to wake him up early,” Arthur said coolly.


“Tommy,” Stone said pointedly, “Wake. Up. Dick.”


Arthur nodded shortly, careful to keep his hands quite visible as he moved toward the briefcase Eames had brought aboard. As Arthur knelt he took in Harry's prone form lying on the floor beside the couches; as soon as he had a chance he would check his pulse. There was no sign of Vicki or Eric.


With one hand still raised, Arthur worked the case open with the other and slowly extracted what Yusuf had once termed the ‘smelling salts’.


“Sally, have this Mr. Eames take a seat and tie him to the chair.”


Sally moved reluctantly, glancing toward Don who nodded at her as she took a complacent Eames by the wrists, who had instantly sat down upon command.


“Go on, Sally,” Don coaxed. “It'll all be okay.”


“No, it won't all be okay. You three have disobeyed your leader. Your disobedience must be repaid.”


“What's going on!” Dick sat bolt upright as he suddenly awoke, hair rumpled. “Good God! I feel like I've just been hit by a bus!”


“Dick. Whose side are you on?”


“Side?” Dick paused to actually take a moment to swivel his head and take everyone in. “Stone! What is going on?” Dick asked again, watching Sally tie up Eames before his eyes met with Arthur who knelt next to him, hands still raised.


“Tommy,” Dick said, drawn out and chastising as if talking to a disobedient child. “What did you do?”


“We’re home, Dick.”


“Tommy!” Dick drew his attention, uncertainty in his eyes. Arthur was steeled and Dick turned back toward Stone.


“Dick, High Commander, I, The Big Giant Head, command you to shoot these traitors.”


“Shoot? What traitors?”


“Tommy, Sally and the human,” Stone clarified, gesturing between them. “Show me where your loyalties lie.”


“Now wait just a minute!” Dick began.


“Son,” Stone addressed and Dick’s jaw clenched shut.


“Fine,” Dick agreed, rolling his eyes like a petulant child, reaching out for a firearm. He refused to meet Arthur's eyes next to him.


“Your loyalty will be rewarded,” Stone praised, handing a small alien gun to Dick.


Dick looked at the device quizzically. Of course weapons weren't a skill set for a High Commander; the only one of them required to know them was Sally. Arthur had only just happened to be alive long enough to have needed to learn them at some point. Of course weaponry schematics were just more knowledge for an information officer to absorb.


Dick pointed the alien device at Arthur who didn't even flinch, waiting for Dick to cock this up. When he tried to fire nothing happened, and Stone scoffed.


“You have to hold the safety release, both triggers at once,” Stone instructed. “And I call you my son.”


Dick’s eyes sharpened. “Excuse me for not knowing a standard issue,” Dick fumbled, waving the device about for emphasis, “Whatever this is. I'm a physics professor, dammit!”


He finally got his fingers positioned right on the gun and began to raise it toward Arthur who moved with lightning speed. He brought down a firm hand into the crook of Dick’s elbow, taking advantage when he scrambled for purchase on the gun.


Dick cursed loudly, only falling still when Arthur raised the gun to him, putting the High Commander between himself and Stone. Of course, Arthur would never shoot Dick, but he'd been absent in his family’s lives for so long Dick probably wasn't sure about that.


“Stone. The Council has been informed of your misdirection as leader. If you surrender now, perhaps you can get off easy by pleading insanity and delusion by making bad decisions under the influence of an alien brain,” Arthur negotiated. Stone laughed.


“Go ahead Tommy, pull the trigger. You think I would have handed Dick of all people a loaded weapon? I just needed to see where his loyalties lie. You should have shot me before you decided to go and tattle to the big wigs,” Stone said angrily. “It wasn't enough that you decided to steal away my son from me, but you had to go and ruin perfectly legitimate plans to put down a species that clearly doesn't appreciate its existence by telling the Council.”


Arthur lowered the weapon in frustration. He thought it felt lighter than it should, as if a clip was indeed missing, or the power source itself.


“You mean the council didn't approve of those plans?” Dick gaped in realization. “Traitor!”


“Dick! I'm ashamed to call you my son! These humans have made you weak. Look at the bigger picture. With Earth gone you can get reassigned, maybe even---”


“Mary!” Dick gasped, finally looking down to his other side where Mary lay.


Stone was too startled to stop Dick when he ran over to her side, hands hovering, afraid to touch her.


“Stone! What have you done to her?” Dick said in dramatic despair, finally deciding to rest the side of his face on her chest.


“I didn't--”


“You killed Mary!”


“Dick, she was already like that when I--”


“Maaaary! Oh, Mary!” Dick sobbed, drowning out Stone’s protest.


Then Stone was toppling backward, holding his mouth from a surprise uppercut from Arthur. He fumbled with the gun and had it instantly taken by Arthur who administered a debilitating chop to Stone’s inner elbow.


“So it's like that, is it Tommy?” Stone said, lip bloodied as he took a step backward, supposedly to steady himself.


Stone watched as Sally took the gun from Don who instantly surrendered with a “I was just following orders.”


Eames rose quickly from the chair, apparently the hands behind his back having never been tied in the first place. Then Eames gestured to Sally who had Don sit in the chair as she passed on the weapon to tie up her partner.


“If this was any other situation,” Don began suggestively as Sally secured his hands behind the chair. He was cut off with a grunt from the ropes being pulled tight and a slight smirk from Sally.


Eames raised the gun thing he pretended to know how to point at Stone, mimicking Arthur.


“Stone,” Arthur said warningly, suggesting he surrender or suffer the consequences.


“Dick!” Stone tried, raising his hands when he got no response other than dramatic babble.


He huffed, feigning a resigned posture as Arthur lowered his gun just enough to allow Stone to know he wouldn't shoot as long as the man cooperated.


Then Stone stumbled backward, Arthur and Eames taken aback, before Stone seemed to suddenly regain composure enough to dart around the doorway behind him. Arthur sighed with disapproval, lowering his gun.


“Should have just shot the bloke,” Eames mirrored Arthur's thoughts.


“Come on,” Arthur instructed. “Sally, make sure nothing goes wrong here,” he said with a nod from Sally. He turned back long enough to look over the mess Stone had gotten them into.


Eames had Arthur's back as they moved silently down the hall before they rounded the corner on the large room that had been Vicki and Eric’s.


Stone stood over the two as Vicki pleaded with him, Eric pressed to her chest on the verge of tears. As soon as she saw Arthur and Eames, Vicki’s intonation changed from pleading to vindictive.


“You think you can be Eric Travis’ daddy, Stone? You don't know the first thing about him! What's his favorite color, huh? What food does he like? What---”


Stone seemed to notice the two of them in the doorway then and shifted around Vicki and Eric.


“Stone, give yourself up. If you do so now the council will only give you a minimal sentence with retirement. Don't add murder to this situation.” If they could just get Stone away long enough for Vicki or Eric to not be in the line of fire...


“Shut it Tommy! You don't know what it's like to be in love! Eric is my son! He deserves to be with his father!”


“Funny you say that now when you haven't been in his life this whole time!” Vicki shot back, clearly only becoming more defiant with the gun like object pressed to her temple. Maybe it was best she didn't understand what exactly the machine did.


“Silence!” Stone shouted and Vicki froze.


“Stone,” Arthur tried to address, Vicki and Eric too close for him to take a shot.


“I've had enough--” Stone began before Vicki’s “Tommy!” And an elbow to the balls had The Big Giant Head crumpling.


Startled, Arthur watched as Vicki elbowed Stone the moment before she shoved a stumbling Eric toward he and Eames. Arthur was relieved as Eames stepped in to scoop up the startled, tear streaked Eric and immediately leave the room. Eames couldn't say what caused him to move so quickly, he only knew that the outcome of this situation was not something a kid of Eric’s age should witness.


He tried to cover the kid’s ears as he rushed down the hall to the room where they'd left the others.


Stone hit Vicki across the head with the gun, enraged as she fell to the side and he shot her, only a split second before Arthur shot him. Both bodies seized up, shaking unnaturally as their eyes rolled back in their heads. Arthur rushed toward Vicki's prone body as she began to foam at the mouth, knowing well that Stone was incapacitated beside them in his own throes of a seizure and no longer required his attention.


“Fuck,” Arthur exhaled, trying to grip Vicki's shoulders to keep her head from smacking back into the floor as she convulsed. There was suddenly a bulk at his side and Arthur flinched when a needle plunged into Vicki's neck until she stilled. Eames had given her the sedative they'd given to Dick earlier. There was a heavy arm around Arthur's shoulders and a voice calling his name. He finally realized he was still gripping Vicki's shoulders even though she lie still, at least dying peacefully.


“Arthur, shhh, it's alright, it's over,” Eames pressed his lips into Arthur's temple. Arthur released Vicki and sat back, dazed and in shock; he'd never lost someone he'd known since childhood before, not right in front of him. It all felt so unreal.


Arthur didn't realize there was a tear down his cheek until his vision of Vicki was blocked as he was stooped up in Eames’ arms. Arthur was being dragged from the room, his feet barely cooperating, Eames supporting his weight.


-------


Upon the disclosure of the death of The Big Giant Head to the council, the group was permitted to return to Earth and continue their mission. Arthur ran his fingers over the metal on his sleeve, the one he, Sally and Eames had been given for admirable service to their species.


Returning home to Earth however, left the crew with a sense of loss for what once was. Vicki was no longer in their midst, leaving Harry solemn and grieving. Eric Travis openly wondered where his mother was, but no one had the heart to tell him yet that she was dead, as well as his father.


Eames looked toward the back of Arthur's chair at the front of the ship once again. He wasn't sure if Arthur was still in shock, almost hoped, because the way Vicki's death had closed him emotionally off from Eames was a lot to take in. After all he'd been through to help Arthur on this fucking ridiculous mission, he felt like his usefulness had been used up and he was being discarded. Eames hoped it was only the residual emotion in the air of the ship that manifested these suspicions.


“I thought you were dead, Dick!” Mary Albright’s voice cut through Eames’ thoughts as he tuned back into reality.


“So you took the drug you thought had killed me?” Dick said, “Mary, that's so romantic!”


“Wait, it wasn't Stone who knocked Mary unconscious?” Sally asked at the head of the ship, twisting against the belts in her seat.


“No,” Don reported. “And Harry was knocked out because he tried to stop Mary from taking the injection and wound up with a metal case to the head for his trouble.”


“It still hurts where she hit me,” Harry pouted, rubbing his head before he fell back into solemn silence.


“Quiet back there,” Arthur said and the crew fell silent. Whether the cause was because of the sudden shift in speed or Arthur's command so he and Sally could concentrate, no one was sure.

 

--------------

 

Returning to Earth was strange to say the least. The world and its people went on as usual, with no knowledge of the incredible destruction they narrowly missed, or even that there was an entire alien species out there.


The crew could almost go back to their lives like nothing had happened except for the looming sorrow overhead.


Vicki's memorial was quickly arranged and only a few attended, but it was beautifully simple in Eames’ opinion. He hadn't wanted to intrude but could read the raw need for him to be there from Arthur, even if the man himself couldn't recognize it. There were almost certainly too many emotions going through Arthur for him to bother with discerning where one bled in with another.


Eric Travis seemed strangely calm through the whole ordeal in a way that made him seem like an adult in a child's body. Perhaps he couldn't process the magnitude of the situation, that he was now an orphan. As they stood in a semicircle about the urn, Eames leaned his shoulder into Arthur, offering support without words. Arthur in turn sniffed and swallowed hard, but there were no tears, and he placed a firm hand on Eric's shoulder. The boy glanced up at Arthur, eyes steely, but glinting wetly.


During the dinner after the ceremony Arthur and Eames sat apart from the rest of the group. Eames didn't question when Arthur pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket as they sat on a bench outside, offering it to Eames.


“We need to talk,” Arthur said tersely, exhaling smoke with a composed expression. Eames felt dread nag at him because when Arthur made up his mind like this, there was no going back.


“I'm going to adopt Eric.”


Eames gaped. He didn't mean to really, maybe even should have expected this, but even so.


“Arthur, adoption? That's a big respons---”


“Eames. The decision’s been made.” Eames pressed into the back of the bench, shoulders slumping as he focused on his cigarette. “I've been ordered to take him in.”


Eames glared a second time.


“Arthur, this needs to be your decision.”


“It is. I mean, I agree with the order.” Arthur paused to suck in a deep inhale, as if the chemical burn threatened to make him choke before he sighed it out. “The council has Eric's best interests in mind, and the rest of his family, my family, is emotionally or intellectually ill equipped for child rearing.”


“This is a significant commitment, Arthur. You can't raise a kid and-- what about dreamshare?”


“It's,” Arthur began in frustration, brow furrowing. “It’s not as if I have to quit my work as a pointman,” Arthur stated, but his heart wasn't in it. It was as if he knew these were empty hopes and he needed Eames to just confirm his suspicions.


“You damn well have to quit as a pointman,” Eames said, anger rising. “You can't risk being away from your son, out of the country for weeks, months on end. Not to mention the risk to your life, the dangers of getting shot or falling into limbo and not even being able to tell him why his new dad abandoned him, died, Arthur.”


“I could always leave him with Dom when I have a job, at least he's retired.”


“If you're going to commit to this, you've got to be in it in full,” Eames said, mirroring Arthur's fears and suspicions.


Arthur exhaled shakily.


“Will you,” Arthur choked out, uncertainty clouding his composure. “Would you like to join me in this,” he swallowed, having difficulty putting it into words. Arthur feared Eames' response, but he had to clarify, and the man beside him thankfully got it.


“Arthur,” Eames sighed, leaning to press their shoulders together. “Darling, you know that I want to, but, fatherhood isn't something I'm ready for. Not after all of this,” he gestured toward the world around them. Arthur understood he meant the ridiculous mission he'd just been dragged through and aliens and saving humanity and it was a lot, but it still hurt.


But Arthur could understand. He likely would have responded the same way if he had been in Eames’ position.


“Dreamshare is my life Arthur, I can't just stop now, not when there's still so much to be done.”


Arthur took a long, deep drag on the cigarette.


“Then,” he exhaled in a long stream of smoke, “This is where we say goodbye.”


And there it was.


Eames swallowed. Arthur sounded like he wanted Eames to say no, that he would stay. But Eames needed time, it was too sudden, and he couldn't do this right now.


Eames nodded shortly before he stood and moved to stand before Arthur who looked up at him. He took Arthur's chin between his fingers and leaned down to plant a soft kiss on his lips. Eames tried not to think about the way Arthur's lips quivered as they parted. Arthur's eyes were closed like he was trying to ingrained the feeling of Eames’ lips on his memory.


Stubbing out the cigarette on the arm of the bench, Eames turned and walked away.


Arthur hung his head, pinching the bridge of his nose, the inner corners of his eyes, as if to stave off tears.

Chapter Text

“Come on Eames, open up,” Arthur said with impatience as he stabbed at the doorbell again.


“What in the bloody hell--” he could hear Eames cursing through the windows opened to let in the late night breeze. The door swung open suddenly and a sleep rumpled Eames was silhouetted by the overhead light.


“Finally,” Arthur said, watching Eames blink as his eyes adjusted slowly to the light.


“Arthur?” Eames squinted in disbelief. “What are you--?”


“Are you going to let me in?”


“Are you hurt?” Eames tilted his head as if to sight any blood or fault in Arthur's posture.


“What? No Eames,” Arthur began.


“Got a tail you need to escape from?” Eames added.


“No.”


“Then,” Eames began before taking a step back and slamming the door in Arthur's face.


“Eames!” Arthur half shouted in surprise and scoffed as he tried the door. Locked, of course, and Arthur could hear a deadbolt slide into place, then another.


He sighed.


Arthur moved around the side of the town house down a narrow alley before stopping below a window. He used what little space he had for a boost of speed to propel himself far enough up the wall to grip the ledge of a window. Hoisting himself up, Arthur crawled through into the dark living room, his vision not adjusting quickly enough as he knocked over something glass. Sighing following an aborted effort to catch the thing, it didn't shatter but managed to still make quite a ruckus. By the time Arthur managed to place the likely stolen artifact back onto the small table, there was a gun cocking at his back.


Arthur raised his hands before turning around slowly as Eames switched on the light.


“Dammit Arthur!” Eames hissed, lowering the gun. “The bloody hell are you doing in my flat?”


“Well, I clearly wasn't welcome through the front door, so I thought I'd try a different entrance?”


“That wasn't a dream,” Eames muttered in a way that made Arthur think he wished it had been.


“Dream of me a lot, do you,” Arthur said, unable to resist the urge to quell his rising uncertainty with sarcasm. Eames scoffed.


“Don't flatter yourself, Arthur. It's unbecoming.” He turned away from Arthur, heading toward what must be a liquor cabinet considering the bottle Eames extracted from it. “Whisky?”


“Sure,” Arthur sighed, taking a seat and awaiting an offered glass. “You'll hear me out this time.”


Eames shrugged as if he didn't care either way as he took the chair neighboring Arthur's. “You're here now, don't suppose there's much I can do to stop you.”


“I have a job proposition for you,” Arthur started. “It's a simple--”


“You're retired,” Eames cut him off sharply.


“Dom and I determined that if the threat level of a job is low enough,” Arthur segwayed as if he had all the patience in the world for Eames. He continued, “it poses no risk for a violent encounter. Therefore--”


“Arthur--”


“THEREFORE,” Arthur pushed, “It poses no threat to orphaning our children.”


“Is Dom here too?”


“No, he's back in the states, doing dreamshare consulting from home these days.”


Eames seemed to relax a little at that.


“And he's watching over Eric?”


“Oh, Eric is here in England at a rather quaint bed and breakfast where we're staying.”


Eames fumbled with his glass.


“You left him alone?”


“Well, yeah. Dom says I can be a bit overbearing so I'm trying to give him more freedom.”


“He's a bloody child, Arthur! You can't just leave him in a hotel room in a foreign country! He's what, 9?”


“What? Eames please, I wasn't much older than him when I was left alone at home. He's got a good head on his shoulders, he'll be fine.”


“Arthur. You're not human, you had just arrived on Earth with the knowledge of a whole other species. Meanwhile, Eric just lost his mother a little over two years ago, for Christ sake--”


“You don't know what my life was like before I came here,” Arthur bit out. To Earth, he means. Eames jaw tightened, he really didn't know more than that. “And he's handled the bit about his mother quite well, considering.”


Eames took a sip of his whiskey to settle himself, and Arthur mirrored him. They sat for a few moments with a silence between them that was far less awkward than Arthur had thought it would be.


“You know, when I told Eric I was coming to England for work and he was to be staying with Dom or his grandmother, his choice, he wouldn't have it. He demanded to be brought along, and presented a list of why it would be beneficial to him,” Arthur smiled in a way Eames had never seen him do before, raw adoration and fondness. It made his heart ache a little.


“He's a smart kid?”


“Without question,” Arthur agreed. “He's skipping a grade this coming year, moving right up to middle school.”


“It's a wonder your public education system over there recognized his potential.”


Arthur frowned.


“He's in private school, of course, what do you take me for. I've been through that system, remember, I know better. And Eames,”


“Hm?” Eames responded.


“Are you drunk?”


“Quite perceptive of you Arthur,” Eames said, swirling around the last dregs of his drink in his glass before knocking it back. “I was having quite a nice nap before I was rudely awoken. Now what is this bloody job you've got so I can send you back to your charge, where you should be.”


Arthur tsk’d with an eye roll.


“Eric is safely in bed by now, we’re going for a boat tour on the Thames tomorrow. Besides, he's just up the road, and knows how to contact me,” Arthur assured, raising his cell for emphasis.


“Quite the tourist, are we?”


“What, want to come along?” Arthur invited.


“No,” Eames frowned but Arthur wasn't wholly convinced.


“It's in the evening,” Arthur suggested, meaning Eames’ expected hangover should have subsided by then. “I think Eric would be thrilled to have a proper Englishman to lead us around the city,” Arthur encouraged.


Eames didn't answer, instead getting up to top off his glass, though he didn't offer Arthur any.


“The job,” Eames pushed, not returning to his seat and instead leaning in the doorway, presumably to keep himself steadily upright.


“Right.” Arthur began, setting his own glass on the table next to him and pulling up a map on his phone. “We’re coordinating with Mal’s father at the university, who I'll be meeting with in four days. By then Eric will have safely flown home, and Ariadne will be joining us.”


“Getting the old team back together?”


“Yusuf's occupied, and Dom will consult from the states. Ariadne is visiting more for an alumni seminar, and volunteered to join in for a little extra travel money….”


---------


Once Eames stumbled up the flat’s stairs to flop onto his bed and fall almost instantly asleep, Arthur covered him with a blanket. He wasn't sure how much of the mission parameters Eames would have retained in his inebriated state, but that wasn't the entire point of this visit.


Arthur sat on the edge of the bed to watch Eames sleep.


He had heard of the messy jobs executed by Eames and the teams he'd settled for recently, and it was no wonder he was drinking like this. At least Dom and Arthur could offer Eames security on this job, it was simple enough. And maybe they could rekindle something between them, Arthur hoped, but wouldn't push. Eames was the most competent forger available, and altogether reliable; it was worth regaining contact with him on a professional basis. He had proven his worth on that ridiculous trip into space and Arthur was still regretful for bringing Eames along when it meant this was the outcome of their relationship.


But Arthur had had two years to think everything through, to get his priorities in order, and had settled in his obligations as a father. The only things missing in his life was dream share and, well, Eames. He was both reluctant and eager to work in dream share again, and it was Dom who offered the final push, knowing it was inevitable for both of them to come out of retirement at some point, so why not now?


They had agreed that Phillipa, James, and Eric were first priority in all situations, and proceeded with opening up conversations with previous contacts in the community. And here he was, intruding in Eames’ life.


Arthur extracted the third ticket for the dinner family cruise on the Thames and placed it on Eames’ bedside table. They could review the mission parameters later that day over dinner, assured Eames wouldn't miss out on a fully paid for dinner. Arthur couldn't resist the urge to brush some hair back from Eames’ forehead before he headed for the bedroom doorway and pausing.


“Until tomorrow, Darling,” Arthur whispered, closing the door behind him.