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and we'll never be lonely anymore

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Eames comes home jittery one Friday evening and Arthur’s worried.

Arthur hates it, but he spends about seventeen percent of his time worried that Eames is going to leave him. That Eames has already basically left him and he hasn’t noticed yet. Because Eames can lie like anything when he wants to, and there’s still a little part of Arthur that doesn’t trust himself to know when.

He’s pretty certain Eames has never lied to him - never lied about anything important, at least - but then, how would he know?

He blames Eames’ family. Because while Arthur’s family pride themselves on open honesty, even when (especially when) it hurts, Eames’ family speak in so many layers it takes a decoder ring to know if they want to stay for dinner.

So Eames is acting nervous, and Arthur spends most of the evening trying to figure out which of them is going to have to leave the house when Eames inevitably dumps him, until Eames coughs, digs around in his pocket, and slides a small velvet box across the table.

He coughs again, his eyes skidding over the entire room. “I’ve been carrying this around for three days, trying to figure out the way to say it right. I guess it’ll have to speak for itself.”

Arthur stares at the box for a full twenty seconds before he finally looks back up at Eames, who’s biting his lip and looking very much like he’s desperate for an answer, but not willing to rush it.

With completely steady hands, Arthur opens the box.

It isn’t a ring, because Arthur doesn’t wear rings, which Eames knows, because Eames knows everything about Arthur. Instead, it’s a piece of folded up paper, which Arthur carefully unfolds and smooths flat on the table.

It’s a picture of Arthur, and he’s not doing anything in particular, just sitting at the kitchen table with one leg drawn up to his chin as he eats toast and appears to be proof reading. Underneath the drawing, in Eames’ familar, jagged script, reads “I want you for as long as you’ll have me.”

Arthur stares at the picture. He continues staring at it for so long that by the time he looks up Eames is on his knee in front of him.

He rolls his eyes and gently shoves Eames in the shoulder. “Get off the floor, you look ridiculous.”

Eames grins and rises up onto both knees, shuffling over between Arthur’s legs and cupping his face in his hands. “It was a calculated risk.”

Arthur rolls his eyes, “Just shut up,” he says and lets himself be drawn into the kiss, trying to consciously will away the tension in his shoulders.

Later in bed, Eames brushes the hair off Arthur’s forehead and leans over him. “You never actually answered.”

“You interrupted me.”

“I won’t again.”

True to his word, Eames is silent while Arthur thinks, looking everywhere in the room but up at him. Finally, he closes his eyes and brushes his forehead against Eames’ shoulder.

“Of course.”

Eames’ grinning face takes up Arthur’s entire field of vision until he dips down and presses their lips together before rolling over behind him.

Arthur settles back into Eames’ arms and closes his eyes for a moment before they snap open.

“You have to be the one who tells everyone, okay? I - .”

Eames’ arms simply tighten around him. “Shh. Go to sleep.”

- - - - -

Eames of course, does nothing of the sort. He agrees to tell his own mother - even if firing off a single-word text isn’t exactly what Arthur had in mind - but absolutely insists Arthur tell his own mother himself.

He can feel the tension in his mother’s silence as he waits for her reply. There’s a solid tap-tap-tap of her fingernails against the hallway table before she finally sighs. “I suppose he’ll do.”

It had taken his mother four meetings before she even bothered trying to remember Eames’ name, and another six before she succeeded, so Arthur thinks that’s probably as good as he’s going to get. They exchange a few more bits of family news before Arthur finally manages to escape the conversation.

Eames looks at him from over the top of the newspaper when he returns to the kitchen. “Maggie approve, then?”

“She thinks I’m slumming it, but that you’re at least a marked improvement compared to some of my past prospects, so...”

Eames grins. “Just what I’ve always wanted in a mother-in-law.”

Arthur pulls a face. Then he counts out in his head all the other people who have to be told. “I’ll tell Cobb, but …”

“Yes, fine. I’ll inform the rest.” Eames waves Arthur’s concerns away. “I have no idea what your problem is, they’ll all be thrilled.”

That’s precisely what Arthur’s afraid of. What his friends can get up too when they’re excited is not something he wants aimed at himself.

- - - - -

It takes about half-an-hour to drive to Cobb’s house, even with no traffic, and Arthur constantly drums his fingers against his steering wheel as he drives. He makes the turns a little to sharply and moves out of traffic lights a little too quickly as he runs through the possible conversations in his head.

Cobb’s house is set far back from the road, with a large lawn to the side of the driveway. Arthur can see Phillipa and James playing something on the grass as he approaches, until they recognise his car and run down to meet him.

“Arthur! Daddy didn’t said you were coming!

He stoops down to hug her and ruffles James’ hair when he approaches. “That’s because I didn’t tell daddy. Is he inside?”

Phillipa grabs his hand and pulls him behind her. The house is familiar and Arthur doesn’t need to watch where he’s going to follow her, allowing himself to be dragged through the hallway as she calls for her father.

When Cobb first appears he looks worried, which Arthur should expect because in all the years they’ve known each other unannounced visits usually spelled danger. He thinks about saying he found himself in the neighbourhood, but even as a joke to start the conversation that would be stupid. It’s probably best to get the conversation over with.

Cobb shuffles the children back into the garden and leads Arthur to the kitchen. He moves about easily, offering coffee or cookies and finally sitting at the table and looking at Arthur with concern.

“Is something wrong?”

Arthur furrows his brow for a second, trying to remember what the last thing he told Cobb he was doing was. “What? No. Everything’s fine.”

Cobb visibly relaxes. “Okay. I just … You know.”

Arthur does, so he lets it slide. “Actually, it’s good news.”

For a second, he wishes he did have a ring. One he could ‘casually’ bring into focus so Cobb would get the message and he wouldn’t have to say the words himself. Instead he forces out, “I’m getting married.”

Cobb’s face cycles through confused to thoughtful then amused before finally settling on something Arthur can’t quite place.

“That’s great. Do I know them?”

Arthur freezes. “Are you serious?”

Cobb’s face warps back to confused. “…Yes?”

Eames, Cobb. I’m marrying Eames.”

Cobb freezes for a second, before scratching his head and blinking. “Oh.”


“I just didn’t realise you were …”

Arthur stares at him for a long moment, still not quite sure if he’s serious. “Well, we are.”

Arthur stands to leave, but Cobb reaches across the table and pulls him back down.

“I’m sorry, okay? I was …” He grasped for a word, but couldn’t find it. “Mistaken. Obviously. And I’m very happy for you. Both of you.”

Arthur’s about to say something else, something that might be cutting or might be conciliatory, but before he can say anything, Phillipa reappears, gathering cookies and glasses of juice for herself and James.

She looks between them. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, honey.” Cobb reassures her. “Arthur’s getting married.”

Phillipa’s face breaks into a wide grin. “To Mr. Eames?”

“That’s right.” Arthur says, shooting Cobb a tiny look that says even Phillipa knew before she wraps her arms around the parts of him she can reach and smiles.

“Can I be a flower girl?”

Arthur has no idea what a flower girl even does, but he nods anyway. “Of course you can.”

She smiles again before grabbing her cookies and juice and skipping out the door. Arthur watches her leave before turning back to Cobb, one eyebrow raised.

Cobb ignores it. “Have you picked a date yet?”

“It’s been less then twenty-four hours.”

“Not even a vague time-of-year?”

Arthur shakes his head. Cobb looks back at him, his own eyebrow raised. “You know, if you want to have any kind of decent wedding you’re going to have to start planning soon, right? Unless you want to put it off for a couple of years, but even then... Venues and caterers book up fast, especially the good ones, and you’re not going to want the kind of thing you can get at short notice.”

Arthur can only stare at him.

“You must have thought about this before.”

“It wasn’t really on my radar.”

“But you’ve got sisters, right?”

Arthur thinks about exactly how little involvement his sisters had allowed him in their weddings, and has to remind himself that Cobb has never met his sisters, so it’s not a stupid a question as it could be.

“It didn’t come up.”

“Well, you definitely need to pick a date. Just so you can let people know when it’s happening, so they don’t end up being busy on the day.”

Arthur looks at his watch for a second before standing up. “I hate to run off, but there’s this thing …”

Cobb follows him to the car. “I’ll send you some links, okay? It’s all very tasteful.”

When Arthur finally gets home, Eames is still on the couch reading the newspapers. Arthur collapses down beside him and burrows into his side.

Eames tosses the paper over the arm of the couch and drops his arm to pull Arthur in closer. “Something up, love?”

“I think Cobb wants to plan our wedding.”

Eames thinks for a moment and shrugs.

Arthur looks up at him, one eyebrow practically at his hairline. “Seriously?”

“Don’t see why not. Give him something to occupy his time. I mean, the kids are great, but he probably wants to get out of the house, even just for a little bit.”

That reminds Arthur. “I told Phillipa she could be our flower girl.”

Eames smiles. “Well obviously. Fancy some brunch? There’s a new place in Silver Lake.”


- - - - -

They’re all on some sort of break after spending the last few years pin-balling frantically across the globe for work, so Arthur isn’t expecting to see anyone soon. Which is why he’s so surprised to see Ariadne at the kitchen table the next morning. The second he walks in, she throws her arms around him.

“Cobb told me! It’s about time!”

He manages to disengage from her without actually having to throw her off. Sensing he’s going to need caffeine soon, he moves to the side of the room with the coffee pot.

Finally, Arthur gets his coffee in his hands and feels able to cope with whatever Ariadne’s about to throw at him, so he sits down across from her and asks her what’s up.

“Well, I know you haven’t set a date yet, but I agree with Cobb, and I think you should as soon as possible.” She pulls out a stack of glossy brochures and starts leafing through them. “Even if you’re planning on having a tiny wedding - which I think might be nicer, less chance of armed people showing up. That always risks ruining a wedding - you still need to give people at least two months’ notice if you want them to do any sort of travelling at all.”

Arthur very gently lays his forehead against the table and lets her voice wash over him.

“Two months will put you probably a little close to Cobb’s wedding anniversary, so I was thinking spring. Maybe … End of March? What do you think?”

Arthur has a vague feeling of being ganged up on, even though there’s only one other person in the room.

“What does Eames want?”

“Eames says whatever you want is fine.”

Of course he does.

Arthur glances at the calender at the wall. There’s a lot of blank space, so he picks the first date that jumps out at him. "March 21st is fine then.”

“Excellent! What do you think of these?” She shoves a paper at him. It’s covered in exquisitely interwoven lines, but doesn’t seem to contain any more information then that date, and his and Eames’ names.

“Is this an invitation?”

“No.” She looks at him like he’s an idiot. “It’s a save-the-date card. It just tells people you’re going to send them an invitation.”


“It’s a save-the-date -”

“I got that part. I have to send people a note about getting an invitation before I actually send them an invitation? What’s the point in that?”

Because you don’t know where the wedding’s going to be yet. But you want to make sure people know it’s happening, so they can save the date.”

Arthur still doesn’t understand, but he doesn’t think he’s going to.

“I’ll need a guest list.”

Arthur’s lost again. “Eames …”

“Eames said you’re much better at that.”

The man himself appears in the doorway, smirking. “Eames did say that. Correctly.”

Ariadne quickly shuffles all her papers back into her case and stands up. “I’ll leave you two alone. Just get me the guest list as soon as you possibly can. Like by Tuesday.”

After she leaves, Eames sits down beside Arthur and steals his cup of coffee.

“I’m better at guest lists?”

“You’re better at all kinds of lists, darling.”

“What if I leave someone off?”

“You won’t.” Eames shrugs dismissively and starts sorting through the pile of mail under the fruit bowl. “And even if you do, I’ll add some people at the end. It’ll be fine. Drink your coffee.”

What Eames means of course, is refill your coffee cup so I can drink it for you, but Arthur lets it slide. At least now that Ariadne’s been, they’ll have peace for a while.

- - - - -

Yusuf shows up two days later. Arthur comes home after a run to find him and Eames in the kitchen, already most of the way through a bottle of wine, and he awkwardly hangs in the doorway for a moment, not sure if he can just barge in. It's his flat – their flat – but Yusuf and Eames' relationship has always been slightly separate from himself, and he's not sure if he's wanted.

When Eames finally notices him, he waves him into the room and pulls him to his side.

“Enjoy yourself, then?”

He leans into Eames for a second, before remembering that his shirt is soaked with sweat and pulling away. “I'm disgusting right now, going to grab a shower, okay?”

“You'll come back down, yeah?”

“If I don't pass out.”

Eames squeezes his hand for a second before letting him go. Arthur can feel the weight of his gaze as he leaves the room, relaxing slightly into it, into the knowledge of being wanted.

When he gets out of the shower, he can hear laughter filtering up the stairs. He dries his hair in front of the mirror and pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, but instead of going back downstairs he climbs into bed.

Eames was probably just asking to be polite. Whenever he and Yusuf are together, the conversation flows quickly and skips back-and-forth so much that Arthur can barely keep up, and he doesn't want Eames to feel like he has to slow things down to keep Arthur up-to-date.

Even when he’s not working, Arthur tends not to sleep easily, but tonight it’s like every creek the house makes is amplified, and he gives up on rest before an hour’s passed. When Eames finally comes upstairs well after midnight, he gets into bed quickly and goes to sleep almost instantly. When Arthur wakes up, there's no familiar weight against him, and Eames is still all the way on the other side of the bed.

It's not that uncommon for them to fall asleep not pressed together. But he can’t help but stare at all the empty white space between them.

- - - - -

Yusuf is still there the next day. They don’t have a spare bedroom — because Eames hates having rooms that aren’t full of stuff, and Arthur does his best to discourage Eames’ hoarding — so Yusuf’s on the couch when Arthur comes downstairs for breakfast.

He doesn’t bother counting the empty wine bottles on the counter, instead he pushes them aside and makes himself some toast. He’s finished eating and through most of a pot of coffee when Eames finally appears and drapes himself over Arthur’s back while he does some dishes.

His voice brushes against Arthur’s neck, scratchy and quiet. “I don’t deserve you, you know that?”

Arthur smiles slightly and shrugs him off. “So my mother tells me.”

He turns to take some more dishes off the table as Eames rolls his eyes and collapses onto a chair. “You should have come down after your shower.”

“Then we’d both be hungover and useless.”

Eames looks over at the crowds of empty bottles and blanches. “We weren’t planning on drinking that much.”

It’s Arthur’s turn to roll his eyes. “A likely story.”

“No, it’s true. Yusuf has a friend who owns a vineyard, he brought the stuff around so we could both sample it. We just kind of lost the run of ourselves when you didn’t come back down.”

“Why does Yusuf want us to sample wine? Don’t we have enough of it as it is?”

“For the wedding.”

Right. That. Arthur’s shoulders stiffen slightly at the mention, and he’s just glad Eames is too hungover to be paying that much attention. There’s a reason he’s been ignoring all of Cobb’s emails.

“What’s wrong?” Eames asks, and maybe he isn’t as hungover as he seems.

Arthur busies himself with the dishes. “Nothing. Just, y’know … Wedding stuff.”

Eames slips his fingers into Arthur’s belt loop and pulls him towards him. “Don’t you want to marry me?”

He’s joking, but Arthur avoids eye contact anyway, resting his chin on Eames’ head instead. “No, I do. I just didn’t think it was going to happen this quickly. I mean, aren’t we supposed to get a little while just to relax?”

Eames laughs. “You’re the one who wanted to get married in March. Doesn’t leave much relaxing time.”

Arthur doesn’t really care if they get married in March, or December, or three years from now. But he did pick the date, so he lets it slide. He presses a tiny kiss to Eames’ head and pulls away to wash more dishes, still avoiding eye contact. Eames leaves his hand on Arthur’s hip for a moment, but drops it eventually and starts finishing whatever coffee is left in the pot.

- - - - -

Yusuf is still there next weekend. Arthur comes home from buying groceries to find Eames smoking in the driveway and Yusuf, Ariadne, and Cobb all in his kitchen.

Eames offers him the cigarette and gestures into the house, shaking his head. “I think not working for a bit has sent them all round the bend.”

Arthur takes a tiny drag and goes inside. Eames’ assessment is pretty valid. The three of them are sitting around the table, which is stacked with precarious piles of paper and magazines. It takes them a full thirty seconds to realise that he’s even entered the room.

They all start talking at once, and he kind of wishes he’d been able to sneak past them.

“Arthur! You haven’t given me a guest list yet, so I’ve started compiling one for you.”

“Arthur! You really have to pick a venue as soon as you possibly can.”

“Arthur! Forget the venue, the food is the most important part of the wedding.”

Arthur claps his hands once to cut them off, and takes a deep breath. “I don’t know who we’re inviting yet. So I don’t know how big a venue we’ll need, so I don’t know what kind of food we’ll need.”

They all look at him for a second, and there must be something extra in his expression because they all meekly put their piles of paper away.

He can feel Eames slide in behind him, taking the groceries and starting to silently put them away.

Arthur thinks it's all over, and he can maybe calm down for the rest of the night, when Ariadne looks up at them. “You're writing your own vows, right?”

Arthur blinks. “We are?”

“Well, yeah?” Ariadne offers. “I mean, I don't think the ones they give you could sum the two of you up right?”

Arthur can't think of anything he wants to do less. But when he looks at Eames, Eames just shrugs.

“Why not? Might be nice.”

Arthur glances around the room at the four expectant faces, and shoves his hands into his pockets so he can ball them into fists. “I guess.”

- - - - -

Arthur really shouldn't be surprised that Cobb's idea of a perfect venue is in Paris.

He does think it's okay to be surprised though, when Cobb actually brings him there.

He opens the doors and pulls Arthur inside, throwing his arms up to show him all the tiny details of the interior.

“It's... lovely.” Arthur says. And it is. But it's not him at all, and it's even less Eames. Cobb looks entranced though, and he doesn't want to be rude.

Cobb is standing at the alter, in almost the exact spot where the groom would stand. His hands are in his pockets and there’s a softness to his voice that Arthur hasn’t heard in years. “When … When Mal and I got married, she desperately wanted it to be here. But back then, we couldn't afford it. That's not really a problem for you guys though.”

There's really nothing Arthur can say to that. So he takes some photos and writes down some measurements and emails everything to Eames with a short list of questions.

He doesn't get a reply until he turns his phone back on in California.

looks fine darling whatever you want

Arthur's fingers tighten slightly around his phone.

- - - - -

Arthur takes a job. They’d made an agreement to both take some time off, but when Gayoung tries to call in a favour, he lets her. Whatever she wants him to do is worth more then he owes her, but he can’t stay at home right now or he thinks he’ll go crazy, so he takes the job.

Eames doesn’t object. There’s a part of Arthur that wants Eames to demand he cancel, but instead Eames just smiles blandly and tells Arthur to have fun and say Hi to Gayoung for him.

He also doesn’t call when Arthur’s away. They don’t always talk when Arthur’s working, but usually Eames has the excuse that he’s on his own job as well. There’s not really a reason for him not to call now though, because Eames is at home, and the job isn’t so covert that there’s a risk for him to contact Arthur, but … nothing.

Arthur’s supposed to be finalising some details for the pick-up when Gayoung catches him looking at his phone. “You’ve had a fight?”

“No. I don’t think so. We’re just … silent.”

She looks at him strangely, but nods and turns back to her own work. Arthur opens his mouth to explain, but he shuts it again.

It’s not really any consolation, but it seems like Eames isn’t taking calls from anyone else either. So even though Arthur’s working, he still has to field all the messages from Ariadne asking about the venue and the celebrant and the amount of people they want to invite and if there’s a second-string list of people that might get invited if not everyone on the first list can make it. Arthur starts automatically filtering her emails out of his inbox.

He’s busy, he’ll deal with her later.

When the job is over, he’s not particularly surprised to find himself at dinner with Saito, even if he hadn’t been planning on it, because he’s in Kyoto, and Saito tends to find him ever he’s this far East. They sit in an exquisite but empty room, and Saito swirls sake around his glass while giving Arthur a considering look.

“I hear you are marrying Mr. Eames.”

Arthur has to laugh for a second, trying to muffle a snort so as not to offend. Saito doesn’t say anything for a moment before raising an eyebrow. “Have I been misinformed?”

It’s clearly not actually a question, and Arthur pulls himself together. “No, you’ve been informed correctly. We are, on -”

“The 21st of March, yes. I have been warned to ‘save the date’.” The expression Saito is wearing makes Arthur think that Saito’s opinions on some of the extravagances of modern weddings might be similar to his own. “Of course, I cannot say for certain I will be able to do so. But if I am free, I would be honoured to attend.”

“Thank you.”

Saito inclines his head slightly as waiters appear to clear their plates. “You are limiting yourselves somewhat with the short length of your engagement, but if there is anyway I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you, but I think we’ll be fine. Cobb’s sorting most of it out.”

Saito raises an eyebrow, but stays silent.

- - - - -

When Arthur finally gets back home, the first thing Eames says to him is, “There’s a Japanese woman in our kitchen.”

Arthur’s stomach sinks. “Saito-”

“Ah.” Eames laughs, “Say no more then. What’s she here for?”

“Something wedding-related, I think? But I told Saito Cobb was handling things, so I don’t know why he thinks we need her.”

Eames laughs again. “I guess Saito doesn’t have as much faith in Cobb’s wedding-planning skills as we do. That or she’s a prostitute.”

Arthur is fairly certain Saito wouldn’t send a female prostitute as an engagement gift for a gay wedding, but he still hurries into the house to check things for himself. The woman is sitting at their table, surrounded by every scrap of wedding-related paper in the house and tapping furiously away at her iPad.

She doesn’t even look up when they enter. “Any vegans?”

“… No.”

“Other dietary restrictions?”

“Arthur’s mother likes to say she keeps kosher, but only when she knows it’s going to be inconvenient.” Eames offers.

She makes another few notes before standing up. “My name is Mahiro, but you may call me Mandy. I have been hired to assist Mr. Cobb.”

Arthur blinks. “Okay.”

“If you will direct me to him, I will start right away. We don't have much time."”

Arthur gives her the address and watches as she carefully folds every single scrap of wedding material into a large folder and exits quickly. They watch her leave, still slightly stunned.

“Much as I object to the idea that throwing money at a situation can make it better, Saito does make it look so easy.”

Arthur nods and Eames smiles back.

“I’m knackered. Going to order some Chinese and watch a movie. You in?”

Arthur glances at the couch for a second, but shakes his head. They don’t really have time to do nothing right now, because even though Mandy’s gone to knock Cobb into shape, there’s still the pile of emails from Ariadne and Yusuf to deal with. Even though he’s just flown in from Japan, he’s still going to be up half the night sorting all this out. “I’ve got some stuff to write up for Gayoung, so I’d better not. Maybe later.”

Eames looks at him for a second, but finally shrugs. “Okay. Make sure you eat something.”

“Of course.”

As Arthur pulls the folders from his briefcase, his fingers brush against the sheet of paper he’d started trying to list things he might maybe want to talk about in his vows. He schools his voice to sound as casual as he can and calls into the other room, “Hey, have you started writing your vows?”

“Nah. It’s ages away yet. Plenty of time. Sure you don’t want any Chinese?”

Arthur scrunches the paper into a small ball and leaves it in the briefcase. “No, I’m fine.”

- - - - -

Eames doesn’t make it to the suit fitting. He says he’s busy, and that it’s not like he’ll be any help anyway, and that Arthur knows Eames’ measurements by heart. Instead it’s Ariadne talking about colours, Mandy talking about fabric, and Cobb talking about matching ties while trying not to obviously glare at Mandy.

I should be excited right now. Arthur thinks. I should be happy that Eames trusts my judgement enough to let me pick this our for him. But I’m not. Because if he doesn’t care enough about what he looks like to have any input at all, why should I?

As they leave, Ariadne grabs his arm and tells him to remind Eames that they need to write their vows.

“I’m sure he’s done already.” Arthur lies. “I’ve only got a tiny bit to finish.”

- - - - -

Arthur sits at the kitchen table with a full pot of coffee and a sheet of paper. He’s writing a list before he writes his vows, a list of all the things about Eames that are important and perfect and impossible. But his mind keeps drifting to other things. Like what is Eames writing about him (if Eames actually ends up writing anything at all, instead of showing up at the last minute and making everything up as he goes along).

He sends a casual text to Eames, asking how he’s doing with his vows, but Eames doesn’t reply. Arthur starts his list again, but stops to scribble it out after three items.

He starts again.

- - - - -

Arthur comes home one evening to a huge pile of samples of table linen in various shades of cream and eggshell, and eight types of chocolate truffle with minor but apparently significant differences, and portfolios of potential wedding photographers and florists and detailed lists from Ariadne and Mandy and Cobb about exactly what needs to be done with all of them. He knows Eames knows they’re there, because they had to be signed for, and Eames is the only one who can do that. But instead of dealing with any of it, or even taking five minutes to neatly put them somewhere, everything is just piled in one big haphazzard pile on the table

Arthur finds himself walking to the bedroom and picking up his always-packed overnight bag. This isn’t … he isn’t leaving, he just needs some space to think, to examine everything at a distance and make sure that he isn’t still kidding himself about all of this.

Eames comes in just as he’s double-checking that he has extra razor blades and spare socks . He can hear his footsteps on the hardwood floor start off confident and slow down as he gets nearer. They stop entirely as Eames reaches the bedroom door, but Arthur just checks his bag again.

“What’s going on? Arthur?”

Arthur swallows the lump in his throat. “This isn’t about me not loving you, I promise. I just …” He takes a step back from the bed and slides down the wall with a deep exhale. “I know it’s ridiculous, but I need to convince myself you’re not going to leave me sometime down the road, if I’m going to do this. And the only way I can do that is if I get away for a while, okay? I’ll come back.”

This is it, Arthur thinks. Either I’ve been right all along, and he’ll just be glad it’s finally over, or I’ve been wrong, and he’ll leave me anyway for doubting him.

Instead, Eames slides to the ground next to him and pulls him close. Arthur keeps his arms wrapped around himself, fighting the instinct to lean in.

“I’m sorry.” Eames says, and Arthur’s head snaps back up.

“I’m the one that’s fucking everything up. You don’t have anything to be sorry about.”

Eames scrubs his hand over his eyes for a moment and sighs heavily. “Well, clearly I do. Because I don’t know what I’ve done to make you think I would ever leave you. Or make you think you couldn’t tell me, but whatever it was, I’m sorry.”

“I can’t do this, Eames. I can’t handle all of this. I mean, you proposed, and I wanted … And I know this wedding is important to you, but …”

“Arthur.” Eames takes his face in his hands and looks into his eyes. “The only thing I ever wanted out of this was you.”

Arthur finally gives in and lets himself relax into Eames’ embrace. Eames rubs tiny circles on his back.

“"I thought … Well clearly I wasn't thinking. But we can cancel the whole thing if you want. Don’t have to get married at all.”

“It’s not about getting married. It’s about getting married.” Arthur gestures at the pile of memos from Mandy, all marked FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.

Eames laughs. “Well if that’s all, we can just elope.”

Arthur pulls back to look at him, starting to rise in his chest. “Really?”

“Of course.” Eames smiles. “It’ll give your mother another reason to hate me. She’ll love that.”

- - - - -

Arthur wakes up in a hotel bedroom with a view of a city far away from home, with Eames draped across his back. He shifts minutely and Eames growls, pulling him in tighter.

Arthur feels genuinely relaxed for the first time in what feels like forever, and he carefully turns around so he and Eames are face-to-face.

For a second, he thinks of the piles of abandoned wedding plans they left behind, then of the short and simple but perfect ceremony they had alone instead. He smiles and gently pinches Eames’ side. “You’re the one who has to tell everyone. Even my mother.”

Eames pouts for a second, but it doesn’t last and he leans in to press their lips together. “It’s a good thing I love you so much.”

It is.