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Impossible Until It's Done

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Impossible Until It's Done

Eames can't sleep.

This, considering what he does for a living, is not so surprising. Only, he's never had problems going to sleep at the end of a job, not really. Maybe he doesn't dream naturally all that much anymore, but actual sleep has never been an issue.

He's not used to tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling of his very expensive and tasteful hotel room--paid by Saito, of course--while the moon slowly moves through the dark sky. He's tired. No, actually, he's bloody knackered, and by all rights he should have been out cold a few hours ago.

The inception job was finished in the morning, and then they had gone their separate ways; Cobb to his family, Ariadne to visit a friend from college, Yusuf to--well, Eames doesn't really want to know where Yusuf is. And Arthur, Saito and Eames had gone back to the hotel to rest before flying out in the following days.

The day has been boring as hell, with nothing much to do except spend time around L.A. waiting for night to fall and people watching. Eames was almost ready to go to sleep the moment they landed, dream sharing not being all that restful, but he's smart enough to know that jet lag is hounding his steps, and the best way to avoid it is sleeping at night. He has the next job already waiting for him in Vegas, and wants to be rested when he arrives.

It's not happening, though.

He presses his fists against his eyes, willing them to close and stay bloody closed for the rest of the night. He feels heavy and sluggish, his eyes stinging and bright with exhaustion, and his body almost unable to move. He's been trying to sleep since midnight, and has already gone thought a long soak, half a bottle of red wine and a million fucking sheep.

Annoyed, Eames moves to stand from the bed. Maybe he should just go down to the bar and drink until he passes out. There might even be a nice lonely businessman or woman hoping to get lucky. But he's too tired, and really, it's not like he wants to sleep with anyone now.

He just wants to fucking sleep.

He turns around again, pressing his head against the soft pillow and closing his eyes. Scenes from the last job flash past his closed eyelids: figures moving in a too white and bright landscape, Saito's red blood staining the pristine snow, Fisher's blue eyes filling with tears, Ariadne's grim face, Cobb's regretful one, Browning, and Arthur's smirk as he told him to go to sleep. Everything blurs in Eames' mind and he opens his eyes with a groan.

Maybe he's getting too old for this shit.

Two more turns around the bed and Eames is slowly going insane with frustration. If he has to see the sun rising he will probably put a bullet to his brain, or to the first person's he crosses on the way to Vegas.

Well, if he has to suffer--with a groan Eames picks up his mobile from the nightstand and dials the first number. It is allowed to ring for a tone and half, surprising Eames with the fact that he even bothered to pick it up.

"Arthur speaking."

The voice at the other end of the line is curt and sharp, something Eames has not expected at that time of night, and for a second his tired brain is unable to form a response to it.

"Why are you calling me, Eames? Has something happened?" He can hear an edge of concern in the tone, almost buried under a world or weariness.

"Can't sleep," Eames finally says, his mouth mangling more than shaping the words, speech slurred and barely intelligible.

The silence at the other end of the line becomes an almost physical presence, its coldness practically felt through the airwaves. Eames shivers, wondering if the next thing he's going to see it's a perfectly composed Arthur breaking into his room to beat the shit out of him. He wonders if that would help him sleep.

"Eames, is half past three in the morning." This is delivered wearily, some of the exhaustion Eames is feeling seeping through the words. He notices then he has probably woken Arthur up, and feels incredibly jealous that he has been successful where Eames has failed.

"Yes, and I can't sleep. Want to come to the bar for a drink?" He says, though Eames' is not sure if he has the energy necessary to make the trip to the door, much less to the bar. Arthur is not going to accept anyway.

"Eames, I fly at eight in the morning," Arthur says, enunciating the words slowly as if speaking to a child or an idiot. Eames feels a bit like both. "I have to be in the airport in three hours, if you have called just to--"

Eames' mouth opens in a gigantic yawn, his lids closing on their own accord. His head aches, his eyes ache and his entire body aches, he just wants to sleep.

"I fly out in the morning as well, Arthur, but I can't bloody--"

There is a long-suffering sigh at the other end of the line. "Just go to sleep, Mr. Eames, before I go there and--"

Eames doesn’t hear the end of the sentence, his brain choosing that moment to switch itself off and send him to the blessed oblivion of dreamless sleep.

Eames misses his flight, but he can't bring himself to care.

It takes a week to finish the job in Las Vegas, and by the end of it Eames feels as if he hasn't properly slept in years.

He has snatched a few hours shuteye during the preparation of the job, most of it aided with the PASIV and the rest with copious amounts of scotch, he still feels bone tired and slow and the sight of his bed, which should give him pleasure after a job well done, is the source of his current frustration.

He can't understand why sleep has become a task for him.

He's deciding whether to go down to the bar and drink himself unconscious, or maybe find someone to exhaust himself in a more pleasant way, when his phone rings. He looks at the screen and smiles. "Arthur, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

He hasn't heard from Cobb or anyone in the team since he left L.A., and he hasn't expected to so soon.

"Turn on your TV, Eames. CNN."

Eames wonders for a moment if he told Arthur where he was going to be, or if he had intentions to remain in the States. He didn't, but it's Arthur's business to know everything. He shrugs and turns on the TV as instructed, not surprised at all at seeing Robert Fisher's face on the screen, announcing to the world his intentions to become his own man.

"It took," he says on the phone, unable to contain the satisfaction he's feeling. Even when they pulled an almost perfect job, in spite of all the mishaps, there was always that bit of doubt whether the idea would grow ¡n the way they desired. Apparently, it did.

"Yes." And Eames can tell the smugness in Arthur's voice is completely deserved, doesn't even need to wonder why is he calling, why is he sharing this moment with him. Cobb has made his desire to stay way from business sufficiently clear, Ariadne is new, doesn’t really know the extent of what they accomplished, and Yusuf and Saito don't really care about all that, just the results.

"We need to celebrate!" Eames says, feeling more alive than he has for the past week, the exhaustion that has been hounding his steps vanished for the moment under a wave of pride and contentment.

There's an amused sigh from the other end of the phone. "Eames, I'm in Washington. And even if I were in Vegas right now, I know better than to go drinking with you."

"I can take a plane and be there before the night is over, darling," Eames says earnestly. Anything is better than staying in that hotel room seeing the moon climbing through the sky unable to fall asleep. He's done it for the past few nights and it got old after the first one.

Eames can almost see it in his mind now, there is nothing for him in Las Vegas, not after the job is done and his payment is already secured in his off-shore account. The casinos, the noise and people hold little interest for him when the only thing in his mind is getting a few good hours sleep.

"Don't be stupid," Arthur says, and there's that note of fond exasperation creeping into his voice that Eames loves so much to hear. Nobody can get under Arthur's skin like he does and still be alive. It's a privilege he takes very seriously. "You sound about to keel over, and besides, I won't be here in the morning. Now, I have to get ready for a job and you have to go to sleep, Mr. Eames."

He wants to protest, wants to say something but his mouth is opening in a yawn and a wave of tiredness is sweeping over him, as if the renewed energy he felt a minute ago is already completely spent. There is no point talking anyway, the line has already gone dead and his eyes are closing.

He has the time to move to his bed seconds before he pitches forward, already asleep the moment his head hits the pillow.

It's almost another week until Eames feels ready to test his new theory.

It occurred to him at the time, when he woke up in Las Vegas after ten hours of uninterrupted sleep, that the fact he finally managed to get some well deserved rest had been only after speaking to Arthur. Worse than that, after Arthur told him to go to sleep.

It had to be a fluke.

A week and nothing more than a few snatches of drugged or drunken sleep later, Eames is more than ready to test the connection between both events.

He hates feeling like this, slow and stupid and so exhausted he's unable to string a few coherent words together. He's not usually like this, and it's going to affect his work if he can't find the solution. He doesn't fancy the idea of hooking himself up to the PASIV daily just to function normally, that road madness lies.

It all boils down to Arthur in his mind, and though Eames is loath to admit it, this fact is not even surprising. Arthur has occupied a prominent space in his mind since the first time they worked together.

They both represent everything they dislike in other people, strangely wrapped up in a package they both find compelling enough to like in spite of everything. Eames should, by all rights, hate the very sight of Arthur, always perfectly composed in those three bloody pieces perfect suits, with his slicked back hair and his perfect answers for everything. The stick-in-the-mud who can't find it in him to have fun every once in a while and is always with his pretty little nose buried in some dossier or research for the next job.

Eames dislikes that kind of people, too condescending and wrapped up in themselves to stoop to mere mortal's level. Arthur is like that, only in his case Eames finds it amusing, instead of annoying, and can see why Arthur might consider himself better than most. It's because he actually is.

And it's not hard to tell that Arthur finds people like Eames irritating and unprofessional, not worth working with. But he works with Eames, and listens, most of the time, to his input. Eames knows Arthur respects him, and even likes him in his own way. Their barbs and bicker are nothing more than a way to express themselves, delivered without sting and aimed to amuse, not to hurt.

There is nothing to be done about their opposite sense of fashion, but that’s not here nor there.

And now it seems Eames' subconscious has latched onto Arthur for some inexplicable reason, and he's too tired to properly analyze it.

He picks up his phone and dials the number before he makes himself change his mind, before he tells himself this is all stupid and the only reason he can't sleep is because he's trying too hard. He did for the past two days and ended up watching the sun rise, painting the horizon orange and purple and hideously bright.

He's learning to hate dawns like those.

"Tell me to go to sleep," Eames says the moment the call is answered, not even waiting for Arthur to identify himself or greet him. He's too bloody tired for courtesies.

"Eames?" Arthur sounds as if woken from a deep sleep, his voice rough and low. He sounds unfocused, exactly how Eames feels, and he hates Arthur more than anything at that moment.

"Tell me to go to sleep," he repeats, hearing the desperation in his slurred speech. It must have reached Arthur as well for there is a heavy silence at the other end of the line and then:

"You owe me an explanation for this call at something ridiculous in the morning," Arthur sounds groggy and annoyed but not angry, an edge of concern in his sleepy voice. "But that'll keep till tomorrow. Now go to sleep, Mr. Eames."

The line goes dead and a few seconds afterward so does Eames' brain.

This is a conversation that's never not going to be awkward.

It would be too much to expect that Arthur was too far gone when he picked up his phone to remember calling the next day, and at least Eames has to be grateful that he was given the morning to rest.

Arthur, considerate till the very end, doesn't call until close to midnight.

Eames has spent the afternoon, after waking up around lunchtime, thinking what he's going to tell Arthur that doesn't leave him looking like an idiot or a lunatic. In the light of day, after ten hours sleep, the desperation of the night before seems too far away. He knows it'll be back, though, and that he needs a coherent explanation if he doesn't want Arthur to hang up on him the next time.

The phone rings and Eames still doesn't feel ready, but he can't avoid it.

"Eames speaking."

There is no greeting or pleasantries and Eames is almost grateful for that.

"What was that last night, Eames?" Arthur asks, straight to the point. Now he's not been awaken by the call, he sounds sharp and alert, and terribly unimpressed.

Eames sighs, laying back on his bed and staring at the ceiling. He's still knackered in spite of last night, maybe because the previous week of sleeplessness means he's in deficit.

"There's something wrong with my brain," Eames says, his voice low and tinged with tiredness.

Arthur scoffs at the other end of the line. "That, Eames, is neither new nor a reason to wake me up in the middle of the night with insane requests."

Eames feels his lips curl slightly in response to Arthur's words. "I can't sleep naturally."

"That's normal with out job. Dreaming, when not under with chemical assistance--"

"No. It's not dreaming," Eames cuts him off, clenching his hand around the mobile as if to anchor himself to reality. He knows he's not dreaming, has taken to checking his totem almost compulsively since this, whatever the bloody hell this is, began. "It's sleeping. I. Can't. Bloody. Sleep."

There is a long silence, Arthur probably considering the implications of what Eames is telling him. They are both aware of the consequences of sleep deprivation, especially for people like them, people whose grip on reality is frail at best and dependent on tiny objects they have idolized.

"Since when?"

"The Fisher job."

"Did anything happen in the third level?"

Eames tries to remember but apart from the mark dying and everyone but him going down another level nothing comes to mind. And he's already considered that during his waking hours, and there have been enough of those for him to have gone over every detail.

"Nothing that I can think of." Eames can hear the frustration in his own voice, making him feel irritable.

"You've been awake for more than two weeks straight?" The disbelief in Arthur's voice is almost palpable, that thin undertone of concern buried beneath it.

Eames shifts on his bed, uncomfortable. "Not exactly."

"Will you please elaborate, Mr. Eames?" It's not difficult to hear the irritation seeping into Arthur's tone and Eames bits back a sigh. There is no way to explain it without sounding weird.

"I've managed to sleep three times since then, and only after speaking to you," he finally admits. "I don't know what's wrong with my brain but it seems I can only sleep if I hear your dulcet tones. I don't like it, but that's it, darling. You'll have to put me to sleep every night now." Eames can't help but to try and make a joke of it in the end, as serious as the situation feels for him; if he didn't, he'd think too much of this new fixation with Arthur, and probably leap to the wrong, or right, conclusion.

It's the wrong thing to say, he can tell by the cold silence that settles between them. When he finally speaks, Arthur's anger can't completely cover the sliver of hurt in his tone. "This, Mr. Eames, is a rather unimaginative prank even for you. Don't bother calling again, I won't pick up."

Eames closes his eyes with the sound of the call being disconnected, cursing himself for a fool. Arthur will get over it like he always does, but it will take some time and if things go the way Eames suspects they will, he's thoroughly screwed now.

He's still wide awake on his bed when the sun rises.

This has gone beyond ridiculous.

It's been four days since that conversation and Eames has been unable to sleep properly even one minute. He's gone under, hooked to the PASIV and trying to empty his mind of any kind of thoughts. He's even more exhausted when he wakes up, running away from his own projections and the things they insist he needs to know.

True to his word Arthur has not answered any of his calls, and Eames feels his head is going to explode if he doesn't get some proper sleep soon. He could always resort to chemicals, but like PASIV, he's loath to. It's never a good idea for a wanted felon to be too drugged to run away when necessary.

Luckily for him Arthur is not the only one skilled at finding out things.

Eames is dead on his feet when he finally reaches Arthur's house in Barcelona, the trip adding to the exhaustion already weighting on him. He feels drunk with tiredness and angry, with both himself and Arthur, and is about ready to get into a fight if that's what he needs to finally sleep again.

He rings the bell, jamming his finger on the button and calling loudly, completely uncaring of the hour or the ruckus he's causing in the quiet street.

"Arthur!" Eames shouts when there's no response from inside. "Open up, Arthur!" A few windows light up around him, and he can hear loud voices in Spanish and Catalonian responding with what clearly are insults. Eames doesn't care.

He keeps on ringing for another minute before he gives up, sliding down the wall of the building and resting against it. It had not occurred to him that Arthur might be out at the time of night, but he obviously is not home.

Arthur is not alone when he finally appears. Eames has been there for close to an hour, unable to move from his spot against the door and grateful that the weather is mild enough he won't be adding catching a cold to his strike of bad luck.

He hears them before he sees them, his eyes closed against the sting and trying to stave off the pounding headache he can see coming. Their footsteps are loud, almost drunken, even if their voices are hushed. Eames can't remember if he has ever heard Arthur sounding like that, relaxed and slightly playful. He might have, but his memory is not to be trusted at that precise point in time.

The moment they spot Eames the voices stop, and so do the footsteps. Arthur is staring at him with something like disbelief, his brow furrowing immediately in a scowl. Eames is not looking at him, though, he's looking at the guy almost melded against Arthur's side.

If he wasn't so bloody tired, he might laugh. The guy is broader and slightly shorter than Arthur, unshaven and rough looking. There is something in him, a fullness in his lips and a sharpness in his eyes, that makes Eames wonder what else he has missed and if this is not a dream.

It can't be a dream because he hasn't sleep in what feels like ages, can remember exactly how he got there. He checks his totem anyway, because there is no way that Arthur is taking a bad copy of Eames home when he has the real one waiting for him, literally, at his doorstep.

"Mario, lo siento pero esta noche va a ser imposible." Arthur says to the guy without looking at him, eyes fixed on Eames, and even without knowing the language, it's not hard to tell the guy's being dismissed.

"¿Tu novio?" there is a belligerent tone in the question, and the glare aimed at Eames is equally frustrated and angry.

A derisive snort. "No. Un amigo. Ya te llamo."

The guy stands there for a minute, eyeing them, before scoffing and leaving, muttering in Spanish the entire time until he's out of sight.

Arthur ignores the display, his attention fixed sorely on Eames as if the guy is no longer worth his interest now his usefulness for the night is over. Eames feels some sympathy for the poor bastard, or would feel it if he could bring himself to care about anything but his predicament.

"You look like shit," Arthur says after studying Eames for what it feels like an eternity, approaching Eames and crouching down in front of him. The fact that this is true doesn't make it less irritating.

"Yes, well. Sleep deprivation doesn't agree with me, darling." Eames feels the need to point out, as if the dark purple circles under his eyes and the pallor of his skin weren't enough of a clue. The last time he looked at himself in the mirror he could have passed for a Romero reject, and twenty hours of travel have certainly not improved his looks.

Arthur stands up, taking his keys from his pocket and opening the door. Eames just stares at him, unable to move. The mere fact that Arthur is there and Eames is just a few words away from sleep seems to have seeped the little energy he still had remaining.

Now if he only knew how to make Arthur say the words.

"I'm not going to carry you upstairs, Eames," Arthur says looking pointedly at the door and it gives Eames the motivation to finally move.

With a great effort he stands up, moving with all the grace of a septuagenarian and at about the same speed. They climb up the stairs in silence, Eames grabbing the banister tightly and carefully putting his feet on each step. He feels unbalanced, and it's not only his exhaustion causing this. There are a million thoughts crowding his brain, most of them related to the scene he's just witnessed.

"Do you want some coffee?" Arthur asks once they're inside the apartment, taking off his jacket and letting it fall carelessly on top of the sofa.

"No, I've had enough to last a lifetime."

Arthur turns and looks at him again, assessing. He nods and then turns on an electric kettle. Eames takes a cursory look around the apartment, his tired brain noticing little things like it's messy and tiny and Arthur's and there are probably very few people allowed in it.

"You haven't slept since we talked." It's not a question and Eames doesn't bother responding to it. The answer is clear enough on his face, anyway.

"It's not a joke, Arthur. I thought you'd know that."

Arthur nods. "I do now." The kettle sounds and Arthur turns his attention to it, preparing two mugs of tea and bringing them to the living room. Eames sprawls on the couch, closing his eyes and tilting his head back, the steaming mug deposited in front of him on the low table. "That still doesn't tell me what happened."

Eames sighs. "I don't know."

"Drink your tea, Eames," Arthur says taking a seat next to him, his body radiating heat in waves in the cramped couch. Eames is painfully conscious of their proximity.

They drink in comfortable silence, the seconds stretching between them with nothing to fill them except the sounds of their breathing and the far away noise of the city.

"What are you going to do, Arthur?" Eames finally asks, the mug empty in his hand and his head buzzing with the beginning of a headache.

Arthur turns to look at him, a pensive expression on his face. "I'm going, as you suggested, to put you to bed." Eames can feel his brows trying to climb up his forehead. "You don't look as if you will be of any help figuring it out until you've slept properly. And if we don't, I'm going to need to find another forger who's not going to be as good as you, or keep answering your calls at any time."

Eames wants to say something witty and sharp, but finds the words stuck to the roof of his mouth and he can only nod, grateful. "Here?" he manages, gesturing at the couch they are both occupying.

He wouldn't mind taking the couch, he's done it in countless places before and he's not too fussy. In his state, he'd sleep on the floor or even on a high backed chair as long as he got to sleep.

Arthur stands up. "No, my room."

Eames follows him, his lips curling into a tired smirk. "I knew this was all a ploy to take me to your bed, darling," he leers half-heartedly, entering Arthur's bedroom and eyeing the big bed longingly. There is a PASIV at the foot of the bed, and he has a second to wonder how often Arthur needs to use it for not work related dreams.

He wonders if Arthur still dreams.

"Just get into bed, Eames," Arthur says.

Eames undresses quickly, letting his clothes fall to the floor completely uncaring of where they land. It's not as if Arthur keeps his room neat, there are a couple of crumpled shirts on the floor, clearly in need of being laundered, and a suit destined for the dry cleaners is on top of a chair. Eames strips to his underwear, padding to the bed and collapsing on top of it.

He turns on his back and opens stinging eyes to look at Arthur. "You're not going to peek into my dreams, are you?" he slurs, now he's on a bed with the promise of actual sleep so close he can taste it, his body is shutting down little by little.

"No. You're not going to dream, it would be useless." Arthur is at the foot of the bed, looking at him with a curious expression.

"What?" Eames asks after a minute, his eyes still painfully open and Arthur still standing a foot away, the words Eames needs to hear not spoken. He realizes then Arthur has no idea of what he needs to say and it strikes him as funny considering those words were what started Eames' personal version of hell.

That thought gives him pause, his brain making a connection he's too tired to analyze.

"You're still awake," Arthur points out unhelpfully.

Eames sighs, the bit of insight he's just glimpsed telling him he's in a world of trouble and there is nobody to blame but himself. But that will keep till morning. "You have to say it," Eames mutters and Arthur approaches the bed, leaning forward to hear.

"What did you just say?" Arthur asks in a low voice, a bit of amusement creeping in his tone.

"You have to say it, darling," Eames repeats slowly, fighting the blush that threatens to show on his face.

Arthur leans closer, his lips almost touching Eames' face, his breath hot on his skin. Eames shivers, closing his eyes in anticipation, and though he can't see it, there's no mistaking the smirk on Arthur's voice. "Go to sleep, Mr. Eames."

He does.

It's afternoon when Eames wakes up, the merciless Mediterranean sun beating down against the side of the building and making the room resemble the inside of an oven. Arthur is sitting on the chair, awake and staring at him with a half smile and a soft expression Eames would have never imagined Arthur could direct at him.

"Slept well, Eames?" Arthur whispers, his voice soft in the dimly lit room even as he schools his features into a neutral expression, little beams of light coming through the blinds and giving it a golden tint.

"Yes, thanks to you," Eames says roughly, his head feeling clearer but by no means up to his normal standards. He needs more time, but the heat and the demands of his bladder and stomach couldn't be ignored longer. He sits up groggily, yawning and scrubbing a hand through his face. "But since it was your fault to begin with, darling," he says with a sleepy smirk. "I guess we're even."

Arthur's eyebrows climb so far up his forehead they threaten to disappear under his perfectly slicked back hair. Not even in this heat Arthur appears less than spotlessly composed, and Eames feels dirty and unprepared by comparison. He's also pleasantly relaxed after a few hours sleep, and starving.

"My fault?" Arthur says, disbelief plainly heard in is voice. "How is any of this my fault, Eames?"

Eames shoots him a smirk as he leaves the bed, not answering the question, and moves to the bathroom. He takes his time, taking a shower to clean the grime and the remnants of exhaustion from his body, and walks back to the room clad only in a towel wrapped around his waist. Arthur is nowhere to be seen, though the noises he can hear from beyond the door leave no doubt of his location.

Eames puts on a pair of slacks from his bag and moves out of the bedroom, still barefoot and his hair dripping on his shoulders. He doesn't miss the look Arthur shots him the moment he enters the kitchen, or the way Arthur's eyes linger on his torso before turning back to what he's doing. Eames smiles.


Eames stomach rumbles at that precise moment and his smile turns sheepish. "Yes. And toast, please."

"Tell me how this is my fault, Eames?" Arthur insists, his back turned to Eames as cuts some bread and toast it, an Italian coffee machine already on the fire.

Eames doesn't answer just stares and Arthur, the smell of coffee slowly fills the kitchen. Arthur huffs, exasperated at his silence, and when he turns with a plate of toasted bread and a few slices of cheese and ham Eames wants to kiss him. A mug of black coffee is set in front of him, Arthur leaning back against the kitchen counter with another one in his hands.

Eames digs into his food with gusto, unable to remember the last time he had a proper meal. Arthur is staring at him with barely contained impatience, sipping from his cup and waiting for Eames to talk.

"You were the one who told me to go to sleep the first time," Eames says around a mouthful of toast when it's clear Arthur is about to snap at him.

Arthur's brow furrows in confusion. "What are you talking about, Eames?"

Eames sighs, now he knows the cause of his problem he's aware there's going to be no avoiding this conversation. It doesn’t make it less embarrassing because he's sure Arthurs is going to reach the same conclusion Eames did.

"The Fisher job," he says, using his mug of coffee to hide part of his face, "in the second level you told me--"

Eames can tell the exact moment Arthur realizes what he's saying, his features twisting into a look of disbelief closely followed by amusement.

"To go to--" Arthur begins, only to be stopped by Eames' sharp look.

"Yes. And somehow, when I got to the third level I was thinking I wouldn't mind to go to sleep like this every night." The look Arthur shots him is priceless, his eyes crinkling at the corners, mouth curling up. Arthur shakes his head. "At some point in the third level it became I have to hear this to sleep."

That's the point where Arthur just laughs out loud, and the fondness and exasperation bleed so clearly from his tone Eames feels immediately at ease.

"Eames, I am impressed," he says, the words a perfect mirror of condescension and amusement as that other time, his smile matching the one on Eames' face. "You are either a genius of unheard of proportions, or a complete moron. Is it even possible to incept yourself?"

Eames laughs. In the light of day and after a decent sleep the situation doesn't seem quite so insurmountable, not if Arthur is smiling at him instead of pointing a gun to his forehead. "Apparently yes, darling." He finishes his toast and takes the last drink of his coffee, depositing the mug on the table. "Can I have a smoke while we finish this conversation?" he asks, taking one stick from the pack at the same time as Arthur puts an ashtray in front of him, extending his hand for one.

"Inception is difficult enough when planned, and somehow you've managed to do it accidentally." Eames watches with an arched eyebrow as Arthur lights up, exhaling the smoke slowly and smirking at Eames through the haze. "And now I have to suffer for your idiocy."

"Actually, the one suffering here is me, darling," Eames says, taking the ashtray and moving to the living room to sit on the couch. Now the demands of his body have been met, he's feeling tired again. Those few hours were not enough by a long stretch. "I don't see you having problems going to sleep."

"Because I don't." Arthur takes the place next to him, leaning back and looking more at ease that Eames remembers ever seeing him, the cigarette dangling from his fingers. "But I will if you keep calling me at any time."

Eames takes a drag of his fag and exhales slowly, watching the smoke curl in the sunny room. "You're not going to ask me how I managed it?"

"The how is simple enough, Eames," Arthur says, not looking at him. "It's your idea, you're not going to fight it. Had you thought of that at any other moment nothing would have happened, maybe you'd be thinking about me, but you'd be sleeping." He turns to look at Eames then, his mouth curled into a wry smile. "Your timing is, as opposed to your fashion sense, impeccable. You had to have a simple, resilient idea as you were going so deep into Fisher's, and by extension your own, subconscious it's going to be impossible to get it out."

"You're taking this better than I thought," Eames can't help but voice what he's thinking. Not that he wanted things to be difficult, but he had not expected Arthur to be so bloody understanding and amused. It's confusing.

"Yes, well. It's because of the why."

Eames frowns, bewildered. "The why?"

"How you planted the idea is simple," Arthur elaborates, "why is another question."

It might be the exhaustion, or that he's still half asleep but Eames can't see where Arthur is trying to get to. He's tempted to check his totem again, just because the whole scene feels surreal, more like a dream than reality. But he did before coming out of the room, and can still remember every single moment since then.

"Why what?"

"Why would you think I wouldn't mind to go to sleep like this every night?"

The question hangs in the air for a minute, Eames considering the answer he's going to give. He can lie, they both know that, and it will probably be good enough for the subject to drop. He thinks about the previous night, the guy Arthur was taking home and the way he was summarily dismissed the moment he saw Eames. He thinks about the years they've been working together, their back and forth, their banter and their flirting, the respect they have for each other.

And really, it's simple and obvious. Arthur has already figured it out, it seems. Now it only remains for Eames to do the same.

"Because I wouldn't, darling," he finally says, staring at Arthur seriously. "I honestly wouldn't mind seeing your smile, or hearing it, before going to sleep every night. Because right at that moment you smiled as if you actually like me. And I liked that."

Arthur's smile widens, the answer obviously pleasing him. "I do, Eames," he says simply, no evasion and no artifice. And that's Arthur through and through, straight and to the point. "I have for some time or I wouldn't put up with your non-sense."

Eames chuckles at that, amused. "What are we going to do now?"

Arthur stands up from the couch, putting out his cigarette and heading to the bedroom again. "Now, I'm going to take you to my bed." Arthur shots him a look over his shoulder and Eames scrambles to follow him, catching up at the door and stopping him with a hand in his shoulder. Arthur turns to look at him, his brow quirking up in amusement before Eames leans forward and presses his lips against Arthur's mouth.

As first kisses go this one is nothing like Eames had dreamed, and he has dreamed of it. It's sweet and tentative, merely the brush of lips against lips and the barest hint of tongue.

It doesn’t stay that way for long, Eames prying Arthur's lips open and delving inside his mouth, pushing him backwards until they hit the bed and stumble upon it. They fall on top of the mattress, a tangle of limbs and tongues still entwined. Arthur rolls them around, ending on top of Eames and moving his lips down his jaw line, kissing his neck.

"I said I was going to take you to my bed, Eames," Arthur says against his skin, breathless and faintly amused, "because you still look exhausted." He pulls back and Eames can see the laugher in his eyes and a wicked gleam of mischief. He leans forward, liking Eames' lips briefly and moving away before Eames can take his mouth again. "I want you well rested for tonight, since you're not going to get any sleep. For now, go to sleep, Mr. Eames."

Eames looks stunned as Arthur disentangles gently from him, understanding dawning. He would wrestle him back to the bed if his eyes weren't closing, sleepiness sweeping over him.

"Bloody hell, Arthur!"

The last thing Eames hears before the darkness takes him is Arthur's laugh.

He dreams of the things he's going to do to him to make him pay for that.

"This is Arthur. I can't take your call right now. If you're Eames… go to sleep, Mr. Eames. Everyone else, please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."


"G'night, darling."


Mario, lo siento pero esta noche va a ser imposible.: Mario, I'm sorry but tonight it's going to be impossible.

¿Tu novio?: Your boyfriend?

No. Un amigo. Ya te llamo.: No. A friend. I'll call you.