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to achieve the impossible dream

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Lakewood, Ohio, January 21st, 2011, 2:34a.m.

Arthur doesn't like snow.

Which means that of course there's already two feet on the ground outside and more on the way. It's piling up against the shuttered picture-windows of the abandoned shop; another small piece of someone's failed American dream. It's a little chilly because the heater in the place works better upstairs than downstairs, but Arthur doesn't feel like wasting his time for marginally better warmth. He's not sleeping any time soon.

He's cocooned in the sphere of light from his laptop and desk lamp, playing Minesweeper — and losing, horribly, he hates this game, why does he bother, he really needs to install Plants Versus Zombies — when he hears Eames come in through the back alley entrance, with a riot of swearing and stomping that echoes off the stainless steel in the tiny kitchen. Arthur can only see the outline of him as Eames pushes through the swinging door, his shape and movements familiar as he starts pulling off layers. Arthur doesn't watch, really, because he memorized it earlier in the day while Eames was slinking around the shop flirting with Tabby, their chemist. He knows the perfect cut of the jacket, the way the pants hug his thighs, and spark of the cufflinks Eames had slipped on. He's been picturing it all day, the charcoal suit startling in the way it makes Eames look like society he had never been — which was the point of the exercise.

"I told you it was going to start snowing," Arthur says.

"You stayed awake for the sole purpose of being smug, didn't you?" Eames asks.

"Not everything is about you." Arthur frowns when he hits another mine. "Anyway, there's not a lot of rest on Preston's schedules."

Eames comes forward into the circle of Arthur's light. He sits on the closest lounge chair, pulls off his shoes, and spreads himself out. Arthur hopes he doesn't plan on staying there and sleeping instead of going upstairs to the small apartment above the shop, where there are actual beds that Arthur arranged for to help them keep a low profile. It's his own fault, really, for setting up shop in an old coffeehouse with forgotten furniture and letting Eames and Tabby treat their work space like a cozy den.

"Where did you find this wanker, then? I didn't think there was anyone more stubborn than you."

"There's not," Arthur says, closing the game and leaving a spreadsheet behind. He doesn't think Eames will get up to come poke around his desk, but Arthur can never tell. "He was always dogging our heels toward the end, poaching jobs Dom wanted. He's good."

"Ah, so you don't like him, but he's he closest to the best you can get. All is right in the world, then."

"I don't have to like the people I work with, clearly," Arthur says. Eames' grin is lazy and fond and Arthur can't help but return it and add, "You're drunk."

"Just a bit." Eames stretches and pulls at his tie. "What a boring bunch of wankers. So proud of themselves over basic human decency." He finishes on a yawn.

Arthur has long since stopped being jealous of the easy way people wear impending sleep. Except with Eames it's always a struggle, like he knows exactly what he's doing to Arthur, even though he couldn't possibly. It makes Arthur want to curl up with him, so he could soak some of that feeling up and use it to rest. "The party helped?"

"Absolutely. Our boy spent the hours mainlining champagne and groping his date in very uncreative ways. Poor woman."

Eames doesn't elaborate and his voice is raspy with exhaustion. He's been working his ass off on his observations for three different forgeries in order to wind up the mark — one Mark Edward Baxter — for the security codes to his personal safe in his basement. Unlike the rest of the team, Arthur is used to Preston: his demands, strict time lines, constant haranguing. Most of the time Arthur's body refuses to do what Arthur wants, anyway. It's not hard to get his work done and half of whatever the architect is working on, as well. In and out with a nice large payout because Preston doesn't accept anything else.

"Was the third mistress necessary or did you just want to play dress up?"

"Arthur, I will never get tired of watching your face when I dress in Dunhill. It's like watching a cat trying to be uninterested in a delicious, trapped mouse." He slips the tie he borrowed from Arthur out of his collar and folds it gently in his hands. "Not subtle."

"Was I trying to be?" Arthur asks, casually. "Stop fishing for compliments, you know you're attractive. Tabby propositioned you at least twice."

"Yes, but it's more fun if you tell me." Eames smiles, tender and pleased, face a little flushed from happiness, Arthur thinks, and not from the cold.

Arthur always forgot how easily Eames lets Arthur see through all his bluster. He doesn't know how he feels about it, even now. Every time Eames shows another piece of himself — lets Arthur in — Arthur wants him even more.

"How's next week sound?" Arthur actually does pull up some work he had been saving for tomorrow as a distraction from leering too obviously. He prefers having work and looking busy so Preston leaves him alone, but it won't hurt to do it now. And maybe, he thinks sourly, it will wear him out enough to get a nap before their meeting at ten.

"Bloody insane is what it sounds like," Eames murmurs, yawning again, and Arthur locks his eyes to his laptop screen as Eames shifts on the lounge, eyes at half-mast. "It's an extraction, not a foot race."

"Speed is life," Arthur says, and Eames snorts. When his eyes drift closed, Arthur risks looking over and sees the bruised skin under his eyes and the pale cast to his normally olive skin — his body begging for rest. "There are beds upstairs."

"Then who will keep you company as you slave away into the morning, you bloody overachiever?" Eames shifts, and crosses his arms over his belly like he does when he's preparing to go under to dream. Arthur watches the easy rise and fall of his chest.

"You can't keep me company when you're already asleep," Arthur says a minute later, and Eames doesn't answer. Arthur watches him for a long time as he breathes — lips parted, asleep in a tacky IKEA lounge chair in a gorgeous, rumpled suit — and then goes back to work.


Laurens, South Carolina, March 27th, 2011, 5:20a.m.

He's not shocked when Eames finds him at the Waffle House down the road from the hotel, but he's a little annoyed that he's been caught, even if he's the only one who realizes it. He's on his eighth cup of coffee and Eames looks bright and alert and well-rested, the fucker, zoning in on Arthur over dirty trucker hats and the bowed heads of third shift retail workers waiting for their dinner.

"You went to bed four hours ago, I heard you," Eames says when he approaches. Arthur renews his hatred for overbooked rural hotels. Eames raises a brow at the seat across from him and Arthur pulls his laptop away so there's table space. "I was sure you would be sleeping most of the morning, and yet I wake and you're gone." He snags a menu and his legs crowd into Arthur's side of the booth. Arthur frowns at his notes and parts his thighs to cage Eames' calves, the demin of his jeans rough even through Arthur's slacks.

"Don't bet with that luck." Arthur doesn't meet his eyes and is saved from having to do so when the perky waitress comes by to take Eames' order.

"Arthur, I will never try to predict you again," Eames says, lips quirked in a smile that Arthur can just see at the edges of his vision. "You are my favorite surprise." Arthur doesn't know what to say to that. They're caught in the strange place between friendship and something else that Eames seems to invoke every time they're together. He's already moved on to looking through the files Arthur has spread across the table. "Couldn't do this at the hotel, then?"

"If I wanted my research to take sixteen years, yes," Arthur says blandly.

"What a sad day, when Waffle House boasts the best wireless access around." Eames grins at the waitress as she returns and Arthur tunes out his flirting. It's not that he cares that Eames is here, but he's pissed off at himself and woozy from yet another failed attempt to drug himself to sleep. Eames is just another ball to juggle. He rubs at his thigh to keep from rubbing his eyes, and fights a yawn, the lie his body tricked him into bed with, only to leave him awake, frustrated, and listening to Eames sleep, easy and thoughtless.

"Arthur," Eames murmurs. When Arthur looks up again he is shocked into stillness as Eames reaches to brush a thumb over the knuckles of his free hand. It's not fireworks, but is it a tingle that transforms into a buzz of excitement, right underneath his skin. With it comes the anticipation of something more, if only he chooses the right path.

"Eames," he says in reply, and squeezes Eames' legs gently.

The look he gets is pure speculation, with a chaser of heat, which is no surprise. "You don't need to push yourself this hard, do you? No offense meant, but you look terrible. Surely hiding the secrets to pig breeding can wait."

It could, Eames isn't wrong. It's a simple enough militarization on a collection of boring farmers who are protecting secrets Arthur could probably find on the internet with his skills, but sub-security is popular and semi-legal and that's all Dom does anymore. Arthur is not sure what secrets pig farmers and their foreman are hiding or who would want to take them, and he really, really doesn't want to know. He wanted his work, a distraction from tossing and turning and had gotten Eames, instead.

Eames is staring at him, eyes curious with a tinge of worry, and not for the first time Arthur wonders what harm there would be in telling someone — telling Eames. He's the last person in the world that would make light of it. Instead of the truth, though, he says, "I really don't like the country."

"You'll never get to the Paris extraction for Robbards if you kill yourself rushing a pig job." Eames sips his coffee easygoing and noncommittal. It's a testament to how exhausted Arthur is that he lets himself stare across the table, a little unfocused as Eames licks his lips, and regret that he doesn't have the courage to be honest. Under the table, Eames' legs are warm and solid. Arthur can tell he's not saying something, but he's not sure what, and he's too tired to dig it out right now.

"We are not calling it the pig job," Arthur says finally. "The client has a name, so for the fifth time, no. Just no."

"Oink oink," Eames says, mocking. He then proceeds to rip apart one of the training scenarios with entirely too much glee and Arthur smiles. He doesn't feel any less exhausted, but the lack of sleep stops gnawing at his throat, just a little.


Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, June 29th, 2011, 2:31a.m.

Arthur is sitting in the suite's living area when Eames' door open. "You are a robot," Eames says. "Because no man could get up at five in the morning and still be up at half two the next."

"You're up," Arthur reminds him.

"Can't get down." Eames rummages in the mini fridge for a bottle of water. "Luckily, you're here to entertain me. Close the work, you do know how I enjoy your full attention."

Arthur is actually just browsing Wikipedia, using the random article button. Sleep hadn't yet crossed his mind. "You do realize I am very important to the success of this job? This could be the key to our victory."

Eames sits on the opposite side of the sofa and props his bare feet up on the coffee table. The glow from the lamp washes his warm, smooth skin a deeper golden hue. His flannel pajamas stretch across his hips. Arthur looks because he wants to, Eames is right there and Arthur owes Eames for leering at him and making their homophobic extractor turn multiple shades of red the last three weeks. "Ah, yes, but I also know you finished your preparations before you left for dinner with Ariadne, as you told Riley. So let's have it, then."

Arthur hadn't even known Eames was in the warehouse at that point. He's not sure when he got so sloppy.

"Have what?" It's a terrible stall tactic and a waste of time since Eames will see right through it.

"Well, you're up the night before a job. After what I would consider sub-par nights of sleep in the last three. So out with it." Eames gives him a stern look. "And if you try to sell me on nerves, you're going to find out just how delightfully rude I can be when I am concerned for the condition of the job."

"You can't just tell?" Arthur sets the laptop on the table and leans back into the couch. It's always annoying when he gets caught off guard and more so that Eames is calling him on this now. It's been years since anyone has even asked. "I thought this was your skill, plucking out secrets from people they didn't even know they had."

"You've got the keywords correct, but you do realize you have a secret which means it's locked down under layers of stoic, manly suffering. It pains me to admit that when you don't wish for me to know something about you, you're terrifyingly competent about keeping it from me."

"Thank you."

"Not exactly a compliment, Arthur."

Eames rubs a thumb across his lip and it's not the first time Arthur has seen him do so. That's when Arthur had given in; when Eames started showing him his tells. He can remember the first time, a bar in Seville two months after Fischer announced the end of his company. They had been on their first job together since then and Eames had roped him into celebratory drink. Arthur doesn't remember much about that night, the bar, the hotel's minibar, or the two bottles of vodka Eames had pulled from thin air after that. He does remember Eames laughing at a joke Arthur had told, and tracing his thumb over his lips, eyes thoughtful and full of revelation. Arthur still wonders if Eames giving it up was an accident, fueled by alcohol, or planned, an offering so Arthur would feel obligated to share something of his own.

He can never decide which he wants to be true, but Eames had started this. Arthur had gone along with it, so he can't blame anyone but himself for this situation.

"I'm not going to hurt the job."

"Oh, piss off. That was a clever distraction to allow me to slide in my bigger concern about your person without sending you into an emotional panic and you know it," Eames says. "Surely you realize the mere fact I'm asking means I'm capitulating to your superior enigma abilities, and you should offer me a sliver of something just to be kind."

"None of my secrets are worth telling," Arthur says, and then, because he's stupid, he adds, "they'll put you to sleep."

Arthur is rewarded when Eames gapes at him. "What a scurrilous liar you are," Eames says, finally. "I can't believe I like you."

"I'm an interesting challenge," Arthur says. "Learn all my secrets, take me apart, prove you can make me messy at the edges?"

Eames moves then, across the couch and Arthur thinks several things in quick succession — yes, and no, no, wait, and fuck yes a few more times, because he likes his relationship with Eames but he's wanted to take him apart since that hotel room when he woke up spread across a king size bed with Eames snoring into his belly and drooling on his favorite shirt, sweaty and and reeking of alcohol. He still hasn't, because somehow, inexplicably, Eames became his friend and Arthur really doesn't want to fuck it up.

He presses close, cups Arthur's face in his hands. "Arthur," he says. "You're already messy at the edges. It's why I like you so much." He does kiss Arthur, carefully on his forehead, like a blessing. It reminds Arthur of his paternal grandparents and their hello's and goodbye's. The careful press of lips had let him know when he was cherished, because they were people who didn't do words. His chest aches, and he wishes, frantically, that Eames had really kissed him, instead of coming so close, too close, so soon.

"Eames," he chokes — he's so tired. He wants to give Eames everything, what is this. Need swells inside him and claws at his throat, waiting to burst. "I—"

"I know, hush," Eames says, and touches his thumbs under Arthur's eyes, kisses the corner of his mouth. Arthur doesn't quite follow. "I want you to do something with me."

It's a weak come-on for Eames, but maybe that's the whole point. No one can be that good with words all the time.

Arthur looks down at the couch. "Here?"

"Right here," Eames says. "Or we could move to a bed, but you'll have to bring the power cord."

Arthur blinks at him, aroused and confused as Eames moves away. He's not sure which is winning. Arthur has never been particularly kinky, but that's just weird. "What?" he asks. "I have no idea what you're talking about now. Are we fucking or not?"

"Arthur," Eames says, just his name, quiet and amused and Arthur finds his hands full of laptop.

They end up piled against the pillows in Eames' bed, snuggling, there's no other word for it, at all. His laptop blares out terrible dialogue in counterpoint with the rumbling vibration of Eames' laughter against his side. Arthur drifts while Eames makes fun of the shows they're watching on some Netflix account that doesn't even belong to him.

He's had worse nights, all told, and when Eames falls asleep during their first Golden Girl episode, Arthur doesn't feel bitter at all.


Sheboygan, Wisconsin, September 1st, 2011, 1:20a.m.

Arthur's legs slide against scratchy sheets as he turns over for the tenth time. Maybe more, he hasn't been counting carefully. He hates counting in his head in these situations, anyway. It inevitably leads to boring himself into calculating pi instead of the march of monotony that is adding a number on top of another to achieve unconsciousness and winding his brain up again. The darkness of the room makes him drowsy, but it's no surprise that he can't sleep. He knows better than to frustrate himself like this. He knows.

His phone lights up on the bedside table, throwing shadows everywhere. Arthur had silenced it in hope of sleep, but he reaches for it because he's not sleeping, so why not. He's not surprised to see Eames' name.

"I didn't expect an answer," Eames says when Arthur says hello. The phone crackles; Arthur can hear gulls and a quiet drone of conversation.

"It's not that late here yet," Arthur says. "And you would've sent a text if you hadn't wanted me to answer."

"I said expect, but of course I always hope you'll answer," Eames purrs.

"Is this a business or pleasure call?" Eames calls him at least twice a week, just to talk or sends him texts during work meetings, incisive commentary that Arthur loves for the sharp feeling of Eames's brilliance at reading people. The insights feel like small gifts, pieces of the skills Eames has and shares with Arthur and Arthur loves them.

"If I thought you would accept, it would be pleasure," Eames says, teasing. "Is there a bed nearby?"

"Nice try, but no," Arthur says, and he's cockblocking himself at this point, but it's too fun to wind Eames up. "Who and where?"

"Drake, in London. I can e-mail you the details."

Arthur despises Drake, and Eames knows this, but Arthur lets it go. He can always figure out why Eames is working with him later. "Send them. Any reason you're working in London after swearing it off for years?"

He catches the ice in Eames voice when he says, "Time changes everything." The fact Arthur hears it at all means something is up. Eames doesn't work in London ever. Arthur remembers him having a fight with Dom over it once, that ended in Arthur scrambling for a new forger and Eames not answering his calls for four months. He wants to push, but Eames obviously doesn't want him to.

"Wait," Arthur says, suddenly, and his phone has dimmed and it somehow seems safer to take the first step down this path in the quiet dark. "There's a bed underneath me right now."

Eames laughs. "You filthy liar, I've caught you in it now."

Just like that, the tension is broken. Arthur reminds himself that a little give and take with Eames always works out better than his usual brute force habits. They're friends. He doesn't want to take Eames out of the friend category because he's dead. Arthur knows Drake is a contemptuous, inept asshole and is just as likely to get his team killed as paid, so the fact he's pissed Eames off by calling him on his hypocrisy is not the best choice he could have made when there's clearly something forcing Eames' hand. "London," he says carefully. "We'll talk?"

He leaves it out there and hopes the tenuous connection of one phone to another, his voice to Eames, curious but careful, is enough to bridge of all the space between them, real and metaphorical.

"Of course," Eames says, and then before Arthur can get over the relief, "you're a terrible tease. Now you're taunting me with visions of you spread across sheets with some ridiculous thread count."

"I'm in a Holiday Inn in Wisconsin," he says, because that's not very romantic for one and two, he's not giving Eames an opening just because it's dark and safe and he wants a distraction. He knows Eames would happily lead him into phone sex just just to be able to tease him with it forever. Arthur's not overly sentimental, but he's drawing the line at bringing himself off for Eames over the phone. Tempting, but not worth it.

"My fantasies can be adjusted." Eames sounds hopeful.

"I'm going to bed, keep your fantasies to yourself," Arthur says, and hangs up. He's not surprised when Eames doesn't give up, and eventually does fall asleep watching multiple text messages with increasingly sad emoticons scroll down his screen.


London, England, November 27th, 2011, 4:20p.m.

"You're an idiot," Arthur says, and tapes down the bandage on Eames's thigh. His hands are shaking as he does it. He doesn't belabor the point by pressing too hard on the wound, but he wants to.

Eames doesn't respond. He continues sitting hunched over on the one remaining chair in the room. He stares in silence at the dead men on the floor, which only makes Arthur angrier. Eames' room is ransacked; the is bed overturned, all the art is off the walls, and two side tables are broken. There's a gaping hole in the wall where Arthur slammed a head through the drywall. The ligature marks on Eames' neck — not to mention the bruises he can't see — are making Arthur want to kill someone. Only, that's been done already and Arthur doesn't like the body count to go higher than five unless it's a special occasion. Instead of kicking any of the corpses, or shaking Eames, he stalks to the bathroom to wash the blood off his hands.

When he comes back, Eames has pants on and has started packing his things, moving too carefully around the room. Tomorrow, he'll look like the punching bag they treated him as. His left eye is already swelling, but Arthur managed to wipe most of the blood from his broken nose away after he set it. Arthur knows enough about Eames and his disagreements with the big crime syndicates in London to know the likely torture procedures for people who have done what Eames has done. He's a huge fish in a pool with angry, flesh eating piranhas that Arthur could have dealt with a lot easier than this. "I can't believe you told me you knew Drake was double-crossing you over a text message."

"We set up those code phrases for a reason, Arthur. I thought you would be happy I finally found a use for them." Eames' voice remains steady through sheer force of will, but Arthur can see the faint tremors in his hands.

"That doesn't meet the requirements for talking about it, Eames. Goddammit."

"You didn't specify a particular time," Eames says, stiffly, with his back to Arthur.

"Just so you know, I'm going to punch you so hard when we get out of here."

"My employer tries to kill me and my colleague is threatening even more violence upon my person." Eames rubs gingerly at his eyes to avoid meeting Arthur's glare. "This is shaping up to be a horrible day at the office."

"This isn't a joke," Arthur snaps.

"Of course," Eames says softly, looking down at their dead extractor. Arthur hadn't killed Drake — that had been Eames — but he wishes he had. "Things did go a bit sideways, I'll admit."

"Do you have everything you need?" Arthur asks, because he's not going to make Eames go into it here and not just because of the security that's probably on the way. He's definitely not doing it over three dead bodies, one of which lured Eames into the city to kill him. Arthur is going to smear Drake's reputation across all channels before he leaks it that Drake's dead. It's not enough, but it's all Arthur can do.

Well, besides kick Drake's corpse in the face on his way out because using his gun on a dead man is a waste. It still doesn't make him feel any better at all.

He takes Eames to his own hotel across town; booked under a new alias, because the only person he trusts on this job is Eames and Eames had been the job. If Arthur hadn't figured out that the cover job had been a scam in his initial research that morning and pulled out his phone to warn Eames, he would have never seen the distress text. Eames would have been dead.

Eames doesn't trust him. Arthur wars between anger and hurt the whole way through London, watching for tails, but none surface. Arthur imagines they didn't expect him at all, which is what Eames no doubt wanted. The elevator is a slow, torturous trip and Arthur finally asks, "how far ahead did you know about this?"

Arthur watches Eames in the reflection of the doors. "Arthur, don't ask questions you already know the answer to."

"You enjoy flaunting yourself in front of men who would like to see you dead. It's practically a sport for you at this point," Arthur says. "I can never be sure if you're fearless or if you're looking for an easy way to get wiped."

"I need a shower," is all Eames replies with. It's enough to set Arthur fuming all over again; the carelessness with which Eames had thrown them into this mess, without telling Arthur anything about it. Letting him point on a fake job for almost a week, the fucker. Almost getting himself killed.

It's beginning to snow outside to add to the drifts already piled up. Arthur pulls off his jacket and bloodstained tie and sits on the bed in front of the picture window and to watch the flakes twirl around in the air, dance on the wind. Arthur listens to Eames in the shower, the rush of water and the irregular sounds of his movements. He's torn between relief Eames is alive and fury that he was conned so easily.

He sighs and lies back, closing his eyes. When he opens them again it's dark and quiet and he doesn't need to panic, because he hears Eames snoring next to him. He's shifted — or been shifted — full body to the mattress and most of his clothes are missing. He stretches under the covers, a little, the comfort of natural sleep making him relaxed and slow. Eames is a dark lump, facing away and Arthur reaches out and touches his bare shoulder. Eames comes awake immediately, breath catching.

"Figured you wouldn't sleep through the night." Eames rolls onto his back, into Arthur's space.

"Where are my pants?"

"All clothes were properly folded and I was a perfect gentleman," Eames assures him. "Of course that's the first thing you ask."

"Would you rather me start with why the fuck did you lie to me, because we can." It's lacking all the bite, because truth be told Arthur is warm and comfortable and he feels, in the easy give of his muscles, that he could close his eyes and go back to sleep. He so rarely gets to do it that he's even considering putting off this entire discussion until the morning.

"I owed Drake a favor, from Buenos Aires."

"That was your first job outside of Europe," Arthur says, thinking back. "I remember." Drake had rescued Eames from jail. Arthur hadn't dug deep enough in their history to know how.

"Yes, well, he could have left me in that very uncomfortable cell."

"Of course he couldn't have — he wanted you to owe him," Arthur mutters. The pieces are fitting together as he remembers more about his initial research into Eames and his early days outside of dreamshare. "So he made friends with people that really don't like you, right?"

"More or less," Eames admits.

"Then he pissed his new friends off and knew delivering you would clear him. He owes people you stole seven million dollars worth of art from some kind of favor, he has your number, he survives, you're fucked."

"That's the gist of it. Does it hurt keeping my entire life's history in your head like that?"

"Shut the fuck up, I am so angry at you." Arthur knows he's belying this by angling himself toward Eames' body and his warmth, but he doesn't care.

"I have actually turned him down when calling in this favor twice using you as an excuse. He was always very frightened of you." Eames says. "I'm not a moron."

"That remains to be seen given how you thought you could just waltz in here to play these kinds of games alone."

"Well, hence me asking you along."

Arthur lies in the quiet for a few moments, because it hurts. "But you didn't. You knew I would have just arranged some subtle hits. Which would have been logical, you asshole."

Eames turns then, to face him, and curls a hand around Arthur's neck. "But it's the chase, isn't it? That taste of victory."

"Fuck Drake's victory. I might have been too late," Arthur says, miserably. It's not even about Eames and his need to bait and switch and play the odds, but the fact Eames hadn't trusted him enough. "If you had just—I might have been too late. It was a stupid gamble."

Eames rolls again, onto his other side and further into Arthur's space. "You're right, it was," he says. "But you weren't late. I knew you wouldn't be." He runs fingertips through the hair on the back of Arthur's neck. Arthur knows they should fucking talk about it more, or Arthur might just beat the shit out of him, but—sleep. He's not turning it down when it's so close, not when Eames is stroking him like that, tangling his thick fingers in Arthur's hair and scratching at his scalp.

"You're such a pain in my ass," he says, and buries his face in the pillow.

"Yes, yes, I know, and you regret the day you met me. I've heard this very comforting bed time story before." Eames chuckles and presses their foreheads together. "You best get sleep if you can; you killed a very important man earlier today, and I see a very careful exit from the city in our future once they realize it wasn't me."

"You're exhausting," Arthur complains. "How did you convince me to like you?"

"I'll take that compliment," Eames says, his hand tightening on Arthur's neck and laying his mouth on Arthur's cheek. Arthur slips back to sleep, warm and secure.


San Francisco, California, February 9th, 2012, 1:57a.m.

Eames steals a bite of his pancake and Arthur finally just pushes his plate across the table. Eames grins and takes Arthur's fork. Arthur isn't sure why he came along if he hadn't planned on ordering his own snacks.

Arthur continues through his spreadsheet, trying to figure out how Ryan Houston is such a successful accountant when he can't even divide correctly. He's been working through these finances for three days and he's so close he can see the constipated look on the extractor's face when he hands Houston's entire financial history in a full week ahead of schedule. Arthur really misses Dom sometimes. He's tired of every new extractor taking one look at him and deciding he's green because he can't shake the baby face. There are worse problems to have; Arthur tries to feel better about it by shoving his competency down their throats.

Eames drowns the pancakes in something purple. The sickly sweet smell of liquid sugar wafts over to him.

"Arthur, we've been on this job four days," Eames says, brandishing his fork. "There's five weeks and three days to go. We can't go on like this."

Arthur goes back to his math. Math is comforting and logical and doesn't try to beat the silent treatment with a frontal assault. Math doesn't talk back, or con him, or get him chased out of London with a price on his head so high Arthur has to order three hits just to be able to set foot anywhere near the United Kingdom. Math doesn't make him miss a job with a five hundred thousand dollar payout because it's in Manchester and Arthur can't go there since he beat a man to death with a picture frame. There are two more hits pending; Arthur has been considering not speaking a word to Eames until they're all done, but he knows he's going to cave.

"Aren't the last few months you've spent not speaking to me enough of a lesson?" Eames complains, although that's a lie. Arthur remembers sending him texts on Christmas and New Years. "I've apologized copious amounts. I sent you flowers and a very nice gun. You were literally living in my flat for the last job, and it's just rude to come into a man's home and reorganize his canned goods cabinet and alphabetize his bookshelf and not say a word to him."

Arthur glances up. Eames has purple syrup on the corner of his mouth and he looks dejected. Arthur is sure at least half of that is real. He wants to lick the syrup off, but he doesn't care so much about the pitiful expression.

Well, maybe he cares about the pitiful expression a little; Eames hasn't been laughing as much and Arthur misses that.

Eames steals Arthur's water glass and goes back to the pancakes. Arthur watches him until he finishes, complaining about the lack of butter.

"You don't trust me," Arthur says flatly.

Eames pauses in, just—fellating his fork, Jesus Christ, he's shameless—and stares.

"Or you do, but only enough to be a tool to watch your back as long as you're in control, and that's not trust."

"Arthur," Eames says, rough and sharp, like his edges would cut if Arthur reached out. "Deny that you would have done Drake in if I had told you the truth."

Arthur taps his pen on the table. "I can't do that, and we can't know because you left me out of the loop."

"Are you admitting you want there to be a loop?" Eames goes from dark to giddy, the expression on his face very similar to the one he gets when he catches Arthur in a sweater-vest. This is still not talking about it, goddammit.

"Eames, please. Seven months ago you stole my phone and used it to befriend my mother. You both talk about me behind my back and plot to make me drink less red bull and eat more fiber. There's already a loop and we're in it. In fact, I may choke you with it." He steals his water glass back.

They are quiet for a few moments as Eames picks at a napkin. But Arthur's said it all — he's never wanted to do things halfway and he thinks of all the times he's put his life in Eames' hands without even thinking about it. It makes him feel sick even as it warms him. He wants this to go both ways.

"I do trust you," Eames says carefully, "and the fact I knew you would rush in to save the day with some well-timed homicide should speak well enough of that."

"Fine, I'll give you that," Arthur says. "But why—" Arthur exhales slowly. He's not going to beg.

"This isn't a partnership, Arthur, and I wasn't ever going to compromise on stringing Drake along."

Arthur probably should have seen that. He probably should have known it was coming, but it's still a surprise, that Eames has finally hinted at what Arthur has been thinking for months. They're good together and yet it isn't a partnership. That maybe the London job would have been different if they had been.

Eames is wearing his blank look, the casual face he puts on when he's having strong emotions about something and Arthur knows that look means nerves. He knows pretty much all Eames' expressions at this point.

Arthur sips his water and leans back against the cracked vinyl of the booth. "It could be," he says, and at Eames' questioning look, he adds, "a partnership."

Arthur goes back to his work so he doesn't have to watch Eames react to that. When Eames nudges his foot under the table, he glances back up to a self-satisfied smirk.

Arthur doesn't bother resisting the smile, but hopes that Eames doesn't try to thumb his dimples in public this time.

"We need celebratory pancakes for this," Eames announces. "And more coffee, that water tastes vile."

"You want coffee at two in the morning," Arthur says. "We have a meeting at nine, you'll never sleep."

"Mmm, I had a long nap this evening," Eames says.

"An hour under is not a nap."

"No, Arthur, an actual nap, which you would have known if you had been speaking to me," Eames says pointedly. He waves away Arthur's glare. "I deserved it and you were kind enough to give me the blessing of your voice, and I am eternally grateful." He flags down a drooping waiter across the dining room. "We are getting celebratory wheat pancakes and don't you dare eat the middle and nothing else."

"That's the only part that's good!" Arthur argues.

"This partnership may end before it begins, you heathen pancake hater," Eames says, shaking his head sadly.


Dunedin, New Zealand, March 7th, 2012, 12:02p.m.

Arthur hears Eames before he comes into their hotel room, outside in the hallway. Arthur turns away from the window overlooking the city and stares at the line of light underneath the door, where Eames' shadow breaks it into fragments as he shifts.

"Yes, I understand perfectly," Eames says into his cell, quiet. "I'll have to ask Arthur if he wants to build if you already have a point. No, no, nothing like that, but if he doesn't like the man, I'm not going to force Arthur to work with him."

Arthur smiles at the offense in Eames' tone and turns back toward the window as Eames finishes his conversation.

A minute later, the door swings open and the light from the hallway pours into the dark room and Eames lets out a harsh, startled breath as he steps in.

"Sorry," Arthur says, because standing in the dark is a little creepy. Normal for him, but not so much for Eames, not yet.

"Please don't think less of me, but you scared me a little, I was sure you'd be down for the count," he says, dropping his coat on a chair and bags with something that smells delicious on the table. "Just woke up, then?"

Eames would think so because Arthur's bed is a mess from all the tossing he did. "No," he says, his reflection greeting him as Eames flicks on a lamp. It reminds Arthur all over again that he's been awake for almost fifty hours. It's a new record. It's a new record, which means he's getting worse or the chemist that Morgan uses for supplies is a talentless hack and Arthur knows Morgan — she doesn't work with hacks. It would be so easy to blame the chemist. "I haven't slept at all. Think the mix here doesn't agree with me."

Eames comes up behind him. In the glass, he's beautiful in the clothes Arthur helped him choose to meet the client's sister, a fake blind date which Eames had been excited to ruin. Seeing him in them makes Arthur ridiculously jealous of a woman Eames probably won't ever speak to again.

"I could get in touch with Yusuf," Eames offers.

"He's not answering my texts."

"Yes, of course not. You terrify him and he probably went straight for his safe house in Cairo after receiving the first one," Eames says, and covers Arthur's shoulders with his hands. "You should have asked me. I'll get in touch. Maybe we should consider bringing only his mixes for the future."

Arthur has been tempted since the Fischer job. Yusuf is talented, but he's always wary of telling unfamiliar chemists about his private business. "Yusuf is ridiculously expensive."

"We have more money than we know what to do with," Eames says and tugs Arthur back to lean into him, which Arthur doesn't fight. "Or you could consider it a present from me and I will never buy you terrible, tacky gifts ever again."

"That's such a shitty lie," Arthur says.

Eames smiles against Arthur's neck. "Arthur, darling, you need to rest. What will help?"

He stares out at the jagged skyline and thinks about a hot shower, which sometimes works, but not often enough for Arthur to count on it. Alcohol almost always works, but it takes a ridiculous amount. The resulting hangover is not worth the few nights of sleep he gets. He functions better on the shitty, sharp edges of naps and broken sleep than he does suffering from too much alcohol.

Eames is hot and solid behind him, thumbs rubbing slow circles into Arthur's neck. It's sexual, but everything between them has been sexual for so long that Arthur is used to the undertone. A slow burn, as they sink into whatever this will be.

On top of that, sex has always been something he never let become an answer for this problem; his relationships are so always fleeting outside of dreamshare. Anonymous sex doesn't work well — waking up once missing his wallet, two guns and all his clothes save his shirt had trained him out of that.

But he doesn't have any desire to use Eames, take an easy way out and fuck everything up. He's wanted for over a year now, even when he was angry, but he doesn't want to turn sex into a tool like he's done before. He could fuck Eames and fall asleep and not worry about never waking up, or waking up missing his personal belongings, he knows that, but what he doesn't know is how things will change. He's not sure he's ready for that risk.

"Arthur," Eames murmurs, breath hot on Arthur's neck, stubble scrapping just enough to make Arthur shiver. "It wasn't a rhetorical question."

Risk or not, it's so easy to turn around, lean against Eames, and press their mouths together. Eames opens for him, wet and welcoming, snaking an arm behind his back to pull him flush as they kiss. "Let's," he says, panting as Eames palms his ass. "Now, right now."

"Mmm," Eames says, obligingly, but then pauses, sucking on Arthur's jaw before saying, "are you sure this is a good idea?"

Arthur jerks back. "What."

Eames laughs, but it's fond, and smooths Arthur's t-shirt over his back with gentle hands. "You've been awake for three days if you failed to sleep at all while I was out."

"If this is about consent, I'm tired, not drunk. I know what I'm saying, Eames." Arthur slides his hands down Eames' chest, popping buttons on his shirt so he can shove it off his shoulders. "I'm not going to regret this."

"No buying a one way ticket to a place far, far away and leaving me sleeping in the wee hours?" Eames asks, with quiet, gasping breathes as Arthur thumbs his nipples through the undershirt and rocks their hips together. Just simple touch has never felt this amazing before. Arthur is on fire everywhere their bodies brush and slide together, his skin incandescent. It only gets better when Eames lets Arthur pull his shirt off so Arthur can put his mouth on hot skin.

Eames sneaks hands underneath shirt. Arthur sighs as Eames strokes his sides. His hands are cool and sure, the pads of his fingers tracing of the curve of Arthur's ribs.

"I won't leave you behind," Arthur says, "and you know I want this."

"Jesus Christ, finally," Eames says, and tugs Arthur against him with a desperate groan. He shoves Arthur's pajamas down to his knees and steps out of own his slacks and underwear. He cups Arthur's ass and hauls him up just enough to lift Arthur's feet off the floor.

Arthur is dizzy for a moment when Eames spins them around and spreads Arthur onto the wrecked sheets. He's lightheaded, grounded only by Eames' weight and hands and mouth. Arthur feels frantic, wanting everything he's been holding at arm's length immediately, right now. He wraps a leg around the back of Eames' thigh, arching into him to rip those soft moans out of him. He wants to take them out and bask in them like they're pieces of sunlight, let them sear this moment of having Eames into his skin.

Eames chuckles, sliding his hand across the planes of Arthur's belly that his rucked up shirt exposes. Arthur whines impatiently into their messy kisses when Eames stops the gentle roll of his hips. Their cocks are pressed together, slick already and Arthur can't maneuver with his pajamas caught around his knees. "Hey now," Eames says, "slow down."

"Are you joking?" Arthur gasps, and he can't seem to get enough air. Eames kisses him carefully, licking the curve of Arthur's lower lip, his mouth soft and pliant and patient. He ignores all Arthur's attempts to speed it the fuck up, and Arthur feels like he might burst if Eames doesn't move.

"I would never joke about something so serious as this, Arthur." Eames grinds their cocks together, once, and then stops again, the utter bastard, to shove Arthur's pants off with his foot. "If you don't allow me to enjoy you, I'll be very cross."

"Eames." He doesn't even care that he sounds desperate, that his voice is coated in pleas and begging. He can't stop the twitching in his hips, and doesn't know how Eames can stand being so fucking still, like he's not just as hard as Arthur is and just as desperate. Arthur can see it in his eyes and in the flush on his neck, in the soft part of his mouth, wet from kisses.

Eames nuzzles his cheek. "We're just taking the edge off," he murmurs. "We have all the time in the world."

"God, fine, whatever, just—" Arthur can't seem to complete a thought. "Whatever, come on."

"Oh, whatever, thank you for your suggestion," Eames whispers, laughing. He pins Arthur's hands to the mattress and links their fingers, smiling when Arthur squeezes back, and Arthur think wildly that he's tangled and never wants to pull out the knots Eames is making between them. He wants to stay forever in the mess they make of the each other's edges, where they blur together.

Eames finally moves, a slow, torturous rub that becomes into a steady rhythm. He rests their foreheads together as he rocks Arthur into the bed, breathing with him, never taking his eyes away from Arthur's own.

"Eames, Eames, what are you doing." Arthur groans. Eames arches his back, driving his hips forward, over and over at the same leisurely pace, just doing whatever he fucking wants like always, and Arthur can't fight it — too tired, so tired and so fucking turned on he can't catch his breath at the heat of it, the feeling of each stroke of Eames' hips is a like a spark that lights a fire down his spine.

His heart beats hard against his chest when Eames closes his eyes and tips his head back, his mouth red and bruised and the line of his neck gorgeous, and Arthur has to put his mouth on the reddened skin, press open-mouth kisses to the underside of his jaw so Eames will growl at him. Arthur's name spills from his lips and he squeezes Arthur's hands and shoves so hard the frame of the bed hits the wall. When Arthur comes it's a shock, unexpected, a vibrant burst of pleasure so close to pain Arthur keens; rides it out with his body shaking and the sound of his name yanked from Eames' throat.

He floats a little at the edge of sleep as Eames breathes into his neck, laying kisses where he can reach, scraping stubble deliberately over too-sensitive skin so Arthur shivers. Then suddenly, he's gone, the places he'd been tingling in the cool, open air of the room. Arthur wants to reach for him, to tell him not to go, but he can't make his body do what he wants.

"I'll be right back," Eames says. It feels like he's gone for awhile, time stretching out around him. Arthur opens his eyes when the bed dips again and a warm cloth traces over his stomach. "Hmm," he says, as Eames cleans him up. "This changes everything," he mutters.

"That it does," Eames says brightly. He tugs Arthur's shirt over his head.

Arthur reaches out to touch as Eames moves around him to fix their covers. He strokes Eames where he can reach, an arm and the curve of ribs and his leg. Arthur rests his palm against the heat of his thigh and lets himself trace the shift of muscle with his thumb. "I already want you again, this is going to be so — something, I can't remember the word," he complains. Everything feels dreamy and a little surreal. Arthur blinks as Eames laughs and burrows in next to him. He pulls the covers over them and shifts Arthur where he wants him, heavy and warm against Arthur's side when he settles.

"Stop thinking," Eames murmurs and kisses his forehead. "Just for a bit. Sleep."

"Okay," Arthur says, softly, before he's drifting down and gone.


Los Angeles, California, April 20th, 2012, 3:26a.m.

"Goddammit," Eames says in the flickering light of the fridge when Arthur finally manages to stumble out of his bedroom. "I've woken you." His white t-shirt is stained beyond saving, ripped with pieces dangling from the edge. He reeks of alcohol and blood and something else Arthur can't even name.

"It's fine," Arthur says, even though it's not, fuck. His brain is still trying to catch up, flip the switch from sleeping to waking. All the banging Eames had done in coming home had registered to him, for some reason, as gunshots. His heart is still beating so hard it hurts. Eames, the bastard, is hobbling around his kitchen and Arthur is positive he sees blood dripping from the torn sleeve of Eames' t-shirt. "Just checking, but this is my apartment, not the emergency room."

"Hmm," Eames says. He's beaten, bruised and filthy and still gorgeous. It's ridiculous, but Arthur will never find Eames unattractive, even when he smells like he's been rolling in shit.

"Is the job compromised?" Arthur asks, because he has to be sure. This is his city and Eames is bleeding on his hardwood floors.

"What a silly question," Eames says. "I am insulted."

"Stop touching things," Arthur says. "Go take a shower and leave your clothes in a pile outside the door."

"Arthur," Eames says appreciatively, and yeah, he sounds drunk on top of it, which explains the noise. It's depressing how easily Arthur reacts to the tone in his voice, body thrumming with want. "Should I strip in the hallway?"

"Do whatever you want," he snaps, and stalks back to his bedroom.

His bed is a wreck from him trying to get out of it. The fitted sheet is pulled off the far corners and comforter has leaked off the bed's edge onto the floor. He fixes it, bitterly, yanking too hard because he doubts he'll get to enjoy it again tonight. When he hears the shower kick on he wanders out to find all the clothes Eames had on in a pile in the middle of the hallway. They stink even worse off of him, like something dying or possibly, dead a few days already.

The bathroom door is cracked open, but Arthur only picks the clothes up to carry them the laundry room.

He expects Eames to be out when he comes back, but the water is still on, steam pouring out. Arthur pushes the door open and finds Eames sitting in the tub, spray hitting the back of his neck and pinking his skin as it sluices down this back.

"It's going to get cold," Arthur says. "Washer's on."

"Mmm," Eames says. Arthur doesn't necessarily like noncommittal noises from Eames — most of the time they mean shit is wrong, fucked up in a way that can't be fixed, and just because the job isn't compromised doesn't mean Eames isn't. Arthur feels the steam start to settle on his skin as Eames leans forward and turns off the water. He doesn't say anything, just presses his face into his hands, and Arthur wants to step into his personal space so badly he can't breathe. He's not sure if it would be to fuck him or mother him. Arthur can't decide which he wants more and finally gives up.

"Towel is on the rack," Arthur says, "I moved your clothes to the right-hand side of the dresser," and leaves before he can give in to the urge.

He starts tea absently and leans against his kitchen counter. He'd been sleeping so well after a week of crappy nights. He's still imagining the fuzzy warmth of it when Eames wanders into the kitchen in a pair of his sweats and a shirt that's definitely Arthur's. There's a bandage on his bicep, peeking out from under the well-worn material.

"I am sorry, Arthur," he says, leaning against the opposite counter. He doesn't explain where he was or what he was doing and Arthur's not going to demand it until Eames has slept, anyway.

"It's not a big deal," Arthur says, as he finishes up the tea. "Better than you out on the street sleeping in a gutter."

Eames gives him a funny look. "But it is a big deal." He accepts the mug carefully. "I know, Arthur."

Arthur glances up and he's seen Eames look like this before. He's staring in that way he has when he's done something that Arthur is going to be pissed at him for, and Arthur is still annoyed, so he says, "What do you think you know?"

"Your sleeping troubles, what else?" Eames wraps both hands around the mug. "I've known for quite awhile. I feel bloody awful about waking you."

It shouldn't be a surprise, but Arthur is frozen regardless. And that's ridiculous — Arthur has been telling himself that for years, because insomnia is not something that's shameful, at all. But Arthur had prided himself on being the one person in a military program that didn't suffer the side-effects of shitty Somnacin mixtures, has built his entire reputation on it, and would rather his teams and clients didn't know he could at any time be running on three hours of sleep, or maybe less, or even sometimes none at all. He's seen people ruin jobs due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion, watched dreams collapse and good teams broken and people killed, and it's not something he wants attached to him. He hasn't yet fucked up a job from being tired and overworked and an enemy in his own damn skin and doesn't plan to start.

Now Eames knows it, and Arthur doesn't know what that means.

He swallows. "How?"

"You told me," Eames says, exasperated. "And you are a liar. Your secrets are perfectly interesting."

He remembers, then. And yes, he had told Eames, in a way. He should be alarmed, he thinks, of what Eames could do with that information if whatever they have gets fucked up, but mostly he feels raw, like a bandage has been ripped off his skin. Mostly, he feels relieved.

Eames doesn't say anything else, and Arthur is pathetically grateful. Eames just finishes his tea, and heads toward the couch.

"Eames," Arthur says. "You—I'm not mad, don't be ridiculous, go get in the bed."

Eames just watches him, eyes piercing, reflecting the light of the kitchen. "Only if you'll come with me."

"You're not going to be able to will me back to sleep," Arthur says. "I'll just get pissed and frustrated and you'll feel guilty."

"I won't feel guilty for sleeping. When have I ever?" Eames snaps, and he usually has a tighter rein on his temper than this. "Can't I just want you there for a bit? Is that allowed?"

Suddenly, Arthur realizes they're not having the same discussion at all. "Oh," he says.

"It's very telling that the ER orderlies could have been tucked me in better than you are managing at this moment," Eames mutters. "You are a very frustrating man."

"I'm grumpy. Someone woke me up," he says, and is rewarded with an exhausted, guilty smile, and he follows Eames to bed.

It's easy enough to tuck himself neatly around the curve of Eames' back, pressing into his warmth. Eames tangles a leg with his and clings to the arm Arthur drapes over his hip.

"I would never," Eames says, groggy and slurring his words. "I will keep any secret you give me."

"I know," Arthur says, because yeah, he knows Eames will. He knows.

Eames is out in minutes, breath even and deep and slow. Arthur lays and breathes with him, eyes closed and comfortable, sleepless but not unhappy, and it catches in his throat to realize just how easily he's been managed over the past few months, with cups of coffee and late nights watching television and debates until the morning at diners of increasingly questionable quality, if Eames knew. He runs his hand over as much of Eames as he can with his arm held, thinking back, and marvels a little at how easily he was fooled. Arthur could be put out, but it's a waste of time when faced with a classic Eames move: reading people like books, translating the language of them into something he can understand. Maybe Arthur had wanted Eames to decipher him, to sound out the syllables of the secrets Arthur doesn't know how to share.

When the sun hits his window, weak and pale, Arthur presses a kiss to the curve of Eames' shoulder, and gets up to start his day.


Los Angeles, California, June 5th, 2012, 9:46p.m.

When Arthur unlocks his door, he expects wrath and a loud, boisterous debate, but what he finds is Eames napping on the sofa. Arthur still has the e-mail with the complaint about the lack of quality tea because Eames had found Lipton in the pantry. He hasn't been asleep very long. That had only been half an hour ago.

He drapes his leather jacket over the back of the recliner and goes to wake Eames up with soft kisses against the part of his mouth. He climbs over him to slot their hips together.

"Mmm," Eames says as he wakes, hands coming up to cup Arthur's ass. "You're home days too early, did Cobb let you off for good behavior?"

"Phillipa has the flu." Arthur kisses him again and bites at his lip. "You're still squatting."

"I've been earning my keep," Eames says, as the TV murmurs in the background. "I did four loads of laundry, you slob."

"There are takeout boxes all over the coffee table, you're a failure as a maid," Arthur says, pressing a kiss to Eames' jaw. Eames is pliable and doesn't seem to have any desire to let him go, so Arthur settles in.

"We could go to the bed."

"Sure," Arthur says, because he doesn't say no anymore; he hasn't really been holding a grudge against his bed for a few weeks, and is feeling generous. He shifts his torso to avoid a hipbone, stretches out an arm above his head, hand brushing Eames' neck. It's comfortable and warm and he doesn't really want to move.

"Do you even know what you want? I'm getting mixed signals."

Arthur breathes Eames in. He smells a little like himself and a lot like Arthur. "A full eight hours. Ariadne to graduate so I never have to work with crazy architects again."

Eames runs his hands through Arthur's hair, which was more likely to put him to sleep than Arthur, but felt nice regardless. "What a broad approach to the question." His hands are gentle. Arthur likes the feel of them, sure and confident. "You do continually surprise me."

Arthur laughs and looks up. "Do I? I was always afraid you could see right through me."

Eames smiles. The plush curve of his bottom lip vanishes. Arthur chases it down with his thumb and makes a face when Eames licks him. "See through you? Arthur, you absolute dunce, why would I ever look through you?"

Arthur doesn't have an answer to this Eames would like, so instead he settles down and lets Eames continue petting him, lets him rub some out some of the tension from all the hours on the plane and the rushed, frantic work over the last few weeks. He stretches and Eames parts his legs to let him in a little more.

Eames' palm covers the back of his neck. "You're going to fall asleep and wake complaining about aches."

"Still too wired to sleep," Arthur says, and buries his face in the fabric of Eames' sweatshirt.

Eames turns his head, presses a kiss to the wrist he finds there, his lips soft on Arthur skin. He says something, but all Arthur feels before drifting off is the the warm weight of Eames' hand on his neck, and the soft rumble of his chest, a familiar and well-loved vibration pulling him down.