"Fancy a drink, darling?"
Arthur was already slipping into his work persona as he turned, but he recognised the voice. (Not the accent: that was the thing about England. Most people had British accents, and Arthur was in a permanent state of low-level arousal.)
"Eames," he said irritably, letting the false smile go, shifting his stance again. "I'm working, don't --"
"Half an hour's break won't hurt," said Eames. "Besides, it's quiet now. Wait 'til the theatres let out."
Eames knew Piccadilly like the back of his hand; he fitted here, under the tawdry neon, in his wifebeater and tight jeans and stubble, in a way that Arthur thought he'd never manage to fit anywhere.
"I guess," he allowed. "But I'm -- I don't have much cash."
"Brassic, eh?" said Eames obscurely. "No worries: my treat. C'mon, Arthur. I know a little place just round the corner where they won't mind us taking our time."
Eames knew a little place round every corner, as far as Arthur could tell: a bar, a coffee shop, an adult store with a room to rent upstairs behind the office. Arthur would've starved, his first month in London, if Eames hadn't sidled up to him -- so smooth that Arthur'd mistaken him for a john -- and invited him for a coffee and a sandwich.
"Business good this evening?" said Arthur, following Eames down a narrow alleyway between bulging black trash bags, past a guy in chef's whites who was smoking and talking on his phone, and in at the back door of a restaurant.
"Not bad," said Eames. "You?"
Arthur hadn't caught anyone's eye since he'd left their room. "Fine," he said.
"Mmm," said Eames. He sat down at a table by the kitchen door. "Oi, Ollie! Any chance of a coffee? And one for me mate?"
"Sure, man," said Ollie, a shaven-headed guy with a pierced eyebrow and a bad case of fake tan. "Got some lemon drizzle cake needs finishing too."
"Great," said Eames. "Bring it on! Now, Arthur," he went on, leaning forward, "we need to talk."
"What?" said Arthur, a hundred itchy anxieties squirming in his mind. Eames is leaving. He's going to throw me out. He's an undercover cop. (Okay, so far undercover he doesn't know which way's up.) He's HIV-positive. He's --
"The reason I make more than you," said Eames gently.
"You've got regulars," said Arthur. "You're --" He gestured at Eames' muscles, Eames' tattoo, Eames' broad sweet smile, oh fuck Eames' goddamn mouth, the source of most of Arthur's more pleasurable London experiences. "You're good at it," he said lamely.
"Fuck off," said Eames without rancour, accepting a mug of steaming coffee from Ollie and warming his hands on it. Arthur nodded as Ollie put down a second mug in front of him. "Nobody's good at whoring, not the way you mean."
"Then what's --"
"You know why they like you, Arthur?" Arthur shook his head. "It's 'cause they like the idea that they're forcing you. They like the fact you're not enjoying yourself, but you're doing it anyway, because they want it." Eames' mouth twisted into a tight-lipped grimace, and he sipped his coffee.
"So?" snapped Arthur. "Don't tell me you enjoy it, sucking dick all night long."
"Only when it's yours," murmured Eames, lowering his head and giving Arthur that slow sexy blink from under his ridiculous eyelashes. "But I know how to make them think I love it. Cheers, mate," he said to Ollie, who was chuckling and shaking his head as he nudged aside the salt and pepper to make room for a large, nearly empty platter of cake.
Arthur's mouth watered at the smell. He grabbed a fork and dug in; practically choked on the first mouthful at Eames' appreciative moan. Eames licked his lips, eyelids fluttering, and Arthur's cake fell off his fork.
"Eames," he hissed. "What the --"
Eames moaned again. His cheeks hollowed. He sucked lemon icing off his fork, and the ridiculous thing was that Arthur was actually getting hard just watching, just listening, as Eames dipped his head forward, blinked up at Arthur again, sucked and moaned and whined: his breath hitched, his fingers tightened on the -- on the fork, for fuck's sake, and the way his mouth stretched around what wasn't actually that big a mouthful, the way his face was reddening and his breath was rasping, and Arthur had to press the heel of his hand against his erection or he was gonna spend the rest of the night with cold sticky come in his pants.
"Eames, man!" said Ollie, clapping Eames hard on the shoulder as he went past. "Now I gotta tell everyone that was the last slice. Hey, you wanna come in tomorrow lunchtime and do it again?"
Eames just grinned, and gave Ollie the finger, and drank his coffee.
"I can't believe you," said Arthur when Ollie'd vanished into the kitchen. "I can't believe you just ... you just ..." He didn't think he'd ever be able to eat lemon drizzle cake without an inappropriate sexual reaction.
"Mmm?" said Eames, perfectly post-coital. Though, hang on --
"You never sound like that with me," said Arthur, obscurely miserable.
"With you, darling," said Eames, as honest as Arthur'd ever heard him, "I never have to."