Chapter 1: Prologue
“Ta, this is Eames. Leave me a line and I’ll call you back. Or not, I can’t be terribly bothered.”
“Hello Eames. This is Arthur. Sorry I didn’t get back to you last night, I got caught up taking notes on your message. Messages. All seven of them. I don’t know you yet, Eames, but stop worrying. Your ex-fiancé will wish he never left you and your family will think we’re in love. Trust me, I’m good at what I do. I’ll see you at the airport."
Chapter 2: The Bad Beginning
This fic was actually only meant to be a one-shot but now I'm knee-deep in chapter planning so what the hell..
Eames really, truly, has no right to be this nervous. After all, he’s not the unlucky sod getting hitched by the end of the week.
Weddings, at best, are a steady source of booze for the evening.
And maybe an opportunity to practice his newest acting personas on an unsuspecting public.
In fact, some of his favorite characters have emerged from impromptu wedding conversations. There is just something about the suits and the champagne and the bouquets that tempts Eames to tell the most outlandish tales, just to see what he can get away with. So far? A lot, including that harebrained story about the rabbi and the priest up in Aberdeen.
Weddings, at worst, are tedious, repetitive, and home to entire hosts of heterosexual relatives.
Eames hasn’t really looked back since fleeing the stuffy enclave of his Londoner family in favor of carving out a spot of his own in the world.
In Eames’ experience, even New York’s skeeviest dive bar (of which Eames has quite a few favorites) makes for much better scenery than the posh upholstered interiors his family prefers… even if this has meant taking a day job behind the desk of Virgin Atlantic Airways to pay his frankly exorbitant bills. The benefits are good, and no one works the customer hotline quite like Eames.
Today, however, Eames is not meant to be working, despite the pleas of his co-workers to help out with the usual headaches of the day: three delays and two reps calling in sick - Yusuf knows a lot about the value of a cleverly forged doctor’s note for when Eames isn’t there to field his calls.
Having successfully dodged his remaining colleagues, Eames is now about to board the 8:15 flight to Heathrow.
More specifically, he is about to meet one very specific Virgin Atlantic passenger: his very much professional, hired wedding escort, Arthur.
And hell, for what Eames is paying him, he had better be gorgeous enough to make Robert seethe.
Chapter 3: All That And a Bag of Peanuts
At this point I feel the need to point out that I am not a Virgin Atlantic brand ambassador, I'm just going with the movie on this one. Oops. I'm having so much fun with this fic though.
The one major perk of working for an airline? Business class travel, courtesy of Virgin Atlantic. That, and inside knowledge of exactly where the champagne gets poured.
En route to his seat, Eames makes direct use of this hard-won knowledge by tracking down the flight attendant on duty: Nash, a man whose receding hairline makes him appear older than he actually is.
While the two have had their creative differences in the past, Eames is extremely grateful for his presence today. Or, to be more specific, for the champagne flutes Nash is carrying, one of which Eames eagerly claws toward his chest.
Nash raises an eyebrow. “Difficult day?”
“The worst,” Eames wants to snark back.
Unfortunately, trying to speak mid-champagne gulp does not work out for Eames, who inhales half of his beverage through his nose. When he is done voraciously coughing up what feels like half a lung and a formidable amount of phlegm, half of business class is staring at him.
Nash gingerly tears the champagne flute from his grasp, not breaking face. “You’re really nervous about this wedding, huh?”
Eames, still hung up on the champagne’s side flavor of asphyxiation, gives a tight-lipped smile. “My sister’s getting married and the best man is my ex. I just want to know where all the emergency exits are.”
In an attempt to recapture his runaway dignity, Eames gets settled in his seat, 3A, tugging a bit on his red-purple paisley shirt. Maybe this wasn’t the perfect day to pair it with powder blue slacks? Oh, hell, for six grand, Arthur better not be a fashion critic.
Eames fidgets, fighting the urge to bury his face in his hands. What had he been thinking, hiring a date for Nancy’s wedding? They would all figure it out within seconds, and have a good old laugh on him, as per usual.
Nash, meanwhile, has circled back to Eames’ side.
Eames groans. “Please, tell me passenger 3B just boarded and is an utter dreamboat. I’m talking absolutely, entirely, devastatingly -”
Eames is cut off by Nash’s low whistle. “Hello 3B.”
Everything about the man swiftly approaching seat 3B screams meticulous: from the broad lines of his shoulders in his no-nonsense black suit (Armani, Eames’ brain yells nonsensically) to his sleek gray suitcase, which he deftly stores in the overhead compartment in less time than it takes Eames to collect his jaw from the floor.
Arthur, occupational Lothario, part-time Armani model and Eames’ arm-candy for the upcoming nuptials, wastes no time locating Eames in all his splotchy paisley glory.
To his credit, Arthur doesn’t waver; he simply meets Eames’ slightly crazed glance and swoops in to place a lingering kiss on Eames’ cheek. “Eames. Hello.”
This bit was not fun to write but I think that's on my stomach flu more than anything..lets goo
Eames has had quite the day already. It is not even 9AM, which is an unholy hour to be awake at, let alone the whole motor skills bit.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is just the teeniest bit starstruck. Not at all. With all the lies Eames will have to tell himself to get through this wedding, there's no reason not to start on the self-denial here and now.
Arthur clears his throat, a light smirk playing on his lips. He expertly snags two fresh champagne flutes from a passing Nash, and offers one to Eames.
Their hands brush ever so slightly in the exchange, and Eames feels like a goddamn heroine in a Victorian novel. He is going to need so much more alcohol to deal with all of this.
“Glad you found it okay. The airport. The plane, I mean.” Eames cringes even as the words leave his mouth.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t leave sooner. I had a few loose ends to tie up.“ Arthur tips his long-stemmed glass to his lips, and no, Eames is absolutely not staring at the column of Arthur’s throat as he swallows.
“You must be booked solid.” Eames swears he can hear the lady in 4A giggle a little. Jesus. This escort business was truly a terrible idea.
Eames is saved by the proverbial bell of airplane travel: the pilot’s announcement that they have been cleared for takeoff.
He sinks into his seat, thanking his personal gods (mainly Dionysus) that business class seating accommodations are so wide that 3A and 3B are behind, rather than next to each other. He’s not sure he could survive this encounter in coach.
Eames ponders if Arthur has finished off his champagne, or if Eames can sneak another glance at him. Do escorts have classes on how to make sipping a drink look extra appealing?
Eames is feeling increasingly foolish. He’s already put his foot in his mouth, so what the hell. Arthur will see worse of him in the following days, he ought to make sure the man is properly informed.
“I should warn you. You know those families where everyone’s out of their mind but they’re your family so you love them? Mine’s not like that.”
Arthur’s smiles broadly at this declaration, and oh, If this man doesn’t manage to make Robert jealous, no one will. Eames is half in love himself, and he's paying Arthur for his services.
“Bottoms up, pet. We’re going to need all the luck we can get.” The last of the champagne goes right to Eames’ head, bright and fruity.
“I’m certain, Mr. Eames, that we can aim a little higher than that.” On that note, Arthur disappears behind the front page of the New York Times, leaving Eames to ponder his curious fortune.
Well. Maybe Eames ought to dream a little bigger, after all.