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(Better Than) Your Head's Only Medicine

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It happens too quickly.

One moment they’re close to getting everything they need, Eames poised and leaning into the mark disguised as a very pretty rent boy, and in the next instant the mark cracks completely, grabs Eames by the throat, and stabs him in the chest.

The dream shatters within seconds, and the last thing Arthur sees before putting a bullet in his head is the look of shock and confusion in Eames’ eyes.

They wake up to chaos, the mark attacking them with a wild-eyed fury. It takes a strong headlock from Arthur to knock the guy out, and as his body slumps to the hotel room floor, Arthur gasps, “We gotta get out of here, he may have help coming.”

It’s the oddest thing to look over and see Eames standing beside the bed, looking shell-shocked.

“I didn’t see it coming,” he whispers. “I missed it, I thought he was already out, I didn’t—”

Arthur shakes his head, shoving the lid of the PASIV case closed with a loud snap. “It doesn’t matter now, it’s over.”

“It does fucking matter, I should have known the bastard couldn’t handle the scenario—”

Eames.” Arthur grabs his wrist with every intention of yanking him out of the room. But then their eyes meet, and it’s—there’s so much exhaustion there, wide-eyed frustration and anger, but more than that there’s self-doubt. It knocks something loose in Arthur’s chest, leaves him breathless.

He kisses Eames without a second thought, a hard, fierce crush of lips. It’s inelegant, raw, and Eames makes a tiny, choked sound in the back of his throat before pushing Arthur away.

“Go, I’ll be right behind you,” he says roughly, lips slick-shiny and slightly bruised. His gaze lingers on Arthur’s mouth for a moment before Arthur comes back to himself, remembers the body laying unconscious on the floor.

They get out of the hotel in one piece, but when Arthur hails a cab and finally catches his breath, Eames is nowhere to be found.


Arthur doesn’t see Eames for three months.

He thinks about that damn kiss every day.


He takes a job that sets up shop in a foreclosed house in lower San Francisco. The extractor is a young guy named Stanley, who tells Arthur he’s added on a forger last minute.

Arthur frowns. “Any additional personnel need to go through me,” he says sharply.

Stanley grins and waves him off. “Figured it wasn’t a problem, seeing as how you guys already have a history.”

Of course, that’s the moment Eames shoves the front door open with his shoulder and calls out, “Oy, Stanley! You better have a bloody key to this place, I’m not picking my way in every goddamn—”

He comes to a fault in the foyer, coffee in one hand and his lock pick set in the other, eyes locked on Arthur, who feels a very uncomfortable blush spread across his neck.

“Good morning, darling,” Eames finally says with a casual smile, but his eyes are shuttered.

Arthur clears his throat and looks away. “Get him a key,” he says to Stanley. “And don’t fucking go adding new people on without my consent or we’re done here, you got me?”

Stanley holds up both hands. “Sorry, yeah, won’t happen again. Just thought you guys were friends, that’s all.”

“I don’t have friends,” Arthur says pointedly.

Eames doesn’t say another word.


It’s a long day, mostly due to the fact that their architect is fairly new and needs a bit of hand-holding. Arthur doesn’t mind, really, but it makes him nostalgic for the days when Ariadne was starting out; if only all green architects were so intuitive.

Eames barely looks at him, but it’s subtle, the way he avoids Arthur’s gaze. He throws the usual quips at him, picks up the thread of their normal banter, but it’s not the same at all.

It drives Arthur crazy, and not simply because the sight of Eames pursing his lips in a sigh is enough to make Arthur’s mouth run dry.


That night, Arthur finds himself standing in front of a hotel room door with his palms sweating and his mind full of a thousand reasons why he should be back in his own room going over files and dossiers. He knocks once, and hates the sudden quickening of his heart.

Eames opens the door shirtless, green plaid boxers sitting low on his hips. His eyes flare for a split second before sliding quickly into a look of guarded curiosity. “Arthur, what—”

“I want to make something perfectly clear,” Arthur says. “I kissed you, and I wasn’t drunk or delirious or angry. I kissed you because—because—”

“Why are you telling me this?” Eames asks quietly, arms folded across his bare chest—a defensive maneuver, like he thinks Arthur’s playing a game.

Like he doesn’t trust Arthur, and never has.

Strange how it’s that little detail that makes something break inside Arthur. He shoves his way into the room, hands splayed over Eames’ chest, pressing him up against the wall as he kicks the door shut.

“I have never, ever seen you doubt yourself before,” Arthur hisses, suddenly breathless. “But when I saw that maniac put that knife into you, I also saw the fear in your eyes, and it—it scared the shit out of me. When we came to, you looked so fucking lost I couldn’t take it anymore, so I kissed you, because it was all I could think to do.”

Eames lips part slightly, a small, vulnerable pinch forming between his eyes. “You didn’t have to,” he whispers.

Arthur growls low in his throat and presses into him harder, shoving his thigh between Eames’ legs, and god, yes, he’s hard, they’re both hard, he knew he couldn’t be the only one.

“I wanted to,” Arthur breathes. “You don’t even know how long I’ve—how much I’ve wanted—”

“I might have some idea,” Eames says, and then, finally, they’re kissing again for the second time, only this is so much more. Before it was all adrenaline and longing, but now Arthur has Eames open and warm beneath him, heated skin everywhere, and Eames isn’t pushing him away.

He kind of hates the fact that Eames is already mostly naked, although it gives Eames the perfect excuse to practically rip the clothes from Arthur’s body, throwing his tie and belt haphazardly aside as he fumbles with the buttons of Arthur’s shirt. Arthur lets him have his way and stumbles back to the bed, tangling his fingers in Eames’ damp hair. He smells like shampoo and soap, and there’s a towel on the floor. Arthur thinks of showers and steam and bare, slick skin, and it’s no surprise when he cries out the moment Eames cups him through his trousers.

“You must’ve had a plan,” Eames gasps, looking up at Arthur through his lashes. His cheeks are already flushed a gorgeous dark pink, and Arthur is coming undone far too quickly.

“What—what makes you think that?”

He drags Arthur’s lower lip between his teeth, sucking sharply. “You always have a plan.”

“Maybe I’m living dangerously for a change.”

“And what would this dangerous life of yours require right now?”

Arthur leans up to lick a stripe up Eames’ neck, biting his way to Eames’ ear. “It requires me fucking you, right now,” he whispers.

He doesn’t expect the harsh shudder in Eames’ shoulders, or the way Eames goes boneless against him as they fall back onto the bed, their mouths sliding together in a messy, frantic kiss as Eames palms Arthur’s hips.

“Anything else?” Eames gasps.

Arthur arches beneath him, letting their bare cocks rub together, already slick and hard. “You could ride me.”

His heart does a strange flip when Eames gives a little breathless laugh. “Clever boy, always thinking on your feet.” The last few words break off on a moan as Arthur rolls his hips again, and fuck, Arthur has no idea what he’s gotten himself into, but he never wants this to end.

There’s lube in the drawer of the bedside table, along with a handful of condoms. Arthur manages to smirk, ignoring the stupid clench of something very much like jealousy in his chest.

“Were you expecting someone?” he hears himself ask.

Eames grins crookedly at him as he pours the lube into his palm. “Wouldn’t you like to know,” he says, and yeah, Arthur would, but it’s not his place, it’s not his anything, and—and—

His thoughts fizzle out as he watches Eames slick his fingers and then slowly slide them inside himself. His eyes flutter closed as he goes up onto his knees for a moment, head tipped back, and Arthur can’t see everything, but he can see the movement of Eames’ arm, the flush spreading over his chest, the way Eames’ cock jerks and paints slippery trails over his stomach. It’s filthy and gorgeous, and Arthur could very well come from nothing but this.

“Show off,” Arthur groans, frantically grabbing a condom and ripping it open. He has the sound of Eames’ rough, breathless laughter in his ears as he fumbles the condom on, trying not to come in his own hand.

“Next time it’s your turn,” Eames says, wrapping his hand around Arthur’s cock for a second, spreading his knees, and Arthur thinks, Next time, next time, shit, yes—

It’s not easy or gentle, the way Eames sinks down onto Arthur in one hard, smooth glide. Arthur curls his hands around Eames’ hips and doesn’t move for a moment, just tries to breathe—it’s been too long and Eames is too tight and he’s not going to ruin this by losing himself so quickly—

“Fuck,” Eames gasps. “I just—Arthur, please, I—”

He can’t very well hold himself in check with Eames saying Arthur, please. He thinks he could make Eames beg more if he really tried, but right now Arthur wants to come and he wants Eames to come with him and that’s all that really matters.

He digs his thumbs into Eames’ hipbones and holds him steady as he fucks up into Eames’ tight, hot body, forcing his eyes open to watch all that strength shiver and melt above him. Eames reaches back, braces his hands on Arthur’s thighs, his lips bitten red, slick and swollen. His cock bobs against his abdomen, but Arthur growls at him when he starts to touch himself.

“No, want you to come from this, just this.”

Eames whimpers, and his expression is so wrecked, open, desperate—he whimpers, and it’s Arthur’s name, broken, pleading, and Arthur breaks all over again.

He surges up, pulling Eames fully into his lap as he wraps his arms around Eames’ neck, sliding his hands into Eames’ hair and crushing their mouths together. He can feel their teeth knock together, catching on the edge of his lip in pain, but it doesn’t matter; Eames’ nails sink into the skin of Arthur’s back as he rides Arthur hard and fast, knees braced on either side of Arthur’s hips.

There’s blood rushing in Arthur’s ears, but he’s vaguely aware of moaning into Eames’ damp cheek, “C’mon, Eames, please, come for me—”

Eames jerks in his arms, spurting hotly between them, shaking all over and groaning through gritted teeth. He’s the most beautiful thing Arthur has ever seen.

Arthur comes with his face buried in Eames’ neck, breathing in the scent of Eames’ sweat, tasting it on his tongue.

They collapse back on the bed in a tangled, messy heap, Eames a heavy weight against Arthur’s chest.

“For the record, I always keep lube by the bed,” Eames says, voice scraped raw. “Force of habit and all.”

Arthur closes his eyes and tries to remember how to breathe. “For the record, I’ll keep that in mind,” he replies, smirking as he traces his thumb down Eames’ spine.

Eames chuckles softly before lifting himself up slowly, letting Arthur slip from his body. He climbs off the bed and grabs the forgotten towel off the floor on his way to the bathroom. Ten seconds later, Arthur hears the shower turn on.

Now would be the perfect opportunity to dress and leave without any confrontation, a clean getaway. They’d see each other in the morning, but they’re both professionals. This is only one night, one moment of weakness on Arthur’s part.

But then again, Arthur spent three months obsessing over a kiss.

He gets to his feet, ties the condom off, and leaves all his clothes in rumpled, sporadic piles.

The bathroom is already filled with steam when Arthur opens the door. His hand shakes ever so slightly as he pulls back the edge of the shower curtain.

Through the spray of water, Eames gives him a small, tentative smile over his shoulder. “Lost?” he asks, shaking the wet hair out of his eyes. His gaze flicks down to the smear of come on Arthur’s stomach, and Arthur feels his cock twitch.

“No,” he replies, stepping into the shower and slowly, carefully backing Eames against the tile.

The smile goes from tentative to true. “You should know Stanley thinks we’re fucking,” Eames says softly, his hand drifting up Arthur’s chest to curl lightly over his neck.

Arthur feels lightheaded and half-crazed. “Wouldn’t want him to get the wrong idea,” he breathes, and kisses him through the shower spray, thinking that a shower is possibly the most ridiculous of all places to realize you’re in love.