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The sign above Eames' head says cumdumpster, with an arrow pointing down. Eames thinks he almost resents the spelling worse than everything else.

He would express his displeasure by moving except that, of course, he can't, since he's got his ankles tied. To his wrists. Blasted inconvenient, that. Eames can't even complain about it, since there's a spider gag prying his mouth open. All he can do is drool defiantly.

There isn’t much point in that since there is nobody in the room to see him being defiant, but it’s the principle of the thing. Besides, Eames doesn't have much choice about drooling, so he may as well do it with style.

He wriggles his fingers. Which is about all that he can do. His captors haven't left him anything conveniently sharp nearby to free himself, and the position doesn't quite let him reach the rope, let alone loosen it.

(Eames imagines captors were involved at some point. Surely he wouldn't have let himself be put in this position voluntarily?

Surely he wouldn't.)

He settles into position, then, shifting to minimize the ache in his knees where they're rubbing against the hardwood floor, spreading them a little to keep balance. There's rope tied tightly around his cock and balls, too, which means that Eames is quite a bit harder than he's generally wont to be when his life, limbs and other things he’s attached to are at risk.

Eames stares dumbly at himself for a moment. There’s something about it, the twist of rope just under the head of his cock, the flesh engorging, darkening so as to almost turn purple. He shakes himself and tries to work his wrists again. No success there; there’s no give at all. Eames closes his eyes, resigned, when he hears the door opening.

“What the,” Eames hears, and it’s Arthur’s voice, suddenly unsure. “Eames?”

Eames hums something affirmative. He opens his eyes, and there Arthur is: Lovely. Surely he’ll set Eames loose within the minute.

Except that Arthur utters something like a sigh, and something in his voice changes, settles. “You take the dumbest risks, Eames, has anyone told you that?”

I haven’t the faintest idea what you mean, Eames tries to project telepathically. Since he doubts he has suddenly manifested psychic abilities, he accompanies it with his fairest puppy-eyes, sure to bring even a strong man to his knees while cooing “Who’s a sweet doggy then?”

Arthur declines to do this, opting instead to come closer to Eames. “Seriously, Eames. Does the idea of caution ever occur to you? You keep putting your hand in the fire, you’re bound to get burned eventually.”

At that point Eames realizes that no, Arthur isn’t setting him loose; Arthur may actually be the one who bound him in the first place. That exquisite knotwork has the mark of Arthur’s excellent sense of technique, not to mention his work ethic.

Although he can’t speak persuasively, Eames can still move persuasively. He writhes, straining against the ropes in an attempt to flex his muscles, showing off his body. If Arthur will be tempted to come just close enough, perhaps Eames can - not pick his pocket, no, but perhaps he could nuzzle up Arthur’s wrist and see if he could latch his teeth onto the knife Arthur keeps in his sleeve.

But Arthur stays just a step away, looking at Eames, measured and severe. “I’d really like to know what the hell you were thinking.”

Take the wretched gag off and I’ll tell you, Eames thinks, but Arthur ignores the meaningful looks Eames aims at him. Instead he goes on to say, “It doesn’t matter, does it? You’re just gonna keep pulling the same stupid shit, over and over, until someone teaches you better.”

That - Eames blinks, faintly outraged and more turned on than he’d like to think. Arthur’s got no bloody right lecturing Eames about discretion, Eames has taught Arthur half of what he knows about dreamshare.

And yet here Eames is, gagged and immobilized, while Arthur’s in front of him, neat and pressed as ever. Perhaps Eames has something to learn yet. Besides, the lesson Arthur means to impart appears to involve Arthur unbuttoning his trousers, which makes something in Eames’ chest tighten. And possibly also in his crotch.

Eames has been drooling for several minutes now. It can’t have anything to do with Arthur’s cock, now can it, even if it is long and lovely and red, tip pointing up all exposed and tender. Eames has a bit of a thing for cut boys, for the extra care one must take with them, the tiny scar under the head just right for licking.

But he’s not going to do that. Just because Arthur has his cock out doesn’t mean Eames is just going to suck it. Eames has dignity, he has standards, he has -

He has a bloody spider gag in his mouth is what he has, and Eames comes to an abrupt realization that it may not be entirely up to him where Arthur’s cock goes.

To Eames’ relief (certainly it’s relief, certainly it can’t be disappointment) Arthur stays exactly where he is, jacking himself lazily. “You think I’m going to fuck your mouth?” His eyebrows are arched, amused. “Is that where you think this is going?”

Behind his back, Eames flips Arthur the bird.

“It might,” Arthur allows. “I mean, look at you. What am I, stupid? Your mouth is right there.”

Yes, so it is, and Arthur is over there, so Eames can’t turn his face into Arthur’s thigh and nuzzle him, rub his lips against Arthur’s balls framed so attractively by his open zipper, maybe lick -

All to distract Arthur into dropping his guard, of course, so Eames could - Eames isn’t sure how he’d get to Arthur’s gun from there, but he’s certain he’d come up with something. He’s an improviser.

“But yeah, I don’t think so,” Arthur says. “Not yet.” He aims his cock and a stream of piss comes arching out, landing between Eames’ spread knees, splashing on his inner thighs.

“Ogh!” Eames says, because saying Oi! with his lips pulled open is rather difficult, thank you very much. He feels the absurd urge to point out that the sign says cumdumpster, not pissbucket. Pathetically, he finds himself empathizing with that poor potted plant in their hotel’s lobby, with its sad little sign saying I am not an ashtray, which gets quite obviously ignored.

“Don’t even try to pretend you mind,” Arthur says. “Look at you, it’s written all over you,” and Eames looks down to see Use Me scrawled all over his chest.

Arthur smiles and moves so that his piss hits Eames in the stomach, shockingly warm on his skin. Eames hasn’t even realized how cold the room was before he had that spot of contrast, the liquid trickling down over his tied cock, over his balls and his hips.

“Do you want it in your mouth, Eames?” Arthur’s voice is level. “Do you want to swallow my piss?”

No, of course he doesn’t, why would Eames want that - just because it’s Arthur, just because it came out of him and it would mean he can take in everything that Arthur puts out, just because it makes something quiver in him and Eames doesn’t quite understand how to parse that.

“All right,” Arthur says, soft-voiced, and Eames tenses - flinches, really. He looks down on himself, reflexively, then startles, blinking.

The writing on his chest now says No, in large, bold script. Eames looks back up at Arthur, suddenly thrown off balance. Arthur, by contrast, looks perfectly secure, coming closer. His cock, half-hard, bobs as he walks. Ought to be ridiculous, but of course Arthur can never look ridiculous, no matter how Eames tries. Arthur somehow even manages to make orgasms look bloody elegant.

There’s something odd about that thought, something sticking not quite right, but Eames can’t hold on to it because Arthur has a hand on his chin, forcing him to look up. Eames half-wants to shut his eyes just to spite Arthur, but he doesn’t because there’s something in Arthur’s expression that needs careful watching.

“Just take it in,” Arthur says, still in that quiet voice. “Don’t make trouble. It’s what you’re good at, Eames. What you’re good for. Be good for me.”

Eames doesn’t know why that makes him shake, why that makes him want to open his mouth wider and slobber over Arthur’s creasing trousers. Arthur moves his hand to cup Eames’ jaw. “Come on,” he says, sharper. “Take it, Eames, you fucking bitch - “

And Eames does, turning to Arthur, closing his eyes so he can better concentrate on the bite of Arthur’s fingers at the soft skin just under his chin and just below his ears, and Arthur’s cock slides into Eames’ open mouth.

It’s salty, bitter, and Eames shudders when he thinks what it tastes of besides sweat and skin. Harsh on Eames’ tongue, harsher still on his throat when Arthur fucks his mouth, fast and careless. Eames gags on him, tears stinging in his eyes, struggling to breathe between Arthur’s thrusts and just barely managing.

Arthur doesn’t warn him before coming, spilling suddenly down his throat. Eames swallows reflexively, panting as Arthur pulls out, cupping his softening cock.

“There,” Arthur says. “How did you like that?”

Not at all, Eames thinks, furious. You fucking asshole cunt, you, you bastard, and doesn’t look down because he knows the writing on his chest would say yes.

He raises his head, blinks tears from his eyes to stream down his cheeks. Let me out, you prick, he thinks, widening his eyes at Arthur in an attempt to charm.

Arthur smiles at him, unaccountably warm, and kneels down so they’re of a height, heedless of the certain damage to his trousers. He puts his hands on Eames’ hips, careful to avoid the wet spots. Bows his head to nip at Eames’ collarbone, bending further to purse his lips around Eames’ nipple. Eames holds still and doesn’t squirm, doesn’t arch into the touch. Can’t, really. But wouldn’t even if he could.

“You’re filthy,” Arthur murmurs, hands plucking at Eames’ ropes, somehow making them tighten even more around his cock. Eames gasps and turns his face away. He really wishes he could shut his fucking mouth. He closes his eyes instead.

“I’m not going to touch you when you’re like this,” Arthur says, close and too intimate, the fucker, his breath on Eames’ skin causing the hair at the back on his neck to rise. “I think I’ll just leave you like this. Maybe whoever comes here next won’t mind it too much. You can hope, right?” He huffs a little laugh that Eames can’t even hear, only feel, and Eames wants to turn his face to see Arthur’s expression but he can’t, Arthur’s too close, his cheek pressing against Eames’ jaw.

“Or I could just shift you over and fuck you,” Arthur says, “put my fingers in your hole until my dick gets hard again. You can come from that, right? I bet you don’t even need lube, you filthy - “

Eames chooses to make Arthur’s point moot by coming, messily, all over his own soiled stomach, stray spurts of his come landing on Arthur’s hands, on his fingers. Arthur makes a pleased hum and pushes two come-stained fingers into Eames’ mouth.

“See, this is about responsibility,” Arthur says, letting Eames tongue him clean. “You make a mess, you take care of it.” He takes his fingers out, running them just above the base of Eames’ cock and over his thigh before putting them in Eames’ mouth again, bitter with come and piss. Eames licks that off, too, the fight gone out of him entirely.

“That’s good,” Arthur says. “That’s right. I think we’re getting somewhere, Eames,” and Eames opens his eyes and he isn’t tied anymore, isn’t in the room anymore.

He can’t see Arthur, either, and for a moment Eames panics - What the fuck? - thrashing wildly before he realizes that yes, he can move freely except for the IV in the crook of his elbow, which Eames removes with shaky hands.

“Steady,” Arthur says, appearing out of bloody nowhere, holding Eames down by his shoulders. “Hey, calm down. Lie back, yeah, like this. Let me, okay?”

Eames does. He lies back and takes deep breaths and lets Arthur’s hands move all over him, unbutton his shirt and his trousers, push them off him and clean up the mess he’s made in his pants. Eames makes a tiny noise at that, since it occurs to him that he ought to be embarrassed.

Especially since, now that he’s out of the dream, he can remember the bet, and he can remember he’s lost it miserably. “Well done, Arthur,” he says, voice rasping.

“Don’t talk.” Arthur sounds distracted, handing him a glass of water. “Drink.” Eames does. He’s really bloody thirsty.

It was silly of Eames, he supposes, to believe that he could burst through Arthur’s mental defences, even if he did have the element of surprise on his side. Dream criminals hardly ever announce themselves to their victims, after all, so Eames shouldn’t even have counted it as an advantage. Neither should he have trusted familiarity to pull him through; inside jobs happen all the time.

But Arthur bragged of the tightness of his mental security a few weeks ago, and after comparing it loudly to the tightness of Arthur’s bum (he couldn’t help himself), Eames told him: “There’s nothing a good extractor can’t cut through, darling. Rely on that.”

“Oh, really,” Arthur said, and the bet was on.

It was only a matter of time before Eames found Arthur dreaming on his own and invited himself in to join in.

Only to find himself tied and gagged, under a sign that presumably said what Arthur thought of him. Charming, completely charming. Eames ought to storm out, and he will once his bloody legs cooperate.

“Got one thing out of it,” Eames mutters, as Arthur comes to sit next to him, cross-legged.

“Yeah?” Arthur says.

“Your honest opinion of me.” Eames tries for biting, but it comes out in more of a mumble.

Arthur goes a little stiff, the way he does when something cuts too close to the quick. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“The bloody sign, Arthur,” Eames says, wishing Arthur would stop pretending to be dense. “Among other things, such as the fact that you pissed on me.” He can hold on to his outrage even under Arthur’s patient expression, although his memory of the writing on his chest is uncomfortably vivid.

“Eames,” Arthur says. “That sign was above your head. You were tied so you couldn’t move. How the fuck do you know what it said?”

Eames freezes. Arthur’s hands move over him, slow and sure. Eames ought to bat them away. He ought to.

“I can’t tell you for certain,” Arthur says, “but I’m pretty sure you know what the fucking sign said because you put it there.” His hands still, then move again. Eames allows himself to relax a fraction under the touch. “I was just following instructions, Eames. It was literally written all over you.”

That can’t be what happened. It makes Eames burn to think of it, to remember. “I can’t have done that,” he says, but his voice is weak, cracking. He knows what forging feels like, remembers it in the prickle of his skin inside the dream. He had no other way of knowing what was the sign said.

“I hate you,” Eames says faintly, and Arthur laughs.

“No you don’t,” Arthur says, easy, and lies down beside him. His expression shifts, turning graver. “Are you okay?” He trails his fingers down from Eames’ collarbone, rests his palm on Eames’ stomach, dry and clean now.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He’s trying for sarcastic, but it comes out plaintive.

Arthur’s hand presses lightly. He doesn’t otherwise answer, putting his other hand in Eames’ hair, stroking with even, firm pressure. Eames stays quiet, letting him, taking comfort in Arthur’s touch.

“I think you’re an asshole,” Arthur says, hand still moving rhythmically. “But an asshole who’s fucking good at what he does.”

“Such as suck cock,” Eames says, very slightly bitter.

“Yeah, that too.” Arthur’s hand tightens in Eames’ hair momentarily, then lets go. “But it still isn’t the first thing that occurs to me when I think about you .”

Eames closes his eyes. He’s not sure he wants to hear this. His heart is beating unaccountably fast. “What would that be, then?”

Arthur’s hands leave him. Eames’ skin feels cold where they aren’t anymore.

“I think about capability,” Arthur says, voice low. “I think about fucking brilliance, how does that sound to you?”

Eames looks at him. Arthur’s biting his lower lip, looking entirely too serious. “Excessive,” Eames says, and Arthur blinks and laughs, short and surprised. He leans over Eames, hovering close, brown eyes staring right into Eames’.

“If there’s one person I didn’t expect to have self-esteem problems,” Arthur says, and Eames’ lips curve into a helpless smile.

“Forgers are all drama queens, darling, did no one tell you that?” He doesn’t let Arthur answer, choosing instead to curl his hand around the back of Arthur’s neck and drag him in for a kiss. Arthur settles over him, shifting until they’re pressed together everywhere.

They’re nearly falling asleep - natural sleep, not the cheap imitation Somnacin gives - when Eames has a thought. “When are you going to claim your forfeit?”

“My what?” Arthur mumbles into Eames’ neck.

“You won the bet, Arthur.” It’s easier to acknowledge now. Arthur did win fair and square, after all. “What do you want for it?” They never really decided the stakes. Eames assumed it would be something like a favor, for the winner to hold over the loser’s head.

Arthur’s silent. Perhaps he’s fallen asleep already. Eames sighs and does his best to do the same. He matches his breath to Arthur’s, feeling both their heartbeats slow.

It’s technically possible that Arthur doesn’t really whisper, “I have what I want,” a moment before Eames falls into unconsciousness. Possibly Eames only dreams that. But the PASIV is beside them, IV tubes coiled and tucked away, and the dreamsharers can never dream on their own.