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A Matter of Diminishing Convenience

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It was three o'clock in the morning when Arthur was woken by a pounding on his door. There were exactly six people who knew Arthur's New York address, and right now two of them were on their very belated honeymoon, two were most definitely still in Connecticut. and one was pretty much permanently in Foreign Places Unknown.

Which left only one option.

He was all for leaving Eames out in the hallway to stew for a while, but the pounding wasn't stopping – if anything it was getting more insistant – and if Arthur was going to salvage any of the night's sleep, he was going to have to let him in.

He didn't even get a chance to admonish Eames for waking him up. The second the door opened, Eames fell through and hit the floor, a definite bloodstain spreading across his bicep.

Arthur sprang into action immediatly, pulling Eames fully into the apartment, checking the hallway for intruders, and locking the three deadbolts when he couldn't see any. He came back into the apartment to see Eames finish dragging himself semi-upright to lean against the wall, and Arthur had to bat his hands away as he tried to remove his own bloody jacket.

He grabbed a large scissors. “I'd apologise for ruining this, but I'm really only finishing what the blood and the pattern started.”

Eames didn't manage more then a watery smile in response, and that more then the blood spurred Arthur on faster. He finally cut through the jacket, and the parts of the shirt that weren't stuck to the wound, and leaned back a bit to think.

“I've got a bottle of whisky in the kitchen if you want something to keep you occupied when I'm getting this done.”

Eames just grabbed at his hand and shook his head.

“Are you sure?”

Eames nodded.

“Okay. I'm going to need my hand back, though.”

He slid Eames' hand out of his and Eames immediatly grabbed onto his leg, digging his fingers into Arthur's thigh as he closed his eyes tightly against the pain of Arthur detaching the shirt fabric from the partially-dried blood and open gunshot wound. It took about two minutes after Arthur'd finished before Eames fingers finally loosened.

Arthur pulled back slightly. “It's actually not as bad as it looks. The bullet went straight through, should heal fine. Just need to get it cleaned up.”

He managed to leverage Eames to standing and shuffle him into the bathroom. They had to stop for a moment so Eames could throw up, but he eventually had him propped up against the sink with a clean wound.

Arthur dug around in a drawer for a second before pulling out some superglue.

“This isn't perfect, but it'll do. Just don't really think about it, okay?”

He carefully pushed the edges of the wounds together and moved Eames hand to hold one of them shut.

“So, I know this says less then a minute, but lets not take any chances, okay? And no falling asleep.”

Eames opened his eyes and smiled again, slightly stronger this time.

After a moment, Arthur pulled his hand away and inspected the wound.

“So, who'd you piss off this time? Anita? Marcel? Kate?”

“The Feds.”

“The Feds? What the fuck have you been doing?”

“Clean-up. After some aquaintances of ours – lets not name names or anything – left that last job rather quickly, a couple of things had to be sorted out before any number of people decended on us – on them – and things went very badly wrong. Unfortunatly, Agent Johnson was in the right place at the right time.”

Arthur froze.

“Don't worry. I shook them off ages back. They won't find you here.”

“No, it's not that, it's...”

Arthur disappeared for a second before coming back with his cellphone. “Does he sound familiar?”

There was a voicemail starting.

“Arthur Rosen, this is Agent Johnson from the FBI. We'd like you to come in tomorrow, we've got a few questions about some of your aquaintances. Thank you.”

Eames nodded his head. “Sounds like him alright. Just give me five minutes and I'll be out of your hair, okay?”

He tried to stand up, but Arthur pushed him back down.

“Don't be ridiculous. We can get out of this. I'll make a few calls, book some flights, we'll –”

Eames shook his head. “Arthur, that voicemail is from before my run-in with him. Which means he knew who I was, which means he probably has an informer, which means he knows about everyone..”

Arthur froze again.

“You'll just have to go in tomorrow, figure out how much he does know, and then I can either confess or disappear, whichever's easier.”

“You are not disappearing.” Arthur insisted. “I'll lie.”

“Too risky.”

“Then I just won't co-operate.”

“If they have something, they'll subpeona you, hold you in contempt, whatever. You can't disappear either, so you're stuck. You'll have to testify.”

Arthur was already thinking of alternatives. “There's definitely something. Some provision out there that barrs me from testifying against you. I'll just have to stay up – ”

Eames tried to wave him off. “There's nothing. Not unless you're under investigation for the same crime, so you're incentivised to lie – which isn't happening, okay, so just forget about it.”

Arthur stilled for a second. “Except that they can't compell someone to testify against their spouse.”

Eames laughed. “Except we're not married.”

Arthur didn't move.

“Arthur? We're not married.”

“We could be.”

Eames raised an eyebrow. “I'm supposed to be the one suffering bloodloss here.”

Arthur leaned his hands very carefully on Eames shoulders. “Think about it. If we get married, then I can't testify against you. They wouldn't be after me if they had a more reputable witness, so the case will get shelved. You'll be safe, Dom and Mal will be safe. And it doesn't have to be forever, just until they're off your back.”

“It's preposterous.”

“It'll work.”

* * * * *

Arthur drove them to the courthouse the next day. Well, first Arthur drove them to a store where Eames could buy a new shirt, because non-romantic wedding of convenience or not, Arthur's damned if he'll marry someone in a blood-stained vest.

Eames spent the whole journey first trying to talk Arthur out of it, then repeatedly asking him if he was absolutely sure. Arthur spent the whole journey watching the road and not answering.

Arthur moved to get out of the car the second he'd parked, but Eames grabbed his arm.

“Wait a second.”

“Are you getting into character?” Arthur joked.

Eames smiled back. “Something like that.”

The identities they're getting married with are real, obviously. The credit card they're paying with is decidedly not, but Eames manages to distract the clerk enough that she doesn't really pay that close attention, and they take their place in line.

“If we're going to pull this off, you've got to look like you're excited to marry me. Or at the very least, not annoyed.”

Arthur rolled his eyes slightly and took a step closer to Eames, allowing him to wrap his arm around his waist.

While they were in the queue, Arthur gets two more calls from Agent Johnson, which he ignores, but it was getting tense, and they had no way of knowing if the FBI were closing in on them.

Once the third call has been ignored, accompanied by Arthur's shoulders getting even tenser, Eames walked over to the last couple ahead of them in line and spun them some story about how he was going in for surgery later that morning, and desperately wanted to know Arthur would be taken care of if...

The couple didn't ask what kind of surgery would be so vital as to be sprung on them at short notice, but also not-vital enough that he'd be given time off to go get married, and because Eames is very, very good at convincing people of things, less then five minutes later, he and Arthur are at the front of the queue, and have witnesses who won't ask questions.

It was a good thing Arthur knew exactly how good an actor Eames was, or he might have been freaked out by quite how sincere Eames seemed during the vows.

The kiss was brief and chaste and unremarkable, and the second they could leave they were out the door.

Arthur drove Eames to the airport.

“Are you sure this isn't too soon? Won't it look suspicious if you're out the door the second we're married.”

Eames grinned. “The flight was already booked. You wanted some kind of committment before I go away for work, and I aquiesced because I love you so much. It's romantic.”

“How come I'm the clingy one in this scenario?”

“Fine, you aquiesced. Just so long as we make the goodbye convincing.”

“I'm not sure I like the sound of that.”

Eames just smiled again and climbed out of the car. “C'mon. We've got to be somewhere public, with cameras.”

Arthur followed Eames to the gate, and stood there awkwardly as Eames checked all his pockets and papers to make sure it was all there, before resting his hands on Arthur's shoulders.

“So I guess this is goodbye.”

Arthur valiently resisted rolling his eyes. “Until you're back.”

Eames slid his hands up to cup Arthur's jaw before leaning in to kiss him. Arthur let him for three seconds, before reaching up to wrap his hands around Eames' wrists, pressing his fingernails into Eames' pulse, just to remind him that next time they met, Arthur would be prefectly capable of kicking his ass.

Eames laughed against Arthur's mouth before finally pulling away.

“I'll miss you.”

He sounded sincere, but Arthur could detect the tiny smile in his voice.

“I'm sure you will.”

“Until the divorce, then.” Eames whispered before turning away.

Arthur watched him go through security, and kept watching until he disappeared from view.

Just for the look of the thing.

* * * * *

They don't get divorced, as it happens.

Sometimes, having someone who's legally entitled to barge into your hospital room, kick up a huge fuss, and demand you get transferred to a hospital 'close to home' can be very convenient.

* * * * *

The first time it happened, Arthur was in Amsterdam, trying very hard to extract himself from a job that he'd thought was corporate espionage, but which turned out to be drug smuggling.

He was never listening to a think Kaitlynn said again, but that was beside the point.

Arthur found himself waiting for surgery, and running the risk of his mother being the first person they called if it didn't go well.

Eames was in France right now, he knew. So he told the doctors to contact his husband just before he passed out, and when he woke up, Eames was at his bedside, holding his hand in a convincingly distraught manner, and quietly signing a bunch of paperwork to get Arthur transferred to a different hospital.

Once Arthur was safely out the door, bitching about the job the surgeons did stitching him up, Eames drove him to the nearest train station and said goodbye.

Eames sent him a text message fifteen minutes later.

try to stick to getting injured in Europe, darling. I don't think my insurance in the states could handle you. a

Arthur scoffed. Like he didn't have his own insurance.

* * * * *

The day after Mal died, Arthur got a phone call.

It wasn't from Dom – who'd called himself the night before, but warned Arthur not to come too quickly in case it raised suspicion – but from a police officer somewhere in rural Massachusetts. Apparently, his husband had been involved in a road accident, wasn't quite capable of making his own phone call, and would Arthur like to come bail him out?

Arthur was in Canada for reasons that don't need going in to, and flying to LA from Boston would be just as fine as from Toronto, so he said yes.

He was in Massachusetts in less than eight hours. Eames was still a mess.

His skin was grey, giant bags under his eyes and multiple bruises on his face. The knuckles on his left hand were scraped and bloody, and the shirt he was wearing – plain white with the police department written in blocky font – obviously wasn't his.

“I thought they said you were in a road accident?”

It was a second before Eames looked up at him, and he just smiled sadly and waved his hand in a way that managed to say 'amongst other things, love' quite accurately.

The desk sergeant who gave Arthur the paperwork was far too cheerful for the situation – because no one who's bailing their drunk and despondent husband out of jail at 2am wants that, even if it's a purely convenience-based relationship – and Arthur was thankful to be away as soon as he could manage.

He took Eames to a nearby motel and sat up with him all night, stopping him from falling asleep in case there were complications or concussion, re-filling his water glass, and keeping a sharp eye on exactly how often he's taking ibuprofen.

Seventeen hours later, he drove them both to the airport. They had a funeral to be at.

* * * * *

After Mal died, Arthur noticed a distinct down-turn in emergency contact spurred by reckless behaviour. It seemed Eames had felt the need to grow up.

The marriage slipped from a convenient back-up to the back of his mind.

Truth be told, by the time of the Fischer job, he'd pretty much forgotten about it.

* * * * *

Six months after inception, Arthur wound up in hospital.

He wasn't even on a fucking job, either. He was in LA, checking up on Cobb. Ariadne was in town, still keeping one finger in the maybe-graduate-school pie, and she'd come over for dinner. Arthur was just stepping out to grab a few things from the store when one of Cobb's fucking idiot neighbours mowed him down in their SUV.

The last things Arthur remembered was Ariadne screaming at the sixteen-year-old driver to watch where they were going, while Cobb tried to keep him awake while the ambulance arrived.

“Who do I need to call? One of your sisters?”

“No. Don't call any of them. What the fuck, Dom? Don't be an idiot.”

“You're going to need a next of kin, Arthur. Just in case...”

His voice trailed off, and Arthur tried his best to roll his eyes.

“I'll be fine. And if it comes to it, call Eames. He's in Vegas.”

“He can fabricate Power of Attorney papers that fast?”

“He is my next-of-kin.”

Arthur passed out before Cobb had a chance to react.

* * * * *

Arthur didn't know how long he'd been out, but the extensive bandaging along his left side made him think it had been a while. He was in a hospital room. There was a nurse listlessly checking a few readings by his side, but her general demeanour implied more that she was trying to avoid doing anything else more than his vitals were in desperate need of monitoring.

There was some sort of commotion going on outside, where one person was trying to explain to another person that someone was sleeping and really should be left for the time being, and the other person was most definitely not paying any heed at all.

Eames stormed into the room, holding the door open and glaring at the nurse until she scurried out. He slammed the door behind her, walked over to the bed and snapped off a few photos of Arthur's chart with his phone before finally looking at Arthur.

Eames leaned his hands on the end of the bed and glared.

“I thought I told you not to get injured over here? I don't know how this marriage is going to work if you insist on disobeying me all the time.”

Arthur rolled his eyes. “Like I asked Maria Jones to knock me over with her car. And like I'm the wife.”

“Very sexist of you there darling, to automatically assume that the wife's the only one that needs to be obedient.”

“Fuck off.”

Eames came around to sit down next to the bed.

“You're all right though, yeah?”

Arthur sighed. “I can't feel the left side of my body, but the doctor assures me that's from morphine, not nerve damage. And I'm going to be limping for quite a while. Aside from that though, I should be okay. But you're the one who's seen the charts.”

Eames waved his hand dismissively. “I didn't read them, I just emailed them to Yusuf so he can keep me appraised of the situation.”

“You don't need to keep tabs on me. We're not really married.”

Eames' eyes twinkled as he smiled. “Tell that to Ariande.”

Arthur froze. “Shit.”

* * * * *

“I can't believe I didn't see it before.” Ariande said. “I mean, it's so obvious.”

“It's not at all obvious, because it's not real.” Arthur insisted.

Cobb shuffled his feet from his side of the bed. “I can't believe you didn't tell me. I mean, Eames said it happened years ago.”

Arthur shot Eames a look before turning back to them.

“Look, it's not a big deal. It's just a thing, that happened for a reason a long time ago and it's really not in any way relevant to anything going forward, okay?”

This last was accompanied by a separate glare at all three of them.

Ariadne rolled her eyes.

“Look, I get that you maybe don't want anything to get out about this, for whatever bullshit secrecy or protection reasons you have, but I still can't believe you didn't tell us, and I really can't believe you thought I'd just let you get away with lying to me about it.”

“I'm not lying! It's really nothing.”

Ariadne scoffed and climbed up onto the right side of Arthur's bed.

“So. I know it's late, but what do you want for a wedding present? Do you have everything you need?”

Over her shoulder, Eames not trying very hard to supress a grin. Arthur couldn't even manage to glare this time.

* * * * *

The first time Arthur worked with Eames and Ariadne after the accident, he hoped the whole thing had blown over.

He was carefully arranging his desk when Ariadne arrived.

“Where's Eames?”

Arthur looked around the room. “No idea. Should I know?”

“Well he's your –” She cut herself off when she noticed their extractor in the corner, throwing a rubber ball against the wall. “–friend.”

Arthur ignored her floundering, still laying out his various notebooks. “Eames will be here whenever he wants to be, as I'm sure you're aware."


"Ariadne." Arthur cut her off.

"Yeah, right. Of course. But just in case you're talking to him before he gets here, can you remind him he said he'd lend me Women in Love?"

"I'm sure you'll see him as soon as I do."

He could see her suppressing a grin. "Of course."

Eames eventually swanned in about fifteen minutes before they broke for the night. Typical.

* * * * *

Ariadne caught up with him at the elevator.

"You're pretty dedicated to this whole "we're not married" thing. I'm impressed."

"It's not impressive, it's completely normal." Arthur replied.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Well, normal for you maybe. I suppose you'd be just as invested in keeping secrets from everyone you know as you'd be in stealing them from other people."

"It's really not that hard to not be married to someone I'm only married to in the most basically legal of senses."

"You can stop trying to convince me, I'm not going to tell anyone."

"There's nothing to tell."

"You're really grumpy this morning, do you know that? Maybe this whole 'separate bedrooms' thing wasn't the best plan. I mean I know why you're doing it - it's not going to take much for people to figure things out - but if you're going to be this annoyed for the whole job, maybe you need to work something out as a stop-gap."

Arthur jabbed at the button for the upcoming floor and ran out of the elevator towards the stairs.

Ariadne yelled after him as the doors closed.

"If you need me to get Frank out of the warehouse for a few hours, just let me know, okay!"

* * * * *

The job was tedious, and Eames was trying to blow some steam off.

Trying being the operative word, because he twice so far that night he thought he was pretty much home free, but it seemed like every time he turned around, whoever he'd been talking to had disappeared. He had resolved not to let the latest prospect - a slender brunet with careful eyes and a sharp mouth - out of his sight until he had him exactly where he wanted him, but the second he moved in for the kill he felt himself being yanked backwards.

It wasn't until he was outside that he quite realised what had happened.

"What the actual fuck Ariadne?"

She glared at him. “Look, I know you guys don't want to talk about it, but I'm not stupid, okay? I know you've been having problems, but do you really think this is the answer? You can't just go running off trying to fuck anyone just because things are getting a bit rough, okay? That's not how it works.”

Eames stared at her. “Are you the one who's been cock-blocking me all night?”

“No, I'm the one who's been protecting your marriage all night.”

“Ariadne, Arthur and I are not together. We got married years ago so I wouldn't get fucking arrested.”

Ariadne folded her arms firmly across her chest and stared up at him, her eyes starting to get a little misty.

“I know you don't want to talk about it, and I get that you're both into your privacy, but I'm your friend, and you can't lie to me. Nobody just marries anyone they don't care about. So just stop fucking about and sort your problems out, okay?”

She turned sharply on her heel and stormed away. Eames just stared after her.

* * * * *

It was three o'clock in the morning when Arthur was woken by a pounding on his door.

He opened it to find a dishevelled and irritated Eames.

“Darling, don't think I don't appreciate everything but this –” he gestured between them “– has ceased to be convenient.”

Arthur relaxed against the door frame. “I've been thinking the same thing.”

“Excellent. So we'll contact a lawyer as soon as this job's done?”

“The second we're out.”

They shook on it, and Eames grinned weakly before leaving to collapse into his own bed, alone and slightly resentful.

* * * * *

They didn't get a chance, because three days before they were supposed to take the mark under, the north wall of the warehouse exploded.

Frank, it seemed, was not to be trusted.

To avoid being tracked down and re-exploded-at, they split up. Arthur went to Toronto, because he had a safe-house nearby, Eames went to Reykjavík, because why the hell not? And Ariadne went to Lyon.

Before leaving though, she managed to slip a note into Eames pocket. He'd have been impressed with her skills at not being noticed, if the note hadn't informed him that she would, in no uncertain terms, kick his ass if he ever so much as thought about cheating on Arthur again.

* * * * *

The next time the three of them were all working together, the job was far too hectic for anyone to even think about personal lives, mostly fabricated as they might be.

It wasn't until the job was over, and Arthur was in the middle of a fascinating and completely platonic conversation with their chemist that it came up again.

“I know you're taking a break, but keep me updated when you're taking on jobs, I'd like to work with you again.”

Simon blushed and looked down at his fingers. “Don't you think your husband would object?”

Arthur looked at him blankly. “My husband?”


Arthur was going to fucking kill Ariadne.

“Firstly, he's not my husband, not really. And anyway, even if he was, why would be object to us working together?”

Simon smiled and patted him on the arm. “Look, I know you guys have been having problems lately, so don't worry. I won't tell him – anyone – about this, okay? It'll just be our little secret.”

He shared another sympathetic glance before getting up and leaving. Arthur just stared after him.

* * * * *

Eames answered the door after the eight knock. Arthur thrust a sheaf of paper at him.

“I downloaded them off the internet. We are getting this done.”

“Really, pet? You won't wear off-the-rack undershirts, but you'll download your divorce off a website?”

Arthur glared at him. “Are you going to make things difficult?”

Eames put his hands up. “Not at all. Though I also bags not being the one to tell Ariadne that she drove us to it.”

Arthur glared again. “Fine. I rang a lawyer, he'll check over them tomorrow, make sure everything is filled out correctly. Then it shouldn't take longer than a couple of months, we shouldn't even have to appear in court.

Eames grinned. “You've done your research.”

Arthur wasn't even going to dignify that with a response.

* * * * *

Ariadne was, as predicted, distraught. She spent the entirety of the next job – an over-paid snooze-fest in Zurich alternating between leaving piles of marriage counselling books around the place, and plying them both with chocolate and repeated offers to be a non-judgemental listener.

They did their best to ignore it. Eames ate the chocolates though.

* * * * *

The lawyer looked slightly bemused by the whole thing.

“Can we do no-fault? Is that a thing here? Or does one of us have to take the blame?” Eames asked.

“Either is an option, depending on the specific –”

But Eames just kept talking. “I mean, we can go with adultery, right? But then technically we're both at fault, right? Does that work?”

“Only one of you needs to be at fault.”

Eames looked over at Arthur. “Flip a coin? Or go by volume? How many times have you cheated on me?”

Arthur rolled his eyes and thought for a second. “Maybe three? I don't remember exactly.”

Eames just stared at him. “You've only had sex three times in nearly six years?”

Four times.”

“Oh, yeah, right. That.” Eames turned back to the lawyer. “We can go with me then, if that's easier. Do you need another party? Put Jack down, he won't mind. In fact 'be listed as the other party in a divorce' is probably on his bucket list.”

The lawyer just looked back and forth between them. “Um... New York has no fault divorce now, so neither one of you has to be listed.”

“Excellent. So we're good then? We just send these off and then in two-to-five months they send us back a sheet saying 'congratulations, you're divorced.'?”

“Unless the judge decides he wants you to appear in court, but that doesn't usually happen.”

“Okay. Thanks for everything. We'll be seeing you, then.”

Eames glanced over at Arthur, who was engrossed in his blackberry. “Lunch?”

Arthur glanced at his watch. “Sure.”

The lawyer watched them leave, no less confused then when they'd arrived.

* * * * *

So I heard you guys have actually gone through with it. I think you're making a huge, short-sighted mistake, because obviously you're made for each other, and I'm really sorry if anything I did contributed to this. I'll stop asking about it now. Sorry :( - Ariadne.

* * * * *

Arthur answered the door on the second knock.

“So apparently, we have to go to court.” Eames didn't wait for an answer before shoving his way inside.

“Yes. He called me too. But he said it's not a big deal, we just have to go down there and tell the judge what we told him.”

“Nevertheless.” Eames pulled a bottle of whiskey out of his bag. “We're not leaving this apartment until we have to be in court. If previous experience has taught me anything, it's that absolutely everything manages to get more complicated when this marriage is involved.”

The court appearance was in two days. Arthur looked at his watch. It was a little early to start drinking, but he wasn't going to object.

“So that's your plan then? Sit here for two days, drinking?”

Eames pulled two glasses out of Arthur's cupboard and sloshed a generous measure into each. “Yes. We're going to sit here, and toast our failed marriage. Then we'll probably sleep. I don't care at this point.”

Arthur sat down by the counter. “I wouldn't necessarily call our marriage 'failed'.”

Eames looked up from where he was searching for coasters. “We're divorcing after six years of only nominal marriage. That doesn't qualify as 'failure' to you?”

Arthur accepted the drink-and-coaster that Eames handed him. “Well, I'm always iffy about situations that are counted as unsuccessful when everyone makes it out alive. But besides, this marriage is only unsuccessful if you're limiting yourself to mainstream views of a marriage. If you judge by our intentions, then this marriage has been very successful. You never got arrested by the FBI, I've never had to tell my mother when I'm in hospital.”

Eames looked thoughtful for a moment. “Fine. We'll toast to successes then. Just so long as we're toasting.”

Arthur held up his glass. “To that time in New York when you got shot and my quick thinking sacrifice managed to save you from federal prison.”

Eames rolled his eyes, but clinked his glass against Arthur's. They each knocked back most of their whiskey and Eames re-filled their glasses. He raised his.

“To that time in Amsterdam where you were stupid enough to think that Kaitlynn could be trusted with anything and I had to cut short my holiday to come rescue you.”

Arthur just raised an eyebrow and drank his whiskey, raising it again as soon as it was filled. “To that time in Tokyo when you managed to temporarily blind and deafen yourself.”

I did not manage to do anything, that fucking chemist did.”

“Just give me more whiskey.”

Eames re-filled their glasses. “To that time in Mayo – which, by the way never again – where it turned out that woman wasn't homophobic, just very very against giving rooms to unmarried couples.”

“Not that any sex was being had.”

“Not with all those wires everywhere, no.”

Arthur rolled his eyes and raised his glass again, but paused, because next was Massachusetts, and Arthur's not sure if that fits the tone of the evening.

The silence only lasted a second before Eames took over. “To that time in Springfield where you saved me from making an utter twat of myself.”

Arthur clinks their glasses together, and they're silent for a moment before starting again.

The sips of whiskey get smaller and smaller as the list goes on, until finally Arthur lifts his glass and starts to say 'to Sydney', but stops. Because they don't talk about Sydney. Ever.

Arthur was about to skip over it, move on to something less awkward. But Eames met his eyes, raised his own glass, clinked them together, and knocked back the entire rest of the liquid. Arthur blushed and did the same.

Then Eames reached over to close the gap between them, cupped Arthur's jaw in his hand, and pulled him into a kiss.

Arthur leaned into the kiss instantly, his brain shorting out at the sensation. It wasn't until he found himself raising his arms to wrap around Eames shoulders that he came back to himself and tried to pull away.

Eames whined at the withdrawal.

“We can't do this.”

“Why not?”

“Because we're getting divorced in two days. And we've done this before, remember? Remember Sydney?”

Eames pressed a thumb over Arthur's lips. “Sydney never happened, remember? And yes, we're getting divorced. So in a few days' time, neither one of us will ever have to drop everything to go running around the world to pull the other out of a jam. That's one thing. This thing, right now? Is completely different.”

Arthur knew full well exactly how bad an idea it was. He did it anyway.

* * * * *

They didn't make it out of bed the next morning. Or really the next afternoon, aside from a brief interlude in the kitchen to make toast. For the first few hours, Arthur's brain reminded him every ten minutes exactly how bad an idea it all was, but after being consistently ignored, even it gave up.

Arthur went to sleep that night with Eames wrapped around him, steadfastly refusing to think further than five minutes into the future.

* * * * *

On Monday morning, Eames woke up to find it raining outside, and Arthur fully dressed at the end of the bed.

“It's a beastly morning. What are you doing up so early?”

At his end of the bed, Arthur's clenched white knuckles were hidden from view.

“We have to be at the courthouse in an hour.”

Eames blinked at him for a moment before finally extracting himself from the covers.

“Oh, right. That.”

Eames was silent while he dressed and for the whole drive to the courthouse. Finally, they were waiting outside the court, Arthur checking and re-checking all their paperwork, when Eames grabbed his hand.

“Look, I know this is crazy, alright? But we don't have to do this. We could stay married. Properly.”

Arthur glared at him. “Two days and you're just ready to jump right in for the long haul?”

“You know as well as I do that it hasn't just been two days.”

Arthur looked down at the paperwork and doodled on his scrap sheet.

“Maybe I don't want to be married to you. Maybe I just want to sleep with you for a few months, then awkwardly avoid you for a few months, until we have to work together and we're forced to get on again.”

Eames pulled away, leaning as far back as he could in his chair. “Oh. Okay, if that's what...”

Arthur took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. “Or maybe I'm just fully aware that if we tell my mother – and probably yours – that we've been married for six years without telling them, she'll probably decapitate me.”

Eames looked up sharply. “So... Are you saying that once we're divorced, you do want to marry me? Again.”

Arthur smiled at him. “I'm saying I'll consider it.”

The judge listened patiently as Eames spun out a long tale of married-to-soon and countless infidelities, and how he just wanted Arthur to be free to move on with his life without being tied to him for all of it. He yawned and granted them their divorce, and the second they were done, Eames dragged Arthur out of the room.

On the courthouse steps, Eames spun Arthur around and pulled him into a kiss.

This time, it was anything but brief and chaste and unremarkable.