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The Policy of Truth

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"Never again is what you swore the time before"
_____________________________________________

"Wait a tick, wait. He asked you to what?"

"To turn him over and fuck him and call him 'daddy,'” Arthur repeats, flatly.

Eames' laughter is loud from where he’s hanging off the edge of the bed. "Oh my god. At the start of the date?"

"Yes, we're just sitting down to dinner and he says 'this is what you're going to do later.' And cue the aforementioned statement."

Eames cranes his head from where it's hanging off the bed to look at Arthur. He smiles brilliantly, baring his crooked teeth. "That is priceless. And let me guess: you said 'I'll take a rain check’ and left the restaurant in a mad dash."

Arthur leans his head back against the wall and snorts. "Mr. Eames, you should give me more credit than that. Obviously I finished my meal first and allowed him to graciously get the bill before ditching him.”

"You're such a heartbreaker, Arthur," Eames says dryly, rolling over to the side of the bed and picking up the wine bottle. He tilts it in Arthur's direction. Arthur nods and holds out the glass. "There's one thing about this story that doesn't add up though."

"Only one?"

Eames finishes pouring and drops back against the pillows. "Cheeky. I just always assumed you'd be the one getting fucked."

Arthur rolls his eyes. "I would have thought you smarter than to make assumptions, Eames." He lets his voice harden but he isn’t angry, not really.

"Well, in all our sharing of exploitations you never... referenced otherwise."

Arthur shrugs, feeling a little uncomfortable, and takes a long gulp of wine. "I enjoy both. I just happen to do one more than the other."

Eames makes an 'mm' sound and Arthur looks over at him. He seems deep in thought for a second and then he’s back to grinning over the rim of his glass. "Well, you do have the arse for it, darling. At least these men you date aren't blind.”

Arthur laughs, feeling his face heat up, unwilling to look deeply at the cause. “No, they're either psychotic or plain boring."

Eames laughs again. Arthur's never heard him laugh this much. He looks over and notices they’re on their second bottle of wine. "You're calling someone boring? My god, does he even have a pulse?"

"Shut your face."

Eames waggles a finger at him. "Ah-ah-ah, be nice to your elders, Arthur."

"You have two years on me, asshole. Anyway, just because I don't like to fuck around on a job doesn't mean I'm boring."

The line wasn't really meant to imply anything about Eames' job ethics, Arthur thinks, vaguely. After the Fischer job he finally allowed himself to admit that for all of Eames' unprofessional conduct during reconnaissance, he was methodical once they went into a dream. It was actually an amazingly attractive trait and if Arthur's thought about it more than once since then, well, then he's thought about it, right?

“So this was your last date, then?” Eames asks.

“Ha. Um, no. Been seeing a guy for the past month or so.."

When Arthur trails off, Eames looks at him expectantly, waving his hand in a circular motion.

“Yesss? Elaborate.”

Arthur shrugs. “And he falls into the boring category.”

“But he does haves a pulse, right? This is an important factor.”

Arthur grins to himself and looks down. “Yes. Barely.” He runs his hand through his hair. “He’s just. Everything’s boring. The sex is boring. Like.. my god, just fuck me, dammit. It’s all so… stagnant.”

Eames is looking at Arthur, his face that of utter amusement. “Darling, you’re such a slag.”

Arthur throws a couch pillow at him he’d been using as an arm rest. “I just know what I want.
Arthur watches as Eames’ grin morphs into a harder line for a second, and then it’s gone just as quickly. “And that’s a nice, hard, long, thorough fuck, isn’t it?”

Arthur blames the wine for the heat creeping up his neck. “Maybe. Or maybe I just wanna fuck someone who won’t just lie there like a cold fish.”

Eames crinkles up his nose and Arthur can’t help but chuckle. “Anyway. I’m too buzzed for this, Eames.”

“On the contrary, darling. Being buzzed is the perfect way to have these conversations. Or have you forgotten?” Eames waggles his eyebrows and reaches for the wine bottle.

Arthur knows exactly what Eames is referring to. They had taken a few jobs together since the Fischer job and fell into a weird camaraderie. It came to a head after Eames took him to a dreamshare convention wherein there was far too much top shelf alcohol and far too many men from the community that it turned out both he and Eames had fucked.

“Can we just shut up and play cards?”

It’s going to be a long night.
_____________________________________________

They’re on their third bottle of wine and Arthur’s feeling loose and relaxed. He’s managed to hoist himself up onto the bed and is lying on his back while Eames walks back from the stereo. Soft music fills the room; the singer’s voice is melodic, almost muffled. The cards are long since abandoned. Eames was kicking his ass anyway, of course.

“Here’s what you need.”

“By all means, Eames, tell me.”

Eames takes another long sip of wine before placing his glass down. “I said it previously, but it bears repeating: what you need, dear Arthur,” he says, punctuating his words with a jab to Arthur’s chest, “is a face down, arse in the air, mind-bending, screaming shag.”

Arthur once again feels his face go hot while Eames’ words and the low rumble of his voice send an inconvenient jolt to his cock. By now he’s definitely more drunk than buzzed and he really shouldn’t be having this type of conversation under these conditions.

He looks up at Eames, whose smile is soft and friendly and he can’t help but blush and smile back sheepishly.

“Yeah... maybe.”

“Yeah?” Eames grins, kneading at his ribs with his knuckles. Arthur squirms away, elbowing him lightly.

“Maybe,” Arthur concedes.

Their eyes lock and something shifts imperceptibly. Arthur swallows, his mouth suddenly dry as he looks up into Eames’ still smiling blue-grey eyes.

Arthur has never made his sexuality a big deal -- it was there, whatever, and of course everyone knows about Eames, yet the conference had been the first time they’d actually been confronted about it, together, and it shifted something in their relationship. Arthur was always aware of Eames’ casual flirting in his direction but Eames never seriously made a move. Since Eames wasn’t the type of person to not take what he wanted, Arthur assumed it was just a means to an end for Eames, who had never in the past outright asked about Arthur’s sexual inclinations. Upon faced with the undeniable proof that Arthur was gay, Eames still didn’t proposition him and Arthur had learned years ago that whatever misguided crush he had on Eames in his 20s would best remain dormant. If the voice in his hand sounded far too much like Dom, so be it.

“Anyway,” Arthur says, shaking himself out of his thoughts and breaking the moment. He risks a glance at Eames, watches as he blinks and visibly deflates slightly. His mind reels at that for a moment but his brain is too fuzzy to ponder it seriously.

They sit in silence for a few moments until Arthur can’t take it anymore.

“What on earth are we listening to?”

It startles a laugh out of Eames. “Grizzly Bear. One of your American bands.”

“They’re not my band,” Arthur grumbles. It sounds all too Indie for him and frankly he’s surprised Eames likes them. He says as much.

Eames shrugs in response. “This bloke introduced me to them. He’s long gone but the band stuck.” He grins toothily.

Arthur pushes his shoulder, laughing. His hands linger a second longer than necessary, grazing just beneath the cuff of Eames’ T-shirt. His head feels heavy with something all too familiar around Eames: lust. He clears his throat.

“Anyway. So, how are things with... um.” He falters when Eames blinks at him, utterly confused. “Aren’t you seeing someone?”

Eames’ face scrunches up more. “Ugh, no... he. No.”

“No?” Arthur asks, surprised. Arthur is sure Eames had vaguely mentioned someone, some two-bit con artist that sounded like trouble even for Eames. He feels something like relief rush through him and steels himself against it.

“Bit of a cunt, he was,” Eames replies, looking at Arthur with a deathly serious expression.

They burst into laughter after a breath and Eames drops down onto his back.

Since their discovery of having shared certain chemists, architects and the like, they can discuss how so-and-so is an awful fuck and or what they think about this guy or that guy and ‘hey did you hear about this hot new extractor?’ They are suddenly friends rather than acquaintances who see each other only briefly and always enjoy a good jab at one another here and there. The jabs are still there, but they aren’t laced with malice anymore; to be honest, Arthur doesn’t think they ever were.

The laughter dies off and they fall quiet once more. There’s a good few inches between them on the bed but Arthur can practically feel the heat radiating off Eames’ body. The air is laced with something warm and thick and Arthur really hopes it’s just an effect of the alcohol.
He finds himself shifting only his eyes, trying to look at Eames inconspicuously. Eames looks...ponderous and Arthur wonders what on earth is going on in his brain. He doesn’t have to wonder long.

“I’m surprised that we haven’t.” His words are short, clipped, and fast, like he’s been rehearsing them in his head and he just wants them out and over with.

If Arthur were thinking clearly, he’d probably have figured out what Eames was talking about. Instead, he merely asks, “That we haven’t what?”

He turns his head to look at Eames, who just stares at him, pointedly. Arthur’s brain kick-starts into gear and he feels a sudden rush of adrenaline throughout his body. “Are you kidding me?” he says, shocked that they’re having this conversation – maybe he was saying those previous thoughts aloud? Maybe Eames was just having him on?

But then Eames blinks, and looks away, his expression unsure and slightly mollified and Arthur’s never really seen him look that way. “Ah, no. I’m not.” He laughs then, sardonically. “I... actually think it’s odd. That we never did.”

Arthur’s still trying to process this when Eames goes on. “I’ve slept with a ton of people in dreamshare, darling.”

Arthur covers his hands over his face. “Oh god, Eames, really? That’s your reasoning?”

“Hey now, and you have too. You slept with that extractor with the bad teeth, and that gorgeous African bloke and we both slept with that... oh god, the one... with the curved...”

Eames is leaning over him now. Arthur runs a hand through his hair, groaning. “Ugh, no. Don’t even mention... okay, you’ve made your point.”

Eames is close, his pupils wide and his eyes glassy. “Anyway, I think it would be... fun.”

“Fun,” Arthur intones, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes! It would be nice.”

Arthur barks out a laugh. “Oh, ‘nice’!” He gives Eames a skeptical look and is proud to note Eames’ cheeks are pinker than before.

“Ugh, not nice, Jesus, Arthur. But good... and sexy. And yes, I think that it would be fun,” Eames says, still smiling but his eyes are laced with intent now.

Arthur looks away, his heart racing. This is really happening he thinks. The promise of sex hangs heavily in the air between them.

“Excuse me for a second, I just want to grab my wine,” Eames says grandly, making a show of leaning across Arthur and brushing against him.

“Would you get off me.” Arthur pushes at him, but he’s still so relaxed and he’s finding Eames’ show of seduction ridiculously endearing.

Eames’ gaze doesn’t waver, however, and suddenly Arthur feels hot all over. Eames stares at him while raising his glass to his lips. Arthur considers him, seriously. Takes in the set of his jaw, the heat that’s now growing in his eyes. He can say no and leave now and deal with the awkwardness that can possibly be present tomorrow. Or he could stay, and take something he’s wanted for a while now - and deal with the awkwardness tomorrow.

When Eames’ tongue flicks against his bottom lip after taking a drink of wine, Arthur knows his decision has been made for him.
_____________________________________________

 

It starts in a blur of tongue and teeth and hands pulling at clothes. Arthur isn’t sure how he’s lost his jeans and shirt (although he’s pretty damn sure Eames popped a few buttons in his haste) but he’s suddenly pressed into the mattress, Eames hard and solid above him, kissing him deep and hard. Arthur arches into the contact, relishing in the stubble that grazes his cheek while they kiss. Eames is moaning, harsh small sounds against Arthur’s lips. They kiss, open mouthed and clumsy, again and again, holding each other close, searching each other’s eyes in between kisses and grinning.

“Fuck yeah,” Arthur breathes before kissing Eames harder. Eames breaks away, lifting Arthur’s arm and licking his armpit, kissing and growling. Arthur secretly loves when a guy pays attention to that spot – it’s animalistic and rare and it gets Arthur hot. Why he expected anything different from Eames, he’s not sure. Arthur presses his palm to Eames’ upper back, holding him steady and moaning out his enjoyment. Eames shifts to his left nipple. Arthur rests his right arm over his head and tilts his neck backward when Eames bites down, taking the entire hard nub between his teeth and pulling. Arthur gasps sharply and Eames looks up at him, not stopping.

“Is that okay?” he asks around the flesh between his teeth.

“Ohh. Yeah...” Arthur moans, closing his eyes as pleasure shoots from every nerve-ending. Eames slowly drags his denim-clad erection against the hardness beneath Arthur’s white briefs. The friction is delicious and Arthur thrashes beneath the feel of it mixed with the onslaught of teeth and tongue before pulling Eames closer, running his hands all along his back while Eames sucks hard at Arthur’s neck while the pleasure steadily becomes almost too much to handle. Arthur knew Eames would be good but right now he’s hitting every single one of Arthur’s buttons as if he received a crash course.

He needs a little control.

“I uh,” he starts, as Eames places biting kiss along the underside of his jaw. “I think I want to fuck you.”

Eames laughs against Arthur’s lips. “You think you want to fuck me?” he repeats, endlessly amused.

Arthur looks at him, attempting a scowl, but it quickly dies off into a giddy laughter between them both. “Yes.” He nips at Eames’ chin. “Is that okay?”

 

Eames takes Arthur’s cheeks in his hands. “Yes,” he says breathily, brushing their noses together. “Definitely.” They kiss again, Arthur pulling Eames’ lower lip between his own, moaning softly, while Eames continues to release low, groaning sounds that go straight to Arthur’s dick.

They manage to stop kissing long enough for Eames to stand up on the bed while Arthur attempts to pull off his pants on leg at a time. It’s ridiculous and filled with raucous laughter and Arthur vaguely wonders if they’d be this carefree and reckless if they weren’t drunk. Eames nearly falls over twice, using Arthur’s head for balance. Arthur finally tosses the jeans to the floor and when he turns back is struck with the realization that he’s eye-level with Eames’ crotch.

He stares at his ridiculous red and black stripped boxer briefs with something akin to wonder. Eames runs his thumb down the center of Arthur’s forehead and over his nose before slipping it down across his lips. Arthur opens for him immediately, sucking the pad of his thumb between his teeth and delighting in Eames’ sharp intake of breath. Eames drags hand across Arthur’s cheek, caressing his face and it feels… it must be the alcohol because it feels far too tender.
Arthur leans forward, kissing Eames’ inner thigh while Eames’ fingers dance in his hair, loosing the strands that are still slick back from earlier in the evening. He rubs the flat of his palm all over Arthur’s head, making a mess of his hair and Arthur can’t even bring himself to mind, not when he’s touching his tongue to Eames’ balls, running his tongue over their cloth-covered shape before slowly sliding up to mouth the outline of Eames’ erection. He keeps his eyes trained on Eames, looking up at him beneath a cluster of eyelashes. Eames’ mouth is slack-jawed and his eyes are dark.

“Christ,” he moans while Arthur licks slowly up his cock, never breaking his gaze until he closes his lips over the head of Eames’ cock through the fabric, sucking and licking while Eames grunts above him. Arthur works his way lower, licking and nipping at Eames’ balls until Eames gasps above him and a hand reaches out to touch Arthur’s chin, giving him pause. Arthur looks up. “They’re sensitive,” Eames says, a little sheepish. Arthur just stares at him. Something about that moment, about realizing that he’s learning Eames, learning his body, his likes and dislikes, feels significant. He nods a little and decides there has been enough preamble. He grips the waistband of Eames’ briefs and tugs the material down slowly, so slow. When Eames’ cock is freed from its confines it nearly hits Arthur in the face. Arthur smirks up at Eames before licking the underside up to the head and swallowing him down halfway.

“Oh, fuck,” Eames immediately groans, his hands coming to rest on the underside of Arthur’s jaw. Arthur sucks him faster, deeper, allowing Eames to fuck his mouth, maneuvering Arthur closer with a hand curled beneath his chin while his hips snap forward. Arthur sucks him down to the root. Eames is thick and wide and while not huge he’s still slightly larger than average. The twist of Eames’ hips makes Arthur want to experience that in other ways, a sudden image of Eames fucking him playing behind his eyes.

Eames moans and sighs and Arthur drinks up each and every syllable while working him over, giving him the best he has to offer. Eames pulls him off and looks down at Arthur, mouth hanging open, apparently speechless. It’s a good look. Arthur gazes up at him, smugly and shamelessly removes a hair from his tongue. Eames laughs shakily and drags him up by his shoulders. They tumble backwards onto the bed, kissing and biting and wrestling. Eames attempts to pin Arthur down onto his back while Arthur squirms out of his reach.

“Now, now, you know I’ve always been stronger than you. Think back to the army, love.”

“Not true,” Arthur bites out, breathless, pushing at Eames with all his weight.

“That has always been true,” Eames laughs, locking his legs around Arthur’s head. Arthur laughs loudly and pinches Eames on the ass before breaking free and climbing over him. They fall into each other, kissing again.

They break away and Arthur swipes at Eames chin. “Mm. You have a fuzzy.”

“A what?”

“Let me get it,” Arthur removes it, then blows it off his hand. Eames is looking up at him, a smile in his eyes, before taking his lips again in a slow kiss. Arthur melts into the touch, resting his weight on top of Eames.

Eames’ hand glides down Arthur’s ass, distracting Arthur enough that Eames flips him over easily, up and onto his belly, twisting Arthur’s arms behind his back. “Got you,” he whispers in Arthur’s ear and Arthur just groans, partly at Eames’ one-upmanship and partly at the feel of that tongue against his ear and that body looming tantalizingly over him. Reading his thoughts, Eames growls loudly and bites at Arthur’s ear. It’s completely self-aware and cheesy and if this were anyone else Arthur would probably say, ‘what are you, a fucking werewolf?’ but this is Eames and he’s kissing his way down Arthur’s neck and back before settling near his ass and parting the cheeks.

Arthur lets out a long shuddering breath at the first swipe of Eames’ tongue, quick and teasing. He goes on that way for a few seconds and Arthur mewls low in his throat. That must do the trick because Eames pulls him apart wider and dives right in, fucking Arthur with his tongue in quick, sharp thrusts. Arthur spreads his legs wider and gasps at the feel of a slick finger easing its way inside. Arthur hears the slick slide of what is probably Eames working his own cock while while fingering Arthur’s ass and the thought makes him even hotter. Arthur runs his hands through his hair, burrowing down closer against the comforter, grinding his cock against it, losing himself in the friction and Eames’ clever fingers and his tongue dancing around them.

Then everything’s gone in an instant and Arthur nearly moans the loss until Eames is plastered against his back, kissing his shoulder blades and tugging on his earlobe.

“I’d really, really love to fuck you,” Eames says, his voice ragged.

He can’t even get upset that Eames is changing up the game plan... not when Eames’ cock is snug against his ass and Eames’ voice is hot against his ear.

“Okay.”

Eames stills behind him, as if he didn’t expect an answer, as if the comment was meant to be serious. “You sure? I’m fine bottoming...”

He tips his head back against Eames’ shoulder. “No. I want you to.”

“Okay,” Eames says, voice happy and light once more as he peppers kisses all along Arthur’s shoulders.

Eames clambers off the bed murmuring, “Supplies, back in a jiff.”

Arthur sits up and cracks his neck before crawling up toward the pillows. Eames walks back in from the bathroom, making a show of waggling his junk. Arthur shakes his head in amusement and strokes his cock firmly, giving Eames a show of his own.

It must work as Eames fumbles with the condom, and then shakes his head at himself.

Eames drops down onto the mattress, his hands already greased with lube. Arthur sighs at the touch of a slick hand to his cock. They kiss, side by side, slow and unhurried. Arthur spreads his legs and moans when Eames presses slick fingers inside him, first one, and then a second easily, still loose from before. It takes a little effort for three but before long Arthur is moaning while Eames kisses down his chest and bends forward to kiss the head of his cock. It’s so damn intimate that Arthur’s head is swimming, because this is Eames, Eames kissing him long and slow, Eames’ fingers inside him and god, he’s thought about it before but even his wildest fantasies couldn’t conjure up how it would actually feel.

“Mm. How do you want it?” Eames is saying, three fingers sliding easily in and out of Arthur, curving just so to make Arthur clamp down around him.

“However,” he gasps, unable to process rational thought right now.

“Hold onto the headboard, then.”

Arthur nods and they begin shifting. Eames settles back on his thighs between Arthur’s spread legs. Arthur holds the headboard while Eames positions himself, running a hand soothingly down Arthur’s spine.

“Ready for me?”

“Do it,” Arthur grits out. Eames kisses his spine before entering him slowly. Arthur moans and breathes out, opening himself to Eames. Eames keeps stroking one hand down his spine, murmuring words Arthur can’t quite hear. He dimly notices that damn CD is still playing.

Once Eames is all the way in Arthur has to bite his lip as not to come. There’s been too much teasing so far and he’s ready to pop, he knows it. He’s grateful that Eames doesn’t reach around to stroke his cock. Instead, he pushes himself forward, pulling halfway off of Eames before gliding back down, fucking himself on Eames’ cock.

“Oh my god,” Eames cries out and holds Arthur by the hips, not thrusting forward, just letting Arthur ride him.

He listens for Eames’ moans, how they grow with each slide of his ass onto his cock, until Eames grips Arthur hips and thrusts forward, knocking Arthur more firmly onto his knees. Eames fucks him hard and fast, pausing when he’s so deep inside of Arthur and letting Arthur screw himself down even tighter.

“Oh fuck,” Arthur groans.

“Feels so good,” Eames murmurs against Arthur’s cheek, lips sliding across his skin.

“Yeah,” Arthur breathes out, hair sticking to forehead, sweat dampening his skin. Eames is no better – slick with moisture, the scent of sweat and musk heavy in the air. Arthur tilts his head back against Eames’ shoulder while Eames fucks him with short, shallow thrusts.

“How you doin’?” he whispers in Arthur’s ear.

“Good,” Arthur replies, grasping at Eames’ thigh and pulling him closer.

“You want more?” he says, voice low but still a little teasing around the edges.

“Yeah," Arthur whispers, because now isn’t the time to call Eames on his smugness. He’s not wrong anyway.

Eames pulls Arthur backward against him so they’re falling down, facing the head of the bed. Eames slips out while they rearrange themselves but it isn’t long before he’s back inside, fucking Arthur on their sides, holding Arthur’s leg in the air, fingers firm under Arthur’s knee.

They watch each other, eyes lidded until Arthur pulls him forward roughly by the back of the head, stealing his lips in a hard kiss. Eames moans against his lips.

“Faster,” Arthur says, voice barely audible.

“Okay,” Eames replies, just as breathless, and snaps his hips faster; their faces close, breathing one another in.

Arthur lets his head fall backward and works his cock while Eames slams into him as hard as he can at this angle. His eyes drift from open to close but anytime he focuses he sees Eames watching him, expression unreadable.

Eames leans in close again, tilting his head to one side and making like he’s about to kiss Arthur, but doesn’t touch his lips, just tilts his head to the other side, teasing him until finally sealing their lips together, ‘mm’ing’ as their mouths connect and sucking Arthur’s lower lip between his own.

Eames pulls back; his hips snapping harder while Arthur pulls at his cock roughly, knowing it’s approaching and soon.

“This is so bloody good,” says Eames, a smile still on his lips but also something akin to surprise.

“Oh yeah,” Arthur moans, biting his lower lip and screwing his eyes shut. “Oh, I’m close.”

“Yeah?”

“Mm, yeah.”

“Okay,” Eames says and lifts his leg a little higher, fucking deeper into Arthur’s body. Arthur clenches down around Eames’ cock while his fist flies furiously over his own. Arthur’s body lurches upward, feeling it at the base of his spine and balls until it’s there, rushing over him.

“Oh. Oh, fuckkkk,” he moans, guttural, and comes in thick spurts all over his stomach while Eames drives into him, harder and faster.

Eames follows him not even a second later with his own harsh cry and wild, sporadic movements while Arthur tries to milk his cock, make it as good as he can.

Eames starts laughing almost immediately as his moans trail off. “We didn’t go very long.” His voice is light and lilting.

“Fuck off,” Arthur says, without malice, unable to help the grin that spreads across his face, pleasure still thrumming throughout his body.

“Mmm, gonna pull out, okay?"

Arthur grunts in response, sighing when Eames slips free. He rests his head back and feels movement on the bed, probably Eames disposing of the condom. After a few moments there’s a slick hand sliding up his chest, brushing lightly at the hair, while Eames kisses him low and deep and slow. Arthur sighs into the kiss, feeling languid and more satisfied than he has in a long time. Normally, he’d be out of bed by now to clean up or at least making his partner grab a towel but he can’t bring himself to move. They lie side by side, panting, Arthur’s arm resting loosely behind Eames’ neck, stroking his shoulder absently all while sneaking little glances at one another, which seem to say ‘yeah, we just did that.’

They must fall asleep because the next thing Arthur knows he’s resting his head on Eames’ shoulder and Eames’ phone is going off, waking them both.

“Mmph, not gonna get that,” Eames mumbles, voice thick with sleep.

Arthur smiles a little to himself and lets his hand slip across Eames’ chest. The phone keeps ringing and then Arthur’s being jostled by movement. “I am, actually. Sorry. Be back.”
Arthur lies back down and listens as Eames answers. “Hello. Hi. No, nothing... just... hanging out with a mate. Yeah. Alright, that sounds good. Ta.”

Arthur knows it shouldn’t bother him. After all, they’re friends and Arthur’s answered the phone the same way a number of times while he was out somewhere with Eames but – it does. Maybe it was the implied ‘I’m not doing anything.’ And Arthur knows he’s being foolish. It’s not like he expected Eames to say, ‘I just finished having sex,’ but at the same time, it felt dismissive.

Arthur’s sitting up when Eames returns.

“Bloke. Wanted to have a drink.”

He feels something sharp in his stomach. “Ah. Well, I’ll let you get ready,” he says, already moving off the bed. Eames grabs his wrist.

“Nah, I said tomorrow. You can stay.”

Arthur looks at his clothes strewn all over the floor. The clock reads 12:14a.m. “I should go. We are working a job after all.”

Eames strokes his wrist lightly. “Ah, I forgot. All work and no play.”

Arthur turns to him. “What do you call this then?"

Eames eyes him, eyes flickering with something Arthur can’t define. “Definitely wasn’t work.”
Arthur smiles against his will and moves out of Eames’ grasp. He cleans up quickly in the bathroom and throws on his clothes while Eames watches lazily from the bed.

“Don’t oversleep tomorrow.”

“I’ll be there with bells on, love.”

Arthur pauses at the foot of the bed, suddenly unsure of his next move. Eames doesn’t seem to have any intent of getting up and Arthur doesn’t feel like leaning down and kissing him goodbye like Eames is some gangster moll he just fucked and he’s now running off.

Eames decides for him, lifting himself onto his knees and tugging Arthur down by the back of his neck, kissing him rough and deep.

“Night,” he murmurs.

“Yeah. Goodnight.”

Arthur leaves Eames’ hotel, his body feeling incredible but his mind already fearing what tomorrow may bring.
______________________________________

The next morning, Arthur’s standing at the table they have set up for breakfast (it was his turn to buy) when Eames walks up next to him.

“Hello,” Eames says while Arthur’s buttering a bagel.

Arthur gives him a sidelong glance. “Hey.”

He watches as Eames fondles a few croissants before choosing one. “So. Last night, then.”

“Mmm,” says Arthur, intently staring at his bagel. He vaguely hoped he wouldn’t remember every scorching detail but it turns out his days of alcohol induced memory-loss have long since passed. Arthur awoke to a sore ass, finger and teeth marks on his torso and shoulders and came so hard in the shower this morning upon replaying the evening over in his head. Last night then, indeed.

Eames reaches over him for a knife, brushing Arthur’s forearm with his fingers. “Was bloody brilliant, if I do say so myself.”

Arthur allows a secret smile, eyes downcast toward the table. “Yeah, it was.”

He sneaks a sidelong glance at Eames, watches as his eyes widen slightly in exaggerated surprise. “You’re agreeing then? And here I thought I was in for an ‘It was passable, Eames’.”

“We aren’t talking about one of your forgeries,” he deadpans.

Eames clutches his hands to his heart. “Oy. You wound me, Arthur. I’d remove the dagger but it would be a shame to bleed out over this lovely display.”

Arthur gives him the finger cheerfully and pours himself a glass of orange juice.

A second later Eames leans in close, whispering against his ear. “You look delectable when you come.”

Arthur nearly drops the carafe. He tilts away from Eames, even though the heat rushing through his body makes him want to press against Eames and fit their mouths together.

“See, this is why we never did this before,” Arthur hisses. “You can’t control yourself.”

Eames moves back in. “Come ‘round tonight and I’ll show you just how true that is.”

Arthur’s cock twitches at the words and part of him wants nothing more than to do just that, except..

“I can’t. I.. have a date.”

Eames snorts. “With the arse?”

“He’s not an ass.”

“He’s boring, Arthur. You said so yourself.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t make him--”

“Boring in bed.”

Arthur sighs and turns to face Eames, then looks around to make sure no one has been listening; he lowers his voice anyway. “We’re just adjusting to one another. Chemistry takes time.”

Eames arches his eyebrows. Arthur hears the silent didn’t take all that long last night as if it’d been spoken aloud.

He grabs a plate and a napkin. “Look, I’m on the clock now. So are you,” he finishes, pointedly. And then remembers.. “And don’t you have plans already anyway?” He vaguely wonders if it’s a fuck buddy situation like...

No.

Eames shrugs, absently. “Not written in stone.”

That makes Arthur feel worse. “Yeah, well.” He waves at their surroundings and wanders over to his lawn chair to eat his breakfast in peace.

He thinks about canceling his date at least five times throughout the day and loses himself more than once in the memory of Eames inside him.

When their eyes meet on occasion througout the day there’s heat in Eames’ as well, as if he’s remembering the same thing.

Arthur’s never felt more frazzled or unfocused on a job before, even during the on-the-run-with-Cobb days.

This can’t happen again, he decides, resolutely.

Even his own subconscious laughs at him.
_____________________________________

Kevin is boring, that much is true. He even has a boring name, although ‘Arthur’ doesn’t exactly win any ‘cool name of the year’ awards. Nevertheless, Kevin has reddish-blond hair, is about two inches shorter than Arthur, and has an average body with no real muscle to speak of. The job they’re working is barely 45 minutes from Arthur’s L.A. apartment so there is no reason for him to get a hotel. He changes into something less stringent than his work clothes and heads the 15 minutes to Kevin’s place where he’s been informed a home cooked meal is waiting for him. Arthur would rather go to a restaurant but he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful.

The dinner is terrible. Some kind of odd meat concoction that Arthur wants no part of. He chokes it down and kisses Kevin over their wine glasses, ready to move to the next stage of the evening – anything better than listening to him drone on about lighting fixtures and conduit. Arthur’s not sure why Kevin isn’t built. He’s always complaining how much he lugged around during the day...

They kiss in the kitchen, and then move to the couch. It’s clumsy, like it always is, like their mouths just don’t fit together. Arthur sighs against his lips, feeling no spark, no excitement. Nevertheless, they mess around and he gets hard, mostly thinking about Eames’ hands on him last night, the way he kissed, the way he fucked. Arthur finds himself coming pretty damn hard in Kevin’s mouth, screaming through his orgasm and he feels horrible when Kevin comments afterward how hot Arthur was for it tonight.

Standing at the door, he can't keep up the charade any longer and ends things. He says it’s because of his job and how busy he is and how much travelling he’ll be doing soon. Kevin tries to argue at first, but Arthur doesn’t waver.

“Well, it was a fun month, anyway. Not like we were in love with each, right?”

Definitely not, Arthur thinks and loves how practical men can be sometimes.

They part on surprisingly good terms and Arthur’s glad he didn’t have to fess up to the real reasons behind his decision. It was a chicken-shit move, but he figures he’s brave enough in his profession that he can afford to be a coward sometimes.
_____________________________________

By 9:15pm he’s back in his apartment. He grabs a beer, flips on the football game and tries not to replay last night over in his mind for the 100th time. By 10pm, he decides to take a shower. As he’s drying his hair he hears London Calling from the other room.

Arthur crosses to his cell phone and considers not answering. Eames thinks he’s on a date, shouldn’t even be calling. At the last minute, he picks up.

“Arthur? Didn’t expect to reach you, was planning on leaving a message.”

“Well, you did. What’s up?”

“Just wanted to see how it went with the dullard.”

He flops onto the bed, wearing only a towel around his waist.

“Why are you so interested? Didn’t you have plans of your own?”

“Nah, he chose getting fucked over getting a drink and since he knows I won’t touch him with a ten foot pole, he made a wise choice.”

Arthur hummed, refusing to acknowledge his internal reaction to this statement.

“So, you home then? How was it?”

“It was fine, Eames. He uh, had a work emergency.” He’s not sure why he lies.

“Huh. Then I guess you’re free.”

Arthur rolls his eyes, even though his hand begins to wander over his nipples. “Free for what?”

“Coyness does not become you,” Eames says, then adds, “you know what,” his voice a sudden, low rumble; flirty.

Arthur hums again, tweaking his nipple between his thumb and forefinger.

“Come over?” Eames asks, and his voice sounds slightly unsure.

Arthur stretches his legs out a little wider, slouching against the pillows. “I don’t know, Eames, I’m pretty comfortable.”

Eames groans. “You’re a bloody tease is what you are. Does this guy know what a tease you are?”

Arthur switches his phone to his left hand so he can drag his right down his body, which is suddenly ignited with need for no real reason whatsoever except the sound of Eames’ voice and promise of what could happen.

Arthur’s suddenly not in the mood to keep up a charade. “He didn’t have a work emergency.”

“Really,” Eames replies, feigning shock.

“I dumped his boring ass.”

“Took you long enough. You’re a loose canon in the bedroom, Arthur. You need someone who can work you over proper.”

Arthur’s cock twitches painfully at the low register of Eames’ voice, the catch of breath he can hear on the other end of the line. “Mmm. And how would this person do that? Your lack of specificity continues to be one of your worst traits.”

“Ever the charmer, Arthur. And I’ll give you your damn specificity, just you watch.”

Arthur skims his hand over his cock, now hard and wanting, and breathes, “I dare you.”

A pause, then, “Are you in bed?”

Arthur’s heart kick-starts into gear. “Yes.”

“Are you hard?”

I have been since hearing your fucking voice, he wants to say, but bites his lip before that minor confession can escape. “Yeah...”

“Touch yourself,” says Eames and it’s more of command, voice roughened with arousal, a tone Arthur is shockingly acquainted with now.

He reaches down to the towel, letting it fall open before sliding his hand down and grasping his cock. It practically leaps in his hand.

He raises his palm to his mouth and licks before once again wrapping his fingers around his length.

“Thinking of me?” Eames’ voice is gravelly and slightly amused. Arthur grits his teeth.

“Redundancy doesn’t become you, Mr. Eames. You’re practically fucking my ear, naturally I’m thinking of you.”

“Would rather fuck your arse...”

The words, blatant and dirty, hit him like a punch to the chest. Are we seriously doing this? thinks Arthur. “Jesus, Eames...”

“Nggh, call me mister again. You know you want to.” Arthur can practically hear the eyebrow waggle.

“You’re sick,” he says, voice flat and monotone. “Really, you have serious problems.” Yet he trails his fingers over his face, smiling against his fingertips, and feels his dimples treacherously take shape.

“Come now, Arthur, don’t tell me you’re vanilla.” Eames says this like it’s the world’s utmost offense. Arthur can’t even tell if he’s joking anymore.

“I engage in gay sex. The very nature of my sexual proclivities defies the definition of vanilla.”

Eames huffs through the phone. “There’s far too much coherency in this conversation.”

“So why don’t you do something---” Arthur starts, suddenly irritable, his hand stilling at the base of his cock where he’d been working up a nice, teasing stroke.

Eames cuts him off. “I’m wanking off, fist tight around my cock, wishing it was your arse.”

Arthur’s glad his cell phone has been cradled against his shoulder because he’s sure he would have dropped it. Heat pools behind his eyes and he literally can’t speak. This is not conducive to phone sex. Arthur’s immediately regretting not going over to Eames’ hotel. He stupidly forgot to factor in the combination of Eames’ accent plus the utterance of filth and worst of all, his required response.

“Oh bloody hell, stop thinkin. I can hear you from here,” Eames sighs but there’s affection laced in his tone and that’s even worse. “Tell me what you’re doing.”

Arthur blinks rapidly and clears his head. “Stroking myself.” And he starts to; long, sure strokes up to the head, thumbing it and biting his lip as a drop of fluid touches his skin.

“Yeah,” Eames moans, thick and deep in his throat, like he has to fight for words to escape; it goes straight to Arthur’s dick. “Are you starkers?”

“If that means naked, yes.”

“Bastard. Tilt your head back. God, I can see you, biting your lip, throat exposed. Is your hair slick back?”

Arthur obeys, grabbing the phone with his left hand. “No. I took a shower.”

“Mm. Still kinda wet then, I bet... Wanna run my hands through it... pull on it while I bite your neck.”

Arthur’s lungs have lost the capacity for air, it seems. The noise he emits is a breathless whine.

“Christ,” breathes Eames. Arthur can hear shuffling on the other end of the line and a slapping sound. “Wank yourself... fuck up into your hand. Shite, I want you to ride me, want to watch you on top of me, sinking down onto my cock. That perfect arse, so damn tight.”

“Oh fuck,” Arthur cries out, snapping his hips up and fucking his fist wildly, rubbing the head frantically, all thoughts of finesse gone.

“Have you been thinking about it? The way I felt inside you?Fuck, you felt good.”

And shit, he has, of course he has. And he can’t be responsible, can’t be expected to quell his words now. “You know I have.”

Eames just groans. “Wanna make you come again. Told you this already, but you look delectable when you come. Do you wanna come for me, Arthur? Oh my...Jesus, fuuuuck...”

“Yeah,” Arthur’s panting, chest heaving. “Yeah, make me come.”

Eames is breathing shallowly now, and Arthur can hear the sounds grow louder. “Gonna run my hands all over you, watch you. Oh, screw yourself down on me, thinking you’re controlling it until I... shite, until I throw my leg over you, knocking you over till you’re on your back and I fuck you hard, the way you like it. Shite, tell me you like it.”

Arthur can barely see anymore, gaze hazy with lust. His palm is sweaty and unsteady where it holds the phone to his ear and his thighs are clenching. He draws the balls of his feet up on the bed, bending his legs at the knee and fucks his hand in earnest, every syllable of Eames’ words like a hot mouth on his cock. “I’m gonna... oh my god...”

“Me too... come for me, let me hear you.”

Arthur lets out a loud cry, not even attempting to hold back, white heat exploding at the base of his spine. He thrusts up until he has nothing left in him, hot ribbons of come marking his hand and stomach. He hears Eames’ answering sobs and wishes he was there to see it. Eames is panting and swearing and the best part is Arthur knows exactly what he looks like right now.

They’re silent for a few moments and Arthur can hear the bed squeak as Eames gets up. He’s reaching for his tissues on the bedside table when Eames says, “Come over.” This time it’s not a request.

“Gimme a half hour,” he says, without thinking and hangs up.
_____________________________________

When Arthur arrives at Eames’ door, his face feels hot, a combination of his recent orgasm and feeling somewhat nervous and fluttery. It’s just casual sex, he reminds himself, and he can totally do that – but at the same time it’s Eames, it’s Eames behind this door and they have a history and Arthur..

Eames opens it then, his eyes flashing as he looks Arthur up and down. He’s naked from the waist up, his hair is wet, and his sweatpants are hanging low on his hips. Arthur swallows thickly, his mind stuck on the fact that Eames is freshly showered, his hair hanging loosely across his forehead. Arthur doesn’t even think, just shoves his hand in Eames’ hair and pushes himself into the hotel room, kicking the door closed with his foot and dragging Eames against him as they slam into the door. Eames’ hands immediately drop to Arthur’s waist, bringing their torsos together while he kisses Arthur open-mouthed and filthy like he’s starving for it.

“Oh fuck,” Arthur moans against Eames’ lips.

“Tell me why we haven’t done this before?” Eames breathes raggedly against Arthur’s cheek, nipping at his jaw.

Arthur knows there must have been a reason, something glaring obvious that his lust addled mind simply can’t compute at the moment but all he can groan out is, “No fucking clue.”

Eames slides his palms beneath Arthur’s ass and lifts one of Arthur’s legs to hook around his thigh.

“You want to fuck me this time?” he asks, dragging his teeth down Arthur’s neck. “Didn’t give you a proper chance last night...”

Arthur shivers at the thought, angling his hips upward and letting Eames feel the hardness straining against his zip. He can't believe he's hard again already so quickly, the third time in the span of three hours or so.

“Can I take a raincheck? Since earlier I’ve been thinking of nothing else than riding your dick.”

Arthur feels Eames’ cock twitch between their bodies. “Uh, yes. I have no objections to this.”

They stumble toward the bed, Arthur pushing down Eames’ pants so quickly he nearly falls over. They laugh into each other’s mouths. Eames jerks Arthur forward by the waist band of his jeans and bites at his lips roughly. Fuck, that’s hot, Arthur thinks, sliding their mouths together. They fall onto the bed, Arthur running his hands over Eames’ bare ass while Eames lifts Arthur’s shirt over his head and starts removing his boxers.

Arthur can’t stop touching Eames’ ass, his back, the breadth of his shoulders. “Incredible,” he mumbles into juncture of Eames’ neck.

Eames responds by pulling Arthur closer, their legs hooking over one another’s, bodies pressed tightly together. Arthur licks his palm, sliding it between their bodies.

“Fuck, Arthur,” Eames groans at the touch. “I need to be inside you.”

Arthur’s sweaty and flush and wants nothing else. He rolls them over, settling onto Eames’ thighs.

“Where’s the stuff?” he asks, dragging unsteady fingers through his hair.

Arthur stares down at Eames, watches his chest rise and fall, watches Eames slowly run his fingertips over Arthur’s ribcage and over his nipples. “Bedside table.”

Arthur reaches over while Eames sits up a little, taking Arthur’s nipple into his mouth and sucking hard.

Arthur moans, grabs the lube, and tears off a condom from the strip. Eames has moved to his other nipple, licking and biting, while Arthur rolls the condom onto Eames, and then slicks him up. Eames reaches for Arthur’s erection, jerking him roughly before taking the tube from Arthur’s hands, hurriedly coating his fingers. Arthur settles on his knees, straddling Eames’ thighs while Eames reaches behind, pressing his finger against his hole.

“Now,” Arthur breathes, sucking on Eames’ neck. Eames jerks his head up and then they’re kissing again. Eames slips a finger inside, and Arthur sighs. He’s still a little sore, but it’s a good kind, and Arthur can’t wait for more. They kiss, mouths open and sloppy. Eames soon has three fingers inside him and he’s holding Arthur by the small of his back, their cocks sliding together.

“Ready to sink down on me, love?” Eames says, mouth hot against Arthur’s ear.

“What do you think?” Arthur moans, nipping at Eames’ chin.

He rises up, grips the base of Eames’ cock and slides down slowly, eyes falling shut at the sensation.

“Fuck, Eames,” he gasps, unable to help it. Their eyes lock, Eames’ darker than usual. His cheeks are slightly red and already wet hair now a mix of water and sweat. Arthur wants to destroy him.

Once fully seated, Eames grips his hips firmly and starts to move Arthur back and forth, then attacks his lips again.

“This alright?” he mumbles against Arthur’s mouth.

“Yeah. Feels fucking great,” Arthur whispers.

“Wanna do everything to you,” Eames groans against Arthur’s cheek, while Arthur’s mouth works, trying to kiss any bit he can reach. He nips at Eames’ jaw, his chin, his Adam’s apple.

Arthur rolls his hips in slow circles, causing Eames to bite down hard on his lower lip, sucking it between his teeth. He lifts Arthur up half way and Arthur takes it from there, slamming back down hard. They groan in unison, Arthur rising and falling steadily on Eames’ dick now, while Eames starts stroking Arthur’s cock. Their movements soon grow frenzied, rhythm faltering as Eames starts pumping his hips upward while Arthur grinds down. Arthur comes hard with a sharp cry, Eames’ fingers squeezing the head of his cock and Eames’ mouth licking a line up his neck, slow and torturous.

“Oh shite, Arthur, I’m..”

Arthur tightens down around him and Eames pulls back, staring at Arthur’ slack mouth, eyes wide with something akin to surprise until Arthur feels him shake and come inside him.

Eames’ hips jerk upward a few more times, his damp hands running all over Arthur’s shoulders. Arthur slumps against him and they fall backward, Eames slipping out as they go. Arthur moans softly while Eames just tugs him closer, ignoring the condom hanging off his dick.

They lay breathing heavily for long moments. Eames licks lazily at Arthur’s shoulder blade while Arthur presses his nose against Eames’ neck.

“Alright, scoot,” Eames says after another moment. Arthur grumbles but rolls off Eames. Eames grins down at him, his smile so soft and sated it catches Arthur off guard for a moment.

Eames climbs off the bed and Arthur listens as he moves to bathroom.

“Bring me a towel,” he calls, looking down at the mess on his stomach.

“Righto.”

“And a bottle of water!” Arthur yells back.

Eames emerges from the bathroom and throws a hand towel at Arthur. “Oy. Demanding bastard, aren’t you?” But he’s heading to the mini-fridge in the corner of the room.

“I just gave you my ass. The least you can give me is water.”

Eames laughs and Arthur watches the curve of his ass and the backs of massive thighs as he bends over.

“I prefer to think of it as ‘me giving you my cock’ and you being eternally grateful,” he says dryly, tumbling ungraciously onto the bed and handing a water bottle to Arthur.

“In your dreams,” Arthur snorts.

“Mm, that can be arranged, actually.”

Arthur rolls his eyes and takes a sip of water. They lie, naked, and lapse into conversation about their current job and the team they’re working with.

“Jules is pretty fit, huh?” Eames says eventually.

He’s referring to their current architect. Arthur hates that the words now make his chest burn.

“Guess so. Why, do you wanna hit that?”

“Is that what they’re saying these days?” Eames grins, biting his way along Arthur’s arm.

Arthur squirms against him. “You sound like you’re 50, Eames. Yes, people generally say ‘hit that or ‘tap that ass’. The general populace does not say ‘shag’ or ‘cop off’ or any of your other language oddities.”

“You can be quite the bitch, Arthur,” Eames intones, but his smile hasn’t faded once. He’s lying on his belly now, perpendicular to Arthur, his head resting against Arthur’s ribcage.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

Eames’ smile widens, baring his teeth. “Are you jealous?” his voice is incredulous and Arthur hopes Eames can’t see the heat rushing to his face. It’s pathetic, is what it is. He’s handled casual sex fine in the past. There’s no reason Eames exclaiming someone is hot should suddenly make him jealous when he’s schooled himself to be okay with it for quite sometime now. They’ve talked in-depth about past and present relationships and if Arthur ever felt a tad wistful, that was one thing, but blind jealousy is something else. The mere act of fucking shouldn’t lead him to these feelings.

“Jealous, my ass,” Arthur replies, convincingly enough. Something flickers in Eames’ gaze but it’s gone before Arthur can analyze it.

“Was just saying he’s not bad, is all. Eye candy is always appreciated."

They're silent for a moment, and then Eames continues. "You’ve shagged co-workers on the job before, yes? I can’t be the first, even with your air of rules and regulations.”

“Course I have,” Arthur says, which isn’t exactly the truth. He’s flirted some but he’s never actually done it on the job, preferring to wait until it was complete. It’s easier that way, less messy, especially if he’s just looking for a one or two night dalliance. What he’s doing right now with Eames is far beyond Arthur’s comfort zone, in more ways than one.

“You ever fuck Dom?”

If Arthur were drinking something, he would have spit it out. “Eames!”

Eames blinks up at him with innocent eyes. “What?”

“No! He’s straight, my god.”

“So? Don’t tell me you’ve never pulled a straight bloke.”

Arthur swats at Eames’ hand as it begins tickling around his belly button. “Stop that. And no, I haven’t. I don’t express interest where it isn’t welcome. Learned that much in the Army.”

Eames’ fingers still and he cuts his gaze quickly to Arthur, his eyes suddenly serious. “Did something happen to you?”

Arthur’s not sure why he brought it up; wasn’t really thinking, to be honest.

“No, nothing like whatever it is you’re thinking. Eyes wander sometimes, you know? You can’t help it. One day I guess I looked a little too long and this guy slammed me against a locker and told me I should keep my 'fag eyes' to myself. Just what are fag eyes, anyway?”

Eames barks out a startled laugh but his face is still hard, almost angry. “Was this before or after I got there?”

Arthur’s eyebrows knit together, unclear on the relevance. “I don’t know? Before, I think. What does it even matter?”

Eames hoists himself up and covers Arthur’s body with his own. Arthur groans at the feel of Eames’ bulk, nearly sighing when Eames traces his strong hands up and down Arthur’s arms and over his shoulders.

“Because if I were there, I would have kicked his bloody arse.”

Arthur dips his fingers into the small of Eames’ back, pressing hard. “Please. You were far too focused on killing me again and again in test runs.”

Eames ducks his head, biting softly at Arthur’s neck. “What can I say, had to service the Queen, yeah?”

Arthur squeezes Eames’ ass beneath his palms, flicking his tongue against his earlobe. “Bet you’ve serviced many a queen in your day.”

Eames dissolves into helpless laughter and Arthur soon follows, as they tackle one another, rolling and tickling and kissing. It’s fun, and carefree and good. He lands on top of Eames, breathing heavy, and leans into the touch when Eames cards his fingers through Arthur’s hair, their eyes meeting.

“We should keep on with this,” Eames says, voice laced with exertion.

“What?”

He removes a hand from Arthur’s hair to gesture between them. “This. We get on well; the sex is fantastic, there’s no drama, no complications. Why not?”

Arthur squints down at him. “Is this your suave way of asking me to be your booty call?"

Eames nips at his lower lip sharply. “Do you need candlelight and flowers?”

Eventually, an unbidden voice sounds in his head. He shakes it off and kisses Eames, figuring that’s answer enough.

______________________________________

No longer lost in a haze of arousal, Arthur can easily answer Eames’ question as to why they’d never done this before: because he could damn well become addicted.

The job they were currently working was your standard corporate rivalry. An upscale L.A. restaurant which has the market on exotic fare and is about to gain a neighboring location with similar cuisine. The owner of the new place also happens to be an industry rival of their client and, Arthur suspects, there were most likely other tensions simmering beneath the surface. They’re hired to uncover the recipe to a rumored and highly unique dish; not so it could be outright stolen (that would be far too obvious) but at least be combated in some way.

Eames’ job is twofold: 1) seduce the mark topside, bringing him back to his hotel room where Eames will slip sleeping pills into his glass and 2) forge the client in the dream wherein he will ‘re-connect,’ after many, many years with his old rival and, after many drinks and perhaps some flirting, let down his defenses enough so they could uncover the secret. When asked why the client couldn’t do this himself, he stated he’d be too nervous and certainly was no champion at flirting. Eames was playing a forge but he was also giving the mark qualities he simply didn’t possess – characteristics that would be similar to Eames’ own real-life seduction of the mark.

“He’s very good,” Michaela, their extractor, drawls while they observe Eames flirting with the man at the farmer’s market.

Arthur watches the ease in which Eames flirts, effortless and full of confidence. He grits his teeth. “He’s the best.” Arthur isn’t exactly sure what he is even referring to.

They wrap up the day of recon work around 6pm. Arthur checks his phone and responds to a text, lifting his eyes when he hears Eames’ laughter. He’s standing with Jules, their bodies a little closer than strictly necessary. Eames catches his eye, lifting an eyebrow. “Jealous?” he mouths, a grin stretching across his face.

Arthur gives him the finger. Arthur’s phone buzzes again. When he looks back up, Eames is standing in front of his lawn chair.

“You going out tonight?” Eames asks. He sounds bright and eager, like he wouldn’t expect anything but the affirmative in response. And Arthur is, but not like that. For some reason, all he says though is “yeah.”

“Niiice. Me too. Be good. Use protection.” Eames grins widely and winks. Then he’s slipping on his jacket and walking out of the warehouse like nothing.

Arthur doesn’t know what irks him more: that Eames assumes he’s going out to get fucked or that he seems fine with that prospect. And why shouldn’t he? Arthur outright agreed to be his booty-call and technically cheated on Kevin with Eames the other night – their entire situation does not exactly scream romance or fidelity.

And why is that such a problem?, a voice in the back of his head sounds.

Arthur ignores his subconscious and says goodnight to Jules and Michaela. Regardless of Eames’ assumption, Arthur is actually having dinner with Dom. Arthur texts him once more, confirming what time he’ll be there. It’s the first time in a while they’re getting together and Dom hired a sitter for the occasion.

“We should do this more often,” Dom announces when the food arrives.

Arthur nods and takes a sip of his Chianti. Dom’s doing better and it’s more like old times than it’s felt in years.

“Except there’s something off with you,” Dom says decisively.

Arthur looks up from his plate. “I’m fine.”

Dom levels a stare. “I may have been a shitty friend for a while but I know when there’s something wrong. Your face gets all pinched.”

Arthur resists the urge to touch his cheek. “That’s just my face.”

“No, it gets extra pinchy when something’s going on.”

Arthur sighs. “I’m fine, really. It’s just love life shit, no big deal.”

Dom folds his napkin on his lap. “Ah. You still seeing that guy?”

“Nah, broke it off.” He decides to deflect, unsure if he’s ready to have this conversation.

“You seeing anyone?” he asks, carefully.

“No. I’m not... I don’t think I’m ready. Besides, who am I going to meet? A grieving widow at the PTA?”

Arthur winces. “I could always watch the kids one night, if you want to--”

Dom cuts him off. “No, seriously, Arthur, I’m good. I’d rather focus on James and Philipa right now.”

Arthur takes the cue, dropping the subject. “You think you’ll ever return?” he asks, voice low, not entirely sure what response he’s hoping for.

Dom shrugs. “I dunno. Even the so-called legal side of our work is still illegal. Everything is all about money and power, Arthur. I’m just not interested anymore. Anyway, I thought we were talking about your love life. Don’t think I’m not aware of your deflection techniques.”

“I’m so predictable,” Arthur deadpans, spearing one of his lemon potatoes. “And no, we really weren’t.’

“Arthur.” His tone is stern.

Dom crosses his arms over his chest and Arthur knows this will be an all evening thing if he doesn’t just give in now.

“Jesus, dad. Alright.” He takes a long drink from his wine glass. “There’s this guy I’ve known for a while and we’ve kinda…fallen into bed. I’m fine with casual, you know that. It’s just...” Arthur scrubs a hand over his face. “I don’t fucking know. It’s different. I’m not... completely cool with it, the way I usually am.”

Cobb chews his steak, wearing his ‘think face’. He finally says, “Maybe that’s not a bad thing.” The look he gives Arthur is blatant.

Arthur shrugs and refuses to meet his eyes.

“You’re working this job with Eames, right?”

Arthur cuts his eyes to Dom, the blatant look replaced with casual inquiry. Arthur’s known him long enough to know Dom won’t come right out and ask him, but instead will attempt to draw Arthur out any way he can.

“Yeah,” Arthur gulps.

Dom grins slightly. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s good. Asks about you sometimes.” Asks if we ever fucked, Arthur thinks, his face flushing, mind picturing Eames stretched out naked in bed. He hopes Dom will chalk it up to the wine but he ultimately knows better.

“Lately I’ve gathered you two have been spending more time together,” Dom says, less a question and more smug suggestiveness.

“Is this the part where you tell me he’s a no good hooligan and I should stay away?” It’s not a complete confirmation but it’s all Arthur’s willing to give right now.

Dom smiles widely. “I’ve missed you, Arthur.”

“Yeah, same.”

And that’s one thing Arthur knows for sure.
______________________________________

They say their goodbyes and Arthur promises to call more, especially since he’s L.A. based for now. He’s just gotten into his car when his phone buzzes. It’s Eames.

This bar is a slag heap & no, thats not a good thing. hope u copped off at least

Arthur slumps back against the seat, unsure what to make of the text. Eames hoping he scored makes his stomach twist into something ugly. Does he expect them to still share detailed stories of their hook-ups? Why wouldn’t he, right? And it’d be weird if Arthur suddenly couldn’t handle that. Eames is setting the rules and Arthur needs to abide or stop this outright.

No. I didn’t., he types back and hopes it sounds as short as he meant it. Eames still doesn’t need to know where he was.

His phone buzzes immediately.

Want me 2 come over?

Arthur pinches the bridge of his nose. Yes, he wants to reply. But Eames was making it abundantly clear Arthur is nothing but a backup plan tonight. And maybe he’d agreed to this whole booty-call thing, but he still has his dignity.

What for? He texts instead.

After a long pause, his phone flashes. Do u want company?

Arthur stares down at the words for long minutes. His finger hovers over the off button, considering lying to Eames later on, telling him his phone unexpectedly died. Instead, he finds himself typing sure and hitting send.

Just company, Arthur repeats in his mind, that’s all. You’re friends, you don’t always need to fuck, right?

Arthur bites down hard on his lip and drives a little faster, feeling adrenaline and anger searing through him.
______________________________________

Arthur’s shaken off his anger by the time he pulls onto his street. Just because he’s getting fucked up by adding sex to the equation doesn’t mean Eames is and he shouldn’t be punishing him over it; there’s no reason to add drama to their friendship. That was one of the reasons Eames wanted to do this, after all.

Rationally, Arthur realizes there was nothing unusual about Eames’ texts. Had they not been fucking the additional connotations the words carried would have been non-existent. He’s resolved himself to have a nice, relaxing, anxiety free night when the sight of Eames slumped against his front door assaults him.

There’s something about his posture that gets Arthur. His heart clenches and he realizes just how in over his head he is after only a few days. Arthur kills the engine and walks up his driveway. Eames straightens a smile perfectly in place.

“Hey,” he says.

“Hi.” They stand, kind of awkwardly. Arthur’s not sure if they’re supposed to kiss, hug, pat each other on the back? He settles for placing his hand under Eames’ elbow, squeezing gently and slipping between him and the door to open it.

“Come on, I’ll get you a beer.”

Eames heads immediately to the couch and Arthur grabs two Blue Moons out of the fridge. The times they’ve hung out at Arthur’s, Eames sprawls all over the couch and Arthur pushes at him until Eames relents, but still puts his feet in Arthur’s lap or pulls Arthur down onto him, running his fingers through Arthur’s hair casually while laughing at joke Arthur’s making.
It was all completely normal to the dynamic their relationship had taken – yet when he walks into the living room he finds Eames sitting stiffly up against the arm of the couch. Arthur’s stride falters, and he blinks. He continues to the couch, handing Eames the beer, smiling a little tightly. Arthur sits a good few feet away from him, and they flip on the TV. Arthur starts making small talk, stuff he heard on the radio, things he read in the paper. Eames half-smiles at Arthur and the whole thing feels like a bad date.

Arthur’s not sure what to make of Eames’ change in demeanor, but he’s certain he’s to blame. They watch some of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on TCM and get to talking about Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra and old films and it becomes somewhat less strained; Arthur’s grateful.

It’s a little after midnight when he walks Eames to the door. He opens it and they pause, Eames putting a palm on Arthur’s chest before leaning in close, a chaste brush of lips against his.
“Thanks for coming over,” Arthur says, voice rough and just a tad breathless. He’s well aware he didn’t exactly invite Eames over but he’s glad he came anyway.

“Of course, love,” Eames says, their bodies close. Eames licks his lips and Arthur’s eyes dart to the motion. The air feels heavy and thick around them. They lock eyes and that’s all it takes. They tumble against one another, kissing hard and frantic, as if the world’s about to end. Eames kicks the front door shut, just as Arthur did the night before, and they stumble backward into the bedroom.

They kiss and rub against one another before 69’ing. Eames’ mouth around his cock is one of the greatest things Arthur’s ever experienced and Eames coming in his mouth, and he in Eames’, is as close to perfection as gets.

Eames doesn’t spend the night and Arthur doesn’t ask him to. When Eames leaves, he’s sated and smiling sleepily.

“See you tomorrow.”

“Today, actually.”

“Yes, Arthur, today,” he says, affectionately, and ruffles Arthur’s hair before he slips out.

______________________________________

The job goes off without a hitch and Arthur is thankful that he doesn’t have to witness too much of Eames’ double seductions. It was low risk and there’s no need to flee directly after so the four of them go out for drinks. At one point Michaela raises her eyebrows at Arthur, nodding to Eames, who has been pressed against him in the booth for the better part of the evening. He ignores her. She and Jules beg off sometime after 11. By unspoken agreement they head to Eames’ hotel and make out on the bed before jerking each other off, neither really up for anything more complicated tonight. Still, that doesn’t stop Eames from leaning down and licking the head of Arthur’s cock, as well as the come on his torso.

This time it’s Eames’ turn to walk Arthur to the door. He puts his hand on the frame before Arthur can open it. “Heading out tomorrow morning, then. Mate of mine put together a job – sounds like a bore but I owe him one.”

Oh. Arthur schools his expression. “Try not to get into too much trouble,” Arthur says dryly.

Eames clutches a hand to his chest and bats his ridiculously long eyelashes. “Who, me?”

Arthur’s mouth quirks upward.

“Anyway, I did try to get you on it, but no go.”

Arthur blinks, surprised. “You did?”

“Course I did. You’re the bloody best,” Eames murmurs, grinning widely at the obvious double meaning behind his words. To his horror, Arthur finds himself getting embarrassed.

“Shut up,” he mumbles.

They hold each other’s eyes for a beat until Arthur coughs.

“Well. I’ll let you get some rest.”

The awkwardness from last night returns tenfold and Arthur once again has no idea what to do. Their previous partings after jobs ended with a half hug/back slap combination. Arthur leans in, unsure what he intends to do until his arms are around Eames. The hug is odd, like they don’t how their arms or bodies work. Arthur claps him on the shoulder, face burning and feeling ridiculous. He starts to move away but he’s tugged back in, Eames’ hand on the small of his back. And then Eames is kissing him like he’s about to go off to war, desperate and needy, and Arthur clings to him, a small sound escaping his lips.

“Christ,” Eames moans between kisses, plunging his tongue into Arthur’s mouth, sucking the air out of him right along with Arthur’s heart. When they finally break apart Eames just looks at him and mumbles, “bye.” Arthur nods, a little shakily, but he doesn’t say he’ll call. He walks out the door, cursing himself the rest of the way home for not saying something else.

______________________________________

The next day Arthur has nothing to do. He tells Dom he’ll stop by to see the kids in the afternoon. He thinks about Eames and considers sending a text, something like ‘hope your flight got in alright’ but he stops himself when he realizes if things hadn’t shifted between them he wouldn’t send a text like that – in fact he probably wouldn’t be thinking all that much about Eames at this moment. He decides against it, does some website browsing, checks one of the super secure dreamshare message boards and notices the latest gossip is a chemist both he and Eames have previously worked with (and he’s pretty sure both fucked) was arrested for selling drugs. Arthur laughs and has his phone out before he even realizes.

Sergio was busted for street drugs.

Eames responds a few minutes later. could’ve seen that one coming, luv. flight got in ok. hope ur well

Arthur stares at the text, suddenly feeling foolish for not sending what he originally intended. He quickly types out I’m glad. Gotta run. ttyl.

He heads to the store and picks up a present for James and Phillipa.

Later that night he’s reading a book in bed when his phone goes off.

i can still taste you in my mouth

Arthur lets out a strangled laugh, amused and aroused all at once.

Oh my god, Eames, are you seriously sexting me?

if that’s what it’s called, is the immediate response.

Arthur's hands fly over the keys. *eyeroll* you really need to get with the times

we all can’t be as cool as you arthur. anyway. do you want me to be sexting you?

Arthur’s breath catches. He knows he can laugh it off or simply say goodnight, effectively ending the conversation, except he doesn’t want to do any of that. He wants to lie back and stare at the ceiling and imagine Eames’ voice wrapping around him as he tells Arthur exactly what he wants to do to him. He wants to fist his cock, stroke himself in time with the deep rumble timber of Eames’ voice and pretend this is all his, only his.

He places his book to the side and adjusts his boxers, half-hard already. He types before he can think any better of it.

And if I did?

Not even five seconds later his phone rings.

“Tell me what you’re thinking about,” Eames says, voice already breathless.

Arthur slides down further against the pillows, his eyes squeezed shut as he imagines Eames pressed up against him, huge and surrounding him. He shoves his hand into his boxers and whispers, “Your mouth on me...”

“I meant what I said,” Eames breathes, “I can still taste you, feel you against my tongue. Fuck, Arthur, I want to feel it again, want to suck you.”

“Oh fuck,” Arthur gasps, because that does the trick. He's rock hard in his hand, stomach clenching as a shot of arousal courses through him. He shoves down his boxers, desperate and needing to fuck up into his hand. He wants lube, something that could simulate the warm, wet sensation of Eames' mouth, but he doesn’t want to stop and he knows nothing could come close anyway.

“Tell me how you want me.”

Arthur groans and grips himself hard, stroking from base to tip. “Fuck, Eames. Want to feel your mouth around my dick, so warm and wet, sucking me. Want to, god, want to fuck your face like you did mine the first time...”

Arthur hears a sharp intake of breath before Eames begins speaking, voice shaky and words broken. “I’m on my knees in front of you on your bed. And you’re... You’re standing at the head with your back against the wall, your hands braced against it. Jesus, you’re fucking my mouth... moaning above me... my hands are on your arse and I’m... pulling you in closer, taking all of you, breathing in your scent. Fuck, Arthur, you smell so fucking good.”

Arthur’s entire body feels like he’s on fire. He balances his phone against his shoulder, cups his balls with his now free hand, while the strokes to his cock grow firmer. “Oh god, you feel incredible, your mouth around me, sucking me hard. The way your... fuck, the way tongue flicks at the head, teasing me, driving me insane,” he breaks off, unable to catch his breath or even think, heat clouding his vision as his cock jerks in his hand. “Before you swallow me down again. Your hands on my ass tighten and fuck, you pull me closer. I feel like my knees are going to give out any second.”

“Bloody hell, Arthur. I just suck you harder, deeper so I can feel the tickle of your hair... Fuck, I wanna bury my nose in it, breathe you in."

Arthur's hand is moving rapidly over his dick, now slick with pre-cum. Blood is pounding in his ears and it's amazing he can even hear Eames over the sound of his heaving chest. "Jesus Christ. My... my hands leave the wall and I cup your jaw and fuck up into the tight heat of your mouth. I, as much as I can stand it before I'm pulling you away and getting down on my knees facing the wall... oh fuck, I turn my head and y-your lips are red and swollen and I say... 'fuck me'. Oh god, Eames please fuck me.”

Arthur hears a gasp. "Arthur. Christ, you don't know how bad I want you. I'm leaking over my hand right now imaging your arse around me... wanna fuck you into the wall, love.”

Arthur's hips rise off the bed and his balls tighten. "Do it," he whispers.

“Shite, next time I see you I’m gonna take you just like this... press your face to that wall, fuck you on my knees behind you, your arms over your head. Gonna hold them there, Arthur, make you beg for it. Beg me for it, baby.”

Arthur isn’t sure if it’s the ‘baby’ or everything else but he cries out, fucking his fist hard and he’s close, so close. “Eames, I’m gonna.. Oh my god fuck me, fuck me.”

“Come for me baby, come for me while I hold you up, pound your arse, I’m..”

Arthur spills into his hand, gasping for air but managing out, “Let me hear you come, Eames. Love your fucking voice.”

And then he is, making that low moan deep in his throat, choked and harsh. He starts moaning Arthur’s name, over and over again and Arthur wants to wrap himself around the sound and stay there forever.

Nothing but the acute sounds of breaths and sighs fill the static of the phone until Eames laughs, “We’re getting good at that.”

Arthur’s hmms contentedly and replies, “Practice makes perfect, Mr. Eames. Surely you’re aware of this, given your profession.”

“Mmm. When can we practice again?”

Arthur chuckles, ruefully, and glances down at the mess on his stomach and his spent cock lying against his belly. He brushes his fingers over his balls. “Not for a few hours, at least. You wore me out.”

“If I was there I’d lick you clean, then turn you over and eat your arse until you’re hard for me again,” Eames purrs and Arthur shockingly feels his cock stir.

Arthur coughs. “Uh, estimated recovery time may need to be revised.”

Eames giggles, down right giggles and it’s in that moment, that one ridiculous second, Arthur realizes he’s gone.

“Have you done this a lot?” Eames asks, and his tone is companionable, easy, as if he hadn’t been uttering filth into Arthur’s ear mere minutes ago. For some reason, it charms him.

He gets up and pads to the bathroom, running a washcloth under warm water and dabbing his torso. “Yeah, uh, some. When I was like, in a relationship but away a lot on jobs.” He’s not sure why he says the words other than the simple fact its true.

Eames’ silence seems to stretch an eternity although Arthur knows in actuality it’s only a few seconds.

“I haven’t done this in a while,” Eames says, his voice quiet. Arthur’s not sure why, but it feels like a confession; something layered and filled with subtext his post orgasm mind can’t quite grasp.

He flops back onto the bed, not bothering with putting clothes on. “You’re good at it.”

“Thanks,” replies Eames, but there’s something off in his tone. It’s awkward for a moment, like they can’t gather their footing and then Eames starts talking about the job he’s on, which somehow morphs into an ethical debate on lucid dreaming. This soon spins into the first time they ever died in a dream and what it felt like. Arthur’s not surprised when, nearly an hour into the conversation, things turn dirty again. Eames says “would’ve loved to see you with your long hair,” after Arthur recounts his school years before the army got him and how he’d looked like a girl, or at the very least, a hippie.

He begins detailing how he’d pull on it; lick up Arthur’s throat while fucking into him slow, so slowly, hands fisted in his soft, long locks. Before long, he’s telling Arthur to suck on his fingers, get them nice and wet and slick them inside; telling him to imagine its Eames’ cock.

Arthur goes to bed that evening, feeling thoroughly well-fucked.
______________________________________

It’s a few days before they speak again and Arthur attributes it to the job Eames is on. He hangs out with Dom and the kids and some of his gay friends. When they do talk, they don’t always have phone sex and Arthur’s completely okay with that -- it’s not like he’s suddenly become some sex addict. Nevertheless, he randomly finds himself wanting to send Eames dirty messages, such as I jerked off last night and thought about your mouth. The urge to do so is strong but he refrains, his chest fluttering with reckless flirting and wanting. This is something Arthur can easily have, readily available to him yet he still finds it important to keep it under control.

Life goes on, of course it does. Another month and Eames’ one job ends and a new one begins. Arthur finds himself going out less and spending more nights texting or talking to Eames on the phone. Eames is doing recon in Istanbul and texts him throughout the day sometimes, innocuous bits of nonsense about anything and everything including, but not limited to, Arthur’s body.

Things such as:

have you ever read kafka? bloody nutter

deniro or pacino? and no i dont mean who youd rather shag. theres only 1 right answer there.

(pacino in case u were wondering)

(4 the shag i mean. specificity)

it is impossible to get good fish n chips in istanbul. u know ur surprised.

god i adore robyn. dont u?

what i wouldnt give to get you in a london club.

i randomly think about fischer. no not in a sexual way realy arthur your mind and that gutter.

do u ever wake up in a cold sweat after dreamin bout the army? yeah...neither do i

Arthur’s responses go something like his:

Kafka is brilliant, you heathen.

Pacino. To both.

Perhaps you should inquire about some bangers and mash instead.

Robyn? Is she an extractor?

Oh, yeah? And what would you do to me on the dance floor?

You and Fischer is a hot image. And I do too.

If I did, it would be a hot sweat at around 3am.

They talk on the phone too, and on the nights without phone sex it simply feels companionable, like nothing other than friends until Eames says something that causes Arthur to go hot all over and it all comes crashing back.

Arthur has no future jobs lined up and he’s perfectly fine with that. It’s given him enough time to catch up on Dexter on his instant queue. One Saturday night he finds himself out with Dom (okay so he all but pressured Dom into it) at a bar which, to his knowledge, has no specific sexual orientation in terms of clientele.

Nevertheless, Arthur finds quite a few men staring at him; this is L.A. after all. One guy in particular seems to be making the long slow walk towards him, gaze on Arthur. He inches closer to Dom, angling his body toward him, watching as the man’s face falls and he turns back. Dom quirks an eyebrow at him, amused. The second time it happens, Dom takes his wrist and says. “I have no problem playing the jealous boyfriend; just tell me why you’re doing it, hm?”

Arthur shakes out of his grasp, the threat now eliminated, and throws back his drink. “Just not up for the bullshit of being hit on tonight.”

“Ah-ha. Right. And this has nothing at all to do with your ‘mystery’ fuck buddy?”

“Don’t ever make air quotes again. And no, it doesn’t.” Arthur can feel himself scowl and takes another long gulp of his whisky.

He feels Dom’s shoulders slump against his. “Arthur, look. All pretense aside; he’s a decent guy. I may not see eye to eye with him on everything but he helped me in a jam and I wouldn’t be here without him. And Mal cared for him a lot.”

Arthur doesn’t even bother feigning ignorance. He turns his head to the side and looks at Dom. “You don’t need to sell him to me. Christ, if anything, you need to--”

Arthur cuts himself off with a visible shake to the head.

“I need to what?”

Arthur’s jaw twitches as he meets Dom’s eyes again. “You need to tell all his faults, his mistakes. You need to tell me why this is a fucked up situation.”

Dom shakes his head. “That’s not what you want. I’ve stopped lying to myself. Maybe you should try it.”

Motherfucker, Arthur thinks, and orders another drink.
______________________________________

The thing is, Arthur’s not stupid. He’s noticed the differences. Their talk of other men has been few and far between lately. Arthur tries to attribute it to the fact that when that usually happens they’re often drunk or, if Eames had visited Yusuf recently, high off some excellent pot. Since they haven’t seen each other recently, it’s easy to write it off.. and when they do see one another they’re too busy fucking each other than talking about who else they may be fucking. Nevertheless, Arthur isn’t stupid but it’s his business if he chooses to ignore it.

It’s three in the afternoon his time, which means 8pm Eames’ time when the text arrives.

this point is absolute shite. ur expertise is sorely missed darling among other things ;)

He can’t help the grin that spreads over his face upon reading. It should feel like defeat. But instead, Arthur lets the feeling surround him, washing over him in waves until it feels more like a victory than anything else.

Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Eames, he texts back before he can will his fingers into submission.

Eames’ response is instantaneous.

good 2 no. when may i collect then?

Arthur’s stomach clenches. It’s the closest to a ‘when can I see you’ that either of them have gotten in two months.

He decides deflection is the best course of action.

Concentrate on your task at hand. If you’re good, I’ll send you a present.

Eames replies a few seconds later. ur no bloody fun. ok bye 4 now

The next text comes over three hours later.

incompentent morons. done 4 the nite. only thught of ur body once. weres my present?

Arthur’s sitting on his bed in a towel, grinning stupidly.

I ought to pay for private spelling lessons. Jesus, Eames. But alas, it’s short notice so you’ll have to settle for this. Check your next text.

Arthur pulls up the photo and sends, before he can think better of it. He took a picture of himself in nothing but a white towel wrapped around his torso, head thrown back and hair still wet from the shower. He angled the camera so Eames could see as much of his body as possible. It looked utterly ridiculous to Arthur himself but he had a feeling it just may kill Eames.

Arthur’s fingers twitch against his phone as he waits. It buzzes.

jfc arthur i think i just had a dry o. that towel was cruel tho

Arthur worries his bottom lip with his teeth to keep his grin from spreading further. You know what I told you about flattery.

and u never answerd me b4, Eames texts back.

Arthur sits back on his elbows and looks at the screen, dumbfounded Eames actually brought it up again.

He waits another 30 seconds or so before finally responding with: You’re working a job…

Eames’ reply is lightening fast.

b done n a week or so

Arthur’s breathing stutters upon exhale and he types with shaky fingers.

What did you have in mind?

seeing u. dont care much bout the logistics

Suddenly terrified at the thought of them spending an indefinite amount of time together without work as pretense, Arthur improvises.

Actually, I’m taking a job. Forgot to tell you.

Eames doesn’t reply for about five minutes and Arthur starts to get anxious. When the reply comes, it’s short and flat.

good luck with that.

He tries to shake it off, tells himself it’s fine, Eames is fine, he isn’t like, hurt or whatever because it’s not like they’re dating. He resolutely doesn’t think about the fact that he hasn’t hooked up with anyone else since starting with Eames, doesn’t think about the lack of innuendo from Eames when it comes to anyone else but Arthur.

The next day he phones a contact and actually takes a job to feel less guilty about the lie.

Two weeks later he finds himself wishing he’d never made the phone call. The job is complete shit, their architect is awful and he’s getting killed in the dream left and right. Not to mention he hasn’t heard from Eames in two weeks.

He’s tired and stressed and he fucks up the blueprints on the job, and then gets screamed at by his extractor in front of the team. It brings back unpleasant memories from the Fischer job and Arthur’s tense and pissed and not wanting to deal with it right now. Later, back in his hotel room, he drinks a little, watches some porn, and eventually finds himself dialing Eames at 1am, unsure if there’s a time zone difference or not.

He picks up on the first ring. “Arthur?” Eames’ voice is thick with sleep and the surge of palpable want overcomes him.

“Sorry. I woke you.”

“Are you alright?”

He should be. He’s usually the together one. But he takes his work seriously and honestly, he hates making mistakes, hates revealing any sort of imperfection or worse, incompetence.

"I just...need you to talk to me. Tell me anything.”

Eames half sighs and whispers, “Do you want me there?” like it doesn’t matter that they haven’t spoken in two weeks.

“Yeah,” Arthur says, immediately.

“So I am.. stroking my fingers through your hair, massaging your scalp until you’re near dead weight against me, groaning quietly. “

Eames goes on like that for a few moments, and then starts just talking to Arthur, telling him random things that somehow make Arthur feel better. It’s not entirely sexual and Arthur doesn’t mind. As the call trails off, he feels like he can probably sleep.

“Could your team use some help?” Eames asks, before they’re about to hang up.

“No, we--”

“Not necessarily a forger,” Eames cuts him off. “Just another set of eyes. Got some free time, don’t I?”

Of course he does. Because he didn’t have a job lined up and Arthur could have spent these past two weeks fucking Eames rather than being in fucking Phoenix with these assholes.

“I’ll check with my extractor and let you know.”

Emile says yes and Arthur texts Eames come when you can and provides their location.

be there soon. should I book a room?

Arthur doesn’t know what to say, running the words over again and again in his brain. All their couplings thus far, even the phone sex ones, have been unplanned. This forsakes the air of spontaneity, stumbling directly into deliberation and Arthur’s frankly shell-shocked. The closest they came to this was Eames’ blatant desire to spend time with Arthur while not working and Arthur blew that to pieces.

Don’t bother. I’m staying at the Ramada downtown. Room 516.

Eames flight arrives while Arthur is already on the job. In the middle of the day the warehouse door swings open and Eames is standing there, a little tan, beautiful, and a few days worth of stubble on his cheeks.

They shake hands and the touch is electric. Eames helps, but there are still issues and by the end of the day Arthur’s fed-up, anxious, and needs to get out of there.

“Your extractor has his head up his arse,” Eames says once back in their room. Arthur is pacing, jack and coke in his hand, when he lets loose, telling Eames he should just run point instead and Arthur can just leave because he’s so fucking tense and nothing is getting better, it’s not clicking and he doesn’t know how to make it so.

Eames steps in close and pries the drink from Arthur’s hand, then presses his palms to Arthur’s shoulder, massaging firmly.

“You need to relax.” Arthur loves when his voice gets like that; low and rumbly.

The words make Arthur tense up even more, because he’s been trying to, dammit. He shakes his head. “I can’t.”

Eames kneads his fingers into Arthur’s muscles and murmurs, “let me help,” he whispers, guiding Arthur toward the bed. Arthur’s dimly aware, as he sinks down onto his stomach, that they haven’t even kissed since Eames arrived...

He helps Eames remove his waistcoat, and button down shirt, then pillows his head against his arms. Eames starts at his shoulders, kneading slowly, then firmer and deeper. He works his way down Arthur’s back, settling his body over the backs of Arthur’s thighs. Soon Arthur feels a hot mouth kissing down his spine, softly, almost careful. He finds himself sighing and pressing deeper into the mattress.

Arthur shivers as Eames drags the backs of his fingertips up and down Arthur’s flank, his breath hot on Arthur’s back.“Let me make you forget everything. Just let me do this.”

Arthur sighs, breathing out, “Yes.. please.” He’s barely audible, voice muffled against the pillow but he knows Eames hears him.

Eames trails kisses down Arthur's spine, his lips open and mouthing, at times barely touching him, just ghost pressure and puffs of air that make Arthur shiver. He hovers over Arthur's ass before slowly spreading his cheeks, pressing a brief kiss there. "Is this okay?" he asks and Arthur nearly jerks in surprise because Eames isn't tentative and Eames isn't hesitant, not when it comes to Arthur's body.

"Of course, what..."

He licks in broad, slow strokes, not pressing in, not demanding and Arthur feels all the air rush out of his lungs. "Does this feel good?" Eames murmurs against his ass.

Arthur tightens his grip on the pillow. "Y-yes..."

Eames licks him again, holding him apart with strong, nimble fingers and this time he presses inside the ring of muscle, albeit briefly. "This what you want then, love? Tell me what you need, tell me what will help."

Arthur lets out a sob when Eames presses inside again, this time deeper, his tongue pointed and firm, fucking into him. "Don't stop," Arthur gasps.

He doesn’t; rimming Arthur until he is shaking and boneless, panting against the pillow.

When Arthur feels like he's about to explode, Eames eases off, and moves to get the lube. He returns, sitting back between Arthur's spread legs and works a finger slowly into him. He strokes his other hand down Arthur's spine in slow and steady movements, every so often straying up to work at Arthur's shoulders, one at time. Arthur's mouth is dry and his eyes are burning. A pool of sweat has gathered around his temples and forehead. Eames gives him two fingers and Arthur leans backward into the touch, feeling his ass stretch around the thickness of Eames' fingers. He's tight, really tight, but if Eames notices he doesn't comment. By the time Eames eases three fingers in Arthur's lost track of how long he's been gasping and sobbing. His cock is trapped against his belly and the mattress, and he longs to take it in his hand, spread the fluid that's gathered there and jerk himself nice and slick and hard.

Finally, he breaks. "Eames, just, oh god."

Eames presses forward, kisses the small of Arthur's back, hand still splayed large across Arthur's upper spine, holding him there against the sheets while three fingers thrust in and out at in a maddeningly slow rhythm. "Just what, Arthur?"

Arthur lets out a half moan, half whine that sounds like 'ngghgh' and he wants to sink into the bed sheets and never come out because of it but moreover he wants to say, "put your cock in me," just to hear Eames gasp at the bluntness of it. So he does, and Eames doesn't gasp but growls and then he's easing Arthur up onto his knees, still slow and sure, fingers gentle against Arthur's hips. Arthur pillows his face in his folded arms and raises his ass backward shamelessly. Eames presses more kisses, even softer if possible, into the base of Arthur's spine and Arthur just spreads his thighs wider, letting Eames fit between them. At the first touch of Eames' cock against him, Arthur arches his back and gasps Eames' name into the cocoon his arms have created.

Eames moves only to grab a condom. When he’s in to the hilt, Arthur just keeps him there, not giving Eames any leverage to thrust with any real intent. Arthur grinds back against him, rotating his hips slowly, feeling the weight of Eames inside him, the heat of his cock as he pushes forward, just an inch, just enough to feel Eames press forward as if on automatic, pressing himself all the way back inside. Eames mouths Arthur's shoulder blade and mumbles, “This feels so good,” and it's just like the first time… with Eames' words soft in his ear, except then they were incredulous and light; surprised.

Now, Eames sounds sincere, the words a dark, quiet admission and all Arthur can say is, "yeah, oh yeah," and grips Eames' hair a little harder, arching his neck back until it falls against Eames' shoulder. He fucks himself on Eames' cock just barely, until Eames takes him by the hips and pulls out more, then thrusts back in, a slow drag of hardness against him, so fucking slow and Arthur thinks he may not survive this. “Yeah, right there.”

“Jesus Christ, Arthur.” Eames presses soft kisses against his neck, his hips barely moving. They fuck like that for what feels like hours, and then fall forward onto the bed, Eames covering him completely while Arthur shakes and moans and comes without his cock even being touched. Eames shudders out his name and comes with a cry.

After, they doze on and off, Eames’ body wrapped around his in a way it’s never been before. Arthur’s phone goes off and he gropes for it sleepily. Eames’ chin rubs against his collarbone and he makes a soft noise.

“Shhh,” Arthur hisses before answering, “Hi, Mom.”

She’s wondering when he’ll be coming home for a visit.

“Stacey has a new job at the bank, Billy’s turning three, you know. And she and Peter are getting back together, I think.” Stacey is his half-sister from his mom’s very late second marriage. Arthur hardly knows her.

He pinches the bridge of his nose at the same time Eames starts rubbing his stomach in slow circles. It feels instinctual, important, and it does something to Arthur’s insides. He tells her he’ll try to get away soon.

“Hi, Arthur’s mum,” Eames mutters sleepily, voice still lilting and Arthur jabs at his pectoral.

“Arthur? Are you seeing someone? I thought the last one didn’t pan out…”

“No, Mom, it’s... nothing. I gotta go, okay. Love you.”

“Alright, honey. Be careful.”

He’s not sure if she means his job or his love life. It makes his head hurt.

“And maybe next time you visit you can bring that ‘nothing’ with the accent along.”

Sometimes, he wishes she didn’t know him so well. Other times, he clings to it with every fibre of his being.

When Arthur thinks about home, it’s not Ohio anymore. It’s L.A. He’s never officially brought someone ‘home’ to meet his mom, much to her dismay.

Arthur slaps him lightly and bites his lip to keep from grinning at Eames’ affronted “Oy!”

“Serves you right, asshole.”

“Touche.”

Eames sucks at his neck in apology and Arthur can’t help but tilt his head to allow easier access.

“Does your mum know you’re in the business?”

“Yes,” Arthur replies shortly, closing his eyes at the feel of Eames’ lips and tongue. He isn’t quite ready to reveal anything further.

Eames must gage something from his tone because he uncharacteristically doesn’t press.

“My mum thinks I’m working in stocks or the like. She has no bloody clue when I visit home. I have to watch everywhere I go as I still owe money to loan sharks and bookies,” Eames says, kissing his way to Arthur’s ear, without intent. It’s all lazy, comfortable, and terrifying, the way Eames’ breath is hot against his neck, the way his hairy legs are tangled between Arthur’s.

“Why don’t you just pay them? You have enough money.”

“Because I’m a thief and bastard, Arthur. Surely you know this.” His voice is dry and innocent all at once.

And Arthur does know; knows that Eames’ morality is sometimes non-existent. Knows he stole a PASIV device from the army, defected, and never went back to any type of upstanding work. Knows he pulls regular topside cons whenever he can. But he also knows Eames has never out-rightly betrayed him, always has his back on a job, and without him, Cobb may not be back in the States.

Nevertheless, he responds. “I know it all too well, Mr. Eames,” and listens to Eames’ easy laughter in response.

They lie there for long moments, bodies pressed close, and Arthur knows, without a doubt, that something has irrevocably changed. At least for himself.

______________________________________

They finish up the job and it’s still a shit-show and barely goes off but Eames did definitely help and Arthur’s surprised when he refuses a cut. “Consider it a favor, mate,” he tells Emile, winking at Arthur. If anyone noticed the change in Arthur’s demeanor for the rest of the job, which happened to coincide with Eames’ arrival, they thankfully keep their thoughts to themselves.

There’s a job in L.A. and they both sign up for it. Eames books a hotel and Arthur tells himself he’s not disappointed. After all, it’s one thing to share a hotel in a different city and quite another to stay at Arthur’s apartment.

This job is once again mediocre and unexciting. Arthur wonders if dreamshare is finally drying up. He prefers to consider it a slump.

_______________________________________________

He thinks about asking Eames out while half-listening to Amy outline the game plan. Honestly, he doesn’t know why it’s on his mind. Why now, after everything, after all they’ve been doing, this is what he wants to happen. It’s lunacy, pure and simple. This thing between them, whatever it may be, is tentative at best. Lately, Arthur’s been feeling possessive, jealous, and needy; things he hasn’t been in years. Nevertheless, he’s going to do it and it’s going to be today. Today, after a long day of test runs, strategies and far too many swelled heads for one corporate espionage job with a mediocre payout.

Eames is gathering up his coat and getting ready to head out; they have no standing plans tonight. Eames looks up when Arthur approaches, his gaze intent.

“Eames,” he nods and then pauses, suddenly paralyzed with nerves.

Eames cocks his head, eyes amused.

“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”

Eames furrows his brow, and then leers at Arthur, licking his lips before saying, “Yeah, sure. I hear that Thai place down the block has good take-away.”

Arthur’s eyebrows crease and he shifts from one foot to the other. He was honestly hoping he wouldn’t have to spell this out but then again, Eames has the tendency to be infuriating exactly when Arthur wants otherwise.

“No. Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”

“I just bloody said...” he trails off, and Arthur can see as the realization hits him. It’s almost comical, really.

Eames frowns slightly. “Like a proper date, then?”

Arthur sighs. “Yes, that’s the general idea.”

Eames looks down at his wrinkled dress shirt and pants which are a tad too large. “You fancy I change?”

“Yes, unless you want our first date to be our last.”

Eames grins. “Will you pick me up at my hotel?”

Arthur rolls his eyes. “You’re going to be impossible about this, aren’t you?”

Eames moves in closer, tracing his fingertips up Arthur’s arm. “You know, we could skip the formalities and just shag,” he said, voice low and flirty. “Been working fine for us these past few months, hasn’t it?”

The words are supposed to send desire coursing through his body but instead, they dismay him. It must show on his face because Eames’ eyes widen slightly.

“I guess if you’d rather not..”

Eames squeezes Arthur’s bicep and sways forward slightly, like he wants to kiss him. He stops himself, and Arthur tapers down the disappointment. “I’ll go get ready. Be an hour, tops.”

Arthur nods, and turns to leave before he can say anything else.

Arthur’s at Eames’ hotel room, showered and shaved 45 minutes later. His hands are shaking as he parks the car. When he arrives at Eames’ door, he’s nearly flabbergasted at the sight. Gone are the worn jeans and comfortable shirts from their normal encounters and in their place a pair of black slacks and deeply rich dark-blue dress shirt that brings out Eames’ eyes in the worst ways. Arthur wants to push him backward into the room and rip those clothes off his body. Eames smirks at him, as if reading his thoughts, and rakes his eyes up and down Arthur’s body. Arthur’s pants are khaki and he’s wearing a stripped light blue collared shirt beneath his navy blue sweater. Eames raises his hand to Arthur’s collar, and Arthur sucks in an immediate breath.

“So many layers,” he mutters.

Arthur clears his throat. “Let’s go.”

“Lead on,” Eames says, a gallant wave of the hand.

______________________________________

The drive there is fine, some discussion about work which they always fall into with intensity. If Arthur is honest with himself, Eames is the most brilliant person he knows and he loves talking shop with him. Arthur picks a rather expensive French restaurant he’s never been to before. Upon entering he’s immediately embarrassed. The place is quiet and most definitely for couples. The lights are dim, candlelight the preferred atmosphere of choice. Arthur stops short and Eames runs into him from behind.

“Alright there, love?” he whispers in Arthur’s ear, his voice utter amusement. Arthur’s tired of Eames reading him so well.

“Fine.”

“This way, gentlemen,” the host says, patiently.

“Nice place,” Eames says as they’re seated.

Arthur shrugs, surveying the wine list. He chooses something moderately expensive and Eames raises an eyebrow.

Things are fine until they order. Then suddenly Arthur has no what to say or do. Eames seems to be in the same predicament. They look at one another, and then back down again. Arthur stops and starts a conversation a million times, before settling on. “Seen any good movies lately?”

“Nah. Been ages since I’ve seen a film. You?”

“Not really.”

Well, that killed about five seconds, Arthur thinks.

The silence is awkward, filled with sips of wine and the sound of glasses.

Finally, Eames laughs. “This is ridiculous.”

Arthur sighs, feeling about ten pounds lighter. “It is, isn’t it?’

“We talk about things all the time. Christ, I’ve had my tongue in your arse.’

Arthur looks around, furtively. “Jesus, Eames,” he admonishes, even though the words send a jolt to his cock.

“S’just weird, is all.”

Arthur takes another sip of wine. “I know.” And it is. It’s like the fact that this is clearly a date has made them tongue-tied, boring, and Arthur wonders if this is why so many first dates suck; it’s the label above all else. He suddenly hates that he thought of this. They were doing fine. The minute you try to take things to the next level, label it, it all goes to shit. It’s like what everyone says about marriage – you could be with the same person for ten years, even more, but the moment you have that piece of paper it all changes. Arthur isn’t one to have a label dictate who he is or how he behaves.

They attempt small talk, but it’s silly. He knows most of the things he’s asking Eames. Thankfully, Eames is gracious enough not to call him on it. There’s more strained conversation until the food comes. Finally, Eames throws down his napkin and says, “Alright, tell me a secret.”

On any other day, Arthur would refuse, but tonight he’s desperate. He searches his memory and for whatever reason settles on the most painful. “I had a sister. She... drowned when we were kids.”

Eames eyes widen slightly. Arthur is suddenly regretting this entire evening. He feels sweat pool at the base of his neck. A touch of a foot to his calf makes him look up.

“Go on,” Eames says softly.

Arthur swallows. “Uh, my mom never forgave herself and my parents split up. My dad… lost himself in Dreamshare. He took me under a few times in my early teens. I saw her there…she was his projection. I didn’t see things like that again until...”

He breaks off again, all the memories surging through his body, the pain both physical and emotional.

“Until?” Eames prods, gently. Arthur isn’t used to his voice being this soft. It somehow encourages him.

“Until Mal. That’s how I knew how far gone Dom was and that I had to help him at all costs. Grief does terrible things to people. It killed my dad. Guess I didn’t… want that to happen again.”

Eames had questioned Arthur numerous times in the past why he was so loyal to Dom. It was rarely serious and more flippant than anything else, but each time, he thought of this. And tonight, given the excuse, it felt good to finally tell him.

“Arthur,” Eames says, quietly. He looks up to find Eames gazing at him, an unreadable expression on his face.

“Deep enough for you?” he says, sardonically.

Eames shakes his head, a somewhat sad smile playing at his lips.

“Your turn,” he says, waving his glass at Eames.

Eames clears his throat. “Alright. Well. Most of the time I feel I’m playing a role. Not just when I forge, but all the time. Sometimes, I’m not even sure who I really am anymore.”

Arthur sets his jaw, unsure of what to say. He searches Eames’ expression. “This is you right now,” he says with finality.

“Yeah, it is. I’m... usually myself, around you. More so lately.”

Arthur’s struck silent; a flutter of something, something scary and brilliant all at once swims in his chest. Somehow, these deep confessions lighten the mood a bit and the rest of the evening goes smoothly.

Eames laughs when Arthur asks if he can walk him to his door. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?”

Arthur shrugs, unwilling to admit just how much. Outside Eames’ hotel room, Eames jokes, “I’d invite you in but my mum is sleeping.”

They fall into laughter which quickly dissolves as they look at one another. Eames raises his hand to Arthur’s shoulder, stroking gently.

Arthur’s fingers graze Eames’ jaw, thumb swiping against his chin.

“Can I kiss you?” Arthur says, and Eames laughs again. The thing is, Arthur’s somewhat serious. This is how this would have gone, if they’d done it like this from the start.

“You can do that and more,” Eames murmurs against Arthur’s lips right before Arthur closes the gap. Arthur licks slowly into Eames’ mouth, slotting their mouths together and reveling in the soft sigh that escapes Eames’ throat. They kiss slower than their normal repertoire and Arthur savors each long second. Eames starts to kiss him harder, pressing their bodies together, his hand slipping down to cup Arthur’s ass. Arthur moves away, reluctantly, chasing Eames’ mouth one last time.

“Not on a first date,” he grins.

Eames’ eyes, now filled with heat, grow comically large. “Arthur, seriously?”

“Seriously.”

Eames groans and falls back against the door. “Just what are you on about anyway?”

Arthur shrugs, even though he knows, even though he won’t even admit it to himself.

“Want me to woo you, darling?” Eames smiles, but it’s not malicious.

“You’re doing a crap job, if that were the case. I took you out, remember?”

“Mmm. My turn next?”

“Sure,” Arthur replies, feigning nonchalance even though his heart is pounding triple time.

“I’ll make it good,” Eames grins slyly, stepping forward to take Arthur’s mouth again. Arthur pushes him back with a straight arm when it starts to get out of hand.

“Goodnight, Eames.”

He pointedly avoids Eames’ tell-tale erection and the image of Eames jerking off behind that door.

Eames sighs like the weight of the world is on his shoulder and pouts. Arthur rolls his eyes.

“Goodnight, darling.”

It wasn’t the greatest first date in the world and he’s perhaps more confused now then before, yet Arthur still grins the entire way home.

______________________________________

Eames picks Arthur up this time, in his rented Sedan. He’s back to jeans. Arthur as well, since Eames had texted him with casual tonite a few hours ago.

“So where are we going?” Arthur asks when Eames gets in the car.

“Oh, you’ll see.”

Eames takes him bowling. And not to a fancy bowling alley either. No, this is we-can’t-get-much-more-low-class L.A. bowling alley.

“Seriously?” Arthur says when they walk in.

Eames shrugs. “You give me fine dining, I give you pizza, beer, and ridiculous sport.”

“This was your way of topping me?” Arthur asks, incredulous.

Eames tsks. “Now darling, I never said that. I needed to balance it out somehow, no?” Eames leans in close. “But if it’s topping you require, that can be arranged this evening.” Arthur shivers and stares after Eames while he approaches a disinterested teenager and grandly pays for two games and shoe rental.

Arthur hates the atmosphere, hates the shoes, and makes a point to grumble about every little thing.

Finally, Eames holds up his hands. “Jesus, you’re a prima donna. Let’s just play, alright? Maybe I’ll let you win so you quiet down.”

“Oh, you’re on,” Arthur intones, rolling up his sleeves

The evening dissolves into competition and snipping commentary, reminiscent of their army and earlier dreamshare days. Arthur missed the vaguely veiled insults and snark, especially since he now knows this Eames doesn’t hate him. Back in the army, he was never too sure.

Eames wins the first game and Arthur barely wins the second. They’ve been drinking steadily since arrival, now on their second pitcher of beer. Arthur finds himself having a better time than he anticipated and barely notices when Eames steers him into the bar attached to the bowling alley and toward a small stage.

When he sees the screen set up, he reels backward, knocking into Eames.

“Oh, no. No, no, no.”

Eames hands close on his shoulders. “Yes, yes, yes.”

“I won’t, Eames, seriously. I only sing in the shower.”

Eames’ nose pushes against the back of Arthur’s neck. “Do you now? I’d like to see that.”

“Well, you have a better chance at seeing that than me doing karaoke in a bowling alley bar.”

Eames sighs dramatically and drops down to a table near the stage. “You’re no fun, Arthur.”

Someone onstage is singing Faithfully. Arthur acknowledges it could have been Don’t Stop Believin’ so at least he’s not experiencing a complete cliché.

“That,” he says, pointing to the middle-aged wannabe Joe Perry, “is not fun, Eames.”

They switch to harder liquor, doing a few shots before settling on a whisky for Eames and Long Island Ice Tea for Arthur.

An hour later, Arthur’s feeling no pain and when Eames asks him for the millionth time to go up (Eames did Bowie’s Modern Love, bopping around the stage like a Fraggle and Arthur nearly died of embarrassment and looked around furtively) he downs his drink and does. Arthur surveys the catalogue and stops on one of his personal favorites.

Eames hoots and hollers while Arthur sings Madonna’s True Blue. Arthur may or may not point at Eames during the line, “You’re the one I’m dreaming of,” feeling flushed and reckless. Eames just grins like an idiot, crooked teeth and all, and hugs Arthur when he returns to the table.

“That was bloody fantastic!”

“It was terrible,” Arthur says flatly.

“That’s why it was fantastic!”

He swats at Eames’ arm and dissolves into helpless laughter.

They make out in the car, parked in front of Arthur’s apartment, hands sliding under shirts and over hot skin.

“How far can I get on a second date?” Eames breathes against neck.

Through his drunken haze Arthur acutely realizes this is all about the thrill for Eames, nothing but another game, a role to play. Arthur goes along with it, because he’s not sure if he could stop now even if he wanted to.

“Keep kissing me like this and I’ll let you blow me,” Arthur replies. Eames growls and plunges his tongue into Arthur’s mouth, kissing him deeply and making Arthur moan helplessly. Eames blows him in the front seat, his mouth hot and tight and perfect. Eames swallows him to the root and Arthur arches into it, hears Eames hum around him. Arthur’s head falls backward and his sees white behind his eyes when he comes, Eames’ name on his lips.

Eames licks him clean and then kisses Arthur roughly, sharing the taste and pulling at his own zipper. Arthur replaces Eames’ hand with his own, opening his pants and easing his hand inside Eames’ briefs.

“Shite, yes,” he breathes, biting at Arthur’s earlobe, clumsy and desperate.

“So hot like this,” Arthur whispers, thumbing the head of Eames’ cock as Eames rocks into his hand.

Eames comes, gasping against Arthur’s lips while Arthur swallows his moans.
______________________________________

On their third date, they just go to a movie. Something scary and god awful and they crack jokes to one another while someone behind them gets pissed off. Normally, Arthur would be the one getting pissed off. Sometimes, Eames makes him feel like a kid again.

“Job should be wrapped up tomorrow, eh?” Eames says while they’re sitting at a diner, sharing a five scoop banana split.

“Yeah, I should think so bearing any problems.”

“Mmm. I’ve got a job in Cairo the next day.”

It’s a bad sign that Arthur’s gotten this used to Eames that the words cause an acute pain to his insides. They’re professionals, they work for a living. But somehow, the jobs have all become secondary to Arthur. He hasn’t let himself feel this way in a long time and now he’s slowly peeling down the walls.

So they talk about the job, Arthur feigning interest for once. At the door to Eames’ hotel room, Eames says, “Sod this date stuff right now, Arthur. I’m leaving and I want you in my bed.”

Arthur couldn’t agree more, even though part of him is still frustrated over Eames’ attitude. He doesn’t think they’re any closer to – actually dating, being boyfriends, whatever the fuck Arthur was attempting to accomplish. But right now, it’s true – Eames is leaving, the want is heavy and there’s no reason to torture himself.

He slams their bodies together, kissing up against the door before falling through it. They shed their clothing on the way and it feels like coming home when Eames presses his body into the mattress, his firm thighs pinning Arthur’s hips. Arthur’s hands roam over Eames’ back and ass.

“You want that raincheck now?” Eames asks, breathlessly, his cheeks flexing beneath Arthur’s hands.

Arthur teases the crease of Eames’ ass, feels Eames’ cock leap against his stomach. “I’d say it’s long overdue, wouldn’t you?” he whispers, breath hot at Eames’ ear.

Eames groans in response and ruts shamelessly against Arthur. “Fuck me, baby.”

Arthur lets out a helpless sound, nips at Eames’ lips before flipping them over and kissing his way down Eames’ body. He takes his time preparing Eames before taking him from behind, slowly. It’s not as slow as that time on the previous job but then again, Arthur still hasn’t allowed himself to analyze just what that actually was. He teases Eames with short, shallow thrusts, pulling out to the head and just staying there until Eames is keening for it, pushing backward to fuck himself on Arthur’s cock. Arthur nearly comes from the image, and nearly does again when Eames knocks him backward and climbs over him to sit on his dick.

Arthur twists Eames’ nipples between his fingers, his breath growing ragged at the sight of Eames rising and falling on his cock.

Arthur grips his thick thighs and guides him down harder, faster. “So tight, Eames.”

Eames throws his head back; Arthur’s name a low whine on his lips. Arthur jerks Eames’ cock roughly until Eames comes apart and Arthur follows him over the edge, slamming once, twice, three times into Eames’ body.

Eames falls forward, blindly kissing Arthur while sliding his fingers through his hair. Arthur’s mouth opens immediately, their tongues dancing playfully. They fall asleep wrapped around each other and when they awaken it’s after 2am.

“Should go,” Arthur mumbles sleepily, and blinks down between their bodies. He didn’t even dispose of the condom. “Ugh, sorry,” he groans, and then peels it off, tying it off and throwing it in the bedside waste basket.

“Housecleaning will deal with it, not me,” Eames yawns, snuggling closer to Arthur, seemingly uncaring about the mess on the bed and his chest. “Just stay.”

Arthur freezes. They’ve never done this before when it wasn’t just for convenience. This isn’t a hotel in Phoenix -- this is L.A. where Arthur has an apartment about 20 minutes west and has no good reason to stay over.

“Can’t... we both have work in the morning.”

Eames kisses his shoulder. “Just get up early and go to your apartment.”

It’s a bad idea but Eames is dead weight against him and honestly, Arthur doesn’t want to move. “Alright.”

Eames hums contently, kissing his skin once more.

Arthur doesn’t get much sleep.

At 4am he sighs, looking at the clock. Eames shifts next to him, an arm slung low across Arthur’s waist, Eames pressed against his back. Arthur picks up his phone and thumbs through the messages. His mom, Dom, twitter messages from his favorite author.

Eames grumbles behind him and snatches his phone away.

“Hey!”

“Why could you possibly need your phone at.. 4:06 in the morn?”

Arthur rolls his hips backward, loving how warm Eames always is. “Can’t sleep.”

Eames shifts onto his back and pulls Arthur against his side, going through Arthur’s contacts.

“Eames, what the fuck?” he exclaims, trying to grab his phone but Eames holds it at bay.

“What am I under, ‘E’?”

Arthur gives him a patient look. “What else would you be under?”

“Was thinking perhaps F...”

Arthur waits for the inevitable punchline.

Eames doesn’t fail to come through, grinning down at him toothily and finishing, “...for ‘fantastic shag.’”

“Sorry, someone else has already secured that spot,” he says, in his best point man voice. He swears Eames’ eyes flash in the darkness.

“I’d love to compare notes with him,” Eames responds, a little flatly.

He finds his name and plays his ringtone, then laughs abruptly.

“Really, Arthur? You could’ve done better than that. What about ‘The Card Cheat’ instead?”

He hates when Eames is right. “I guess I wasn’t feeling particularly creative that day.”

Eames shakes his head, mock affronted.

“What’s your ringtone for me?” Arthur asks.

“Pulp’s Common People.”

Arthur frowns. “As in, ‘I wanna sleep with common people like you?’ Should I be offended?”

Eames laughs, but he darts his eyes away when he mumbles, “S’my favorite song.”

Arthur feels his pulse jump. He wants to ask how long that’s been Eames’ ringtone for him, wants to read into like a teenage girl reading into a text message or note in class. Instead, he says, “I’m utterly unsurprised that’s your favorite song.”

Eames nods, seriously. “I’m so predictable,” and then grins widely and tackles him into a kiss. They toss the phone aside and groan into each other’s mouths, the prospect of sleep forgotten.

______________________________________

The job ends, Eames leaves, and Arthur feels like he’s just been replaying the same scene for the last few months. Perhaps he listens to Common People more than once, but it’s purely coincidental. Two days later, he gets a text. Normally, his phone is on vibrate in the morning but he must have forgotten to change it as a ringtone begins blaring. He has to check the name and yes, it’s definitely Eames who at some point the other night altered his own ring tone to Madonna’s True Blue. It shouldn’t make Arthur blush.

Like the new ringer? :D

You’re such a twat. And now you have me using your words.

I new youd come around eventually, arthur ;) be done in a few weeks. let me no if u hear of any work?

Well, what are you looking for? Specificity, Eames.Arthur types back in response.

After a long silence, Eames writes whatever...

Arthur knows he’s missing something, without a doubt, but he’s unsure what. Perhaps he isn’t as smart as he likes to believe.

A while back, drunk off their asses, they’d delved into the subject of how many people they’d slept with. Eames insisted and Arthur refused and finally, Eames conceded that they’d do it in brackets. ‘Under ten’ which Arthur scoffed at, ten to twenty, twenty-one to thirty and so forth. Arthur fell in the 20s range while Eames was somewhere between forty and fifty. Sometimes, Arthur wonders which number he is for Eames and how many have existed after.

It’s thoughts like these that send him back to Ohio for a few days. His mom is so overjoyed it makes him feel guilty. Gary greets him a little stiffly. Arthur doesn’t know the guy too much but his mom’s no longer the wreck she once was and if it’s something to do with him, that’s fine with Arthur.

Arthur never fell in love in Ohio; didn’t think it was possible. His high school was filled of people he knew since grade school and there was never a thrill of something new or different. He couldn’t fall in love there, he had to get out into the world and get his heart broken. His mom met both of her husbands in her hometown. Arthur’s not sure if she’s lucky or limited. Arthur’s traveled the world, dated a lot, fucked a lot, and thought all of this was needed to be a well-rounded individual. Except now at 32, he’s fucking a guy he’s known since he was 22. Arthur can’t help but wonder if all the years between the army and now were a waste of time – if he lost ten years of time being oblivious to what he could have had all along, at least physically.

Stacey is a little low class for him and he knows Eames would call him a pretentious arse for that line. Arthur’s not exactly sure when Eames started creeping into his subconscious like a constant; something he takes with him everywhere he goes, a flesh and blood totem that makes everything feel right-side up and complete.

Eames hasn’t texted him in a few days so Arthur decides to initate the conversation.

Ohio is even more boring than I recall. Hope you’re having more fun.

lounging on a beach observing a mark. lots of muscular guys. such a hardship.

He’s surprised when Eames responds immediately and also hates himself for the angry twist his stomach gives. This has been their banter for a while now and there’s no room for something as ugly as jealousy, no promises made. So what if he feels like he’s carrying around pieces of Eames.

Take pictures for me, he sends back in response, thinking it’s some semblance of normal at least.

His mom notices his slight gasp when he opens the next picture, which is a perfect shot of Eames’ chest and groin, a tight speedo leaving nothing to the imagination. She quirks an eyebrow at him and says nothing. The message attached says, sorry u only get pix of me

Arthur tries the rest of the night not to read into that.

______________________________________

When he finds it, the first person he calls is Dom.

“There’s a job that just came down the wire. I think you’d be a good fit.”

Unless you are a client with readily made connections in dreamshare, jobs are solicited through a secure website with a red-herring name, untraceable to search engines. Arthur has often compared it to ED 2010’s whisper jobs. Eames thinks he’s far too invested in fashion magazines and the like. Which is bullshit, honestly, because Arthur reads the September issue of Vogue like the rest of the human race and okay, so maybe he subscribes to a few Italy based magazines as well.

“Arthur, I told you; I’m out,” Dom is saying now.

Arthur pinches the bridge of his nose. “This is different, Dom. It’s... it’s about love. I think it’ll be good for you.”

A pause on the other end of the line, before Dom responds “Send me an email with the schematics.”

Arthur grins inwardly. That was as good as him saying, “Assemble a team.”

They meet for lunch a few days later to go over the details, the ‘assemble a team’ text having come in the day after speaking to Dom.

Dom is crunching on some fries, thumbing through the dossier Arthur has put together when his hands still.

“Surprised you brought on Eames for this,” he says slowly.

Arthur fidgets with his coffee cup. “Like you always said, he’s the best.”

Dom looks up at him, skeptically. “Did we really need the best for this job?”

“Are you saying I should lower my standards for perfection?”

Dom leans back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “What are you guys doing, Arthur?”

Arthur’s not in the mood for a lecture. “We’re just... I don’t know... having fun.”

Dom studies him. “I just wonder how long you can keep this up.”

I think about that all the time but it feels too good to stop, he says to himself, spotting before the words can escape his lips. If he says it, he’ll make it real. Dom won’t let him out of it, will look at him with that concerned face and Arthur will admit how fucked he really is.

“We’ve gone on a few dates,” Arthur says, the words almost unbidden.

“Dates,” Dom repeats, flatly. “So, are you two a couple, then?”

Arthur snorts. “Hardly. I think he... I think he’s just entertaining me. He seemed endlessly amused by the date thing. Got off on it like role-play or something.”

Dom lifts his arms. “Please, I don’t need to hear anymore.”

Arthur rolls his eyes. “Not role-play like that, you ass. Like the date itself was a form of role-play. Like it’s a riff on first dates and kissing and drawing things out so we don’t do everything that we--”

“Arthur, seriously! I don’t want to know. You’re like my brother.”

Arthur grins. “You’re such a prude, Dom.”

Dom ignores him. “How long have you been doing this now?”

Arthur shrugs. “A few months…” It’s been exactly 5 months and 3 days, if you count all the stops and starts and distance.

“Hmm. What’s his longest relationship?”

Arthur feels a burning in his chest. “I’m not sure. And this isn’t... you know. It’s not serious.”

Arthur’s flashes to that night in Phoenix, when they.... face it, when you made love, his mind supplies. There was no mistaking it. And now, every time they fuck, Arthur thinks this one will be the last. He rehearses the words in his head, time and time again.

Arthur shakes off the thought, hating the thrill of anticipation blooming in his chest at seeing Eames. Eames had texted him the other day, been too long.might not be able to keep my hands off you in front of cobb

Arthur had grinned like an idiot for about ten seconds and then typed back If you feel me up with him around you’ll be seeking a different source of employment.

I’ll try to keep my exhibitionist tendencies to a minimum, was the reply in return.

Dom sighs and eats another fry. “Whatever you say, Arthur.”

Arthur really hates him sometimes.

________________________________________

Eames arrives a few days later. It’s 8pm when he texts Arthur.

if u don’t want me to make a scene 2moro, i suggest u get ur pretty arse over here

why is it your rarely come over? Arthur replies instead.

.. do u want me 2?

Arthur does. He even cleaned his damn apartment from top to bottom for Eames’ arrival.

Yeah, come over. I’ll cook something.

well now i just have to, don’t i? ;) be there soon

Arthur grins and starts to prepare chicken marsala.

The chicken’s in the oven and the salad is in the fridge by the time there’s a knock on his door. Arthur’s barefoot, wearing a pair of old jeans and a band T-shirt, his hair hanging loose.

When he opens the door, Eames’ eyes drink him in as though he were in a $6,000 suit.

“You look good,” he says once the door is closed, running his palms up Arthur’s back and over his shoulders.

“I look the same,” Arthur grumbles.

“Doesn’t make it less true.”

I missed you, he wants to say. You were gone for three lousy weeks and I missed you like crazy.

“I brought wine,” Eames says, holding up a bag. Arthur nods absently, thumbing at Eames’ jacket, staring at his lips.

Eames places the wine on the table near the door and grits out, “Come here,” tugging Arthur in.

Eames surges against Arthur, kissing him roughly; biting at his lips like Arthur’s the only thing worth tasting. “Glad you’re not wearing all those layers tonight,” Eames groans, his hands hot beneath Arthur’s t-shirt, tugging it up and palming his stomach. “You wear them too much…need to separate you from them for a long while.. take you to a beach on some island, lay you out in a bathing suit and then remove it with my teeth.”

Arthur’s cock twitches at the words. “You love my clothes,” Arthur sighs, letting his head fall back, his eyes drifting closed.

“Mmm. Maybe you’re right. But I also love you in your ratty jeans,” Eames’ breath is hot on Arthur’s throat as he palms at the aforementioned clothing. Arthur feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “Love your Alice in Chains t-shirt, love you naked.”

Arthur shivers as Eames sucks on his neck, hard. “There’s far too much ‘love’ in this conversation.”

Eames drags his teeth along the Arthur’s racing pulse. “My sincere apologies. I’ll refrain from further use of the word,” he says, sardonically.

Arthur’s heart begins pounding, has to stop himself from saying, Don’t. And then it’s wrapped around him, like a vice on his heart unable to let go. I love you he thinks, wildly. God-fucking-dammit I love you.

Arthur kisses him until he can no longer think, falling to the floor in the hallway with the oven still on and Arthur riding Eames’ dick, leaning forward, bracing his hands against the front door, rising and falling slowly.

Dinner burns and neither of them care as they stumble into bed to fuck again, taking the wine with them.

______________________________________

Dom seems at ease right away, taking control, cool and collective. Naturally, it doesn’t stop him and Eames from butting heads.

“We’re not bloody marriage counselors,” Eames says.

For some reason, the job has annoyed Eames since the initial briefing and honestly, Arthur can’t begin to understand why he took it.

“We are whatever we’re paid to be,” Dom says, overly patient. Arthur can hear the terseness in his voice. “And besides, there’s more to it than that.” Eames just waves him off and doesn’t say anything else.

The client, Miller, is the CEO of a huge corporation which is facing blackmail by a rival corporation, accusing Miller and his team of insider trading. The claim is, of course, substantiated and the rival CEO, Sullivan, is someone who’s always had it out for Miller. Still, only a handful knew about the trading and each gained nothing from talking. The only loose end is Miller’s wife, Lucy. It’s suspected that she has been having an affair with Sullivan – she claims meetings that are unaccounted for and untraceable phone calls have been found on her cell phone. Miller’s partners pressured him into the investigation, he himself heartbroken at the prospect and not wanting to believe it.

“Remind me again why he couldn’t go to a bloody PI,” Eames voices.

“The man is being blackmailed, Eames. PIs can be sloppy. This is the most secure way to do this.”

Arthur cuts his eyes to Eames, sharply. Eames gives him an innocent look and mouths “what?”

“Stop. It,” Arthur mouths back.

Eames’ job is to work with Miller, learn about Lucy, and eventually forge Miller in the dream. Miller will actually administer the IV himself to Lucy while she’s sleeping and the team will arrive immediately after to hook themselves up. Dom will be the dreamer, something Eames voiced his concern regarding to Arthur; privately. Arthur thinks it will be fine.

Eames spends the most time with Miller one on one but Arthur does have a few meetings with him, as he’s doubling as architect. The dream is only one level and the locale is vastly uncomplicated. When Arthur ‘assembled a team,’ all he really did was assemble Eames. Arthur observes that for a man who is about to lose his livelihood, Miller certainly cares more about finding out if she still loves him, if she’s really unfaithful, than anything else.

“I don’t think I’ve treated her the way I should have, lately. I’ve taken her for granted,” Miller reveals to Arthur.

Arthur doesn’t know what to say, can’t exactly imagine what it’s like to be with someone for 25 years. But Dom can, Dom was – in Limbo and Arthur is secretly hoping for a happy ending to this job.

Arthur’s creating the restaurant Miller and his wife went on their first date. They’re hoping it will spark something, either good or bad, so they can extract her secret.

When it’s game time, they easily enter Miller’s house and move to the bedroom. Lucy’s already out. They set up quickly and go under, leaving Miller to watch over them. It’s a lot of trust to give a client but a thorough background check revealed nothing nefarous or violent in his past. Soon they’re in the restaurant, Arthur and Dom seated at a table near Eames as Miller and Lucy.

Arthur watches discreetly, while Dom, who has his back to them, asks every so often what’s happening. Arthur watches as Eames’ forgery smiles with the softest look Arthur’s ever seen on someone, as he takes Lucy’s hand and kisses it. At the start, Lucy looks a little unnerved and perhaps confused at the behavior but whatever Eames is saying must be doing the trick.

He watches as he laughs easily, as Eames laughs as well. And there’s.. something there that Arthur’s never seen before. Not in the real Miller and not in Eames either – it’s love. Pure and simple. Every movement, every touch, every stare – Eames is completely in love. Arthur tries to remind himself that this isn’t Eames but at the same time, he’s well aware of Eames throwing bits of himself into the role. And in a case like this, where Miller was taking his wife for granted, maybe hadn’t shown her affection in a while – well, wouldn’t it be beneficial for Eames to dig into himself and his own way of expressing emotion?

Arthur feels like he’s on fire, his eyes intense as he watches the scene play out before him, as he clearly confirms all of Arthur’s suspicions. What they are doing is nothing like what he’s watching – they’re fucking, plain and simple. Fuck buddies, a booty-call and somewhere along the way Arthur lost track of that.

Before him, something’s happening, something significant. Lucy is holding out her locket and Arthur murmurs to Dom, “This is it.” When Miller/Eames looks up, there are tears in his eyes. The two of them kiss and the next thing Arthur knows, he’s back in Miller’s room. The timer was set a few minutes longer for Lucy. They high tail out of there, Arthur swearing he’ll call Miller as soon as possible. Eames however, grabs his arm and says, “It’s all good, mate. Have fun tonight,” he winks and then walks briskly out of the room.

Eames relays to them that Lucy’s secret meetings and phone-calls were nothing but a marriage counselor. She wasn’t conspiring – and her real secret was that she was longing for the man he used to be, blamed herself for it, really. She carried a picture in her locket – of Miller, when he was younger and nothing mattered more to him than Lucy.

“It was all ridiculously romantic, really,” Eames says on the ride back and Arthur feels his chest tighten. Dom looks at him in the rearview and Arthur ignores his gaze.

Dom seems pleased when they return. They debrief quickly, Dom saying he’ll call Miller in the morning. “I’m going to head home. You two take it easy.”

They say their goodbyes and then it’s just he and Eames in the dim lights of the cold warehouse.

Arthur can’t take it anymore. “Why was this job upsetting you so much? We’ve been on worse.”

Eames looks at him. “It’s ridiculous, is all. People airing out their marital issues this way. If they’d just talked to one another, they could have saved a lot of time, money, and heartache. Plus, Miller’s still guilty, love. Still going to lose his business.”

The endearment makes his jaw tighten. “Yes, well, that’s not our concern. We did what we were paid to do. And he was too scared of what he was going to uncover, you know that.”

Eames shrugs, looking uncomfortable.

“This was a good job for Dom. And were good at it anyway, so.” He knows he sounds bitter, and hates himself for it.

Eames’ eyebrows rise. “Oh? How so?”

Arthur honestly wasn’t going to bring it up. In fact, he was going to call this entire thing off tonight after they left. Now, he finds himself wanting to say it. “The whole… love thing. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you forge that particular emotion.”

Eames winces slightly. “It was just a role.”

Arthur unconsciously crosses his arms over his chest. “Seemed very real.”

Eames frowns. “What are you on about? You seem brassed-off.’

“I’m not. You were just convincing, is all.”

Eames looks at Arthur like he’s speaking another language. “I’m forging someone else, Arthur. Of course I’m convincing. Would you rather I not?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” But in Arthur’s mind he’s recalling past forgeries, Eames adding his own traits, enough to get the job across yet not too much to arise suspicion from the mark. The restaurant job, his mind supplies. The confident ease in which Eames carried himself on that job, the flirting – it was similar to the way Eames had been tonight. Except this time, there had been affection laced in.

“What, like you’re being? I was playing a role, Arthur. That wasn’t me. That wasn’t how I look when I’m in love.’

Arthur looks away, face burning, body frought with tension. “I wouldn’t know,” he mumbles, uncomfortable.

Eames is suddenly up in his face, trying to catch Arthur’s eye, but he won’t allow it.

“Don’t you?” he says, voice hard, his hand firm on Arthur’s jaw.

Arthur raises his chin defiantly, reluctantly meeting his eyes. “Why would I?”

“Jesus, Arthur,” Eames sighs, shaking his head. “What are we doing?” His voice is quiet and weary.

Arthur doesn’t even pretend to misunderstand. “We’re just having a bit of fun,” Arthur replies, his heart pounding.

Eames stares at him. “Are we? I haven’t slept with anyone else in months and believe me, I’ve had offers.”

Arthur rolls his eyes at the last part, merely as a way to buy time, even though Eames admitting he hasn’t slept with anyone else either is causing the back of his neck to sweat.

“Have you?” Eames asks.

He doesn’t want to answer; worse, he wants to lie, but he ends up holding Eames’ gaze and saying, “No.”

Eames watches him for a moment. “Right, so. I went on a rather awkward first date with you and let’s face it, you were rather bitchy at the start of the second… and yet at the end of them both, I just wanted to do them all over again, without changing a thing,” Eames says, his eyes roaming over Arthur’s face. Arthur stutters out a breath as Eames glides his fingers down Arthur’s cheek, curling them beneath his chin. “If that isn’t clear enough for you, how about this; this is how I look when I’m in love.”

Eames’ eyes are sincere and his voice more tentative than Arthur’s ever encountered.

“Oh.” There’s so much he could say.

At times I thought maybe, but convinced myself I was wrong.

I’ve wanted you longer than I can remember.

We’re so fucking stupid we should be shot

Instead, he takes Eames’ hand in his own and says, “This is how I look, too.”

The End