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Next Big Thing

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“I think we should do it,” says Eames. His voice is muffled because he’s pulling his shirt over his head but Arthur can still understand what he’s saying.

Arthur has been sitting up in their bed reading, fleeing from an interminable conversation Eames had been having via Skype with a client whereby Eames would hold up a piece of fabric and the client would say something inane and Eames would say something cajoling back to her and on and on. Now he looks up at Eames over the top of his glasses and says, “See, I want to hope that you’re referring to some exciting new sex thing but I don’t think you are.”

“Oh, darling, you know I’m always up for an exciting new sex thing,” says Eames, and waggles his eyebrows at him in one of those ridiculous leers he engages in with Arthur. Because leering is not something Arthur really thought people did until he met Eames and Eames leers at Arthur almost constantly. Arthur claims to find it absurd.

Eames sprawls out on the bed next to Arthur, on top of the covers, only half-undressed, because that’s just how haphazard Eames is. “But no,” he continues. “Not what I was referring to. Unless you want to suggest an exciting new sex thing.”

“Eames,” sighs Arthur, putting the book inside, because now they have to have A Conversation, and Arthur had been hoping to avoid that. Arthur is very, very good at avoidance. Eames, meanwhile, is terrible at it.

“Mmm,” says Eames, nuzzling his way along Arthur’s shoulder, underneath the collar of his t-shirt. “Leave the glasses on, they’re hot.”

“Last time I left the glasses on, you broke them,” Arthur points out, taking them off.

“I didn’t mean to,” says Eames petulantly, nibbling at Arthur’s neck.

“Well, until you can control your flailings during sex, no glasses,” says Arthur, as stern as he can be when Eames is biting at his jaw.

“I have to earn the glasses, is that it?” clarifies Eames, draping himself half on top of Arthur, a leg in between his.

“Yes,” says Arthur, tangling his hand in Eames’s hair.

“What will that entail?”

“Some exciting new sex thing,” says Arthur.

“Excellent,” says Eames, and lifts his head up. “Why don’t you want to do it?”

“This isn’t earning you the glasses,” Arthur informs him.

“Darling, I’m going to talk you into the glasses, and we both know it, so let’s stop even pretending that’s up for discussion. Now why don’t you want to do it?”

Arthur resists the urge to squirm around a little bit with how annoying Eames is. Instead he turns the question back onto Eames. “Why do you want to?”

Eames’s face brightens immediately. Arthur thinks he must have looked a lot like this on Christmas morning as a boy. Well, frankly, he still looks a lot like this on Christmas morning as an adult. He looks a lot like this a lot of the time, Arthur has to admit. Eames has this ability to be childishly delighted by the tiniest things. Like every time Arthur smiles at him. It’s disconcerting.

“I think it’ll be fun,” says Eames enthusiastically, pushing himself up a little.

Arthur adjusts himself so Eames’s weight isn’t pinning him uncomfortably and says, “Fun? Judging a bunch of amateurs in a reality television show to win Best New Designer? You think that would be fun?”

“Yes,” says Eames. “It doesn’t sound like fun to you?”

No, Arthur just thinks it sounds like more work. So he just looks at Eames.

Eames rolls off him a bit, just enough so that he can stretch out next to him and prop himself up on his elbow and say knowledgeably, “You’ve been bored.”

“How can I be bored?” says Arthur, deadpan. “What with all the new exciting sex things we do?”

Eames smiles at him. “Bored at work,” he clarifies. “You’re tired of it.”

Arthur is silent for a second, because he hasn’t brought this up, because Eames loves work, loves the show, and it’s made Eames a superstar, and Arthur doesn’t want to seem like he resents it or anything like that, because he doesn’t. The show also, after all, gave him Eames in the first place. But still. “Don’t you get tired of the same pattern over and over and over?”

Eames opens his mouth to reply.

Arthur cuts him off. “No, never mind, I know you don’t. It’s fine. It’s nothing. I’m a little bored, but everybody gets bored at work sometimes. And I’m never bored when I’m with you, so there’s that.”

“It’s different for me,” Eames says. “Every house is a new design, every house is something different. I think every house hunt is the same for you.”

If Arthur hears open floorplan, granite countertops one more time, he might vomit. “Yes,” he says. “A little bit. But at the end you’ve always pulled off some amazing magic trick that I get to see, so I always have something to look forward to.” He smiles gamely, hoping he is using his dimples liberally.

Eames looks at him very seriously, which is the opposite effect the dimples are supposed to have. “When they asked us about doing this competition show thing, I thought it’s be a good excuse for us to take a break, do something different.”

Arthur looks up at the ceiling. Eames is clever. Always much cleverer than he lets on. And he doesn’t miss a trick. Especially not when it comes to Arthur. He knows Arthur is bored and restless. And he knows Arthur will never leave the show until Eames is bored and restless, too. Maybe this ridiculous celebrity-judging gig is a good compromise. Something different, something new for both of them.

Arthur looks back at Eames and says hesitantly, “I don’t know, though. I mean, what do I know about designing? They really just want you.”

“You know a lot about designing,” Eames says. “You helped me design this place, didn’t you?”

“I said I don’t like puce,” says Arthur.

“Anyone who wears the clothes you wear cannot say they don’t have taste. You’ve got beautiful, perfect, impeccable taste. Look who you’re shagging, after all.” Eames leans forward and kisses him.

“Hmph,” says Arthur into his mouth. “I think you’re biased.”

“Terribly,” Eames murmurs against him. “Undoubtedly. We’re a package deal.”

“We don’t have to be,” says Arthur uncertainly.

Eames pulls back a little bit, looking quizzical and slightly hurt. “Don’t you want to be?”

Arthur brushes his hair off his forehead and trails his fingers down across Eames’s cheek, rubbing against his stubble. He’s so used to Eames—no, screw that, he’s so in love with Eames—he can’t imagine doing anything with anyone else. And he can’t imagine Eames bantering with anyone else. Actually, he can’t stand the idea.

So he says honestly, “Terribly. Undoubtedly.”

Eames beams again. Kid on Christmas morning again. And he says, “We don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. I just thought it’d be fun. But it’s not a big thing.”

What the hell, thinks Arthur. Maybe he should give something new a try. How bad could it be? “Okay,” he says. “You might be right. We should do it.”

“You’re sure?” says Eames. “We don’t have to make a decision tonight. We can—”

“No, judging is right up my alley, as you know. I don’t know why I was hesitating. I love judging people.”

This makes Eames laugh with delight, as Arthur had intended. “It’s true. I can’t wait to see the Internet go mad over the cutting little remarks you’re going to make.”

“If you tell any of the contestants they’re the best, though, I won’t be responsible for my actions,” Arthur warns him, because he needs Eames to know that’s a him thing, like the darling and the eyebrow-waggling leers and the banter. There is a list of Eames things that Arthur likes to imagine belong to him exclusively.

And Eames knows this. “That one’s all yours, darling,” he assures him, and kisses him again. “Now about the glasses.”