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Half of the Time We're Gone (But We Don't Know Where)

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Arthur is already sprawled across a familiar bed, all sly smile and bare chest. The sight swamps Eames with such a wave of longing that he has to grab the doorframe to keep his knees from buckling. "Bloody hell," he manages, "you don't waste any time."

"We don't have any time to waste."

"That's what I'm saying."

"Fine." Arthur cocks an eyebrow that's both challenge and invitation. "What would you rather do first?"

"You know my answer to that never changes," Eames says, dragging his shirt off over his head without bothering to unbutton it. Talking can wait. "But it's your dream."

"It is." Arthur eyes Eames like it's dinnertime and he's a gourmet feast. "It really, really is."

The apartment they keep in Chicago is nothing special but for its location: a building so nondescript that shortly after they moved in, they walked right past their own front door three times in a single day. Arthur instantly dubbed it "Grimmauld Place" and replicated it as their go-to meeting spot when they need to confer privately on a dream's second level. In the waking world, Eames once cracked a windowpane by removing his shoes a little too enthusiastically in his eagerness to get to bed. Now Eames kicks a shoe toward the window out of sheer sentiment, and Arthur laughs — but as soon as Eames' knees hit the edge of the mattress, Arthur grips his biceps and pulls him down into a ferocious kiss. He bites once at Eames' lower lip before exhaling in a determined way and saying, "Tell me everything."

Eames knows that Arthur is trying heroically to stay professional. He knows they could be kicked out of the dream at any moment. They could be shot or dismembered on the first level and wake up separately having exchanged no useful information at all. But Arthur is flushed, Arthur's hands are skittering down his sides, Arthur is pulling him closer by the hipbones even as he demands a full report.

Arthur is the best point man in the business for a reason; he's perfectly capable of deciding where their priorities should lie. Eames says as much and adds, "Clearly, my priority is for us to lie right here in this bed."

Arthur makes a satisfied sound and hooks one leg up over Eames' hip. Eames tips them over and slides a hand down Arthur's spine to run it covetously over the sinuous curve where lower back becomes buttock before he adds, "Farringdon."

Arthur instantly pushes at Eames' shoulders. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

"I'm afraid not," Eames sighs.

"That's the worst possible -- shit." This time he shoves at Eames hard enough to roll him away and scrambles to sit up at the head of the bed. "Tell me."

Eames' hands feel empty without Arthur between them. He reaches out to rest one on Arthur's knee as he describes his flight to Reykjavik and the aftermath of his soak in the Blue Lagoon. When he gets to the part about being dosed with the fake Epi-Pen, Arthur grabs his hand and slides it up to press it to the inside of his bare — wait, Eames thinks, when did Arthur's trousers disappear? — thigh. Eames curls his fingers and rubs his knuckles back and forth across the tender skin, aroused yet comforted.

"They took your poker chip?"

Eames nods. "I'm sorry, I should never have left it."

"Eames," Arthur says, voice cracking like he's in pain, and suddenly he's on top of Eames, straddling his hips and making soft urgent noises against his tongue. Eames lets himself dissolve into it, clutching at Arthur's shoulder blades and rocking against him until Eames starts to fumble for the zipper of his own trousers. Then Arthur breaks the kiss again.

"Wait, no," he says reluctantly. "We need to finish debriefing."

Eames laughs, hoarse and amused. "You should have thought of that before you took off your briefs," he says with a pointed squeeze.

"Fine." Arthur glares and they're both abruptly naked. The sudden slip of skin against skin makes his entire body shudder.

"Arthur," he protests. "I can't think if you insist on doing that."

Arthur laughs a little, low and rough. "Talk to me." He nips at Eames' neck and soothes the spot with a flick of his tongue. "Tell me everything you can."

Eames grinds up against him with a dizzy grin. Trust Arthur to find a way to achieve all their objectives with optimal efficiency.

"Army base, I think," he begins. He reels off a list of disconnected details, everything he can recall that suggests Farringdon is using military resources. Arthur rewards him by pinching one of his nipples between thumb and forefinger and rolling it with just the right amount of pressure. He has to stop talking for a moment and arch his back into the ache for more.  

"Yeah? What else?"

"And — nghh — there's an airfield nearby. I can hear the planes. Screaming." He pulls Arthur tighter against him and rolls his hips. "I much prefer the way you scream."

Arthur presses a little closer and rasps, "What else?"

He does his best to describe the sleep lab, the perpetually masked nurse, the coffee cups in the trash bin, all while Arthur's hands and mouth conspire to steal his ability to speak. Finally he simply groans in impatience and dreams himself a tube of slick, and then Arthur is pressing back against his fingers. There's more to say, they both know there's more, but it will have to wait, because Arthur is panting something that sounds like "don't stop," and that's all his brain has room for at the moment as Arthur grinds against him and he shakes and Arthur gasps his name, Eames, fuck, Eames, while he can't even manage Arthur's name, just oh — oh — oh.

Eames would say it's only so good because it's a dream, but that wouldn't be true. It's almost always this good.

An endless time later and still far too soon, he's brushing sweaty strands of hair off Arthur's forehead.  Arthur checks his phone on the nightstand and raises his eyebrows in surprise. "Look at that," he says. "We've been down here for more than an hour without a kick. My newest recruits to the business are doing all right for themselves."

"And I thank them for it," Eames says. "You must be so proud."

"It's gone better than I expected," Arthur admits. He frowns thoughtfully.


Arthur huffs and bites at Eames' collarbone before sitting up. "You know how I'd kill for you?"

He says it lightly, as if it's a joke, but Eames remembers Arthur in the casino, a well-tailored angel of vengeance. "Likewise, I'm sure," he replies, just as lightly. He's never been quite so sure of anything.

"Those two. Holmes and Doc," Arthur says, then falls silent and flicks a hand back and forth between them with an eloquent eyeroll.


"You saw it. Just like we were right before — well, you know."

Eames can't help smiling at the memory, even though it also includes one of the most unpleasant kicks he's ever experienced, and that's saying a lot. "Well, I just hope they don't figure it out and unleash a swarm of rabid projections on themselves in the next — " He glances at Arthur's phone. " — 37 minutes. I have plans."

Arthur laces their fingers together and lets Eames drag him back down across his chest, but he says briskly, "Much as I admire your ambition, Mr. Eames, I would rather save it for real life. And if that's going to happen any time soon, we need to finish our conversation."

"Darling," Eames says mournfully, pressing a sloppy kiss to Arthur's hairline. He knows when Arthur has snapped back into work mode, and there's no point arguing. He contents himself with murmuring the details of Bowles' treachery into Arthur's ear as Arthur's cool fingers drag random patterns across his chest.

He's just described his worrisome reactions to Farringdon's Somnacin blend when Arthur's phone beeps and music starts to play from somewhere all around. Arthur sits up and cups one hand to the side of Eames' face. His eyes are hard and bright. "I will see you soon," he says. "I will, Eames. I swear it."

Eames can still feel Arthur's hand when he opens his eyes in Farringdon's laboratory. "I know," he murmurs to the ceiling, and he actually believes it.