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These bodies between us

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"So when you said you've been fucked in the arse before?" Eames slips the question into the conversation nonchalantly, counting himself lucky that Arthur had already swallowed that mouthful of Tom Yum before he did so or most likely he would have been wearing it. He should also be thankful that the rapid-fire French being spoken around them in the downtown restaurant doesn't slow for an instant at his words, given the way Arthur's eyes dart from table to table before he returns his attention back to Eames.

"Is there some other way of interpreting those words that I'm not aware of?" Arthur says through his teeth, his voice low enough that Eames has to lean in. There's a flush crawling up his neck from under the collar of his shirt.

Eames resolutely pushes away the last of his Phat Thai, all the better to concentrate on Arthur. "I had been under the impression that you were mainly heterosexual."

"Mainly being the operative word?" Arthur goes back to his soup with something approaching good humor, his lips pursed distractingly around his spoon.

"Quite so," Eames agrees. As experiments in sexuality go, the results had been conclusive. He wonders aloud, "A girlfriend with wandering fingers?"

"Just you," Arthur shoots back, heaving an exasperated sigh. "Look, I was in the Army, Eames. There was a guy, I let him fuck me."

Eames accepts that, absolutely not picturing an 18 year old Arthur with a shaved head and the same bristling impatience, camouflage trousers pulled down around his knees. "Was it good?"

"Not really, no. But it didn't put me off the idea, if that's what you want to know," Arthur says, short and sharp, his eyes warning Eames off the topic. Fair enough, Eames has boundaries of his own that don't like crossing.

"Do you finger your own arse when you wank?" Eames asks abruptly. His timing isn't as fortunate this time; Arthur sputtering out his last sip of soup, though thankfully most of it ends up back in his bowl.

"Fuck you, Eames," Arthur says as he wipes his mouth. "What kind of question is that?"

"An honest one. What's the answer?"

Arthur frowns, brow furrowing. "Sometimes. Not often."

Eames takes in the mulishly set expression on Arthur's face and decides it's in his best interests not to press him further. "How about him?" he asks, pointing out a man two tables down from them. Fair and slim, with messy dark hair and glasses. He has a look about him of someone young and eager. Someone who Eames could imagine Arthur with, imagine Arthur wanting, and nothing at all like Eames himself.

Tempting as the idea of seducing Arthur is, Eames isn't in the business of lying to himself. He might be attracted to Arthur-- he's too much Eames' type for him not to be. And he could see himself making a play for him, potentially, now that Arthur's... flexibility when it comes to gender has come to light. But however much he wants to fuck Arthur in the real world, and he does, very much so -- this isn't about what Eames wants, not really. The arrangement that they have together now is good, if somewhat one-sided. But despite the lack of focus on his own needs, Eames can't call himself unsatisfied, not in any sense of the word. He finds himself not wanting to risk losing this, losing Arthur, by overreaching. So let it go, Eames tells himself sternly.

Arthur raises an eyebrow, eying the man Eames pointed out for him dispassionately. For all the world he might be admiring the cut of the stranger's jacket instead of contemplating if he'd like to fuck a kind of doppelganger of the man.

"Yeah, he'd work," Arthur says, nonchalant as anything. A shame that Eames is now hardwired to find these displays of mercenary selfishness a turn-on, a fact that Arthur is shamelessly taking advantage of if the sadistic 20 minutes it takes him to finish his soup, while Eames fights not to fidget anxiously in his seat, is anything to go by. The drive back to the hotel also seems interminably long, Eames humming tunelessly to pass the time until Arthur tells him that he has things to do back at the office if Eames isn't going to shut up. Even the hotel elevator seems to be conspiring against him as well, pausing for an unreasonable amount of time at every floor between his and the lobby.

Finally he gets Arthur back to his rooms and the PASIV attached to them both, setting the clock for a 30 minute window in the dream.

The room Eames builds is reminiscent of a job they pulled together in Platz, about five years back. Arthur clearly recognizes the shag carpeting and the floor to ceiling mirrors, wincing a bit before he allows a rueful laugh.

"We shouldn't stay long,” Eames says, and it's as simple as stretching now to slide into someone else's skin. And when he turns away from the mirror to face Arthur, he's a new man. Though he's left his eyes their natural color, for pizzazz. If Arthur notices, he doesn't say a word. “We are still on the clock after all.”

“Why is it always burning up or freezing cold in your dreams? Do you have some sort of core temperature regulation issue that I should know about?” Arthur asks absently. The air in the room does feel a bit damp and clingy, and Arthur's already sweated through his shirt, which even in a dream must drive him to distraction. But he goes down easily, laughing and willing, when Eames tackles him to the bed.

Fucking Arthur as a man isn't actually that much different from fucking Arthur as a woman, if Eames were going to compare and contrast. It's more forceful like this maybe. Eames hauling Arthur into place with sheer brute strength, his hands tight and hard on Arthur's skin as he holds him down, because he knows Arthur can take it.

“A little focus, if you please, Arthur,” Eames reminds him, heaving a dramatic, long suffering sigh, as he attacks the button and zip on Arthur's trousers, yanking them down to mid-thigh.

Arthur gives in to another laugh, as Eames tugs him close enough that he can get at his mouth, figuring this isn't going to take very long. The way Arthur's already frantically rubbing his hard cock along Eames' hip might have been a clue. Eames' trousers are already conveniently undone, and since finesse is seemingly a luxury they can't afford, he's not bothered that Arthur doesn't waste time with niceties. He spits in his hand and reaches down to jack Eames off, Eames groaning happily against Arthur's mouth as Arthur sets a brutal pace. A handjob is likely all they have time for, but Eames certainly isn't going to complain about getting off to Arthur's lovely large hand wrapped around his cock, if that's all he can have.

“Arthur,” he moans out after a minute, and he tucks his face into the side of Arthur's neck, bucking into his touch as Arthur's hand squeezes tight around him. Arthur makes a warm, acknowledging noise, slips his free arm under Eames' waist, holding onto him as Eames comes, semen pulsing out high and hard between them.

Not that Arthur is far behind, busy shoving his cock against Eames' leg, his thrusts becoming ragged as he suddenly orgasms, streaking over Eames' skin, his come sticky and warm as it slides down his thigh. Eames breathes heavily for a moment, beaming down at Arthur, holding on tight to him as he flops down against him, shamelessly cuddling.

“No, seriously,” Arthur says after a moment, weakly wiping at the sweat running down the side of his face, “Why is it so fucking hot in here?”

Eames laughs, enjoying this more than he would have imagined, nuzzling in close, kissing away the sweat from the hollow of Arthur's neck. Arthur letting him, Arthur squeezing him tight in return. He can be sweet like this, Arthur can.

“Fuck,” Eames whispers, fond and warm in Arthur's ear, and then, “Arthur--” and he isn't quite sure how he means to finish that sentence. Luckily, he doesn't have to because that's when the clock runs out.

* * *

Intellectually Arthur has nothing against prostitution. It's the world's oldest profession for a reason. He's going to have to make some excuses about the recent jump in his spending habits to his accountant, but other than that, it's as good of a relationship as Arthur has ever had.

There's no one else Arthur needs to justify his penchant toward the criminal or the immoral to. He enjoys his work and his life and that's reason enough for him to continue on. He's not sure how, or if, Eames justifies this thing that they're doing to himself, but it's so easy to keep going. And so weeks pass by, and they don't stop.

"I want to suck your cock," Eames says.

They'd had a late dinner of takeout from a little Russian place down by the square, Eames making him laugh over his pelmeni with a story about his fence and some counterfeit Israeli passports he'd tried to pawn off on Eames, if only they hadn't been the wrong color and size. Eames had dug out his PASIV after, his eyes still light with laughter.

In the dream he becomes a handsome young man that Eames claims he met while doing surveillance on a job they worked together seven years ago in Morocco; dark eyed, small and lithe. The shirt he's wearing is threadbare to the point where Arthur can see the dark circles of his nipples through it when he turns away from the mirror and gets down on his knees.

He licks a line down the plains of Arthur's abs, sucking lightly, marking up the skin under Arthur's bellybutton as Arthur laughingly tries to squirm away.

"Ahh! That fucking tickles, Eames," he says. He twists slightly, and as he does he catches a glimpse of the two of them together, in the mirror.

It's not like Arthur ever forgot who he's with, who he's fucking, and rationally speaking, it doesn't matter much if it's a man or a woman. He knows they're all Eames, no matter what they look like to him in the dream. But sometimes the fantasy is easier to buy into than others. It's fucking impossible when they're standing in front of a mirror.

He looks down and he sees a beautiful stranger's hand wrapped around his cock. But out of the corner of his eye, all he can see is the room's mirror, and Eames' real reflection in it. Eames on his knees in front of Arthur, smirking up at him. That sinful mouth of his pursed around the tip of Arthur's dick, Arthur's long fingers clenching into the meat of his broad shoulders. He's been confronted with reality, and now Arthur can't bring himself to look away.

Arthur's hips jerk instinctively as Eames' lips part, the tip of his tongue darting out to wet his bottom lip; Eames chuckling warmly at the break in his control, his eyes slipping closed and his hands urging Arthur forward again. He rubs his cheek against Arthur's balls, testing the heavy weight of them with his tongue as Arthur's fingers dig in and scratch at Eames' back. He spends forever there, nuzzling at Arthur's spread thighs, making all of these eager little noises, until Arthur doesn't know how much more he can take and he's telling him, "You don't have to put on a master class in cock sucking, Eames. I have had this done before."

“But not by me,” Eames says with dark eyes, before he finally, finally, deigns to take Arthur in his mouth, suckling lazily at the head of Arthur's cock, tonguing his circumcision scar. Arthur is reduced to whimpers and he loves it; he's never been so hard in his life. Eames keeps teasing him for what feels like hours, still showing off. Eames clearly gets off on driving Arthur crazy, he keeps sighing happily around Arthur's cock, his reflection reaching down to rearrange his own erection where it strains against his zipper.

Discretion is long gone, Arthur is unrepentantly staring at their reflection in the mirror. He's entranced by the way Eames' lips, his real lips, look stretched around Arthur's cock. Lips glossy, plump, and pink; the open shape of his mouth, outlined around Arthur's flesh is --

Arthur lets out a strangled noise as he comes, his cock bumping messily against the roof of Eames' mouth as he thrusts inside one last time.

"Oh fuck," Arthur murmurs, as the shockwaves run through him. He looks down at where a stranger is beaming at him from his spot on the floor instead of Eames. Arthur can still see him though, the real him, come at the corners of his lips, looking proud and disheveled in the mirror.

"Oh fuck," Arthur repeats.

* * *

"So," Ellory begins, sidled up to Eames' desk, twirling a pencil between her fingers, furtively looking around the office to make sure Arthur is well out of earshot before she continues. "When did you and Arthur start dating?"

Eames rocks back in his seat, more startled than he cares to examine. "Whatever could you mean?"

"Please. 'Oh, Arthur doesn't go under before breakfast.' 'Eames takes his tea with milk.' 'Arthur prefers the Colt,'" Ellory recites mockingly, not bothering to conceal her scorn. Eames quickly swallows the urge to tell her that Arthur will use a Glock more often than not as he prefers the grip; he has enough sense of self-preservation to know that would only add fuel to the fire.

"I think you'll find that you've confused 'knowing mundane facts about' with 'dating'. Which we're not," Eames says, his expression bland. The words come out easy; he's used to reminding himself of it now, a champion at ignoring the ache that goes with the reminder.

Ellory makes a disgusted noise. "What about all those over-long lunch breaks you take together? You were both gone for three hours Monday."

"Have you tried the sandwich place on Saint Catherine yet? Gorgeous BLTs, worth lingering over," Eames answers breezily.

"Are we set up for the run-through?" Arthur asks, appearing at Eames' side, timely and frightening as ever, an arch of an eyebrow sending Ellory scurrying away to set up the PASIV, shooting them both sullen looks over her shoulder as she goes.

Eames sets the surveillance photos he had been nominally reviewing back on his desk, beaming up at Arthur. "Ready when you are, darling. Aren't I always?" he says with a wink.

"How many minutes do you want?" Ellory interrupts loudly, Arthur giving Eames a quelling look before he turns to her to respond.

"Ten should do it."

They settle into their reclining lawn chairs, a staple on every job Eames works with Arthur. Eames spares a thought for what Arthur's flat must look like given his penchant for cheap and portable furnishings. "Sweet dreams," Ellory mutters, hitting the dispenser button with more force than actually necessary --

They wake up in a cityscape, Arthur's influence on Ellory's architecture clear as Eames takes it in. At street level, every building is stark, sleek, untouchable in its beauty. They loom over the pedestrians, close-packed together, creating a claustrophobic sense of being penned in. The hope being that the mark will scamper away to what they perceive as the safest place in the dream, the place all his secrets are stored without, ideally, being so frightened that he keels over from cardiac arrest.

"Well then? What do you think? Will it do?" Eames asks Arthur, burrowing into the scarf he has wrapped round his neck. They must have left the air conditioning on high up top, there's a brisk wind coming from the West as they maneuver down the pavement weaving between Eames' projections.

"It looks fine. You know as well as I do with a one level extraction the buildings could be made out of Swiss cheese and the projections would barely notice anything out of the ordinary was happening."

"Not Swiss cheese surely," Eames muses, frowning seriously as he considers the high rise in front of them. "The buildings would never be able to maintain structural integrity with all of those holes. A nice gouda perhaps."

Arthur dimples charmingly, walking backward to a bus stop on the street corner, as the number 37 pulls up to the kerb, its doors sliding open. "Should we test the illusion at the borders of the dream?"

"Lead on," Eames says, waving a hand. He feels loose and warm, settled into his skin. Much more likely to hand over all his secrets on a silver platter with not a heart palpitation in offing as he mounts the steps into the bus's interior. "We'll have to compliment Hyun Ki on this mixture. I feel as though I've had a hit off a spliff whilst also high on muscle relaxers. Not that I would have any idea what that felt like."

"Of course not," Arthur says amusedly, swiping his fare card twice. The driver is a projection of one of Eames' neighbors. Lovely old woman, bakes bread every Sunday. Eames wiggles his fingers at her in greeting as he follows Arthur to a seat. "I'll tell him. Coming from you it would just be further encouragement to try to get into your pants."

"That implies that I encouraged him in the first place," Eames says, listing into Arthur's side as the bus lurches forward, not bothering to try to straighten up as the gentle sway of the bus keeps him in place. Arthur will have to forgive him, it does seem rather pointless to pull away only to be jostled back again. "Hyun Ki will give up eventually. Once he realizes that I can't give someone what they truly want. Only a facsimile of it," Eames muses. A bit glib perhaps, but his point stands.

"That's bullshit. If anyone's the whole package it's you, Eames." Arthur says with a shake of his head, quiet enough that for a wild moment Eames isn't sure he was meant to overhear. Arthur has seemed distant lately, tense and thoughtful, even during their sessions with the PASIV. But now he offers Eames a shy smile as Eames gapes at him, momentarily stunned into silence.

"That might be the nicest thing you've ever said to me. And I'm including that time you said that I wasn't the worst person you've ever worked with," Eames manages to say.

"Shut up," Arthur says, huffing out an annoyed breath. "I like that scarf," he adds awkwardly, eying up Eames' subconscious attire, a nod to the dream's crisp autumnal weather.

"It would look better on you, with your skin tone," Eames returns the compliment, though it's hardly fair, as Arthur would look handsome in anything.

Eames would have thought of that exchange as a bit of harmlessly flirtation but somehow in the course of their journey his hand has come to rest high up on Arthur's thigh, his index finger lazily tracing the line of Arthur's inseam; Arthur letting him.

"Yeah, it would," Arthur says and he's grinning. "Where are you headed after the job's done?" he asks as the bus rolls into their stop, and they ease away from each other, standing, then making their way to the front of the bus.

"I thought I would hole up somewhere until I finish with your project," Eames answers slowly, deftly dismounting the bus' steps before turning back to look at Arthur. Perhaps this mixture addles the brain more than anticipated, because it almost sounds to him as if Arthur is leading somewhere with that question. "Did you have some suggestion?" he asks confusedly.

A bell jangles behind Eames, Arthur deftly moving him out of a bicyclist's path before Eames can react, his hand finding Eames' hip to guide his movement with the ease of long familiarity. Arthur lets his hand drop as soon as the man passes, and then as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened, he asks, "How do you feel about Muscat?"

* * *

Eames comes to Muscat.

He's ostensibly there to work, but that excuse seems to hold less weight once he actually arrives because they both know he's here to be with Arthur. Because Arthur asked him to be.

Especially once weeks have gone by, and Arthur has an impressive collection of forged artwork to take to Hadid and Eames is still there. Eames could move on at any time. Back to Mombasa or London. Arthur knows that Pfinster offered Eames that corporate sabotage job in Bangalore. But neither one of them says anything about Eames leaving and nothing really changes.

He meets up with Eames at his hotel and has sex with a forgery of Eames' childhood piano teacher. The light from the bay windows makes her pale skin glow as Arthur goes down on her. And it's good, like it's always good when he's with Eames, but ...

"Mmm, Arthur," Eames purrs as she tries to interest him in round two, her hand rubbing at Arthur's cock. He gets hard, of course. That isn't the problem. Something about it just doesn't feel right though; even if everything is nominally perfect, it just isn't what he wants. Arthur hasn't had what he's wanted since that one time, in Montreal. He knows exactly what the problem is; it's that he can't see any of the room's mirrors from here.

Arthur gives up. "This isn't working," he says as he rolls off of Eames with a grunt.

"Everything seems in working order from down here, darling," Eames says with a throaty little laugh, reaching for him again. Arthur shrugs off her touch, catching her hands in his, peering down at her face. And it's the wrong face.

It's not like it's a surprise that he would be attracted to Eames. Eames is a handsome guy. They might not have fallen under anyone's definition of friends in the past but for as long as they've known each other, it's always been easy to like Eames on a personal level, to enjoy his company. For all that their methodologies diverge while working, and how easily they can manage to unravel each other's already frayed edges when in close contact, Eames is extremely likable. He's smart, competent, gets his work done quickly, and for the most part, quietly. He can be incredibly insightful, as good with the practicalities as he is with the fantastical side of dreaming. He might not know everything, but he knows what he needs to know. That goes a long way with Arthur.

And now that they've been spending so much time together recently, especially once sex got involved, it's been easy for things to get confused. Arthur hadn't realized the extent to which he had come to want Eames. Not just a body that Eames forged for him. Eames, himself.

"Eames. Maybe we could do something else," Arthur suggests crisply, dropping her hands, folding his arms over his chest. His face feels hot, his words awkward. They're both still naked, so he aims his gaze deliberately above Eames' shoulder.

Eames frowns a little at the suggestion, nodding anyway. "Anything you like, Arthur, you know that."

Eames can be very accommodating. Always. And it's starting to bother Arthur; that he's just one more in a potentially long line of people who took advantage of that. Not to read too much into Eames' chosen profession because it isn't his job or his place to psychoanalyze Eames, to put him under a microscope and look at his working parts, but it's been fairly obvious that somewhere along the way Eames came to believe that just being himself wasn't enough. Because of how readily Eames sells himself to the highest bidder, how willing he is to oblige someone who wants to change Eames into something more, better, different.

Arthur is just now coming to realize that he could want Eames, just as he is. If Eames wanted him to.

He probably owes Eames an apology. Maybe an explanation if he can come up with something that doesn't make him sound like an idiot. Arthur climbs to his feet with a sigh and asks haltingly,

"Look, do you want to get out of here? Go grab something for dinner?"

Eames looks surprised for a second, before she stands too, offering Arthur a soft smile and a gun that she dreamed up to wake them with. "Of course."

* * *

The lift comes and goes, and Eames doesn't get on it. He's meant to, Arthur is waiting for him in his hotel suite at this very moment. And yet Eames can't seem to bring himself to get on the bloody lift.

It's not that he doesn't want to see Arthur, precisely. Really it's that he both does and doesn't want to, because of all things, Eames finds that at this exact moment he doesn't know what to say to him. Something has changed between them recently. It's nothing Eames can put his finger on as yet. They still spend their free time together as often as not, sharing a meal or a conversation. Arthur doesn't seem to have any complaints about Eames' company. Wasn't it just the other day that Arthur smiled when Eames came into the room?

But the fucking, which had once been the hallmark of their personal relationship, that has been happening less and less. Arthur was bound to get tired of it sooner or later, Eames supposes, once the bloom was off the rose, so to speak. But surely he would have let him know if he had any complaints, would have sent Eames packing if their arrangement was no longer working for him? If he wanted something else, someone else? Of course he could simply ask him, when he sees him, Eames thinks balefully. And then, Fuck it.

He calls him instead.

"Eames. What's going on?" Arthur asks after he picks up the line. Charmingly brusque as always.

Eames changes his mind in that instant. Why rock the boat? Why ask questions that he doesn't want the answer to, and other idioms of that nature. If he could have come up with a reasonable reason as to why he's ringing Arthur when he's meant to be on his way up to Arthur's hotel room just now, he might have used it. His mind remains stubbornly blank until he simply ends up blurting out, "It's been enjoyable, hasn't it? These last few weeks together?," wincing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

"Fishing for compliments?" Arthur asks, huffing a laugh at the very idea.

Eames laughs weakly in return. "Not precisely. But you would say that you're happy, with our arrangement? Or satisfied, rather. If you weren't..." It's horrific, that's what this is. He would call it a trainwreck but frankly he's had enough of trains to last him one lifetime. He manages with some difficulty to stem the unwanted stream of words coming from his mouth. "But you are intending that things between us will remain the same, at least for the time being?" Because, therein lies the rub.

Arthur clears his throat, and when he responds it's with the air of a man choosing his words very carefully. "Things can't always stay the same, Eames."

Eames freezes, his hand squeezed tight around his mobile. Doesn't that just have the makings of a break-up conversation in process all over it? Arthur's way of subtly letting him down easy. Although it's pointless to feel disappointed, Eames reminds himself. Arthur had been quite specific, from the beginning, that he wasn't interested in making this more than what it was. A business transaction for them both.

"No, of course not," Eames answers, shaking his head despite the fact that Arthur can't see him, resuming his path across the lobby, the other hotel patrons giving him a wide berth, making him wonder vaguely what his face must look like. "I will, however, always enjoy spending time with you. Whether I'm paid to or not." Eames frowns at that, thinking back. Now that he's said it, he remembers that he hasn't actually spent any of the money that Arthur has paid him. Actually, to be honest, he can't be sure Arthur has paid him for the all the time that they've spent together. It's odd, that is, that both of them would completely ignore what had brought them together in the first place.

"Eames." Arthur huffs impatiently. "Just come up."

"I'll be there shortly." His voice sounds remarkably steady, calm even, as he rings off, if he might say so himself. No hint of any unsightly emotional distress. There's no sense in dramatics, is there? Eames is an adult, he can handle rejection, even coming from Arthur. Not that he was expecting much else.

It's been a fantasy all along. Nothing more.

* * *

Arthur had thought he'd learnt over the years all there is to know about Eames. His criminal and academic records (refreshingly mundane and unsurprisingly impressive) to his favorite handguns and the way he takes his tea (German made semi-automatics and with a splash of milk).

But he was wrong, because he's just lately been learning the soft creases at the corners of Eames' eyes, how he laughs when he's half-asleep and happy; raspy and slow, the thin skin of his wrist as Arthur inserts his cannula, the caked red clay under his fingernails. He's just now figuring out what Eames would like. Who he would like.

"I'm thinking of a little Brazilian number that I forged some years ago," Eames says, all determined cheer from the moment Arthur opened the door for him, purposefully striding through Arthur's hotel room as he sets the PASIV open on the night stand next to the bed.

Arthur smiles. "That sounds fine," he says, fond and easy, and when Eames grins back at him, pushing up the sleeve of Arthur's shirt to swab down the crook of his elbow, Arthur leans in, not thinking. Or of course, thinking, because it seems like a good idea at the time. To kiss Eames. It feels right. Until Eames jerks back like Arthur slapped him, dropping the alcohol swab and scrambling to put space between them.

"What are you doing?" Eames asks, his eyes wide, his voice gone high and wary.

He's gone to stand beside the bed in a defensive position, everything about his posture is closed-off and unwelcoming. Arthur tenses in response, ready to write it off as a bad job. Except that, this might be his one shot at it. If Arthur stops now, laughs it off, if he deflects, he can't be sure that he would ever have an opportunity like this again. These feelings that he has for Eames are still newly formed and fragile, but there are feelings and Eames deserves to know that. Arthur clenches his fists, and he stands his ground.

"I want it to be real. I can't keep fucking someone who is you but isn't, looking for the real thing in reflections off of windows and television screens. I want this to be real." Arthur is blunt because he doesn't know how else to put it.

"I want you," Arthur starts again, and he shifts his weight, tucking his hands into his pockets, his cheeks a little warm as he bulls through the rest of it, "I want you to fuck me. As you."

"Arthur-- Well, that's unexpected," Eames says, with the air of someone who has just been sucker punched, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. He chuckles then, faltering a little, shaking his head. "Okay."

"That's it? Just -- 'okay'?" Arthur parrots. That just seems too easy, Eames never lets him off the hook like that.

There's a long pause where Arthur starts to wonder if he's maybe he's going to have to get out of there while he still has some dignity since it clearly isn't a reciprocal thing. He doesn't owe it to Eames to beg him want him back, to flay himself open for Eames' amusement or whatever. Eames has had enough of him, over the course of their relationship. But he did owe him the truth. Even if this is what finishes things between them, at least Arthur will still be able to respect himself after.

Eames frowns slightly, like Arthur's earlier words have just now sunk in, and he takes a step back, raising his hands as if to hold Arthur back. "I needed a second to adjust my entire world view, sorry" Eames says, and he at least looks it, his eyes tracing down Arthur's body with something that looks like regret. "But now that you mention it, darling, I am mildly curious as to why now, after all this time."

Arthur's shoulders come up. "Look, I know that you don't like me. You've made that perfectly clear in the past."

Eames laughs in his face, incredulous. "You can't be serious," Eames states, shaking his head when he sees that Arthur is. "It's not that I don't like you, Arthur. Given the opportunity, I could like you very much indeed. But that's not what this is. You told me quite early on that you weren't interested in starting a relationship with me. No complications, I believe it was."

"That was months ago. Even if I meant it then, I'm allowed to change my mind, Eames," he says, and what he's going to sound pathetic, he already knows, but it's true. "I want to see your face."

The look that abruptly passes over Eames' face is enough to finally calm the nerves that have been eating away at Arthur's self-control. It's hesitant, but interested, like maybe Eames could want that too. Eames shakes his head then, but it's not a denial. It's something like awe.

"This old thing?" Eames says, a hand fluttering up to his cheek, and his posture slowly relaxes. Opens. Arthur takes that as a cue to move forward, still hesitant, like Eames might bolt for the door at any second. But Eames steps forward too, he meets Arthur in the middle.

He fits their bodies together, Eames' strong arms coming up to settle loosely around his waist. Eames lets out a soft, yearning noise as Arthur licks out over his bottom lip and says with a straight face, "I'm a sucker for a classic," feeling confident enough to tease, because now at least they're back on somewhat familiar ground.

They've done something like this a hundred times; Eames smiling when he leans in to kiss him. Arthur already knows that Eames is a good kisser, albeit abstractly. But that knowledge is nothing that could have prepared him for this, the way that the shape of Eames' mouth feels against his. It takes Eames no time at all to reduce Arthur to a shivering wreck in his arms, letting Eames support his weight when his knees go embarrassingly weak. They just kiss for a long time. Hands kept firmly above the waist, mouths learning each other's responses anew.

"Ah, and speaking of sucking..." Eames says when he finally peels back, gesturing down at the bulge distorting the front of his pants. He sets a hand on Arthur's shoulder, puts on a bit of suggestive pressure which Arthur resists. "Or not. If you have some objection--" Eames begins to say, raising an eyebrow at him.

Arthur shakes his head, mouth twisting up in a smirk. "No, no objections. Just-- Is that seriously the line you're going with? And here I thought you were a master of seduction."

"Technique is always the first casualty of urgency," Eames informs him seriously, stepping forward and shifting in close enough to undress each other, fingers quick and nimble on each others' buttons and buckles. "And quite honestly, Arthur, I would be delighted to say or not say anything you like, so long as it gets your mouth on my cock."

Arthur takes advantage of the moment to unceremoniously divest himself of his remaining clothes before he sinks to his knees. "Deal," he murmurs, shuffling forward, mouth already watering. Eames groans gratefully as Arthur peels his pants and underwear down, helping him lift his legs to kick them off. And there's Eames' Adinkra tattoo on his hip, exactly how Arthur remembers it. Arthur leans in then, holding the base of Eames cock, stroking it a little, watching him get harder. Arthur gives Eames' tattoo a fond little nibble before turning and sighing hot over the tip of Eames' dick. Eames has a nice cock, as far as Arthur's concerned. Impressive, but not frighteningly so, thick and flushed a pretty color, already a little wet. Arthur does what comes naturally, lapping at the fat head of it with his tongue, licking under Eames' foreskin at the salty taste gathering there. It isn't an act that Arthur has had much practice at. He can't fit as much of Eames in his mouth as he thought he would be able to at first glance, but given the way Eames spreads his thighs to give Arthur better access to his dick, he doesn't seem to have any complaints about Arthur's relative inexperience.

His fingers dig into Arthur's hair, tugging roughly, but it's easy enough to ignore the flaring pain in his scalp with Eames' low voice saying, "It's good, you're so good, Arthur."

Arthur groans a little, stroking a hand up the shaft, rewarded with a burst of precome over his tongue. Fuck, he likes that taste. It taps into something fundamental and primal, something directly linked to Arthur's cock, because he's hard, almost painfully so. He closes his eyes, sucking harder, searching for more, rubbing his hand over Eames' belly, the muscles there twitching under his palm. Eames's mouth has dropped open, his every breath sounds heavy and wet over the sound of Arthur's mouth on his dick.

Arthur can't keep it up for very long. He has to stop to breathe and to adjust his jaw after a few minutes of dedicated sucking. "Mmm, here. Like this," Eames rumbles after Arthur pulls away panting for a third time. He cups the back of Arthur's head in one hand, tilting it back as he rubs his cock over Arthur's cheeks and his swollen bottom lip. Resisting a little when Arthur tries to go back to sucking, clearly getting off on the sight of his cock smearing precome and spit over Arthur's skin, making him dirty. Quite possibly Arthur is getting off on it too, keyed up enough that when Eames finally guides his dick back between Arthur's parted lips, his balls twitch in response, heavy and full between his legs.

Eames makes a low, hissing noise as Arthur tries to take him deeper inside. It doesn't work the first couple of times, Arthur sputtering and backing off with a rueful smile for Eames. But he tries again and again, encouraged by the way Eames sucks in his breath sharply each time Arthur takes another inch of him. Arthur's working up to a measured rhythm. It's an opportunity, being together like this in reality. Knowing that there isn't a timer on them, that they can have as much of each other as they want. Unsurprisingly Arthur doesn't have a problem with taking his time with Eames, doing this right. He slides his mouth down to meet his hand where it's wrapped around the base of Eames' cock, swallowing as he pauses there for as long as he can take it, before easing back. It isn't long after that when Eames' grip on his hair shifts; he's pulling away rather than just pulling.

"Enough, Arthur, have mercy," he pleads. "Stop a minute before you make me come."

Arthur relents with some regret. Eames coming is kind of the point, but he clearly has other plans as to how.

Eames groans a little when Arthur lets up suction and releases him, sitting back on his heels. He smiles though as he looks down at him, rubbing his thumb over Arthur's wet bottom lip, before giving Arthur a hand up. This body of Eames', his real body, is thick and solid. His upper half is imposing as he pulls Arthur to his feet. The broad, defined muscles that shape his shoulders and chest are built for dominance. It would be no trouble at all for him to wrestle Arthur down to the ground-- but, Arthur thinks wildly, maybe he shouldn't get ahead of himself.

"What would you like, I wonder?" Eames asks, spinning Arthur around, his chest to Arthur's back, his heart hammering against Arthur's skin. "Shall I get you off with my hands? Or would you like to come in my mouth, do you think?"

Arthur's flushed and breathless, Eames' fingers slotted into the crease of his hips. "Anything. I'd like anything," Arthur says truthfully. "How do you want me?" It's not about what Arthur wants. He needs to know how Eames wants him when it isn't a business transaction, when it isn't a dream. What does Eames like when it's really him, really for him?

He immediately crowds Arthur up against the mattress, heavy on top of him, his weight bearing Arthur down. "Why don't we start here for beginners?" he whispers in Arthur's ear, making Arthur squirm.

Eames' hips fit perfectly against Arthur's ass, his cock slipping into the cleft between his cheeks, catching against the rim of Arthur's hole on every up thrust. Arthur reaches back, touches where he's wet already from where Eames has been leaking precome all over his skin until Eames swats his hand away. Arthur feels a little flash of disappointment that they won't be able to fuck bare, not here, in the real world.

"Fuck, your gorgeous arse," Eames growls out, grinding against him, his hands pressing Arthur's cheeks tight around him, looking for friction.

"You could," Arthur gasps as Eames shoves against him particularly roughly, hips snapping against the skin of Arthur's backside as he fucks against him hard, rocking Arthur's neglected cock against the mattress. Arthur grinds down into it, his eager cries muffled by the soft covers on the bed.

"Don't tempt me, Arthur. You have no idea, not a clue what I would do to you given half a chance," Eames manages to say before he rears back and comes, his semen splattering warm over the expanse of Arthur's back. That's all it takes to force Arthur over the edge, coming suddenly, the feeling hard and hurting, and right, as he curls into the mattress, letting it anchor him to reality.

Arthur can't help it; he gets a thrill from looking over at wrecked sprawl of Eames' body as he collapses sideways across the bed, narrowly avoiding crushing Arthur with his descent.

"You should know that I find this smugness of yours crass and woefully unappealing," Eames announces with a weak glare when he spots Arthur's admittedly smug grin, but there's a wry tilt to his mouth as he says it.

Arthur crawls in beside him, wriggling against Eames, wanting as much skin on skin contact as possible. "There's nothing about me you don't find appealing," he says, his voice husky, part of his usual sex induced fugue state, feeling fatigue dragging at him now.

"It's true," Eames says mournfully, petting at Arthur's back, the nape of his neck. "Even this unsightly show of vanity gets my blood up. You should rest. You'll need your energy for later."

"Not too much later," Arthur argues, slow and sleepy, and then his eyes are sliding closed and then he sleeps.

* * *

Eames waits at least a full thirty minutes before poking Arthur awake, looming over him on his hands and knees, a bottle of lube on the pillow next to Arthur's head.

"Is it later already?" Arthur asks grouchily, even as he sleepily accepts the open-mouthed kisses Eames presses to his lips, before he moves over to nip at the heated skin at the slope of Arthur's neck and shoulders. Eames' cock has already gone half-hard, nudging at the space behind Arthur's balls as he urges Arthur's knees up, folding them up against Arthur's chest, spread wide to accommodate the width of Eames' body between them.

Eames spares a glance for the bedside clock, bracing himself on one arm, kissing his way down Arthur's right side; his armpit, the crook of his elbow, the fluttering pulse at his wrist, Arthur smiling the whole while. Kissing at each of Arthur's fingertips, Eames pauses to say, serious and only a little desperate, "I'm quite sure enough time has passed, yes."

He sucks at the tip of Arthur's middle finger, Arthur stretching out beneath him, a feline and lazy movement that serves to hitch him closer to Eames. Arthur looks up at him then as if this is something special, as if it's something they've never done before. And perhaps they haven't. Eames' tongue darts out, tracing over each of Arthur's fingers in turn, finally getting to enjoy the real taste of Arthur's skin on his tongue.

"We should have done this sooner," Arthur agrees with a pleased sigh. And yes, that's it exactly. He's fucked Arthur before, but this bit is new. He likes this, seeing the little bite marks come up on the puffy pink skin of Arthur's lower lip as he worries it with his teeth, likes following the path of Arthur's sweat as it rolls down and beads at the base of his neck. He wants to watch Arthur's lovely dark eyes as he comes.

Eames inhales deeply, leaving off on Arthur's hand to cup the back of his knees, shifting over Arthur, bending down to kiss him, hard and messy. Arthur will have terrible beard burn come morning, Eames thinks gleefully, rubbing his stubble against Arthur's cheek. Arthur reaches up to trace the curve of Eames' jaw, laughing when Eames nuzzles into the touch.

"This isn't exactly my area of expertise in the real world," Arthur admits as Eames finally peels away, and he looks painfully hesitant as he runs his hands up Eames' chest. That won't do at all.

"Would you like suggestions?" Eames hums out a thoughtful note. "How about here for starters?" And he guides Arthur's hands down to his nipples, running Arthur's fingers over them until they pebble. He leaves Arthur to explore, groaning openly and appreciatively when Arthur uses his own initiative and tugs at them, gently first, and then harder.

Eames had meant what he said earlier, he would happily fuck Arthur's lovely tight little bum here and now. Yet however sincere Arthur may have been in offering his not entirely virginal arse up to Eames, Eames would be willing to guess that penetration might be something they need to work up to. Ideally, Eames wants this to be better, more memorable than anything that they've done together in the past, because this is real. Eames has options in this endeavor, of course, multitudes of positions and sex acts to try; it's narrowing them down that's a struggle. But for now, perhaps the basics.

Eames tips forward, catching Arthur's mouth, kissing him, letting his weight sink onto him. Arthur takes it eagerly, his mouth open and lush, little greedy sighs slipping out against Eames' lips. And there's no doubt now, Arthur is hungry for this, all arms and legs suddenly, wrapped and clinging around Eames' body, reeling Eames back in every time he dares draw back to take a breath, to just stop and look at Arthur pinned under him. It should be unflattering, the way he looks at this moment; his matted hair, and his knobby knees folded up to his armpits, the splotchy flush all down his chest. And yet Eames can barely breathe for wanting him.

"You're gorgeous. Arthur. Has anyone ever told you that you are absolutely, stunningly gorgeous?" Eames asks, he can't stop himself from asking.

"No, this would be a first," Arthur replies indulgently, and he gives Eames the widest smile.

"Fuck, your dimples," Eames groans, leaning in to dash kisses over them. "Gorgeous. I love this, I love fucking you. You're so good, you're always so good."

Arthur's eyes have gone half-lidded and dreamy as Eames trails his palms down Arthur's navel, to the juncture of his thighs and the neatly trimmed hair at his groin, tilting his hips up to cup at his arse. Eames rocks against him, their cocks somewhat incidentally rubbing between their two stomachs.

Arthur's staring at him, as if he's afraid to blink and miss something, his hands still mapping Eames' body with a focus that would probably border on disturbing, if Eames gave a bloody fuck, if he wasn't loving every second of it. They're appreciating each other in a way that they haven't, savoring this moment like they couldn't before. It's nothing Eames should ever have allowed himself to want, having Arthur this way, and finding himself having simply been given it, so easily, so freely, blows him away.

"I could spout some trite nonsense about taking you any way I could get you when this started, but it wasn't like that, Arthur. It was just a lark at first," he confesses abruptly because there's not really going to be a better time for him to say it.

"I know that. I knew that." Arthur frowns, taking a deep breath first, and Eames understands, he does, because as brave as Arthur is at facing down an army of projections, simple vulnerability has never sat well on him. He reaches out, clutching tight to Eames' waist, before he continues. "To be honest, at first I just wanted you because you were uncomplicated and convenient. You're not either, exactly, but I still want you. Just you."

"You have me." Eames tucks Arthur's hair back behind his ears, carefully, reverently. He's unabashed in his staring, he wants to memorize Arthur, just as he is right now. Arthur circles his hips, an experimental movement, causing Eames to groan, thrusting back helplessly in response, and promise him, "I'm going to make you come so hard that you won't remember your own name."

Eames casts about for the bottle of lube decisively, but caught up as he is by the neat grip of Arthur's thighs, he only manages to nudge at it with the tips of two fingers, his reach not quite long enough to grab a hold of it.

"Although easier said than done without supplies," Eames says, gesturing to his side of the bed.

"Since when do you care about easy?" Arthur scoffs, but he relents, relaxing his hold enough that Eames can lean over and snatch up the bottle.

Eames pauses, distracted by the helpless twitching of Arthur's hips pinned down by his, Eames tilting his own hips into each thrust as Arthur slowly rubs up against him, searching for the angle that works best, giving both of their cocks much needed attention until Eames' pulse picks up and he almost completely forgets what he's about. Eames stills eventually, tearing his gaze away, only just remembering his plan, such as it was, struggling to open the bottle of lube one handed.

Arthur laughs at his loss of focus, of course he does, though the laugh cuts off with a swift indrawn breath as Eames drags wet fingers low on the inside of Arthur's thigh, Arthur fairly vibrating off of the bed as Eames cups his balls.

He dips his head, mouthing at the hollow of Arthur's collarbone, his hand fondling Arthur's sack, tugging at the loose folds of skin. Arthur digs his fingers into Eames' biceps, his long body strung tight as a bow as Eames takes his precious time, spending what must feel like hours spreading lube over the base of Arthur's cock, testing both their patience. Arthur pants and sweats, fighting it, trying to thrust into Eames' grasp, swearing in frustration when Eames contrarily slows even further. His responses are distracting enough that Eames almost forgets the lack of friction on his own cock, busily cooing little soothing nothings to Arthur as he fondles him until he finally relaxes into Eames' care, accepts his pace. So much so that he lets out a loud surprised gasp when Eames finally wraps his hand around Arthur's cock, as perfectly delectable as the rest of him, and strokes him, quick and firm.

Arthur adjusts to the change with a complete loss of inhibition, cursing Eames and praising him in equal measure. Eames can't stand it much longer, each of the hot, urgent noises that Arthur makes sparking through him, from his gut down to his groin.

There's much to be said for selflessness and to seeing to the needs of your partner, Eames feels rather strongly about it in fact, but Eames is also very attached to the idea of coming. Sooner rather than later for preference. Eames settles back on his heels, body gone rather tense and shocky, as he fumbles the bottle of lube in his slick fingers. He manages to loosen the top, shaking a little as he takes Arthur's hands in his own to wet them and to guide them down to wrap around both of their cocks. They both groan at the sensation, their cocks both wrapped up in Arthur's firm grip, their gazes locked on each other. Eames still contrary enough to draw it out a little longer, his grip on Arthur's wrist keeping the pace slow and steady for as long as he can stand it, with Arthur wide-eyed, mindlessly begging him to finish it.

Eames shushes him patiently, shifting forward enough that his lips hover over Arthur's, catching them on every upstroke, swallowing his pleas. Arthur's eyelashes flutter against Eames' cheek, his dark eyes consuming at this range. And then he lets Arthur go, lets him take control, and perhaps Eames has been consumed because nothing exists aside from Arthur in that moment, under him and around him, his come hot against Eames' belly as the pull of his hand drags Eames forward into desperate pleasure, the release relentlessly good.

Eames folds into Arthur as he comes, pinning him down, Arthur's legs locked around him, his toes digging into the back of Eames' calves. Arthur smooths the sweaty strands of Eames' hair away from his forehead, his eyes still blurry and dazed, their mouths haphazardly sliding together as they kiss and kiss again.

Eames tucks his chin into the side of Arthur's neck after, simply breathing him in. Their fingers are still tangled together over Arthur's belly, and their legs under the sheets. He's too heavy to stay on top of Arthur like this for much longer, but for now it's nice. Intimate in a way that Eames hadn't quite realized was possible for them. If he has his way, it would be like this tomorrow, and the day after that, on and on.

He grins suddenly, hidden against the shell of Arthur's ear. This isn't a dream he can wake from.

* * *

"You do realize neither one of us could rightly be called a solid bet in a relationship," Eames points out the next morning over breakfast, spooning dots of honey onto his toast, yawning slightly, his posture completely relaxed in juxtaposition with how serious his tone is.

Arthur swallows his last bit of fig, rolling his eyes. "It's a good thing we both like a challenge."

"Then we're trying this. You and me, and some odd approximation of a relationship?" Eames asks bluntly. He manages to sound unaffected, focused on fixing his tea, but Arthur's getting better at reading him. Eames still half-doubts it, like he can't entirely believe Arthur could want him as he really is. Not yet.

"Yeah. I want to try," Arthur says, meeting Eames' gaze and nodding firmly. And that's Eames trusting him enough to nod back, accepting him at his word.

"Then I'll leave it to you to fill in the details," Eames says, picking up his cup of tea, smiling at Arthur demurely, because he's still an asshole.

But apparently Arthur's used to it by now, so maybe that's why he suddenly blurts out, "Stay here with me."

Eames' eyes widen as he sets his cup clumsily down with a loud clatter against the saucer. "Until the job is finished? You'll be sick of the sight of me before much longer."

Arthur looks over at Eames, who has dark circles under his eyes, slouched over the table wearing yesterday's clothes. He's still the most appealing thing Arthur's seen in a long time. Which might be stupidly sentimental of him but, Arthur supposes, there's no help for that. He shakes his head, smiling, and sure. "No, I don't think I will be."