Eames doesn't really have a lot of luck in love.
"Good morning, darling," Eames calls out cheerily, subtly angling his body closer to the light of his life, like how sunflowers tend to- Alright. He is definitely going to stop talking to Mal forever.
"Good morning, Eames," Arthur greets cordially. Eames tries to detect a hint of fondness in Arthur's voice. It does not go well. "The usual, please."
Eames busies himself with writing his phone number on Arthur's cup while Yusuf makes Arthur's drink.
"So," Eames says after a long pause in which he subtly checks Arthur out.
Arthur looks up from his phone, eyebrow arched. "So?"
"So, I reckon we should go out and get a drink," Eames says, sending Arthur his most hopeful smile.
Yusuf, the traitorous bastard, decides that now would be the time to holler out Arthur's name. "Your drink is up!"
Arthur takes his drink form Yusuf with a smile and turns back to Eames. "I am already getting a drink," he says.
And before Eames can clarify that what he wants is actually a fucking date (with a bit of something-something to end the night with, hopefully), Arthur walks out of the shop, and leaves Eames in despair.
Correction: Eames has no luck in love.
Arthur's usual coffee order is a custom brew. Yusuf only makes it because Eames went to high school with Yusuf and he knows things no one should know about Yusuf.
The first time Eames introduces the drink to Arthur, Arthur makes a sound that almost has Eames' knees buckling. Eames is about five seconds from begging Arthur to let Eames do dirty, dirty things to him when Arthur's phone rings and Arthur's eyes narrow as he barks out an order before he storms out of the coffee shop.
Which was unfortunate, but also really, really hot.
(Eames did not surreptitiously go to the loo for a wank after. He did not.)
Eames starts making (Yusuf make) Arthur the custom brew every day. Arthur doesn't make the half-moan again, but his grin is wider and there is a spring in his step that wasn't there when he came in and really, that's enough for Eames.
(Okay, he's lying. He's totally lying. Eames wants to take Arthur out on fancy dates and make his dimples show and his eyes shine with love. Eames wants to make love to Arthur at midnight, in the dunes of the cape. Eames wants Arthur to look at him and not see the chap that makes my coffee so much he is completely unashamed of quoting cheesy songs.)
The thing is, if their roles were reversed, Eames would have given in long ago. Eames doesn't know what he's doing wrong or what he can change to do things right, so he just continues doing what he does and hopes for the best.
"What?" Eames snaps.
"I can hear you narrating the sob story of your lack of a relationship with Arthur in your head from here," Yusuf says with a smirk.
Eames flips him off.
He is at least 85% sure that Arthur is not going out with Eames because Eames comes off as a person who makes bad life decisions, as can be seen from his choices of friends, i.e. Yusuf.
"Wipe that scowl off your face," Yusuf says. "Arthur incoming."
Eames puts on his game face.
"On a second thought," Yusuf says, eyebrows climbing high up his forehead, "keep that scowl on. Arthur has company."
Arthur brings a girl to the coffee shop.
Arthur brings a girl to the coffee shop.
Judging by the way she rolls her eyes and lightly swats Arthur's arm when Arthur says something, and by the way Arthur lets out a soft, amused laugh when she mutters something back, Arthur has brought his girlfriend to the coffee shop.
Eames does not keep his scowl on because 1) he is a professional barista who puts service before anything personal, 2) Arthur is not his boyfriend and has the rights to bring whoever he wants into the coffee shop, and 3) Brunette with a Scarf might just be a work friend or his neighbour or, better yet, Arthur's sister. He will scowl when he finds out otherwise, but no sooner before.
"Good morning, darling!" Eames fucking chirps, smiling so wide his face feels like splitting. Behind him, fiddling with the coffee machine, Yusuf snorts. "Usual to go for you?"
Brunette with a Scarf is looking at Eames weirdly. Eames wonders if she's trying to warn him off her man and decides that he will not cower to a woman half his size and asks, "And your girlfriend?"
"Ariadne," Brunette with a Scarf offers (but does not correct Eames on the 'girlfriend' part), "and I'd like a hazelnut soy milk latte. We'll have them here, actually." She turns to look at Arthur. "We have time, don't we?"
Arthur frowns. "If Nash gets there before we do-"
Ariadne snorts. "Dom will wait for us to get there, will wait hours for us to show up, because he doesn't want to work with Nash alone." She pauses and adds as an afterthought, "Who wants to work alone with Nash? Nobody, that's who!"
Arthur rolls his eyes but relents. "We'll have them here," he repeats to Eames and pays for their coffees.
"Go grab a seat," Ariadne says. "I'll wait for the coffee."
Arthur gives her an odd look. "You are behaving very weirdly today."
Ariadne just beams at him until he leaves before turning to Eames, sharp as a whip. "Darling?" she asks. "And you write your phone number on his coffee cup! Don't pretend you didn't! I saw you doing it."
Eames cocks an eyebrow. "Is this where you tell me to lay my hands off your man before you do something horrible to me? If so, you can save it because Arthur has been nothing but faithful to you."
Ariadne stares at him before bursting out in laughter. "Arthur and I are not together. And he's not responding to you because he doesn't get that you like him."
Eames blinks. "Beg pardon?"
"Did you ever just tell him that you like him?" Ariadne asks.
"I haven't exactly been subtle," Eames says. "You've been here five minutes and you know."
Ariadne shrugs. "I am all-knowing and amazing," she tells him. "Arthur, though, he's a bit more straight-laced. It's hard to get him to see something unless it's all just out there."
Eames blinks again. "So, essentially, I've been doing it all wrong?"
"I have to tell him I like him and want to take him out and do sickeningly romantic things with him," Eames says.
"You're not his girlfriend, he's not exactly uninterested in me."
"-an idiot? Yes," Yusuf finishes from behind and turns to smile at Ariadne and pass her her coffee. "Hello, I'm Yusuf."
"I didn't ask." Ariadne grins.
Yusuf shrugs. "That's because I offered my name first."
"I have a boyfriend," she continues.
"Irrelevant," Yusuf shoots back. And then he turns to Eames, "This is actually where you pretend to be a good mate and disappear."
"Ha, I'm not that easy," Ariadne tells Yusuf before turning to Eames. "Don't leave on my account." And then she grabs both mugs of coffee and heads for Arthur.
Ariadne gestures over at Eames and speaks very forcefully to Arthur the moment she sits down.
Eames makes a very embarrassing noise high in his throat and does not hide under the counter.
Yusuf rolls his eyes. "You wanted his attention," he tells Eames. "You have it now."
Eames glares at Yusuf. "You are the most horrible best friend," he says with feeling. "I hope you know that I regret that day I met you in high school and decided that you were just the type of person I wanted as my best friend."
"Your mother thought I was a great influence on you," Yusuf says. "Your math improved. A lot."
"That was because you'd steal my lunch money if I got the answer wrong!"
Yusuf grins at that. "I learnt my pickpocketing skills from the best."
"When I taught you that, I expected you to use it for good, not evil."
"When is pickpocketing ever good?" Yusuf muses to himself. "Regardless of methods, you have to admit that only a great best friend would care enough to help his best friend improve his math."
Eames groans. "You are the worst best friend ever."
"I have my good moments," Yusuf says serenely.
"Name one," Eames challenges.
"If I were indeed the horrible friend you have made me out to be, I would not tell you that Arthur has been standing here for the past minute or so listening to us reminisce about our not so glorifying past and continue to secretly let on what a horrible person you are in hopes that Arthur would run in the opposite direction as fast as it is humanly possible when he sees you," Yusuf says. "But as it is, I shan't embarrass you further."
Eames jumps up from where he is crouched down, hits his head on the counter, and turns to look at Arthur. "Hi."
Arthur smiles at him, soft and slightly amused. "Hi."
"Uh, are you- Do you need a refill?" Eames manages to get out, putting on his Professional Barista mode.
Arthur arches an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware you did refills."
"We don't," Yusuf confirms from behind Eames. "It's a Close Friends and Family thing."
Arthur hums in understanding.
Eames wants the ground to open up and swallow him alive. He also wants to whack Yusuf in the head with a mug. Whichever one more possible. Eames isn't choosy.
"So," Eames says, resisting the urge to shift on his feet, "refill?"
"Actually," Arthur says, "I was wondering if we might have a word in private?"
Eames swallows and prepares himself for the worst.
"Five bucks say they make out in the back alley," Ariadne calls out from her table when Arthur follows Eames out through the backdoor.
Yusuf laughs. "Five bucks say we make out in the back alley!"
"Fool's bet," Ariadne says, walking over.
"Humour me," Yusuf says with a shrug.
"So…" Eames starts. "Is this where you let me down easily and tell me not to turn vindictive and poison your morning fix of coffee?"
Arthur barks out a laugh. "Would you? Poison my coffee if I told you I wasn't interested, that is."
"Probably not," Eames says with a sigh. "But I can't say the same for Yusuf, though. Besides being the most inwardly loyal friend a guy can get, he's got a degree in Pharmacology and likes to synthesize his own drugs and everything."
"So I shouldn't let you down easily, lest I die by coffee," Arthur concedes easily with a grin.
"Well, if you let me down the hard way," Eames says, "you'll break my heart and you'll never get a good cup of coffee again."
"I thought Yusuf made my coffee," Arthur muses. "I'd just be cutting out the middleman."
"But who'd write their numbers on your cup?" Eames asks, voice heavy with melodrama.
"Plenty of people, I suppose," Arthur says with a smirk. And then he schools his features into the most sheepish look Eames has seen on him. "I really didn't know. I thought it was a thing you did for everyone."
"You thought I wrote my number down for every bloke that came in? Darling, I am severely wounded here."
Arthur winces. "I thought it was the coffee shop's number, to be honest."
Eames blinks. "But I call you darling. Every morning."
"I thought it was a British thing?"
"I wink at you. And ask you out. And tell you that you look gorgeous all the time."
Arthur shrugs. "Friendly barista?"
Eames laughs. "If I had known, I'd have made a banner."
Arthur ducks his head slightly in embarrassment and Eames wants to ravish him.
"That might have been more indicative, yes," Arthur says.
"But now you know," Eames says.
Arthur nods. "Now I know."
"And?" Eames prods on.
"And I'm deeply flattered and would like to ask you out for dinner," Arthur continues smoothly, "but…"
"But?" Eames urges, heartbeat rising, palms sweating. "But what, darling?"
"But you have to promise me that if it's the worst date ever, you won't hate me and that you'll stop Yusuf from poisoning my coffee," Arthur says, straight-faced.
Eames' laughter bubbles up from deep inside of him. "There is literally nothing you can do to make it the worst date ever. Just by agreeing to go out with me, you've made it the best day ever."
"You are ridiculous," Arthur says with a laugh.
"But not a liar," Eames says. "Never a liar."
"This coming from a pickpocket?" Arthur teases.
"Ugh," Eames groans, "I hate Yusuf."
Eames leads Arthur back into the shop, hands laced tightly together.
Yusuf arches an eyebrow. "If you're done making out in the back alley, can Ariadne and I use it?"
"We didn't make out in the alley," Eames says, blushing.
"Ha!" Yusuf exclaims, sticking his tongue out at Ariadne.
Ariadne frowns at them. "Arthur."
"Eames!" Ariadne growls. "You don't get to be shy with Arthur on my money."
"We're splitting the profits," Eames tells her, but tugs Arthur out of the shop again, grin wide and easy as he returns Yusuf's wink.
Yusuf isn't that bad of a friend, really.