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i.

Arthur’s just coming out of the Starbucks on the corner 6th and 42nd, iced Chai in one hand, phone in the other. He’s reading the news, which is why he walks into someone as soon as he opens the door with his shoulder.

“Sorry-” Whoever he just bumped into starts to apologize, but stops the minute Arthur looks up. This would be because he has just run headfirst into, of all the people in the world, Eames.

“Oh,” Arthur says.

“Yeah,” Eames agrees. Arthur licks his lips, Eames’ eyes flick to Arthur’s mouth. They stand there silently for a bit, blocking foot traffic on the sidewalk and looking quite like morons.

“So what’s the protocol for running into your ex-boyfriend at Fashion Week?” Arthur asks finally.

“You know, I really have no bloody clue,” Eames answers.

---

The thing is, it wasn’t a messy break up. There wasn’t even much of a break, just kind of a mutual going of opposite directions. It had happened in Rome, in a flat that looked out over Piazza Navona, in the middle of the day. They were on vacation, for once, just three stolen days in Italy because Arthur had been in Madrid and Eames had been in Odessa and they just kind of met in the middle.

It was also the first time they had seen each other in four months, which was kind of the problem. In two and a half years of doing this thing were they were a couple, if they were honest about it (they weren’t great at that), they had maybe been together for a whole of six months.

“Maybe we should,” Arthur says, trailing off and sort of making a vague hand gesture. He’s sitting up in bed, naked except for the sheet across his lap, and Eames is sitting on the windowsill in briefs, staring at Arthur’s feet. They’re rough and calloused; Arthur spends most of his life on his feet in unforgiving Italian leather.

“Should just… uh. God, this sounds cliché, but see other people?” Eames supplies, because, yeah. The sex is bloody fantastic, and they click together like nothing else, nothing that Eames has ever had or will have again, but they’re also leading on the mother of all long distance relationships.

“That, yes,” Arthur says, and picks at edge of the sheet before running a hand through his mussed hair.
“Yeah, that sounds right,” Eames says, and it sounds hollow, because it’s not fucking right at all, it’s so wrong, but he’s as sick of not seeing Arthur as Arthur is of not seeing him, and it’s just become one long slide away from home. It hurts.

Arthur has a flight to catch, so does Eames, and they mean to get up, but instead they end up fucking again, with the windows open at just a little past noon, because what the hell, it’s Italy, and they might never do this again.

When Arthur kisses him at the airport (desperate and rough, Eames thinks) it feels a whole hell of a lot like a goodbye.

---

They don’t see each other for over a year. Eames still sends Arthur picture text messages of things he finds amusing (“found this in LA” with a picture of a sticker on the back of a stop sigh that reads, above a graphic rendition of the character – fuck you, I’m Batman.) and Arthur still sends Eames post cards that are blank save for one single little - A.

But they don’t see each other. Eames doesn’t fly over a thousand miles for sex. It’s nice, sort of. (If he’s denying it.)

That is, until Eames lets himself realizes that he likes chasing Arthur across the globe, and he always got the impression it was the same for Arthur to go to Eames.

They should see each other about six months into that year, but Arthur is not at Mal’s funeral. He’s with Dom, making sure Dom doesn’t follow his wife off some high up ledge, tucked away in some country where he can’t be extradited. Arthur’s the only thing holding Dom together, right now.

Eames gets a postcard from Macedonia one day, and when he flips it over he’s surprised to see that there’s writing on the back.

Mal told me once, when we were possibly on the wrong side of too many glasses of wine in Cannes, that she hoped that you and I would get married in her lifetime. I think what I’m feeling right now (and it’s hard to tell, I’m going to regret this postcard in the morning as much as I’m going to regret the vodka straight from the bottle) is regret.

- A.

It’s not the first time in his life that Eames has wondered if he loves Arthur, but this time it hurts.

---

At the end of that year, they run into each other outside a Starbucks when Eames is on his way to Dennis Basso and Arthur has just been at Duckie Brown.

“It was terrible,” Arthur says when they’ve removed themselves to a table in the park.

“You always hate Duckie Brown,” Eames says, and then, “dinner?”

“Won’t that be awkward?” Arthur asks.

“Spice?”

“Pastis.”

“Son Cubano.”

“Done.”

They sit in silence for a while, Arthur checking his phone from time to time and Eames stealing what amounts to basically half of Arthur’s Chai.

“Have you seen anything you’ve liked?” Eames asks finally.

“Simon Spurr,” Arthur says, shrugging, and Eames rolls his eyes, because of course.

“You’ve liked him since before you were born,” Eames points out.

“He’s only been around since 2006,” Arthur says simply, and trust Arthur to say something like that.

---

Dinner is somehow not awkward. When Arthur wakes up the next morning and goes down to leave, the girl working at the front desk stops him.

“Mr. Gordon, you have a package,” she says, and hands over what looks to be a shirt box wrapped in butcher paper. The box itself says Simon Spurr when he pulls off the paper.

“Wow,” the girl says when he opens the box to reveal two cardigans, both v-necked – one in heather grey, one in tangerine. They are both, Arthur realizes with a bit of a start, from the collection that just got sent down the runway yesterday.

“Wow indeed,” Arthur agrees. The material feels perfect under the rough pads of his fingers.

“She must really love you, who ever she is.”

“Huh?”

“Girlfriend, right? I didn’t see a ring.”

Arthur takes a moment to realize what she’s talking about, and then he taps his fingers on the desk, chewing on his bottom lip before he replies.

“Yeah, there’s probably some love there.”

---

It is, in a way, fitting. The reason they first fell into bed together was also because of a cardigan. That one was just Lacoste, after Arthur had gotten caught in the rain in London and had to borrow dry clothes from Eames – a pair of jeans and an alarmingly green sweater.

“You look good in my clothes,” Eames had said.

“I always look good,” Arthur had thrown back.

“Yeah, you do,” Eames said, and about nine seconds after that they were kissing in Eames’ kitchen, Eames fucking him over the counter, the cardigan rucked up to Arthur’s armpits but still on.

---

On the last day they go see Isaac Mizrahi, if only because it’s something to do and maybe also because they’re both unwilling to let the other leave just yet, not that they voice that concern out loud.

“I just realized I never thanked you for the sweaters,” Arthur says when they’re outside, and he’s staring up at the buildings around them. Arthur’s never really been able to consider New York City home in any capacity, he’s lived in so many places in his life, keeps apartments all over the world, and the East Coast already has Annapolis, where he grew up. That’s the East Coast to him, the Bay and boats and the Naval Academy. He likes Manhattan, but it’s not home.

“I figured you were too busy having a Spurrgasm,” Eames smirks, and Arthur just sighs, but he’s got a little grin on his lips.

“Well, thank you.”

“I think that’s the first thanks I’ve ever gotten out of you.”

“No, there was that one time in Bogotá where-“

“Arthur, if you can remember the one other time you’ve thanked me, you just need to do it more.”

Arthur has to admit that Eames may have a point.

 

ii.

Arthur files to London because he’s in no hurry to find a job for the next three weeks, and he hasn’t had a chance to just follow fashion across the globe in a number of years.

He and Eames have known each other for so long that whenever Arthur stays in London he just automatically plans to end up at Eames’ house.

What he is not expecting, when he uses his spare key, is to find Eames actually home. It occurs to him that he might have wanted to ask Eames where he was going when he left yesterday.

Eames is wearing what appears to be an outfit consisting of very tiny running shorts and a zip up jumper.

“Are there scuba divers on your sweater?” Arthur asks, and Eames looks down at his chest, somewhat confused.

“Uh, yes, it would appear so,” Eames says, and then takes a sip of whatever tea he’s drinking out of a heavy, hand glazed mug. “Are you stalking me?”

“No, I figured you’d gone back to Morocco or something,” Arthur answers. “Clearly I was wrong.”

“Clearly,” Eames says. Arthur would reply, but there’s currently too much thigh going on in this room for that to happen. Either Eames needs to put on pants or Arthur needs to leave.

“I’m going to go change,” Arthur says, and Eames just nods, staring very intently at his tea.

---

When Arthur heads for the spare bedroom that night he gets a derisive snort and a “don’t be stupid” out of Eames.

“I’m not sleeping on the couch,” Arthur says, and the way he’s standing there in the upstairs hallway, bare-chested and in low-slung pajama bottoms that are pooling around his ankles, he looks somewhat young. Arthur always looks younger than he is when he’s stripped of clothes and hair gel. He crosses his arms, rubbing at his bicep.

“No, you’re sleeping with me,” Eames says, and then turns his back on Arthur. He’s put it out there, now Arthur can decide what to do with it.

He’s turned the lights out after reading a bit of the trashy paperback he’d picked up the other day (Stieg Larsson, only because he feels like the last person to have gotten around to reading it) when Arthur finally slips in. Eames watches him in the dark, silhouetted by the street lamps that are coming through the sheer curtains. Eames can’t sleep when it’s pitch black or totally quiet.

Arthur stops at the foot of the bed, leaning forward so that he can brace himself on the bench there that Eames keeps books and pillows on. He lets his head fall low between his shoulders, his hair hanging down, curling just slightly at the ends.

Eames rises up on one elbow, just watching Arthur for a moment. He’s not tense, not stressed just – resigned? He looks paler in the dark than he actually is.

“Come sleep,” Eames says finally, and Arthur looks up at him, half of his face totally dark, the other side lit by the street lamp. In the low light it’s almost like a black and white photo.

Arthur doesn’t say anything, but he crawls up the bed and tucks himself in behind Eames, curled together, the sheets loose around their hips. It’s such a habit, letting Arthur be the big spoon, that Eames doesn’t even realize it for a second, and then his breath catches in his throat and he doesn’t fall asleep until after Arthur has drifted off.

---

Eames wakes up to bright sunlight slipping through the windows, the curtains pulled back and the windows open, and he thinks Rome – for a moment before no, he realizes, he’s in his bed, in London. The sounds outside are not the clamor of the market in Navona, but the quiet sounds of the street, wind and the occasional opening of a garage door, the sound of a car engine rattling down the narrow way.

He also smells coffee, which means that no, Arthur has not run off in the night. No one likes coffee like Arthur does. Some people are wine connoisseurs, Arthur is a coffee connoisseur. Eames had once been witness to a 26-minute (he timed it) rant on why exactly Starbucks coffee was shit and no one should drink it.

Eames couldn’t care less about coffee, he’s British, he’s genetically predisposed over at least five generations to treat tea like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. He’s pretty sure at this point he bleeds tea.

What he does care about, after he’s dragged his arse out of bed and down stairs, is that Arthur is currently wearing a pair of jeans (and nothing else), and eating toast at Eames’ kitchen table. The jeans actually belong to Eames, but he’s worn them only once and Arthur would always slip into them when he came over, and they fit him better anyway. They might as well be Arthur’s jeans.

There’s a knot of an ugly, nasty scar on Arthur’s side, a through and through that clipped his right lung and ended with a blood infection nearly killing him. It had happened between Eames knowing Arthur as a lieutenant and a point man, and he used to trace that scar long after Arthur had fallen asleep, a mark of everything that happened when they weren’t together. The scar’s on display on Arthur’s bare chest, and it makes something twinge in the pit of Eames’ stomach.

“Louise Gray and Betty Jackson?” Arthur asks as Eames sits down across from Arthur and steals a piece of his toast.

“Oh god, absolutely not. I will sit through Jackson, but Louise Gray and her circus tent clothes can go jump off a bridge. Betty Jackson, and I’ll agree to go to the National Gallery.”

“Eames, that’s like you ‘compromising’ on going to a very nice, very expensive dinner paid for by someone else. No one’s going to have to twist your arm.”

Eames just smirks, and Arthur rolls his eyes, and they end up at the Betty Jackson show.

---

Arthur is standing in front of Mr and Mrs Andrews, but he’s staring through it, tapping his fingers against his arm.

“You look like you’re a million miles away,” Eames says softly, bumping him with his hip.

“You’d look good in – here, can I have your phone?” Arthur has a Blackberry, so he’s prone to stealing Eames’ iPhone (the only people who have that particular number are Eames’ parents, one of his aunts, Cobb, and of course, Arthur) when he has to look something up on the internet. Arthur scrolls through things until he evidently finds what he’s looking for and holds it up for Eames’ to see. He wraps a hand around Arthur’s, holding the phone steady.

It’s a dress, short with a wide collar and some print that’s interesting enough to be eye catching but not obtrusive.

“Sass & Bide?” Eames asks, and Arthur nods. “And I’d look good in it? I’ve always thought I was more of a Preen girl.” He can’t keep the amusement out of his voice, it kind of slides there naturally when he’s talking to Arthur.

“Well, not you directly, of course. Sammy.” It’s the only time he’s ever heard Arthur directly name check the first forge he ever worked out, when he was 25 and stupid and thought it would be hilarious to see if he could be a woman in dreams. She’d stuck though, a gorgeous brunette whose features were just a little too close to Eames’ to be anyone else.

“Did you suggest I would look good in something?” Eames asks, even though his brain is still processing the information that Arthur has been paying attention all these years, and of course he has, he’s Arthur.

“Don’t get used to it,” Arthur mutters, rolling his eyes, and Eames tucks a hand into Arthur’s back pocket before he can stop himself.

Amazingly, Arthur doesn’t pull away, and they stand there with their hips and their shoulders brushing, staring at a painting that both of them don’t particularly like but they can’t be bothered to move.

---

Arthur wakes up on Monday with his face pressed against Eames’ neck, his arms wrapped around his chest, and something churning in his gut that he can’t place for a moment, not until he presses a kiss to the back of Eames’ head out of habit.

It is, he realizes with a start that jolts him all the way awake, adoration. He slips out of bed with his palms buzzing, wondering when the hell this happened – when whatever nondescript fondness born out of exasperation he’d once had for Eames had become something else.

He steals a pair of trainers and running clothes from Eames’ closet, slips out the front door, and then he just runs. Doesn’t think, just listens to the slapthump of his feet on every down stroke, doesn’t even care where he’s going until he’s made a full circle of Hyde Park and his lungs are screaming at him. Once upon a time he was on the cross-country team at West Point, but it’s been a long time since he’s had a habit of running every morning. Evidently four miles out of nowhere isn’t the smart thing to do.

He sits on Eames’ doorstep when he gets back, remembering a postcard he had sent to Eames once when he was drunk and fucked over Mal’s death, and he doesn’t move until the door opens half an hour later.

“You alright?” Eames asks, looking down at him. Arthur tips his head back to stare up at Eames.

“My lungs would say no,” Arthur says, and his voice is rough because his throat is so raw from sucking in air. Eames is quiet for a long few moments, just trying to read Arthur’s face.

“Basso and Brooke is at nine,” Eames says finally, and it gives Arthur someone else to concentrate on.

---

The next day is Christopher Kane (and Eames complaining about the collection looking like someone had taken to his grandmother’s sitting room with a pair of fabric sheers) and Paul Smith, which they both can’t find interesting enough to talk about, except for a snide comment out of Arthur about the dangers of wearing wide ties.

(Burberry gives them both a momentary reprieve from complaining, and Arthur is somewhat horrified when it turns out he and Eames are both in love with the coats in the collection.)

They eat together, they share a bed, and Eames gets so fucking used to Arthur back in his everything that when he wakes up to an email on Wednesday morning about a job the first thing he thinks about doing is putting a fist through the wall.

He owes a few people a favor, and now they want it returned. All he’s got to do is steal some art. However, he’s supposed to be on a plane to Milan in three hours and change (with Arthur), and this job is going to take him to Moscow. It’ll be short and sweet, but he doesn’t care, because he knows that for the past few days Arthur has been pressing kisses to his shoulders, the back of his neck, his head, when he wakes up and Eames doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound, because he’s afraid it’ll break whatever has come over Arthur. He goes running every morning, wearing himself down, but those little kisses mean something, and Eames wants them to mean more, what they used to mean. Moscow would get in the way of that.

He’s sitting in the chair in his office, staring at the screen of his laptop and debating how much damage he’d incur if he just said no to the job when Arthur shows up in the doorframe, sleepy eyes and hair, not dressed to go running for once.

“You managed to wake up before me,” Arthur says, sounding vaguely put out, like Eames had won a foot race or something.

“Sorry love,” Eames says, and then rakes a hand through his own messy hair, pursing his lips.

“You’ve got a job,” Arthur says, and Eames nods, because there’s no way he’d sneak a lie past Arthur. “Milan will always be there.”

“I know, but god, Arthur-“ Eames struggles for a moment. “I don’t want to leave yet.”

“I’m not sure I want you to leave, either,” Arthur says, and just like that the early morning runs and tight lips and eyes make all the sense in the world. “A year ago, after Mal died – I sent you a postcard.”

“What I’m feeling right now is regret,” Eames says, because it’s true. Regret that they spent years and years together and didn’t do anything, and then when they finally got the act together it all went wrong. Regret that he’s about to spend a week in Moscow when he should be with Arthur in Milan.

“So you did get it,” Arthur says, sighing, leaning heavily on the white molding.

“Yeah, I did,” Eames says, and he’s almost afraid one of them is going to do something monumentally stupid, but instead Arthur comes over, and Eames tips his chin up as Arthur bends down. Their lips catch in the way they used to, simple and dry, until Eames opens his mouth and breathes Arthur in, and Arthur anchors himself with a hand around the back of Eames’ neck, gripping into his skin.

When they pull apart they press their foreheads together, breathing and breathing.

“We’ll meet back up in Paris,” Arthur promises, and Eames nods.

---

Eames always remembers first meetings. The ones that stand out in his memory, like they’re made of light, are those pertaining to the people he keeps close.

The memory of first time he met Arthur has become so surreal that sometimes, when it ends up curling around in his memory late at night, he assumes it’s embellished or just flat out fake. Arthur to him is the long hair, easy little grins, crisp clothes, quiet energy that will lay you flat out on your back.

When he had met Arthur, they were both military. Lieutenant Gordon had a buzz cut, an angry, stormy face, and nothing but sinewy muscle packed onto a frame that hadn’t had time to finish growing up yet – he’d been all of 23.

As the smiles came though more, so did more Arthur and less “hey LT, tell that story about how you broke into the Pentagon again!” But he remembers shaking Arthur’s hand for the first time, remembers going under with him a few days later.

Mal he remembers as something else. Arthur is sharp angles and a trickster mind, Mal was gorgeous curves and a wicked brain stewing from not having enough to do. Mal was probably the most intelligent of them all, the least devious and the most cerebral.

After he’d gotten out of the army, he’d taken to using a PASIV in the kind of illegal way where instead of breaking the Geneva Convention behind closed (government) doors, he was instead making great headway on ending up as Interpol’s most wanted. That is, if they even knew who he was. He’d heard through channels that Arthur was around too, and then, through different people, he’d learned months and months later that Arthur had been shot, destroyed, and was dying.

Eames rung every last one of his informants dry. That’s how he ended up on the doorstep to the Cobb’s house in Pasadena. Mal had opened the door, wearing rolled up jeans that were too big on her (Dom’s) and a man’s shirt (also Dom’s) that was unbuttoned just far enough down to reveal the swell of her breasts. She was pregnant, although at the time Eames hadn’t known just yet. Later, when he wasn’t panicking over Arthur, he’d pay enough attention to Mal to notice the way she walked, like there was weight on her hips that she didn’t usually carry.

“Is Arthur here?” It was so stupid, he realized weeks later, to show up at someone’s house like this, asking for a random man who might have already died.

“Of course,” Mal had said, sizing him up, raising an eyebrow. “You are a friend of his, I would guess?”

Friend, colleague, brother in arms, whatever. Close enough. She’d lead him through a lovely house, light spilling in through the tall, narrow windows, to a bedroom in the back. Arthur was there, lying on the floor in a t-shirt that said ARMY across the chest, midway though a sit-up, staring at Eames like he was seeing a ghost.

That was the second time he met Arthur. Not the Arthur that the army had beaten down so that he fit into a nice little mold, but the Arthur that was all sly smiles and winks and dry humor when he wasn’t bashing skulls in and putting bullets between eyes.

“Reports of your death have been greatly exaggerated,” Eames had said dryly, because he was too busy worrying that Mal and Arthur could hear how loud his heartbeat was, could tell that the look hovering around his eyes was of absolute relief.

“So it would seem,” Arthur had said, and he had seen it anyway.

---

Sometime after that, after meeting the Cobbs, Eames can’t quite remember the day, Arthur had appeared outside his front door, trying to figure out where Eames hid the spare key.

“It’s behind the left shutter on the front window,” Eames says as he pulls open the door, looking out at Arthur, who was currently attempting to pry the brick that his address was printed on out from the wall, like something was hidden behind it.

“Prudent,” Arthur says, straightening up just a little too fast to be totally natural. He’s got a leather satchel slung across his chest, and it’s sprinkling and misting in that dreary London way. In general he looks like a slightly damp rat, the cloth shoes he’s wearing soaked though at the toes. (They’re a pair of Toms, Eames notes with vague amusement.)

“Feel like coming in out of the rain and telling me why you’re here?” Eames asks as he steps aside and Arthur walks in, hands tucked in his pockets.

“I-“ Arthur starts, and then frowns. “It’s basically-“

The thing about Arthur is that he doesn’t threaten people with grievous bodily harm, he just kneecaps them. He doesn’t draw information out of a mark with tricks and a silver tongue, he slams their head against the nearest flat surface. In this good cop, bad cop life of theirs, Arthur is certainly the bad cop, and believes that actions will always speak louder than words.

This probably has a lot to do with the fact that instead of trying to piece together words again he simply gets to Eames in two steps, and kisses him.

“Oh,” Eames says, although it’s muffled against Arthur’s lips, so instead he brings his hands up to grip Arthur’s hips, to pull them closer together as Arthur works him open with clever lips and hot tongue and all Eames can think is that he’s going to want a whole hell of a lot more of this.

“Can I get some dry clothes?” Arthur whispers when he pulls back, like he’s afraid talking too loud will break some spell he’s got Eames under, but Eames just grins against his jaw line, scattering kisses there.

“Absolutely,” Eames said. “As long as I get to take them off of you later.”

“I’ll think about it.” Arthur was smirking, and when he came out of Eames’ room wearing ripped jeans and a sweater that was just a little too green to belong to anyone but Eames, he had indeed gotten to take them off of Arthur.

Once, in Paris, after that season’s Givenchy couture collection (they’d been in Milan for a job, but it was easy to crash a fashion show for an hour) had gone down the runway, Eames had said, fond and espresso coated, “that’s why I love you, darling.” It had been in response to one of Arthur’s never ending politely snarky comments, and he’d said it without thinking. Arthur hadn’t really reacted, just kept on talking, and Eames thought that maybe, in that one moment, he was chasing after a man who only cared for him so far as his arm could reach.

He was wrong. There’s a postcard, written drunk on vodka, sitting in his top desk drawer that says otherwise.

 

iii.

Arthur keeps a flat in Paris, tucked into a building with a wide stone staircase that Eames has always been particularly fond of. Thanks to Moscow he misses Wednesday and Thursday completely, getting in so late on Thursday that it’s almost Friday. He kind of hates himself for missing Balenciaga, it’s one of the few collections he and Arthur can always agree on, no matter what Ghesquière sends out.

The flat is dark and quiet, although the bed is haphazardly made in way that suggests Arthur has been here, but he had to run out quickly at some point during the day. That’s backed up by the coffee grinds left in the French press on the kitchen counter and those goddamn, held together by willpower Toms that Arthur’s had since he was in the army, which are sitting by the front door.

He’s tired. Emotionally he’s spent a week examining every last feeling he has connected to Arthur, because if he can’t figure out a person in their totality, he’ll at least figure out his motivators towards them, how he acts around them. All he can figure out is that he kind of wants to grab Arthur and never let him go, which are feelings he’s been shoving down for a while. They ache when he pulls them up, like someone’s been pulling his teeth.

Physically he never wants to run from museum guards ever again in his life, especially not with several priceless prints under one arm. He’s too much of a professional to be running hack jobs for wankers with more money than taste. Or brain power. They’re the kind of people who buy Bentleys and then put rims on them, Eames is sure. (The really flashy kind that drug dealers are fond of.)

He stills long enough to pull off his shoes and shirt and drop his bag, but then he’s out, fallen asleep on top of the covers, face pressed into a pillow that smells like Arthur and Paris and something that he never wants to leave, ever again.

---

Eames drifts awake because there’s sunlight spilling across the bed and into his face. Slow strains of Edith Piaf (“Hymne A L'amour”, he realizes sleepily, and it’s the original, not some crap cover) are floating through the windows, from the café on the ground floor. When Cobb had asked Eames once where Arthur had come up with the idea for Piaf as the kick, he’d said he had no clue, although in reality he knows exactly why, and it’s the same music he would have picked, too. They’ve woken up with the open windows and the sound of Paris, especially that little café and their old sound system, so many times that it just seems natural that if you’re going to wake up, she might as well be the one telling you to. (Although Eames has never really wanted to examine why Arthur had picked “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”.)

Eames rolls over, blinking blearily at the windows. Arthur is sitting in one of them, wearing nothing but a pair of dark briefs and one of the Spurr sweaters that Eames had gotten for him.

“Arthur,” Eames asks, yawning, voice rough, “are you voluntarily wearing color?”

“I promise you are neither dreaming nor needing to prepare for the coming apocalypse,” Arthur says, grinning over the top of the copy of Le Monde he’s reading. His free hand is holding a mug, no doubt coffee. “Drink that, it’s for you.”

Eames looks to where Arthur’s pointing at the nightstand – he’s made Eames tea, will wonders never cease.

“It’s like you’re trying to seduce me,” Eames says, and the corners of Arthur’s lips turn up again.

“I think I actually achieved that feat a few years ago.”

“It’s not a feat, I’m easy.”

“So you say.”

They sit in silence for a moment, Eames resting against the wall behind the bed and sipping tea, Arthur finishing up some article in the paper. He gets up, cracking his neck and leaving his mug and paper on the windowsill before coming over to straddle Eames’ lap in bed, running his fingers down Eames’ bare chest.

“What’s today?” Eames asks, unwilling to give up his tea quite yet.

“Nothing, actually. Tomorrow is Victor and Rolf though. And Gaultier.” Arthur’s hands come to rest splayed over the cut of his hipbones.

“I look forward to your twice yearly Victor and Rolf rant.” Arthur laughs at that, shaking his head. His hair is falling into his eyes, undone, and Eames reaches out to run his hand though it, tucking pieces of it behind Arthur’s ear.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here last night, I had to get some stuff done for Dom,” Arthur murmurs, leaning into Eames’ hand, and he finally sets his mug down next to the bed, running his hands up Arthur’s sides, enjoying the feeling of the knit beneath his palms.

“How’s he doing?” Eames asks, and Arthur snorts, shaking his head. “That well, then?”

“His whole life is a fucking mess,” Arthur sighs, and then leans in to press a kiss to the corner of Eames’ lips. “I’d rather talk about our life.”

“Ours?” Eames asks, and Arthur squeezes him with his knees, which from anyone else would be endearing, but from Arthur it’s more of a less talking, more making out vice grip warning. It’s actually still rather endearing, but then, Eames has always read Arthur just a little bit different than most people. This also extends to ignoring Arthur’s warnings. “So we’re doing this again?”

“Yes,” Arthur sighs. “I thought you’d have sorted that out by now.”

“Oh, it’s sorted,” Eames replies pleasantly, and then kisses Arthur properly, slipping his hands under Arthur’s sweater to press his palms to as much warm skin as he can reach. Arthur sucks in a quick breath and kisses Eames like it’s the last thing in life he wants to do, the last thing he even knows how to do.

“I’m keeping you in bed for a week,” Eames murmurs when they pull apart, watching the way Arthur licks his lips.

“If you think you’re keeping me away from Akris and Ungaro for sex, you’re so, so wrong,” Arthur tells him, teasing kisses across his shoulder, and Eames rolls his eyes, although he’s grinning.

“Fine, we’ll get out of bed from time to time,” Eames hedges, and Arthur goes back to his mouth, kissing and kissing until their hips catch and roll together. They get rid of as many clothes as Eames will allow (everything but the jumper), and their skin burns bright hot, pressed together, lips meeting when their bodies aren’t moving too frantically.

Paris goes on outside the windows, but Eames doesn’t care, not right now. Later, when Edith is winding down for the day, the tinny speakers of the café going quiet, he’ll care again, but right now he’s got the only part of life he cares about wrapped up in his arms.