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Arthur's mood is palpable from the way he puts down his bag. Eames has never rifled through Arthur's things, because he values his fingers, but he's always imagined Arthur's carry-all as being filled with some implausible hodge-podge of Zegna accessories and Heckler & Koch hardware. Today the bag clanks as it hits the table. Clearly more ordnance than style.

'Alright, asshole, I'm here.' Arthur says. 'Now will you tell me what the hell we're doing?'

Arthur being in a sulk is the least of Eames's problems right now, though.

'MI6 have been tailing you for twelve hours,' he says. 'They've sent a wetworker, Arthur. It's serious.' He sighs. 'I told you not to get tangled up in government jobs. They're never over.'

Arthur rolls his eyes. 'You think I can't handle an assassin?' he asks.

'Not this one,' Eames says. 'Trust me.'

Arthur picks up his bag again. 'Well, thanks for the heads-up.'

Eames lurches to his feet. 'Where are you going?'

'Uh, anywhere but here?' Arthur gives him an odd look. 'All I needed was the warning, Eames. Thank you, by the way, but having a rendezvous just increases the chances of me being caught.' He frowns. 'Did you take a blow to the head recently? I thought you, of all the people in this amateur-hour profession, understood fucking tradecraft.'

'Arthur -'

'I figure if I leave now I might still keep some of that head start I had.' He's back out the door before Eames can even blink.

'Well, bugger,' says Eames, grabbing his own go-bag. But before he can even put his hand on the door it opens again and Arthur backs into the room, with the stiff posture of someone trying not to make any unwise moves.

'Fuck you, Eames,' he says as he clears the doorframe. 'You could have just called, like a normal illegal operative.'

'Yes, darling, you never call any more,' says the person with the gun jammed up under Arthur's chin, as she pushes her way into the room. 'I have to ask, is it just a happy coincidence that you're taking tea with my target, or is this a belated Mother's Day gift?'

'Mother?' says Arthur, risking a glance backwards. 'Your mother is an MI6 wetworker?'

Eames ignores Arthur in favour of paying attention to the live weapon. 'Victoria,' he says warningly. 'You might not have all the information in this case.'

'Oh, don't call me that, for Heaven's sake. And how many times do I have to tell you, don't get in the way of Mummy's work.'

She eases her finger on the trigger, she's ready to do it, and Arthur knows it too from the way he sets himself. Eames could tell him she's braced for a kick to the knee, and he's too close to the muzzle of the pistol to be able to duck, but he knows Arthur already knows that.

So Eames does the only thing he can think of. 'His last name is Boggs,' he says in a rush.

Victoria blinks. 'Marvin's boy?'

'How the fuck,' says Arthur, sounding even more angry than he did half a minute ago, 'do you know that, Eames?'

'Oh, we're going by "Eames" these days, are we?' Victoria says. 'I did wonder. It's been so hard to work out where to address your Christmas cards. Your father has been despairing.'

'Given he's only known of my existence for two years, forgive me for not caring that much,' Eames shoots back. 'For God's sake, Mother, put away the gun.'

'He does look like Frank,' Victoria muses, without so much as blinking. The Browning Hi-Power is as comfortable in her hand as if it were part of her body. Eames always envied her her poise. 'You know, I really do think we should tell him he has a son, one of these days. I think he'd be pleased.'

'Who the fuck is Frank?' Arthur asks. He meets Victoria's cold, level stare with one of his own. Eames starts to wonder if either of them even has to blink. Perhaps they have those horizontal, clear eyelids, like lizards do. 'And are you still planning on killing me?'

'Oh, don't be ridiculous, child. I'm not going to shoot Marvin Boggs's foster son in cold blood - I'd never leave the country alive. This is a tricky little situation, though, and no mistake. Tell me, how are you at faking your own death?'

'He's legally dead in all the jurisdictions I've ever worked with him in,' Eames points out. 'Really, it's not the most insurmountable problem. Considerably less difficult than resurrecting him if you decide to pop him one in the skull.'

Victoria doesn't even spare him a sideways glance, but she does roll her eyes. 'You're always so melodramatic.'

'I wonder where I got that from.'

'Your father, dear.' Victoria says serenely. 'Well, it wasn't going to be from me, was it -' Arthur takes that moment to drop to one knee, get the gun over his shoulder, punch her hard in the solar plexus, and jump out of the window onto the fire-escape, which as a method of departure neatly vindicates Eames's conscious choice to never latch a window.

'Bloody buggering hell!' Victoria has the Hi-Power up and pointing out the window within a split second, even though Eames can see her stomach still jerking as she tries to catch her breath. Then she puts the gun down. 'I wasn't actually going to shoot him. Just like his foster father, that one. Paranoid to the bone. Good fashion sense, though. And a nice arse.'

'Mother -'

'Oh, don't act so scandalised, laddybuck. I know your type. And I can see why you like him.'

Eames puts his head in his hands.

'Now then,' says his mother, holstering her gun. 'What about a nice cup of tea?'