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Pure Imagination

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Eames is the one who is on social media all the time. He’s always asking Arthur how he gets by for so long without checking Twitter, and Arthur always explains that he’s busy working, and then Eames always explains that social media is working because of the fact that they are their own brand and they need to interact with their fans, et cetera. Eames is quoting Saito when he says this. Arthur is mostly somewhat exasperated that Saito gave Eames an excuse to justify his Twitter addiction.

It's not surprising, therefore, that Eames is the one who hears first, because Eames hears most things first.

“Darling!” he exclaims, sounding anguished, coming down the hallway toward Arthur’s office.

Arthur takes his pen out of his mouth long enough to call back, “In here!” even though he knows that Eames knows where he’s located.

Darling,” says Eames, entering Arthur’s office. “It’s horrible.”

Arthur looks up from where he’s curled in his squashy chair, scrolling through listings, and is immediately alarmed, because Eames looks absolutely devastated.

Arthur sits up, pushing his laptop and notebook aside. “What? What is it? What’s happened?”

Eames collapses to the floor at Arthur’s feet and puts his head dramatically in Arthur’s lap.

Arthur’s heart is in his throat. He thinks of Maggie and Albert and his stomach sinks even further.

And then Eames mumbles basically into Arthur’s groin, “Gene Wilder died.”

Arthur blinks. “What?” he says, after a moment.

Eames turns his face away from Arthur’s crotch, presumably so Arthur can understand him better. “Gene Wilder died,” he repeats, and then immediately turns his face back into Arthur’s pants.

“Oh, my God,” Arthur says, flooded with relief. “I thought something terrible had happened.”

Eames recoils away from him, looking shocked. “Darling! Something terrible did happen.”

“Right,” Arthur corrects himself. “Yes. I know. I just meant—Sorry.”

Eames sniffs and rests his head on Arthur’s knee, as if Arthur doesn’t deserve the full lap-head at the moment. “He was a very nice man.”

“I’m sure he was.”

“And a very important part of my childhood.”

“I know.”

“And significant in the act of our betrothal.”

“Yes.”

“And pivotal in the formation of my sexual tastes.”

“I am feeling slightly uncomfortable now.”

Eames turns sad eyes on Arthur. “Do you know what this means?”

“We have to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tonight?” Arthur guesses.

“We have to watch it a lot,” Eames confirms.

“More than once?” asks Arthur.

“Constant repeat. We’re just going to have it on constant repeat. While we eat chocolate and I sit and sketch my design for the Gene Wilder Memorial Indoor Chocolate Garden.”

“We can’t have an indoor chocolate garden, Eames.”

Darling,” says Eames, stricken. “Gene Wilder died.”

And Arthur knows it’s just an actor neither of them has ever met, and Arthur knows they really can’t have an indoor chocolate garden, but Arthur also knows that it feels to Eames like he’s lost someone close to him, and in a way he did, in losing someone foundational who helped shape him, and for tonight the fiction of an indoor chocolate garden won’t hurt anyone.

“Do you want me to wear the Willy Wonka hat?” Arthur asks.

Eames brightens. “Oh, darling, would you?”

“Anything for Gene Wilder,” says Arthur gamely.

Eames beams at Arthur, kid-on-Christmas-morning, and kisses him, and Arthur thinks this is why they have each other, to not be alone on this kind of an evening.

Arthur says, “If Gene Wilder was a key part in making you you, then I’ll never be able to pay good enough tribute to his memory.”

Eames smiles and kisses Arthur’s earlobe. “Darling,” he says, “so romantic. Willy Wonka would approve.”

“Would he?”

“He would approve in multiple languages. That’s how Willy Wonka rolls.”

“Well, I’m glad he approves of me.”

“Who wouldn’t approve of you? Willy Wonka approves of all lovely things. Willy Wonka should have left you the chocolate factory. And if you had the chocolate factory, then I would have an indoor chocolate garden. And a terrifying boat. Maybe we could add a terrifying boat to the river hallway.”

“Maybe,” says Arthur.

Eames looks at him, startled. “Maybe? Really?”

“No. Not really. I’m letting you think that right now because you’re in mourning, but no, we’re not adding a terrifying boat to the river hallway.”

“I’d sing that creepy song to you all the time.”

“And that’s meant to be an incentive?”

“I’d sing it during sex.”

“Really not an incentive.”

“Aw,” says Eames, and he is grinning now, mirth and mischief bright on his face, and Arthur is pleased to have inspired that. “I bet I could make it sexy. Do you want me to try to make it sexy?”

“No,” says Arthur primly, even though he is aware he is grinning irresistibly in response. “I do not want you to try to make that creepy song sexy—”

Eames pulls him entirely off the squashy chair with a little growl, laying him out on the fluffy rug and Arthur laughs helplessly, breathlessly. “There’s no earthly way of knowing,” Eames croons to him, splaying hands under Arthur’s shirt, over Arthur’s ribcage.

“You’re ridiculous,” Arthur tells him, impossibly warm and content under Eames.

“Mmm,” Eames agrees, kissing Arthur’s left dimple. “I am.”

“Lucky me,” says Arthur, feeling even more unnaturally besotted than usual, both protective of Eames who had just been so sad and dazzled by Eames who has so much irrepressibility.

Eames winks, then sings as he slides down Arthur’s body, “Is it raining, is it snowing, is a hurricane a…” He pauses with his mouth hovering over Arthur’s fly and cocks an eyebrow up at Arthur and finishes the line, “Blowing?”

Arthur laughs until his stomach actually aches. It’s the very best sort of laughter. It’s the sort of laughter, Arthur feels, that is just like what he thought living happily ever after would be like.