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“Can we talk about something seriously?” asks Arthur, looking at Eames where he is sitting in the middle of a pile of pieces of silk, because sometimes that happens in their lives.

“Absolutely,” Eames responds, “we can talk about all of the things seriously.”

“Okay,” says Arthur, sitting on the floor opposite Eames because he wants to make sure he has his attention. “But right now I want to talk about our wedding.”

Eames glances up at him and says, “Oh, did you want to have an actual wedding? I thought the engagement was just for show.”

Arthur blinks, caught off-guard, and says uncertainly, “Oh.”

Eames puts his pieces of silk down and frowns at him. “I was joking. You did not realize I was joking. You are very nervous about this. It’s just a wedding, darling. We are two thoroughly happy people before this wedding and we will be two thoroughly happy people after the wedding. But if you’re having a panic spiral about the wedding, don’t worry about it. You’re not hurting my feelings.”

Arthur shakes his head in frustration. “I’m not having a panic spiral. I want to marry you. I am very definite that I want to marry you.”

“Excellent.” Eames smiles at him like everything is settled. “So we will have a lovely wedding, then.”

“A perfect wedding,” Arthur says. “I want it to be a perfect wedding. Because I love you and you love me and I want it to be perfect.”

“Right. Yes.” Eames pushes his piles of silk aside so that he can crawl over to Arthur. “And that’s what is going to make it perfect: you and me and love. Perfect.” Eames kisses the tip of his nose.

“I just want to make sure that it feels like us,” Arthur says, and wonders why he’s worrying so much about this, and does he just need to give himself something to worry about?

“It will. I promise. Please don’t fret about this, hmm? Do you want me to plan it?”

“I want us both to plan it.”

“Done. We’ll plan the wedding together. Pencil it into our joint schedule.” Eames’s hand comes up to cup Arthur’s cheek, his thumb settling into Arthur’s dimple spot. “My darling kitten,” he says, and gives Arthur that smile that reminds Arthur that he’s the most precious thing in Eames’s world and it will all be alright. “I cannot wait to marry you.”

Arthur smiles because he can’t help it, and stops worrying.

Chapter Text

There is, in their kitchen these days, a very fancy glass board object thing that is scrawled all over in color-coded ink. Well. Arthur uses a color code. Eames doesn’t use the color code when he draws penises in empty spots on the glass board.

“Darling,” Eames says, when Arthur lifts an eyebrow at him and erases the latest penis, “what is the point of that gorgeous thing if we’re not going to draw penii all over it?”

“That is not the plural of ‘penis.’”

“Pretty sure it is. I have made penii my life’s study. I’m practically a doctor of penii.”

“Don’t brag about that. Especially not to the people we’re about to interview.”

“Darling, if the people we’re about to interview are going to freak out over a couple of childish drawings and a proclamation that I’m a doctor of penii, I’m not sure they’re cut out to be our personal assistant.”

Arthur sighs. “To that, you have a point.” He looks back at the glass board. And then he draws a penis on it. He fancies it’s more anatomically accurate than the one he just erased.

Eames slides an arm around his waist from behind and rests his chin on Arthur’s shoulder and says, “Aw, darling, it’s lovely. Is it mine?”

“Does it look like yours?” asks Arthur.

“It’s gorgeous. So yes,” says Eames.

Arthur sighs again. “Of all the incorrigible people in the world, you are the most incorrigible.”

“You know when I hear that word, I think you’re saying ‘encouragable.’ As in: you’re encouraging me.”

“Oh, is that what you hear?”

“Yes,” says Eames, and slips his way into a smiling kiss underneath Arthur’s jaw and then against Arthur’s lips, upturned to meet his.

“Making out isn’t in the schedule,” Arthur basically tells Eames’s tongue.

“Making out is always in the schedule,” Eames mumbles. “It’s what the penii mean.”

“I thought the penii meant sex.”

“The making out leads to sex.”

“We have candidates we’re supposed to be interviewing,” Arthur points out, as Eames lifts him up to the kitchen counter. “Also, you know I hate fucking on the kitchen counter.”

“Darling, we’ve got twenty minutes, please have a little faith in me,” says Eames.

“Oh, ‘faith,’ is that what it would be called?” drawls Arthur.

Eames waggles his eyebrows and slides Arthur to the edge of the kitchen counter, propping him up against it.

“This still counts as the kitchen counter,” Arthur points out.

“Shut up,” says Eames, grinning, and makes him.

Chapter Text

In front of Arthur is a series of carefully arranged and organized folders with all of the information Saito sent over on their P.A. candidates. Eames refers to them as “the dossiers” and thinks it’s hilarious that Arthur has so much information. Arthur pointed out that they were choosing a person to let into their lives and Eames asked if Arthur was thinking about a threesome because Eames wasn’t sure how he felt about that and Arthur rolled his eyes and anyway, Arthur thinks a lot of information is appropriate to have even if they’re not going to be involved in a threesome.

Even if, under Arthur’s ironclad rules for their house, their P.A. will never even be allowed in their bedroom.

In front of Eames is a deck of tarot cards. Eames knows fuck-all about tarot cards. Eames thinks this whole process is fucking performance art.

Arthur says that. “You think this is performance art.”

“Darling, I hate to break it to you but we live our lives in front of camera crews. Our lives are performance art.”

“Tarot cards?” Arthur says, and lifts an eyebrow at him.

“This is important,” Eames says. “I’m unpredictable, and I need to see how they deal with my unpredictability.”

“Did you look at me and think that I was just the person to deal with all of your unpredictability?” Arthur asks drily.

“Yes,” says Eames, in one of his suddenly-serious moments that still have the capability to send Arthur reeling.

So Arthur just blinks at him.

Eames says, “I thought you were exactly the person I needed for that,” and smiles at him, his gentle, Arthur-only smile, and kisses Arthur’s right ear.

“Because I needed a bit of messing up?” Arthur guesses, still trying to right himself.

“Because I needed a bit of steadiness,” Eames replies warmly, and kisses Arthur’s ear again.

Arthur lifts a hand to thread through Eames’s hair and hold him in place and thinks about how he is not nearly as steady as Eames seems to think, of how Arthur’s life feels preciously precarious at most moments, how hard he works to trust in Eames and the two of them together and not look beyond to the abyss of not-knowing. But Arthur doesn’t say any of that because he knows that Eames knows all of that and nonetheless also knows, as far as he is concerned, that Arthur is steady.

There’s a moment where they both just breathe, close to each other. Arthur finds that they steal moments like this more and more often. They needed them less when their lives were less busy, but now he finds they make a conscious effort to corner each other and just breathe, recalibrate. Arthur likes this. He likes that their reaction to the chaos around them has been to seek each other out as deliberately as they can. He had been worried, for a little while, that they might be driven apart, forget to notice each other, take their relationship for granted as something they could come back to a little later, and thereby lose it. So far, their instinct has seemed to be the opposite, and it’s another of the things Arthur loves about them, he thinks.

Eames finally kisses Arthur’s ear one last time and moves back and says lightly, “Here we go, kitten. Let’s see who Saito’s dug up for us.”

Arthur knows exactly who Saito dug up for them, because Arthur’s been through the candidates and created his organized dossiers. But he dutifully puts the first one out on the table and says, “Gilbert McQueen.”

“That’s a leprechaun name.”

“He’s not a leprechaun.”

“He could be. You could be trying to get your whole family to work here.”

“He’s not a leprechaun. I’m not a leprechaun. You’ve met my family. It’s my mother. Gilbert McQueen is not my mother.”

“Is he your mother dressed up in a smart suit with a false mustache?”


“Shame,” muses Eames. “I bet she’d look good. Should probably text that fantasy idea to Saito.”

“And now I have to kill you,” remarks Arthur.

“Which is another shame, as we’re so good together.”

“Eh, that’s just the fanfiction. Our real life is a shambles.”

“How shambolic can it be if it turns into such a good coffee shop AU?”

“Don’t bring up fanfiction to any of the candidates.”

“Why not? Don’t you want to know their views on fanfiction? And whether or not they have any good recs?”

“If any of these candidates ask if I really baa in bed, the interview is immediately over,” says Arthur.

“Agreed,” says Eames. “I want to keep that knowledge to myself.”

“I don’t baa in bed.”

“Sometimes you baa in bed.”

“When do I baa in bed?”

“When I have transported you to another plane entirely.”

Arthur stares at Eames. “When the fuck does that happen?”

“I achieve it with the power of my penis,” Eames says, straight-faced, as if this is an absolutely true and serious thing he’s saying.

“You’ve never transported me to another plane on the power of your penis, what the fuck.”

“My penis is really sad to hear you say that.”

“Your penis doesn’t have ears.”

“It has my ears. My ears transmit to my penis. And then it gets sad.”

“Your penis also doesn’t have emotions.”

“It definitely has emotions. You should see how sad it looks right now. I’d show you but we have to interview your leprechaun cousin in a couple of minutes.”

“Oh, you mean you don’t want my leprechaun cousin to walk in while you have your dick out?” deadpans Arthur.

Eames grins at him like he’s the most delightful thing Eames has ever seen.

So Arthur leans forward and kisses him and murmurs, “Baa,” against his lips.

Eames laughs and lifts his hand up to the back of Arthur’s head and holds him still so he can deepen the kiss to complete inappropriateness.

Which, of course, is when Gilbert McQueen comes in.

Eames asks him if he’s Arthur’s cousin and Gilbert McQueen looks utterly bewildered and says, “I don’t think so?” and Arthur immediately knows they’re not hiring Gilbert McQueen because Eames is going to exhaust him in the span of fifteen minutes.

Eames’s stupid tarot cards are actually fairly helpful in weeding through the candidates. People have a variety of reactions to them, but none of them seem like the right one.

“Then again,” Arthur says, as they pause after the fourth candidate, “what would the right reaction to a fake tarot card reading even be?”

“We’ll know it when we see it,” says Eames. “Like good pornography.”

Arthur sighs.

Chapter Text

Luisa Delgado has a black belt in Krav Maga and once came in fourth in the world championships for sabre fencing. Arthur privately thinks she would be better suited to being their bodyguard than their PA.

Except that Eames hasn’t read any of the dossiers and when he presents Luisa with her tarot card reading, she listens to Eames’s nonsense, says, “I see,” then reaches for the cards and proceeds to read Eames’s tarot cards instead.

Eames looks positively delighted by her. “You read tarot cards?” As if that’s something he’s found lacking in their lives this whole time.

“No,” says Luisa Delgado, stone-faced, and then she smiles at Eames.

Eames looks like he’s ready to fall at her feet. Eames gives Arthur the Christmas-morning look, like he’s just seen the puppy he wants to take home. Arthur would be worried if he didn’t know Luisa has entirely the wrong parts to be interesting to Eames.

Arthur looks from Eames to Luisa’s resume and then back to Luisa, who looks calm and relaxed and ever-so-slightly amused. A good way to be in the face of one’s first encounter with Eames.

Arthur closes her dossier. “You have an impressive resume, but you’ve never been a PA before.”

“Change of pace,” Luisa says with a little shrug. “Saving the world got exhausting.”

“What did you do before this?” asks Eames, plainly fascinated.

“Classified,” says Luisa, totally straight-faced.

Actually, she was a bouncer at a nightclub while she finished up a degree in event planning. Arthur was attracted to the event planning degree, which he thought showed organizational skills. He thought it was interesting to combine that with Luisa’s physical skills. Arthur likes that Luisa looks like she’ll be able to awe Eames into compliance with things like schedules.

Eames says, “I have an important question for you.”

Luisa looks duly interested.

“What do you think about body parts having emotions?”

“Body parts having emotions?” repeats Luisa.

“Individual body parts. Having their own emotions. Separate from you as a person.”

Luisa is silent for a moment. Then she says, “Is this about your penis?”

Eames looks like he’s going to fall out of his chair with glee. He looks at Arthur with a desperate plea in his eyes.

Arthur smiles and pushes the rest of the dossiers to the side. “Yeah,” he tells Eames. “Okay.”

“You’re hired,” Eames tells Luisa, beaming.

“Excellent,” says Luisa. “And my vagina is frequently very moody.”

“Fascinating,” says Eames. “I always wanted to know if vaginas had moods the way penii do.”

“Only your penis has moods,” Arthur says.

“Your penis can be moody, darling, but it’s okay, I love it anyway,” Eames says, and kisses Arthur’s knuckles.

Arthur sighs and looks at Luisa. “Maybe you want to consider before you take this job.”

“Are you kidding?” says Luisa. “I am looking forward to this. When can I start?”

They settle the issue of when Luisa is going to start and a few of the other particulars and send her on her way and Arthur says to Eames, “You realize she can kill you with her bare hands?”

“Darling, she’s the size of a twig,” says Eames dismissively.

“You really should have read her dossier,” Arthur says, and decides he’s looking forward to this.

Chapter Text

Filming is looming around the corner. Well, it’s still a month away but to Arthur, who has had this new show penciled in for ages, that feels like it’s right around the corner, and Arthur’s to-do list before the show starts filming is very long. On his desk are two separate piles of clients, one set that has consented to filming and one set that has not, and Arthur is trying desperately to get his way through the non-filming set before filming starts up.

And Eames is away. Eames is on the fucking other side of the world and Arthur knows he had to let him go and is simultaneously furious at himself for letting him go because he’s lonely and misses him in their huge house and Arthur has to pretend that he’s not lonely because now he’s got a personal chef and a personal assistant hanging around all day and he has to pretend to be professional and pulled-together and Arthur is maybe cranky. Arthur is not always quite this cranky when Eames is away; he recognizes he is at an unusually critical level of cranky at the moment.

He and Eames have a pre-existing Skype date that Arthur doesn’t want to cancel because he’s cranky, so Arthur sprawls in their bed—which he hates sleeping in when Eames isn’t there—with his laptop next to him so he can Skype with Eames and pretend that he is in their bed. “I have to pretend to be on top of things,” he complains.

Eames on the screen starts laughing uproariously. It’s eight o’clock in the morning where he is and the room he’s in is bright with sunshine and Arthur hates it a little because the sun has set in Worcester and it’s nighttime and this just emphasizes how far away from each other they are.

And Arthur is always happy to make Eames laugh like that but he doesn’t know what he’s said. “What?” he asks. “What’s so funny?”

“Darling, you are on top of things,” Eames says. “The thing you’re primarily on top of, of course, is me.” Eames waggles his eyebrows and Arthur feels ridiculously sappy over how much he loves that eyebrow-waggle and how good it is to see it over the screen.

Arthur rolls his eyes because he knows he’s supposed to. He says, “I don’t feel on top of things. Mostly I want to lay around under your blanket and eat Oreos and binge-watch Million Dollar Listing.”

Million Dollar Listing?”

“Got to keep up with the competition.”

“See? Even when you’re trying to be as lazy as possible, you’re still really just doing market research,” says Eames, and he’s smiling so softly, so fondly, that Arthur wishes he could reach out and touch it.

“Tell me how the house is coming,” says Arthur, because he might as well try to focus on the reason Eames is on the other side of the planet.

“It’s…bloody gorgeous, actually,” Eames replies, looking pleased, and that beam of happiness makes Arthur’s sulky loneliness well worth it. “They’re so delighted to have an Eames-designed house, they’ve been angelic. The architecture on this house is breathtaking, and I cannot believe the art collection at my disposal. Architectural Digest has already rung about the house, and the clients are giddy.”

“Good,” says Arthur, meaning it genuinely. “You’re enjoying it.”

“I am. I miss you, of course. I’d enjoy it more if you were here, of course.”

“I know,” Arthur smiles. “I wasn’t fishing for a compliment there.”

“Speaking of Architectural Digest, they asked if we’d be willing to feature our house again.”

“How many times do people want to see the inside of our house?” asks Arthur, because he feels like it’s been featured a million times.

“I know. But they’ve all heard rumors about the river hallways.”

“The river hallways are quite something,” says Arthur wryly, because the river hallways feel to him like they’re going to be an endless work-in-progress.

“Someday they’ll be done,” Eames promises him, as he always does when Arthur trips over the construction and almost into the dry riverbed being formed in the middle of their house, which seems to happen once a week, normally before Arthur’s had his coffee. “Anyway, if you don’t mind, I thought it might work well with the promotional schedule, and I would like to show off my indoor forest.”

“The promotional schedule,” says Arthur, reminded. “Saito wants to talk to us about that. I said he had to wait until you got back.”

“Agreed. Let’s get the filming underway first, anyway. How are your clients?”

“Insufferable,” Arthur says.

Eames chuckles. “Oh, darling, but I’m sure you’re working your magic.”

“Mmm,” says Arthur doubtfully. “I’m not actually magic.”

“I know. It’s a lot of hard work and a brilliant amount of talent,” says Eames. “You look tired.”

“I’m fine,” says Arthur. “It’s the Skype connection. Fuzzy.”

“Darling,” says Eames.

“I just miss you,” Arthur says. “You know how it is.”

“I do,” Eames says, with another soft tender smile. “I think we’ll cap all work travel at two weeks from this point on.”

Arthur shakes his head. “I don’t want to hold you back. I’m fine.”

“I’m not worried about you. I’m worried about me. If you think I don’t miss you, too, you’re mad. I miss you desperately. I miss Timothy’s cooking even more.”

Arthur snorts. “Of course you do.”

“How’s Luisa working out?”

“I like her. She’s helpful.”

“Does she understand all of your color codes? I have plenty of people to help me, I want to make sure she helps you.”

“I like her, Eames, and yes, she understands the color codes, which actually aren’t very complicated.”

Eames makes a skeptical sound.

“Anyway,” Arthur says, choosing to ignore this skeptical sound, “I think she’ll get along with everyone. Speaking of, I think we should have a dinner.”

Eames visibly perks up on the screen. “A dinner?”

“A regular dinner, Eames, no…fucking minstrels wandering around or whatever’s going through your head.”

“Minstrels!” exclaims Eames. “What a fabulous idea!”

Arthur tries to pretend he’s not smiling as he says, “Just a dinner. Us and Gon and Ariadne and Timothy and Luisa and Julia and Paul and Kalinda.”

“Our whole team,” says Eames. “Sounds wonderful.”

“We have a team,” says Arthur. “What the fuck are our lives?”

“Pretty incredible lives,” says Eames. “So. Do you want to have pretty incredible Skype sex in honor of our pretty incredible lives?”

“I don’t think Skype sex is a thing,” Arthur sighs, not for the first time. “You keep trying to make it a thing.”

“It’s definitely a thing. Especially in our lives.”

“Yeah, I don’t especially want to be Skype sex pioneers, though.”

“We are hardly pioneers. We are hardly on the frontier of long-distance relationships.”

“It’s my frontier,” says Arthur, who might be willing to take Skype sex when he has to but never loses sight of the fact that he much prefers sex with, well, cuddles afterward. Not that Arthur had ever considered himself a cuddler before Eames but now he misses all of Eames’s casual physicality throughout his day. Arthur can get himself off with Eames over computer screens but Arthur can’t crawl onto his chest and listen to his heartbeat and let Eames brush random kisses over Arthur’s body and that’s extremely problematic for Arthur’s general sense of contentment and relaxation.

“Kitten,” says Eames, with a crooked smile, “ask me to show you my penis.”

“You know,” Arthur says, “in fanfiction you’re much smoother.”

“Darling,” Eames says brightly, “have you been reading fanfiction without me?”

“Well, you’re not here,” Arthur points out. “What else was there to do? Eames, viscount of my heart,” says Arthur, because Eames clearly wants him to, “may I please see your glorious penis?”

Eames really had been waiting for this invitation, because his penis immediately fills the screen, and Arthur blinks and…

“Eames, what is on your penis?”

“It’s called a foreskin,” says Eames. “We’ve been over this, and how it’s sad for you—”

“No, no, I know all about your foreskin, you never fucking shut up about your foreskin—”

“Sometimes I shut up about my foreskin,” says Eames. “It’s not like I talk about my foreskin at work or anything—”

Arthur has leaned closer to his laptop so he can squint at Eames’s penis. Then he says, “It’s a fedora! You are wearing a penis fedora!”

“Do you like it?” asks Eames, managing to sound delighted with himself.

“Where did you even find that?” asks Arthur in amazement.

“I saw it and I thought immediately of you,” says Eames, now waving his fedora’d penis around as if the penis is going about town, meeting people, having job interviews.

“You thought of me?” says Arthur drily. “Really?”

“Of course, darling. I thought, ‘You know who loves fedoras? You know who thinks they’re really sexy? Arthur. And you know what else Arthur loves? My penis. Excellent. I will combine my penis with a fedora. How could I go wrong? Arthur will immediately beg to be united with my penis and its lovely hat.’”

Eames finally stops talking, because Arthur is laughing too hard to breathe now. He is laughing so hard his stomach aches with the laughter and he’s actually wiping tears away from his eyes when he catches his breath enough to look back at Eames.

Eames’s penis is nowhere in evidence on the screen. He is smiling at Arthur, so soft and so fond. “Lovely,” Eames says. “That’s better. You look better now, darling.”

“Thank you,” says Arthur, because he does feel better, even though he hadn’t realized how dismal and self-pitying he’d been feeling earlier.

“That was my pleasure. Most successful Skype sex session ever.”

“In which I laughed at your penis.”

“You laughed at my penis’s hat. It was deserved. Listen, darling, I’ve got to run.”

“I know,” Arthur says, and tries not to be too wistful with regret over that. Eames does amazing things, designs amazing houses, has a world-class reputation, and takes time out of his day to make sure he makes Arthur laugh. Arthur has zero to feel regretful about, because most of the time Eames is home with him. “Go be dazzling. Send me pictures.” It’s part of the perks of dating Eames—being engaged to Eames—getting constant photo text updates of Eames’s projects.

“You be dazzling, too. Don’t let your clients annoy you too much. Let Luisa and Timothy take care of you. Call me when you get up tomorrow morning, hmm?”

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees.

“I love you,” says Eames.

“Baa,” says Arthur.

Which makes Eames grin and wink and then end the call.

Arthur is smiling when he closes his laptop. Because yes, he misses Eames and would rather have him home with him but Eames makes him smile and Arthur can’t resist that, ever.

He watches Million Dollar Listing and sends Eames texts about how incompetent most of them are except for the young hot one that Arthur says he’s going to run off with.

Chapter Text

Arthur is two days away from Eames being home, twelve days away from filming, five days away from a meeting with Saito to finalize everything, and three hours away from an appointment with Giacomo to put the finishing touches on a whole round of new suits for the new show. The new show is supposed to be more “genuine” and less “staged”—the network is obsessed with the “staged” word because they think it’s clever—and so Arthur is supposed to not wear suits all the time. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have Saito extort a small fortune for a wardrobe budget for him still.

Arthur is studying the schedule board when there’s a knock on the door. Arthur, curious, checks his watch, but it’s an hour before Luisa’s supposed to show up to help him go through some listings he’s pulled for a non-television client.

Arthur opens the door and says in surprise, “Julia.”

“You shouldn’t open doors without looking,” Julia says. “I’m totally telling Eames how unsafely you’re behaving.”

“What are you doing here?” Arthur asks.

“I brought you coffee.”

“I’m drinking coffee,” Arthur says, confused, lifting his mug of coffee up, because he and Julia are friendly and Julia’s going to be doing their makeup on the new show but Julia doesn’t usually just show up at their house.

“I bet your coffee isn’t as good as my coffee,” says Julia. “And, anyway, we have an appointment.”

“An appointment?” Arthur instinctively glances toward the schedule board.

“Not on your board, silly. It’s a secret, surprise appointment! Come on!” Julia grabs his hand, and Arthur hurriedly puts his mug down and grabs his keys and just like that Julia has pulled him out of his own house.

“Julia,” Arthur says, confused.

“Relax,” Julia grins at him. “I’m not kidnapping you. We’re going to have a spa day.”

“A spa day?” Arthur echoes. “I’m supposed to be at Giacomo’s—”

“Luisa checked with Giacomo, and your suits are good. He was only keeping that appointment on the schedule to distract you from Eames being gone.”

Eames,” Arthur realizes, as Julia tugs him down the sidewalk. “This is Eames, isn’t it?”

“You have a good boyfriend,” Julia says.

Fiance, Arthur thinks, but they have deliberately kept that quiet. But sometimes Arthur wants to tell the entire world. And then on other days he wants to tell no one at all. He’s a paradox in his own head, he thinks. Out loud he just says lightly, “He’s okay. What’s he done this time?”

“He sent me a postcard,” Julia replies, handing it across to Arthur.

Arthur reads it even as he keeps following Julia along the sidewalk. “Dear Julia, By the time you get this Arthur will be in need of a Juliardne day, I leave him in your capable hands. Coquettishly, Eames. Coquettishly?”

“He is pretty coquettish,” says Julia.

Arthur looks at the front of the postcard, which is a photograph of Hong Kong at night. “He must have sent this his very first day there,” Arthur says, because he just got his first postcard from Eames the day before. Darling! Miss you like crazy! Think of you constantly! Everything drab without you! Don’t be too sexy while I’m gone! Love, E. Arthur has it tucked in his drawer with his other notes from Eames.

“He knows you.” Julia shrugs.

“He knows you and your willingness to seize upon any excuse for a spa day.”

Julia grins at him.

Arthur takes out his phone and texts Eames. You sent a postcard to make sure I had a spa day? And Not necessary. And But thank you. And I love you. He doesn’t expect a text back for a while, so he slips his phone back into his pocket.

Then he says, “The postcard says a Juliardne day. Where’s Ariadne?”

“Meeting us there. She’s got to breathe into a paper bag a few times first.”

“Why is she breathing into a paper bag?”

Julia gave Arthur’s head a light smack. “Because she’s nervous!”

“Nervous about what?” Arthur asks. “It’s just a spa.”

Julia rolls her eyes. “You’re slow this morning. Does being without Eames make you slow? Wait, is it the lack of sex? Are you one of those men who gets stupid without sex?”

“I…What? There are men who that happens to?”

“You should masturbate more,” Julia tells him wisely.

“Oh, my God,” Arthur says, “do you know how quickly we’re getting off this topic and back to Ariadne?”

“Don’t think about Ariadne while you masturbate. That would be weird.”

“I don’t,” says Arthur. “I really, really don’t, oh, my God. I want to know why Ari’s breathing into paper bags.”

“Because she’s nervous about the show!”

“Really?” This gives Arthur pause.

“Yeah, Mister Reality Television Star. Surely there was a time when being on television used to make you nervous.”

Yes, Arthur remembers. There was. Although it seems so far away now. And mostly there was Eames, and Eames made things better. In fact, mostly it was Arthur being nervous that Eames was going to think he was an idiot. Eames was way more important than the rest of the public. Arthur says that. “Honestly, Julia, I was all fucked up back then pining over Eames.”

“Aw,” says Julia, and looks at him like he’s adorable. “That’s sweet. You really are the sweetest. Even if you do get stupid when you don’t have enough sex.”

Arthur sighs. “I don’t get stupid without sex. And Ari’s been on television before. Ari rocked television.”

“Now she’s working with Eames.”

“Ari worked with Eames before.”

“No, like, seriously working with him. Like he’s her boss. And he’s her idol. So yeah, she’s a little nervous about all of this.”

Arthur frowns. “I wish she’d said.”

“She’s not going to tell you he makes her nervous. You wouldn’t understand. He doesn’t make you nervous.”

Arthur snorts. “He doesn’t make me nervous anymore. He used to make me very nervous. I can totally relate. Should I talk to her about this? Or am I not supposed to know?”

“You’re supposed to know. Couldn’t you tell from the keysmash text she sent the other day?”

“I had no idea how to interpret that. As evidenced by my text in response: ‘Are you okay? What does that mean?’ Is Gon nervous, too? Should I talk to Gon, too?”

“I don’t know, I don’t text Gon very much.” Julia seems very unconcerned by the fact that Eames’s two employees might be freaking out right before filming starts.

Arthur says, “I was going to have a dinner next week. For everyone to…hang out and relax together, before we get busy. Is that a bad idea?”

Julia squeals.

“Jesus Christ,” says Arthur, wincing.

“I think that is such an excellent idea. What should I bring? Can I bring vodka?”

“You can bring all the vodka,” Arthur says.

Julia grins at him. “As you know, an all-vodka diet is the best diet for defeating bacteria.”

“Not true.”

“You’re a doubter.”

“It is scientifically demonstrably not true.”

“Doubting Arthur, I’m going to call you.”

“Please don’t.”

“Darthur for short.”

“No,” says Arthur. “What is that? That’s even worse.”

“You can call me Vulia if you want.”


“For Vodka Julia.”

Arthur is startled into laughter. “You’re crazy.”

“Maybe so, but there are those dimples. Eames pay me a hundred bucks every time I bring out those dimples.”

“He does what?” says Arthur.

“Smile for the camera so I can send Eames photographic evidence.” Julia holds her phone up.

The tweet just reads Dimples! with Arthur’s photo attached. It’s liked and retweeted a lot but Arthur only cares about Eames’s reply: Miss those, darling.

Chapter Text

Arthur doesn’t know if he should bring up that Julia said Ariadne was nervous. He wants to text Eames about the whole thing and at the same time he feels like that would be an even bigger betrayal of Ariadne. So he finally waits until after they’ve had their massages and are wrapped in fluffy robes and drinking cucumber water and totally relaxed.

“I’m going to have a dinner party,” Arthur ventures.

“An unusual dinner party?” asks Ariadne.

“Ha,” says Julia, biting into a cucumber with relish. “Ari wants to know if it’s going to be a sex club dinner party.”

“No,” answers Arthur. “I told Eames to make it a totally normal dinner party.”

“So it’ll be unusual,” says Ariadne.

“I just thought maybe we could all get together and talk about the show and, you know, not be nervous.”

Ariadne starts laughing hysterically, rolling around on the chaise longue she’s reclining on.

“What?” asks Arthur blankly. “Why is that funny?”

Because. Do you know what we are about to do?” Ariadne rolls toward Arthur on her chaise. “We are about to go on television. In front of millions of people.”

“You’ve done that before,” Arthur points out, because, yeah.

“I know, but then I didn’t think anything was going to happen. Like, I thought I’d get eliminated after the first round.”

“Ari!” exclaims Julia in exasperation.

Which mirrors what Arthur’s feeling. “How could you think that?”

“I don’t know.” Ariadne looks embarrassed. “You don’t go on those shows thinking you’re going to win.”

You should have,” Arthur says.

Ariadne fixes him with a look. “Oh, yeah. Because all of us are so very good at recognizing how awesome we are and none of us ever have to have Eameses or guardian pixie sprites reminding us of that.”

Arthur knows he blushes. He wishes he’d agreed to a mud facial so the blush wasn’t evident.

“I’ve done makeup for a lot of those shows,” Julia remarks, sipping her cucumber water, “and let me tell you, you definitely do go on those shows thinking that you’re going to win. Not you. Other yous. You know what I mean.”

“Well, anyway, it’s different now. Then I was one of a crowd and now there’s just…me.”

“There’s others of us,” says Arthur dryly, after a beat.

“No, I know, I just…” Ariadne makes a sound and collapses back onto the chaise. “I need another cucumber water. With vodka.”

“I told Arthur there should be more vodka,” says Julia triumphantly.

“Plus Gon is going to be there,” says Ariadne.

Arthur is surprised. “I thought you and Gon liked each other.”

“Oh, we do! We totally do! That’s what makes this so complicated. I don’t know what we are and where this is going and we’re going to have to sort it all out on national television.”

This gives Arthur pause. He hesitates. “Should we not have…asked both of you…?” That was Eames’s call, who he wanted to work with, and Arthur would never interfere with Eames’s side of things, it’s why their partnership works so well, because they trust each other to have their duties covered, but maybe this was the wrong call on Eames’s part and maybe Arthur should talk to him about this.

“No, you should have. You definitely should have. I am just...being irrational. I’ll get better once filming actually starts.”

Arthur says after a thoughtful moment, “Eames is really good with irrationality. I think he actually loves it.”

Ariadne giggles. Then she gives Arthur an absolutely beaming look. She says simply, “I’ve missed you.”

“Me, too,” says Arthur. “That’s why it’s going to be so exciting once filming starts and we get to see each other much more often.”

“You guys are on television just so you have an excuse to hang out with your friends all day, aren’t you?” remarks Julia.

Arthur considers, then realizes truthfully, “Yes.”

Chapter Text

When Arthur is done with his spa day, he retrieves his phone and there’s a text message from Eames: I hope you had fun. I miss you like mad.

Arthur texts back as he walks home. We have chosen jobs where we just surround ourselves with our friends all day every day.

It’s the middle of the night where Eames is, so naturally that means he’s wide awake and texts Arthur back immediately. Yes. We have. That’s what makes us brilliant.

And, because Eames is clearly awake, and because Arthur just had a spectacular day thanks to Eames’s cleverness, and because Arthur is in a remarkably magnificent mood, he calls him.

Eames answers right away. “Hello, darling. How was your day?”

“Ridiculous,” Arthur says. “Wonderful.”

“Yes,” Eames replies. “You sound fantastic. I’m glad.”

“How was your day?” asks Arthur, because he thinks Eames sounds tired. It doesn’t matter that it’s the middle of the night; that’s ordinarily prime Eames working time. If Eames is tired, it’s never really a consequence of the hour. Eames is impervious to time, if everything else is right with him.

“It was fine,” says Eames, which is an obvious lie. “Long.”

“Yeah, it must be, if you’re still up. What happened?” Eames was not in this mood the last time they spoke, so something must have happened in between.

Eames says, “We’re at the end of the project now, and I’m about to leave and go home, and so naturally this has provoked absolute panic and a second-guessing of every decision that’s been made in the course of the project. Yesterday I was a genius whose opinion was trusted in every respect. Today, all of a sudden, they’re not sure. Should the mood of the house be more sophisticated? No. It fucking shouldn’t be. It’s the wrong mood for them and for their house. They’re instinctively warm people who would be most at home in a cluttered space and now they’ve managed to get Architectural Digest in their house about being chic and sleek and all those other -eek words and all decisions have been made and locked in and so now they’re off the rails and I’m spending all my time having to try to justify decisions we all made weeks ago and they’re not listening.”

Arthur is letting himself into their house as he listens to Eames’s frustration. He says, “Well, first, they’re idiots not to listen to you. They hired you for your expertise, they should listen to you.”

“Mmm,” says Eames, “well, I suppose I can’t complain as long as they pay me my extortionate fee.”

“Yes, you can. You can definitely still complain. Where are you right now?”

“Right now? I’m…on the floor in my hotel room trying to decide if I should change my mind on the beaded curtains I just put up today.”

“Don’t change your mind,” says Arthur. “Get your pants off.”

There’s a moment of silence. “What?” says Eames.

“Get them off,” says Arthur, sinking into the squashy chair in his office and closing his eyes. If he thinks about this hard enough, he can pretend he’s with Eames, see him vividly in front of him, practically feel like he’s touching him. Arthur isn’t the best with phone sex, but he doesn’t think he’s the worst, either.

“Darling, not that I don’t—”

“If I were there with you,” Arthur says, knowing this with unerring certainty, “I’d get you out of your pants. Maybe you wouldn’t be hard yet, but you know how I love that, how it’s one of my favorite things, you in my mouth so I get to feel the effect I’m having on you, as you get harder and harder, until you’re so thick and heavy, and the taste of you…I can’t resist sucking, just a few more times, licking you with the flat of my tongue against your shaft, waiting until your hands close into my hair because of how very badly you want to just fuck my mouth.”

“Fuck, darling,” says Eames, voice thick, and he sounds like he’s thinking of anything but his clients, which was exactly what Arthur wanted, of course.

“Are you touching yourself?” Arthur asks.

“Yes,” says Eames, labored.

“Stop,” Arthur commands, with an edge to his voice that he knows Eames won’t disobey.

“What?” he practically whines.

“I’d stop now. I’d stop and pull off and you’d fuck up toward thin air, chasing me, but I’d avoid you. I’d make you wait. I’d scrape my teeth over your stomach. Put your hand on your stomach, flat against it.”

“Darling,” Eames complains.

“Don’t touch your cock,” Arthur says. “That’s for me later.”

Eames groans, and it’s a gorgeous thing to hear, and it actually makes Arthur smile into his phone.

He says, letting his voice drop low, low, lower, “Hand on your stomach. Now run it up your chest. Let your fingers trail the lines of the paisley ink, the way I do with my tongue. Can you feel me?”

“Yes,” whispers Eames.

“Good. Pinch a nipple hello for me,” he says, because sexy talk is all well and good but they seldom have sex that doesn’t involve laughter somewhere and he knows, even though they’ve never exactly compared notes on that point, that it’s something about their sex life they both really love.

Eames does laugh in response, although it’s a breathless laugh that trails off, caught, presumably as he follows directions and pinches a nipple hello.

“If I were there with you,” Arthur murmurs into his phone, letting his tongue and lips wrap around the words the way he wants to wrap around Eames, “do you know how long I’d kiss you? How I would swallow the taste of you? How you would want my hands on you and I’d pin you underneath me and I’d give you just my mouth, breathing you in, and breathing you out, and waiting until you said—”

“Please,” Eames gasps. “Please.”

“Lick your hand,” says Arthur, his voice hoarse with how much he wishes it were his hand involved in this whole situation.

Eames is panting raggedly into the phone, and Arthur listens to the sound of it, on the other side of the world and yet directly in his ear.

Arthur says, “Christ, do you know how much I wish I could blow you right now? How I’d go all the way down on you until you hit the back of my throat? How I’d keep my fingers on your hips so tightly they would leave bruises, and you would make those noises--those noises—” Arthur says, as Eames makes a delicious moan into the phone. “Tell me what you need,” Arthur bites out, frustrated by not having visual feedback. He can guess, from the sounds, that Eames must be close, but it’s difficult not knowing, it’s been so long since he didn’t know with Eames.

“Fuck,” Eames gasps, “just keep—your voice—talk to me—tell me—tell me—”

Arthur squeezes his eyes shut tighter, because everything about this is torture, to have Eames sound like that and not be right next to him. “Do you know what you sound like right now? How wrecked you sound? How incredible you sound? When you get home I am taking you to bed and I am going to just live on your cock—” Eames makes a desperate noise in the back of his throat—“and I love you and I want you to come for me.”

Darling,” Eames cries out sharply, and Arthur says nothing further, just listens to his racing breaths as they gradually start to slow in his ear. And then, eventually, Eames chuckles. “Fuck, darling, you should see what a mess you just made here.”

His voice is thick like honey, his accent blurred, and Arthur’s heart swells with affection. Arthur loves Eames like this, in the aftermath of an orgasm, when his typical clipped quick wit gets softened into luxurious languor.

“My favorite kind of mess,” Arthur says, keeping his eyes closed so he can try to imagine that Eames is as near him as his voice makes it sound. “One I can’t see.”

Eames laughs again, then says, “You didn’t come, did you? Shall I repay the favor?”

“No,” Arthur says. “I want you to listen for a second.”

“Kitten, I am quite all ears for you at the moment. Ears and a spent cock.”

“I want you to forget about the beaded curtains for the time being. Go to bed, get some sleep, and tomorrow you’ll talk to your clients and be so you that they’ll see your vision and step out of your way. This is what you do, right? And you’re the best at it. You get people to see the world you see, and how beautiful it is, and how amazing it is to get to live in that beautiful world. You’re brilliant, and so charming it’s fucking illegal, and you’re going to kill it with them in the morning and they’ll wonder why they ever questioned you for a heartbeat. And even if they continue to be fuckwits about the whole thing, it doesn’t matter, because you’re still brilliant and the best designer in the entire fucking world.”

“In the entire fucking world?” repeats Eames, sounding fond and amused.

“Yeah. And I’m a professional so my opinion really counts.”

“It does,” agrees Eames. “Who would dare argue with you?” Eames yawns enormously, then apologizes, “Sorry, darling.”

“No, don’t apologize. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. Go to bed. Feel better in the morning.”

“It would be hard to feel better than I do right now,” says Eames honestly.

“Good. I’m so glad.”

“Thank you,” Eames says. “Really, I needed that and didn’t even think I needed it.”

“Yeah. I have this really clever fiancé who’s really good at doing that for me, so I thought I’d return the favor.”

“Who’s this fiancé?” Eames asks. “He sounds hot. Can I meet him?”

“Thanks for my spa day,” Arthur says. “Thanks for being you. If that’s not what your client says to you tomorrow, fuck them and come home to me.”

“Yeah.” Eames sounds like he’s moving around, maybe crawling into bed. “I miss you,” he says, and Eames says that all the time when he’s away, but the way he says it tonight makes Arthur wish he could buy a plane ticket and go to him immediately.

So Arthur says that. “Do you want me to come to you?”

“No.” Eames sighs. “I mean, yes. Of course, I always want you to. But you’re busy, and I’m busy, really, and this was just a bad night. I’m fine. I’ll be fine in the morning.”

“You’ll tell me if you’re not?”

“Yes,” Eames says. “Deal. It’s only two more days. I’m coming home on time, regardless of what they decide about the design. So it’s silly for you to come out here, you’d just have to get right back on an airplane.”

Arthur is relieved Eames isn’t talking about extending the length of the trip. “I’m glad I called,” he says.

“Me, too,” says Eames, and yawns again.

“Go to sleep,” Arthur says. “I love you. I miss you. I miss your cock. Give it a fond kiss for me.”

Eames chuckles sleepily, which was what Arthur wanted. He says, “It misses you, too. It’s very bored with my hand.”

“Christ, your penis is demanding, you have such lovely hands.”

“Mmm, if only I had a well-behaved cock like yours,” says Eames, and Arthur can hear the smile over the telephone.

“I’ll get my cock to give your cock lessons when you get home,” Arthur promises him.

“Well, I cannot wait for that,” mumbles Eames. “Something to look forward to. I miss your dimples. Give them a kiss from me.”

“I will. Sweet dreams, Viscount,” Arthur whispers into Eames’s ear, from the other side of the planet.

“You, too, darling,” Eames murmurs back.

Arthur hangs up the phone and opens his eyes and looks up at his ceiling in Worcester, where it’s still bright daylight, nowhere near bedtime.

“Two more days,” he tells his well-behaved cock. “We can make it.”

Chapter Text

On the whiteboard in the kitchen today is one very special event, circled and starred. Eames’s flight. Arthur dresses carefully in a beautiful lightly-striped button-down that he rolls up the sleeves on, pulled over a t-shirt that reads You don’t like flowers? Orchidding me! that Eames bought him because Eames is constantly buying him horribly pun-covered t-shirts that Arthur wears as treats for him to discover under Arthur’s more tasteful clothes.

When Arthur comes out to the kitchen, Timothy is deep into cooking them food for the week and Luisa is either supervising him or bothering him. They’d be interchangeable, Arthur thinks.

“I should have just given you the day off,” remarks Arthur ruefully to Luisa.

“Not at all,” she says, sipping a cup of coffee. “I have to stay here and make sure Timothy doesn’t poison all the food he’s making for you.”

“Hey,” says Timothy, mock-affronted.

Timothy is on a schedule where he comes in every couple of weeks and cooks them up a bunch of meals that they then reheat. Arthur is really excellent at reheating meals now. Eames will eat the reheated meals but, left to his own devices, Eames will bypass all of the healthy balanced meals in their freezer in favor of Triscuits with chocolate syrup or other gross things. At any rate, to Arthur’s relief—because he likes a happy household—Timothy and Louisa get along tremendously well. Arthur feels like they’re long-lost siblings somehow reunited. They tease and bicker and seem fond of each other. It’s not flirtation—there’s no heat there—it’s just…two people who like each other. Arthur is relieved. He really, really wants everyone around him to like each other.

Luisa says, “I assume you want to pick Eames up from the airport so I haven’t offered. But I can pick up the dry cleaning and also go through the fan mail requests that have come in to make sure it’s all standard stuff.”

“Thanks,” Arthur says, thinking it really is a relief to have someone else worry about that stuff.

“Any client stuff you need done?” Luisa asks.

“Everything’s under control. I’m almost done with everyone who didn’t want to be filmed.” Which will leave him with only the show’s “storyline” customers to deal with, and plenty of time to develop a game plan for how he wants to deal with them.

“So I really have nothing to do, is what you’re saying,” says Luisa.

“You can always peel potatoes,” suggests Timothy.

Luisa sticks out her tongue at Timothy and says to Arthur, “You guys are the easiest people to personally assist.”

“You haven’t seen us during filming,” says Arthur, pauses, then adds honestly, “Also, Eames isn’t here.”

Luisa grins at him. “Throws a wrench into the works, does he?”

“Eames can be…unpredictable,” Arthur decides is the best word for it. “He’s, you know, fantastic. But yeah. Unpredictable.”

Luisa’s grin widened. “Go get him,” she says, and Arthur wonders how besotted he looks.

Chapter Text

A normal person at the airport would idle by the curb until Eames appeared, and Eames would jump in, and they would make their getaway, but Arthur hasn’t seen Eames in weeks and Arthur cannot wait even an extra two minutes to see him now. When Eames texts that he’s landed, Arthur is already walking into the terminal, so it’s too late to change his mind about this foolish impulse anyway.

He waits at the door for Eames to emerge, like this whole thing is a movie, and Eames comes out with his phone in his hand, looking down at it, thumbs flying over it. He’s probably texting Arthur, and Arthur’s phone dings in his pocket to confirm this, and Eames glances up idly and then freezes when he catches sight of Arthur.

Arthur, feeling a little sheepish, waves at him.

Eames lights up and he practically jogs to where Arthur is standing and then, in a dramatic show of strength, he lifts Arthur off his feet to twirl him into an embrace.

Arthur is laughing when Eames sets him down. “Idiot,” he says fondly.

“Hello, darling,” Eames says, voice warm, looking at him.

It’s been so very long since Arthur had those eyes right there, in person, familiarly loving. There’s a particular way Arthur feels in the light of Eames’s passionate regard, and Arthur can forget that, sometimes, until he’s deprived of it, and now it feels like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. Arthur almost feels like he could use a pair of sunglasses.

“Hi,” he says, feeling the smile in a way that’s so much more common when Eames is around.

Eames’s answering smile is soft. He leans in and kisses each of Arthur’s dimples, his left temple, his right eyebrow, the bridge of his nose. “Hi,” he murmurs. “I missed you.”

“Me, too,” says Arthur, turning in to the nuzzling.

“Mmm,” says Eames, resting his forehead briefly against Arthur’s.

Arthur leans forward to dart a kiss against Eames’s mouth. “Tired?” he asks.

“Exhausted,” says Eames. “What time is it? What day is it?”

“Not important. That’s what Luisa keeps track of for us now.”

“Ah, brilliant. Whose brilliant idea was it to hire her? I think it was mine, wasn’t it? Aren’t I brilliant?”

“You’re just the best,” says Arthur drily.

“Stealing my line,” Eames accuses lightly, and returns Arthur’s quick darting kiss.

“I have to steal your line, you haven’t been here to say it,” says Arthur, as Eames keeps taking sipping kisses of Arthur’s mouth.

Eames chuckles against him. “Harsh,” he says.

“I’m an asshole,” Arthur reminds him, lifting his arm to drape over the back of Eames’s neck, to keep him in close.

“You’re so much more than that, darling. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Arthur laughs. “Dick,” he says.

“And I am also so much more than that. Although it’s a very good thing we have these composite parts, darling, they work together so nicely.”

“Yeah. Speaking of. Should we get out of here?”

“We should definitely get out of here.”

Arthur steps away from Eames, slides his hand into Eames’s.

Eames says, “Walk a couple of steps ahead of me, darling. I’ve missed the view of your arse.”

Arthur rolls his eyes. “I’m not doing that.”

“Will you do it in private for me?”

“Yes,” says Arthur primly. “I’ll even do it unclothed.”

“You’re too good to me,” says Eames gravely.

“I am. Eames, where are you going?”

Eames pauses just in front of the automatic doors, which have opened to let him outside. “Isn’t the car parked out there somewhere?”

“Yes, but your suitcase is presumably on a baggage carousel somewhere in here.” Arthur indicates baggage claim.

“Oh, my suitcase!” scoffs Eames. “Is my suitcase important?”

“No. You’re right. We can leave it here and say good riddance to all of the terrible shirts it contains.”

“I’ve changed my mind about the importance of my suitcase,” announces Eames, striding back into baggage claim.

“I thought you might,” remarks Arthur.

Chapter Text

Eames talks about Hong Kong while they retrieve his bag. Mainly about how he managed in the end to convince the clients that the design was perfect as it was, with a glorious speech that was a thing of beauty.

“Sad we weren’t filming it,” he says, covering a yawn as he follows Arthur to the car. “It was a gorgeous speech.”

“I’m glad they finally saw reason and sad I didn’t get to hear the speech. So listen,” says Arthur as they reach the car. “I had this idea…”

Eames looks interested. “What sort of idea?”

“If you’re too tired, we don’t have to do it.”

“I’m not too tired,” Eames denies, swinging his suitcase into the trunk. “What’s the idea?”

“You’re sure? You can say no—”

Eames cuts him off with a kiss. “Darling. What’s the idea?”

Arthur’s idea had taken shape the day of the Eames-organized spa day, the day of Eames being tired and Arthur being too far away to properly comfort him. He’d wanted to welcome Eames back home, and “home” at the moment had Luisa and Timothy and wouldn’t be fully home until that night.

But Boston, meanwhile, had a number of gorgeous hotel rooms, and he and Eames had an embarrassing amount of money.

“Darling,” says Eames, eyebrow cocked as he stands at the room’s window and looks out over the Common. “Did you rent a room just so we could have a proper fuck?”

“No,” denies Arthur.

Eames’s eyebrow manages to lift even higher.

“Well, yes,” Arthur amends. “Kind of. It’s just that there are people at our house, right now, and I want to be home, of course, but I also wanted you to myself for a little—”

Eames cuts him off with a kiss again. Arthur doesn’t argue. Arthur sinks into the kiss, sinks into Eames, sinks into the luxurious immediacy of having Eames right there.

“Kitten,” Eames growls, pulling back a whisper. “Get on the bed.”

Chapter Text

“So,” says Eames, propping himself up on his elbow and watching his fingers walk over Arthur’s back where Arthur is sprawled out on his stomach next to him, hugging his pillow. Arthur is still wearing his terrible t-shirt; Eames insisted. “Tell me what it’s really like at home.”

“It’s fine at home,” Arthur says.

“Which is why we’re here?” Eames lifts a wry eyebrow at him.

“Just…” Arthur sighs. “People underfoot. Timothy was cooking for the week and Luisa was trying to be helpful and I just…wanted you entirely to myself for a little while. No e-mails or telephones or iPads or glass boards or river hallways or indoor forests. Just you and me. That’s what I wanted.”

“You can have that anytime,” Eames says seriously. “You just have to ask.”

Arthur smiles at him. “I know. That’s what this was. Me asking.”

Eames also smiles, but briefly. “You look tired.”

I look tired?” says Arthur, because Eames has looked dead on his feet since Arthur first saw him at the airport.

“Yes. You.”

“I have a difficult time sleeping without you hogging the bed. I didn’t know what to do with all the space.”

“Ha ha,” says Eames.

Arthur shifts onto his back and tugs Eames down with him. “Seriously, I’m okay.”


Arthur nods. “I’m looking forward to filming. I’m looking forward to…our lives. That’s what I’ve been missing: our lives. There’s been so much going on but it’s felt floaty and unmoored. I want to get back to work, our work, what we do, together. What about you? Are you okay?”

Eames’s lips tip into a smile. “Yeah. I’m with you. And I have another delightful t-shirt to give to you and to watch you roll your eyes over, I really can’t wait to pull it out of my suitcase, I’m going to save it for an extra-special occasion, which I am defining as: later tonight.”

Arthur rolls his eyes already, just to get a head-start on the eye-rolling he’s sure the t-shirt’s going to provoke.

Eames grins. “But, also, I am also looking forward to filming. You’ve very hot when we’re filming, you know.”

“Am I?” says Arthur, stretching out over Eames, rasping his teeth over Eames’s stubble. “You’re okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Just okay.”

“Prick,” says Eames, laughing. “I missed you desperately.”

Arthur pauses with his teeth around Eames’s collarbone, finishes the bite and then looks up. “I missed you, too,” he says seriously, because he doesn’t want to joke about that, because suddenly the memory of how much he missed Eames is a pressure in his throat he can’t swallow past. When Eames is away, Arthur gets up and lives every day because he has to and he doesn’t love it but it’s fine and now that Eames is back and everything is technicolor again the gray boredom of the past few weeks is sharper and more drastic than it had felt when Arthur had been living in it.

Eames looks up at him, brushes his hands over Arthur’s tumbled hair, pulls him in gently to kiss the tip of his nose. Then he grins rakishly and says, “Prove it.”

Chapter Text

Eames is sleeping. Heavily, dead to the world, sprawled on his stomach over the entire enormous bed, snoring a little bit.

They have the hotel room for the entire night—it’s not like Arthur rented some cheap by-the-hour room—so Arthur isn’t alarmed that Eames is sleeping. He’s relieved, frankly, because Eames had looked exhausted. So Arthur just texts Luisa and tells her they’ll be a while and she should just feel free to lock up the house when she leaves.

Arthur spends a little while looking at his to-do lists on his phone. He looks at the clients coming up for filming; he has plans of attack for all of them. He looks at his penciled-in date for the dinner party and thinks that he needs to finalize that. He looks at his “wedding planning” file, where, distressingly, he hasn’t even got past what time of year he thinks they should do it.

Arthur decides to ignore all of his to-do lists, flipping over to Twitter. He types up a tweet: Big welcome home to Eames! Next stop: filming! #cominghome. Then, because he’s a little conceited and also because he’s at loose ends and also because maybe he should just keep track, he checks the #armes5eva tag. They were spotted at the airport, apparently. There’s really kind of a lovely picture of them smiling at each other, clearly mid-conversation, foreheads tipped close together. They look so incredibly happy, so delighted, that it gives Arthur actual pause, sitting there looking at the two of them. Like, he knows that’s him in the photograph but still, it’s one of those moments when he feels like his life must belong to someone else. How is it that there is Eames, looking at him like that?

The tweets are generally aww-ing over them, which makes Arthur feel like he’s behaving like a member of their own fandom, for Christ’s sake.

And then there are a few tweets that draw Arthur up short.

Oh, look, conveniently posing for the cameras. Who goes inside to meet someone at the airport? Super suspicious. #armes5eva

Fascinating that as soon as people start speculating that their relationship might not be real, the network trots them out for this. #armes5eva

How can people think this is being faked??? They clearly adore each other! There is #notroubleinparadise! #armes5eva!!!!!

Arthur tips his heads at the tweets. He doesn’t track their fandom religiously—he has other people to do that, now—so he had no idea that people were apparently questioning their relationship.

“Mmm,” Eames rumbles sleepily from the bed. “What’s that furrow between your brow? C’mere, let me kiss it away.”

“Nothing,” Arthur says, swiping away from the tweets. “It’s nothing. We were seen at the airport.” Arthur crawls onto the bed next to Eames, shows him the photograph of the two of them.

Eames looks at it. “It’s a nice picture. Don’t let it furrow your brow.” Eames plucks Arthur’s phone away from him, gathers Arthur up into his arms.

“I’m not,” Arthur says. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes. I did. Did you have a big night out in Boston planned?”

“No,” Arthur says truthfully. “You can just roll over and go back to sleep.”

“Really I just want to go home. Can we go home? This was a delicious interlude and I definitely appreciated the sex, trust me, but I have been dreaming of you and our house and our life and can we go home now?”

“Yeah,” says Arthur, looking at him impossibly fondly, sleep-rumpled and adorable. “Yeah, we can go home.”

Chapter Text

Eames at home stands narrow-eyed looking at the progress of the river hallways. While he was gone the bottoms of the riverbeds have been carefully sculpted with artistic sand and some glass seaweed and the flash of semi-precious stones here and there. The effect is supposed to be as natural as a fake river inside can be.

“You don’t like them?” Arthur says. “I thought they looked good.”

“I love them,” Eames says. “I’m just contemplating if there’s any way to make them more river-y.”

“Not a word.”

“It’s an interior designer word.”

“You’re the only interior designer I know who decorates with rivers.”

“God,” Eames says. “God decorates with rivers.”

Arthur rolls his eyes. “Okay, you and God occupy the same category, of course you do.”

Eames grins and pulls Arthur up against him. “How much did you miss me?”

“So much,” Arthur says honestly, “and I don’t even know why.”

Eames laughs and goes to back Arthur against the wall, which is when they both crash into the riverbed that is now their hallway.

“Oh,” Eames says, upon finding themselves in the sandy riverbank.

“I told you that—” Arthur looks at Eames’s dumbfounded face, and suddenly he can’t stop laughing. He’s laughing so hard that he has to sit down directly in the dry riverbed, disturbing the seaweed, but he can’t help it. “Your face,” he gasps, looking up at Eames, who looks bewildered. “You look genuinely shocked to find that having rivers instead of hallways is a hazard, oh, my God, how can you not have believed me the first thousand times I told you this?” Arthur laughs and laughs, tears streaming from his eyes, his stomach aching from laughter, because Eames really did not realize the obvious trouble with river hallways. His Eames, Christ, his brain was the most magical place.

Eames says, sounding very grave indeed, “We might need to think about this,” as if the time to think about it hadn’t been before carving the riverbeds into the hallways.

“Oh, my God,” says Arthur, and starts laughing all over again.

Eames shakes his head at him and then drops into the riverbed with him.

“Do you know how much time Paul spent supervising people trying to follow your instruction to ‘move that seaweed into a seaweedier place’?” Arthur asks him, as Eames shoves a couple of pieces of seaweed out of the way.

“I’ve had a revelation about the river hallways,” Eames announces, tugging Arthur into a better position underneath him.

“Have you? Is the revelation that they’re impractical?”

“No, my revelation is that they are excellent for shagging and I’m not sure I’m going to fill them with water.”

“They are not excellent for shagging,” Arthur says into Eames’s mouth. “There’s sand all over the place.”

“This is romantic,” Eames assures Arthur.

“Sand all over my ass is romantic?” says Arthur, but he is unbuckling Eames’s belt because, fuck, he just went weeks without being able to touch Eames and he’s not about to be particular about where he gets to touch him now. He feels like the idea of another round should be very optimistic and yet his hands find that it most definitely is not.

“The essence of romance, darling. Fuck, I missed you,” gasps Eames, as Arthur strokes at him, and then he’s scrambling to get Arthur’s clothes out of his way.

“Paul is going to kill us,” Arthur pants, kicking sand and seaweed everywhere as he struggles out of his pants.

“There are two relevant names for you to be saying right now,” says Eames breathlessly, stretching out over him. “Eames and God.”

After a beat, Arthur laughs punchily, unable to get enough air to do it properly but helpless to resist it. “Christ, your ego.”

“Christ is also acceptable, being one with God.”

“Stop talking about theology and fuck me in your fucking river hallway.”

“The lube seems very inconveniently far away. I was thinking blowjob.”

“No. Forget it,” says Arthur desperately, who suddenly doesn’t want Eames’s mouth out of kissing range. “Stay right here.” He traps Eames’s lower lip between his teeth and gets his hands around both of them and strokes messily.

It’s slick and sloppy and an absolute disaster in the abstract but in the particulars it’s Arthur and Eames and their hips stutter into a rhythm together and Arthur bites Eames’s lip when he comes and Eames swears and follows him.

They’re still for a long time, breathing into each other’s mouths, waiting for their breaths to resume their normal rhythms. Eventually, Eames slumps over, giving Arthur a little more space to breathe. “Christ,” he says eloquently, pressing a finger to his abused lower lip. “That was amazing. We are always having sex in the river hallways.”

“We need to cancel our schedule tomorrow,” Arthur says. “We need to spend all day in bed tomorrow recovering from having too much sex today.”

“All day in the river hallways,” corrects Eames, “having more sex,” and then says, “You’re a mess,” managing to sound surprised again.

Arthur knows he’s a mess. He’s not thinking too hard about it because he also just had a fantastic orgasm. But yeah: he’s a mess.

“Oh, my God,” says Eames.

Arthur cracks his eyes open and realizes that Eames has sat up and is surveying the area in their immediate vicinity. Where they have managed to absolutely destroy the river hallway. Sand and seaweed and stones are flung all over the place. Arthur would be appalled at them if he wasn’t also thinking, Well, fuck, that’s what happens when you reunite with your boyfriend after a few weeks.

“Paul is going to kill us,” says Eames, wide-eyed.

Which starts Arthur laughing again. “I told you,” he says. “I tried to stop you.”

“You’re a minx,” Eames mock-growls, and bites playfully at Arthur’s shoulder. “You’re a seductive minx and no one will blame me for the state of this hallway.”

“You are telling absolutely nobody why this hallway looks like this,” Arthur says. “In fact, we’re going to clean it up.”

Eames pouts. “That doesn’t sound very sexy.”

“It’s not,” says Arthur drily.

Chapter Text

“What is there to be stressed about, though?” asks Eames from the bathroom where he’s getting ready.

“Being on national television, Eames,” Arthur replies, frustrated by the fact that he can’t find the particular light purple sweater he wanted to wear over this shirt. The only problem with having a personal assistant is his control over his wardrobe is less than absolute. “Being on national television is stressful for regular people.”

“We’re not stressed out about it,” Eames points out. “And we’re regular people.”

“I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think we’re regular people.” Arthur gives up and settles for a navy blue sweater, pulling it over his head.

“We are absolutely regular people. We put our trousers on one leg at a time just like everyone else.”

“I don’t think that’s the criterion, Eames,” says Arthur, coming out of his closet with the pair of shoes he’s chosen.

“The idiom says otherwise,” says Eames.

Arthur starts tying his shoes. “Plus she’s stressed about her relationship with Gon. It’s a new relationship and she’s worried about having it on national television.”

“Well, that makes no sense at all. Clearly national television is the best place to have your relationship. We’re proof of that. What do you think?”

Arthur looks up from his shoes and lifts his eyebrows. “Wait,” he says. “I didn’t know we were doing costumes.”

“It’s not a costume,” says Eames, although it definitely is, because Eames is wearing a star-spangled sleeveless t-shirt and a top hat and, weirdly, a four-leaf clover pinned where a boutonniere would go.

“You’re right,” says Arthur. “What was I thinking? You dress like that all the time. Silly me.”

“The theme of the party, you may recall, is Good Old-Fashioned Fun.”

“I didn’t know that was a theme,” says Arthur. “I thought that was just…what was going to happen at the party.”

“It’s a theme. And I’m going as a Founding Father.”

“I…That’s not what the Founding Fathers wore. Like, at all.”

“Hush, this isn’t really my country, I didn’t learn these things in school. In England, this is what we understand the American Founding Fathers to have worn.”

“A four-leaf clover?”

“Oh,” says Eames. “That’s just for luck. So. What do you think?” Eames does a little twirl, looking very pleased with his outfit.

Arthur considers what the right response is supposed to be. He settles on the truth. “You look ridiculous and very hot. Ridiculously hot.”

Eames beams, kid-on-Christmas-morning. “Hotly ridiculous.”

“Also apt,” Arthur agrees.

“Good. That’s exactly the look I was going for.”

“Is that usually the look you’re going for?” Arthur asks. “Because that’s usually what you manage to achieve.”

Eames grins at him and catches a hand at the small of Arthur’s back and draws him in for a quick, affectionate kiss.

Which is when the doorbell rings, in its flutter of enthusiastic twittering birds.

“Guests!” says Eames, clapping his hands together, because Eames loves parties, and he bounces his way out of the room.

Arthur follows at a more subdued pace down the river hallway. They cleaned it up, but there’s no denying the fact that what had been an artfully pieced-together mosaic of sand and glass seaweed is now a scattered mess.

It turns out to be the pizza Arthur ordered and not any guests, but while Arthur’s arranging the pizzas, Timothy shows up.

He is holding a bottle of extremely high-quality sauvignon blanc, because that’s Timothy for you. He looks in dismay at the pizza.

“I could have made you something else,” he points out.

“Don’t be a food snob,” says Eames. “The pizza is going to be delicious.”

“I’m not going to invite you over for dinner and then make you cook,” says Arthur. “That’s absurd.”

“Margarita?” offers Eames.

“We’re having pizza and margaritas?”

“The theme is Good Old-Fashioned Fun,” says Eames.

“Pizza and margaritas are good old-fashioned fun?” says Timothy.

“He has an odd interpretation of the phrase,” says Arthur.

“I’m focusing on the American Founding Fathers.”

Timothy tips his head. “They…Did they eat pizza and margaritas?”

“No,” says Eames. “If they had, they would have been in better moods and never rebelled against Mother England.”

“Yeah, the entire American Revolution was definitely about the quality of the food,” says Arthur. “Which, by the way, you are from England, we were not getting quality food from you.”

“My father’s heart just broke across the ocean and he doesn’t know why,” says Eames mournfully.

“I’ll definitely have a margarita,” says Timothy, and Arthur doesn’t blame him.

Eames makes the margaritas. Timothy starts choking as soon as he takes a sip, and Arthur looks at him in alarm.

“No, it’s, um, very good,” says Timothy, still sputtering. “Just…strong.”

“Eames, people have to drive after this party,” Arthur reminds him.

“No, they can all stay over here, we’ve plenty of room. Drink up, darling.” Eames slides a margarita Arthur’s way. “So, young Timothy, tell me about Luisa. Is there heterosexual frippery going on underneath this roof whilst Arthur and I are away?”

Timothy stares at him. “What? No.”

“Eames,” Arthur says. “Stop it. ‘Frippery’? What does that even mean?”

“Whatever he likes it to mean. I don’t know what heterosexual frippery consists of.”

“You’ve slept with women,” Arthur points out, because it’s true. Eames had a more adventurous past than Arthur. Shortly after they had moved into the house together, Eames had proposed a game of Never Have I Ever that Arthur had considered disastrous. Eames had done basically everything Arthur could think of, and Arthur had…slept with a few guys. Pretty boring, plain, vanilla sex, too. Nothing like sex with Eames, who was creative and enthusiastic and fun in bed. It had made Arthur think that maybe he was on the demisexual scale, that his eagerness to be sexually adventurous seemed to have been triggered by Eames and Eames alone.

“Yeah, but that was bisexual frippery,” Eames replies. “For all I know, it’s completely different from the heterosexual version.”

“Timothy, all the heterosexual frippery you like can take place underneath this roof. I mean, not really. Not, like, all of it.” Arthur has a sudden thought that he ought to say that the only people allowed to have sex on his kitchen counter are Arthur and Eames, but he doesn’t really want to admit out loud that they have more sex on the kitchen counter than they’ve ever actually cooked on the kitchen counter. Anyway, he’s pretty sure Timothy and Luisa don’t have that kind of relationship between them.

Eames says, “If you need to partake of heterosexual frippery, you need to find the sex club for that.”

“Well, thanks,” says Timothy, “I guess, for, like, this weird…permission? Or whatever it is. But Luisa and I aren’t like that. I mean, I think she’s great, but we are not engaging in any heterosexual frippery.”

“But you like her?” says Eames.

“Yeah, she’s great. She’s hilarious. She knows how to kill you by blinking her eyes a certain way. It’s scary.”

“No, she doesn’t,” says Eames, and then, after a beat, “Does she?”

“Hey-o!” shouts Julia, as she basically barrels through the door. “I brought the vodka! Hello, Eames.”

Julia and Eames kiss both of each other’s cheeks like they’re in France, because that’s just how Julia and Eames are.

“Hello, Julia, light of my life. Oh, sad, you brought Paul along, too,” says Eames.

“Ha ha,” says Paul. “You’re hilarious. Careful or I’ll run away with the actual light of your life.”

“If he’ll have you,” says Eames.

“Sebastian Stan?” says Arthur innocently. “I’m not sure he’s picky.”

Eames laughs and brushes a kiss over the back of Arthur’s neck on the way past him to answer the door.

Arthur accepts the baguette Paul presents him with. “Why, thank you,” he says, trying to act like he totally expected Paul to bring him a baguette.

“Eames said we had to bring foreign foods,” Julia says, pouring herself a margarita. “And Ariadne! Knocking on the door! What do you think this is?”

“Julia just swanned right in,” says Eames.

“Like a swan,” says Julia. “Here, Ari, have a margarita. Hello, Gon.” Julia keeps pouring out the margaritas. They’re generous margaritas. Trust that out of Julia.

“Foreign foods?” Arthur says. “How does that fit the…Is this about your weird theory of the American Revolution being about food, or whatever?”

“It’s not a weird theory,” Eames says, and turns to welcome Gon. “Gon! Weclome!”

Gon says to Eames, “Interesting outfit. What’s the theme? Good Old-Fashioned Fun?”

Arthur looks up from the pizza in disbelief.

Eames says, sounding delighted, “Yes! That’s the theme! Not ‘foreign food,’ Julia.”

Julia shrugs, unconcerned, grabbing a piece of pizza. “Where’s your scary PA?” she asks Arthur.

“Luisa isn’t scary,” says Eames. “Why does everyone think Luisa is scary?”

“You haven’t been home,” Julia reminds him. “You hired Luisa and then you ran off to Hong Kong and left Paul and Arthur to break Luisa in.”

“Me?” says Paul.

“You’re here working on those river hallways all the time. You have stories.”

“I don’t really have stories. She’s very nice.” Paul pauses. “I just think she used to be an assassin.” Paul pauses again. “What’s up with you?”

Because Eames is suddenly noticeably fidgeting.

Arthur sighs. Eames is the worst at hiding things. The only thing Eames ever successfully hid was how he felt about Arthur. Which, frankly, was the stupidest thing for him to be hiding ever. When he needs to hide something useful, he’s terrible at it.

“About the river hallways,” says Eames.

“Oh, Christ,” groans Paul. “Top off my margarita, Jules, would you? I cannot hear any more crazy ideas about these river hallways unless I’m drunk.”

“The thing is,” says Eames. “There may have been an…incident.”

“An incident?” echoes Paul. “What kind of incident?”

“Not a big incident,” says Eames. “Just a little incident. A tiny incident. Infinitesimal. Wouldn’t you say, darling?”

Eames is demonstrating by holding his thumb and index finger together.

Arthur doesn’t really want to comment on the infinitesimalness of the incident, considering it was fucking excellent sex. Which they’re not supposed to be mentioning. Arthur lifts an eyebrow at Eames and takes a pointed bite of a slice of pizza.

Paul sighs. “Just show me. Just take me and show me what you’ve done.”

Which is how Arthur finds himself trekking with all of his houseguests to look at the damage he and Eames did while having sex. He’s not sure it’s one of his finest moments, but his margarita is pretty damn good.

Paul frowns at the disaster of the riverbed. “But you were so particular,” he says. “You had me moving things millimeters. Millimeters. And you said I had to pour the water in one teaspoon at a time so as not to disturb the ‘vista.’”

“Right,” says Eames. “I did. Yes. All of that.” Eames pauses. “I’m difficult to work with.”

“You’re difficult to work with,” Paul agrees.

There’s another moment of silence.

“It’s because I’m an artist,” Eames ventures.

“It’s because you’re a pest,” says Paul, sipping his margarita. “So have you changed your mind now? Do you want the rest of it to look like this?”

“No,” says Eames slowly.

“Oh, my God,” says Julia, “you two totally had sex in the riverbed.”

“Oh,” says Paul, skittering away from the riverbed. “Are you serious? I can’t work in that.”

“I really resent the implication that Arthur and I are sex-crazed maniacs who can’t—Have you seen Arthur? It’s all Arthur’s fault.”

Birdsong breaks out all over the hallway.

“Thank God,” says Arthur drily. “Luisa has arrived.”

Chapter Text

Arthur wanted a very informal dinner party, and despite Eames’s insistence on it having a theme—“A party without a theme is not a party, it’s just a meal,” he said, and Arthur had rejoined, “You should write a book on entertaining,” which had made Eames muse, “Maybe I will…” and Arthur realized this was how monsters were created—Eames had agreed to keep it informal. They didn’t even clear off the dining room table, which was endlessly covered with scraps of fabric and paint chips and dog-eared catalogues and magazines because Eames needs to have fifteen different office spaces scattered throughout their house. So they’re sitting scattered through the living area and kitchen, half-on and -off couches, eating pizza and drinking margaritas, and Arthur is…ridiculously happy. He stands leaning on the doorjamb of the wide opening between their kitchen and their living area, watching Eames have a good-natured disagreement with Paul about something, gesturing expansively in the air, while Julia laughs at the expression on Paul’s face. Ariadne is tucked in against Gon, both of them looking amused at whatever story Eames is telling. Behind Arthur in the kitchen Timothy is washing up, despite the fact that Arthur has told him multiple times not to wash up.

“He’s still washing up,” Luisa says, coming up to him.

“I know.” Arthur quirks a smile at her. “He’s really terrible at following directions.”

“He’s really fond of the two of you,” Luisa says, her eyes crinkling as she smiles.

Arthur, a little embarrassed, shrugs and looks back out over the living room.

“And you’re very happy,” Luisa continues. “Happy to have him home.”

Arthur exhales a little bit, feeling the way he curls into relaxation with his eyes on Eames. “Yes,” he says simply. “Very happy to have him home.” Because it’s the truth. He looks at Luisa. “You’ll see how much louder the house gets now.”

Luisa is still smiling. “I’m glad you’re happy. I was worried I wasn’t helping enough because you seemed so stressed.”

“You’re fantastic,” Arthur says honestly. “Really. I have no complaints. It’s working out, don’t you think? Do you think so?” He’s suddenly worried that maybe Luisa isn’t enjoying being a PA. Or being their PA, he supposes.

“I do,” Luisa says. “It’s all good.” She takes a sip of her drink. “And good margaritas.”

“Yeah,” agrees Arthur, and for some reason remembers the Twitter discovery in Boston. “Hey, something I’ve been meaning to ask you. You’ve been monitoring the social media, right?”

“Yeah. Just keeping an eyes on things. You wanted me to, right?”

“I did. Listen, is there something going around about our relationship being, I don’t know, fake? For show?”

Luisa shrugs. “Yeah, but it’s nothing to worry about. Don’t worry about it. It’s just people being silly, you know how it is. No drama going on so they manufacture some. Really, it’s not a lot of people and it’s not a big thing. Don’t worry about it.” She says it very firmly, and Arthur wonders if he looks worried.

“I’m not, really,” he says truthfully. “I just…That surprised me. I didn’t expect to see that.”

Luisa opens her mouth to reply, but Eames swoops in, bundling Arthur into his arms and smacking a kiss onto Arthur’s cheek. It’s possible Eames is tipsy. It takes a lot of alcohol to make Eames drunk, considering he literally grew up in a pub, but he was making strong margaritas and drinking quite a few of them so Arthur feels like he’s in for a buzzed-Eames night. Not a common occurrence, and endearing until it’s two am and Eames is still wired and ready for more and Arthur is dead tired.

“Hello,” he says enthusiastically. “What are we talking of?” He settles his chin on Arthur’s shoulder.

“Social media,” says Arthur.

“Social media!” Eames exclaims. “My favorite! Are you monitoring the fanfiction, Luisa? I love a good piece of fic. I hope you are definitely planning on forwarding any really good fics to me. Especially any Willy Wonka AUs.”

“How the hell would a Willy Wonka AU even go?” Arthur asks.

“Very sexily,” says Eames, punctuating this with a nuzzle underneath Arthur’s jaw. “Very sexy fics,” Eames says to Luisa, settling onto Arthur’s chin again. “I want to be alerted to any especially sexy fics. For reasons.” Eames waggles his eyebrows.

“She gets it, Eames,” says Arthur good-naturedly.

Luckily Luisa looks amused.

“So, Luisa,” says Eames, “how are things going? Are you happy? Arthur’s impressed, and it’s difficult to impress Arthur. He has been waxing poetic over your spreadsheet skills.”

This is, actually, an understatement: Luisa makes everything much easier. Luisa always has the dry cleaning back, always reminds him of when he needs to make an appointment with Giacomo, always makes sure that the house is cleaned and there’s a path through the construction of the river hallways, so that when Arthur goes to bed late he doesn’t fall into a half-formed river. Arthur’s surprised, because he was secretly worried, but it all seems very doable. Luisa makes it seem doable. Arthur fucking loves Luisa.

“She makes good spreadsheets,” Arthur says truthfully.

“And respects the glass board schedule. Especially the E & A time. That is most important,” says Eames gravely. “You. You are most important,” he informs Arthur.

“And you’re a little drunk.”

“A little,” agrees Eames. “Don’t tell anyone.” Eames smacks another kiss onto Arthur’s cheek and then straightens. “Luisa, can I get you another drink? Timothy! Are you washing dishes? Why are you washing dishes?”

Arthur smiles after him.

Luisa says, “There is a Willy Wonka AU, you know.”

Arthur says, “Oh, fuck.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t know why Paul is so negative about the river hallways,” Eames whines, as Arthur tugs him toward bed. “I don’t know why everyone doesn’t want river hallways.”

This is what happens when Eames is slightly tipsy. He gets whinier than usual. Eames drunk is like Eames magnified. Everything is magnificently more when Eames is drunk. And considering that Arthur usually considers Eames the most extravagantly over-the-top person he’s ever met, this is saying something.

“They’re a little hazardous,” Arthur points out.

Eames drops face-down onto the bed. “No, they’re not. Not really.”

“We fell into the riverbed,” says Arthur, heading into the bathroom to get ready for bed.

“Yeah, but we’re us,” Eames calls to him very loudly.

Arthur waits until he’s done brushing his teeth before going back out into the bedroom and asking, “And what does that mean? ‘We’re us’?”

“We’re more prone to accidents than other people would be with river hallways.”

Arthur is quizzical as he gets into bed. “We are? Why?”

“Because we make out more in our hallways than other people. Obviously, darling.”

“You’re right. We definitely make out more than other couples do.”

“It’s why we have so many cocks on our glass board,” says Eames, happily.

“Yes. You’re exactly right. That’s why we have so many cocks on our glass board and not because you insist on drawing penises all over everything like a twelve-year-old boy. Go get ready for bed.”

“I am ready for bed. I’m in bed. What more do you need?”

“I need you to brush your teeth if you think any more making out is happening tonight, because your mouth is basically a tequila factory.”

“That’s a bad thing?”


“Darling, have you ever tried making out with a tequila factory?”

“Yes. You. Tonight. Go brush your teeth.”

“Is there going to be more making out after I brush my teeth?”

“Play your cards right, Viscount,” Arthur tells him drily.

Eames knocks around in the bathroom making a lot more noise than any person actually needs to, and comes back saying, “You know what we need?”


“Suction cups.”

“For what?”

“So we can put toeholds in the shower.”

“Toeholds for what?”

“Exciting sexual positions.”

“No,” Arthur says, as Eames crawls onto the bed with him. “We’re not doing that.”

“I could design really attractive sex showers. There is probably a huge demand for them. Untapped sex club market.”

“Yes. Probably.”

“You have a laptop on your lap. That doesn’t seem conducive to making out.” Eames frowns at it, poking it.

“Ah,” says Arthur. “But this particular laptop has a very lovely surprise for you on it.”

“Is it interior designer porn?” asks Eames in delight.

“No, it’s not—wait, what do you even mean by that? Do you mean porn, or do you mean, like, a Scandinavian design site?”

“Why not porn set in a Scandinavian design site? Another vast untapped market.”

“Sit there and listen,” says Arthur, and settles his reading glasses on his nose, because it’s late enough at night that he’s not fooling around with his tired eyes. Arthur reads: “‘How many chocolate bars have you bought, Uncle Arthur?’ Charlie looked wide-eyed across Arthur’s paper-covered desk.”

“Arthur?” Eames echoes. “Are you a character in this story? Are you reading me fanfiction right now?”

Arthur keeps reading: “‘Chocolate bars?’ Arthur said blankly, trying to focus on his nephew instead of the distressing e-mail he’d just received.”

“Wait a second.” Eames is now sitting up, practically toppling over in his eagerness. “This is a fic about you and your nephew named Charlie and you’re buying chocolate bars. Is this a Willy Wonka AU?”

“Sit down,” Arthur says primly, “and listen to the story.”

Eames doesn’t sit down. Eames leans forward and gives Arthur a hard kiss. “You are the best fiancé in the entire human history of engagements.”

“I didn’t actually write this story, you know.”

“Doesn’t matter. I still think you’re the best.”

“Good to know,” Arthur tries to say lightly, but he’s aware he’s blushing a little. “Now do you want to hear the rest of the story?”

“Mmm, after I hear the story, can we make out?”

“I just made you brush your teeth, didn’t I?” says Arthur.

Eames curls up with his head tucked next to Arthur’s ribcage and says, “Read away, kitten.”

Chapter Text

They are reaching now the critical part of getting ready for the new show.

Which means that the river hallways have to wait. They get stalled in place, as Eames starts holing himself up with Paul and mood boards and architectural plans and reams of paper full of Eames’s fluid, dream-like drawings, unmoored in reality. It’s easy, Arthur knows, for people from the outside to think that Eames doesn’t work all that hard, but Eames works incredibly hard, takes his job very seriously, and takes their job very seriously. Eames’s designs here are no longer part of a tucked-away cult hit on an obscure station. The new network has made the new show a centerpiece. The plans Saito sends for publicity and marketing make Arthur’s head reel a bit. It’s possible they’re all feeling some of the pressure of it, much as they try to pretend they aren’t for each other’s sake. But Eames buckles down to work, sprawled under their coffee table with his tablet and his sketchpad and an endless supply of cups of tea that Luisa cycles out to him without even being asked, and Eames never misses a beat as he accepts them absently.

Arthur is busy himself, and their life falls into the familiar rhythm of working out of the same house and seldom seeing each other because of the number of things on their to-do lists. Arthur creates increasingly bulging folders of specs on the places filming will take him to, because part of the challenge of the new show is that he isn’t always house-hunting in a place that’s familiar to him. He doesn’t mind the travel—and Eames actually adores it, which would be enough for Arthur to put up with it—but it is a lot harder on his skill set to be constantly in new markets than it is on Eames’s.

The glass board fills with details from both of their complicated schedules, added by Eames or Arthur or Luisa, depending on who knows and who thinks of it. Well, the penises, Arthur knows, are only ever added by Eames. Luisa takes to adding warring vaginas but Eames says they look more like little flowers all over the glass board and Luisa says he should stick to men because Luisa definitely wouldn’t sleep with a guy who called her vagina a flower. Their house buzzes with productivity and with contentment, and Luisa leaves for Arthur the love notes that Eames writes him when they miss each other, like ships passing in the night, and they take turns penciling in A & E (or E & A) time onto the schedule. Luisa even does it for them sometimes, so that Arthur, blearily, coming into the kitchen to check the schedule, sometimes finds Eames also checking the schedule and saying, “Look at that, darling, this hour is all ours.”

Arthur never knows where Luisa gets to during such times, but he sits happily cross-legged with Eames at their coffee table, eating Oreos and looking through Eames’s design plans and offering feedback, and then showing Eames his own folders of notes and complaining about network dossiers with unhelpful client information. It’s nice. Arthur likes it. It’s better than “Love It or List It,” where they never got to work as a team. Arthur likes this new show better and they haven’t even started filming it yet.

They Skype with Saito, Luisa taking careful notes, Arthur dressed in a tie that Eames found hilarious.

“You’re going to wear a tie?” he said. “For a Skype call with our agent?”

“Yes,” Arthur replied. “And it wouldn’t kill you to dress up, either.”

“But, darling, I don’t mess with my aesthetic of ‘hotly ridiculous,’” grinned Eames.

So they Skype with Saito with Luisa taking careful notes and Arthur dressed in a tie and Eames wearing a t-shirt with a paisley pattern. A t-shirt with a paisley pattern. Eames’s wardrobe has reached new lows, thinks Arthur. Where did he even get that? thinks Arthur.

“Hang on,” says Arthur, momentarily distracted from his contemplation of Eames’s wardrobe by what Saito is saying. “They want Eames to write a cookbook?”

Eames is looking pleased as punch.

“Yes,” says Saito, as if this makes perfect sense. “They assume that, having grown up in a pub, Eames must have some good recipes.”

“I’m sure Eames has excellent recipes,” says Arthur. “He never cooks any of them.”

“They are very, very secret recipes,” says Eames.

“That you’re going to put in a cookbook,” Arthur points out.

Eames shrugs.

“You don’t even cook,” Arthur says. He turns to the computer screen. “He doesn’t even cook. His eating habits are appalling. He would put Marmite on everything if you let him.”

“The title of my cookbook shall be ‘Eames on Marmite,’” says Eames thoughtfully. “Not to be confused with Marmite on Eames which is another thing entirely and—”

“Not a thing that we are doing,” says Arthur. And then, “Hello, Mom,” because she would wander into the background of the Skype screen while Eames was referencing sex.

“Hello, Arthur! Hello, Eames!” She waves to them from the background. “Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt your serious business call.” She says it a little mockingly, sweetly poking at Saito, Arthur can tell from the expression on her face. “Just grabbing an apple. Call me!” she says to Arthur.

“Yeah,” he agrees, because he’s been a terrible son, but he’s smiling, because there was his mother, happy and relaxed, wandering through Saito’s apartment, and partly that’s weird but he’s just so damn happy to see her so happy.

“At any rate, Arthur, you shouldn’t feel left out,” Saito says, as if the interruption with Arthur’s mother never happened. “You have been approached to design a line of ties.”

“Ties?” says Arthur.

“Like the one you’re wearing right now,” murmurs Eames. “For our Skype call with our agent.”

“Shut up,” Arthur says without heat. “Why would anyone want me to design ties?”

“You have a reputation for wearing nice ties,” replies Saito.

“That’s Giacomo. It’s Giacomo’s reputation.”

“It isn’t entirely Giacomo and you know it,” says Eames. “That’s excellent, Saito, Arthur will design some ties.”

“I don’t know anything about design.”

“Lucky you’re engaged to a designer then, isn’t it?”

“That’s another thing,” says Saito. “What do you want to do about the engagement?”

“Do about it?” Eames echoes. “What does that mean?”

“Get married, is what I’d like to do about it,” says Arthur drily. “Someday when I have the time to actually plan a wedding.”

“It is immaterial to me whether you get married tomorrow or never,” says Saito. “But you haven’t announced your engagement. You’ve made no formal press release. You’ve never referenced it publicly. You’re about to have cameras crawling all over your house and catching bits of your life you might not have thought about yet. So my question to you is: Is the engagement public or private?”

It’s a good question, and not one they’ve actually considered in exactly those terms. They didn’t announce their engagement because, yes, it seemed private. Whose business was it if they’d decided to get married? It just didn’t seem pressing or necessary to tell everyone about it, other than the private people who mattered. But now Arthur sees Saito’s point. They’ve gotten used to the idea of being engaged, and don’t really make any sort of effort to keep it secret, but if it’s going to come out on the show, maybe there should be a formal announcement of some sort.

Arthur looks at Eames, who looks back at him.

Whatever Arthur’s face looks like, Eames takes the lead. “Yeah,” he says, turning back to the computer screen. “We’re going to have to get back to you on that one. We haven’t discussed it.”

“Do it quickly,” says Saito. “The network is coming next week to go over the filming boundaries. You should have an idea of what those are.”

“I’ve been working on a list,” Arthur says, although clearly not the best list, because engagement status hadn’t made his list. He’d been worried about keeping cameras out of their bedroom, about making sure the cameras went off entirely if a door was closed on them.

“Good,” says Saito, and gives him a look, like he knows the shortcomings of Arthur’s list. “Make sure it’s thorough.”

Arthur feels like he’s been scolded by a high school teacher. Or by his mom’s boyfriend. Or by his agent. He’s not sure which feeling is worse.

Eames says, “Yeah, we will. Is that all?”

“Just that you should take into account, in your decision about the engagement, the rumors.”

Arthur goes still.

Eames says, “Rumors? What rumors?”

Saito frowns. “You haven’t seen them? Luisa, haven’t you been—”

“I didn’t think they were important,” Luisa says, practically falling over in her haste to get herself into the screen. Arthur has never seen Luisa look even vaguely flustered before, but Saito has that effect on people.

Saito lifts his eyebrows. “Not important? They ought to be relevant to the decisions Arthur and Eames make about their public persona.”

“What rumors?” Eames asks again, looking between Luisa and Saito.

“I don’t think they should be,” Arthur interjects firmly. “I don’t care what people think.”

“You should,” says Saito mildly. “Like it or not, your product now, Arthur, is your life. And you wanted it that way.”

This silences Arthur. Because, well, it’s true.

“So think about the rumors,” Saito finishes. He doesn’t raise his voice but the ring of the command is unmistakable.

“What. Rumors,” bites out Eames flatly.

“Fill in your fiancé,” Saito says shortly, clearly displeased, and then disconnects the call.

“What the fuck,” says Eames. “Did our own agent just hang up on us?”

“I should have told you,” Luisa says. “I didn’t think it was a big deal. The Internet is a crazy place.”

“What the hell is going on?” Eames demands, eyes on Arthur.

“There are these stupid rumors going around,” Arthur says. “That our relationship is fake, that it’s manufactured for the cameras, for publicity, for, I don’t know, whatever other fucking reason they think people would fake a relationship. You know how it is, it happens sometimes, people are idiots, it’s just stupid.”

Eames stares at him. “Fake? What? You knew about this?”

“The day we were in Boston,” Arthur says, pinching at the bridge of his nose, “when you were sleeping, I checked Twitter, and there was that picture of us at the airport.”

“I remember,” says Eames.

“And there were all these weird tweets about how suspicious the timing was.”

“You guys hadn’t been seen out in public together for a while,” Luisa says. “There was this growing movement that you only have a relationship for the cameras, that you go your separate ways once they shut off.”

Eames looks disbelieving. “We just…What? We just live our lives when there aren’t cameras. Like regular people. We’re not worrying about bloody photo ops.”

“I know,” Luisa begins.

Eames turns to Arthur swiftly. “Why didn’t you tell me this? I woke up that day and you were frowning and I knew you were upset and I asked you and you—”

“I didn’t want you to have to worry about—”

“That’s not how this works,” Eames bites out. “That is not how we work. We’re a team and we—” Eames cuts himself off abruptly, stands, marches into the kitchen.

Timothy, who had been cooking, stands at the counter awkwardly and pretends to still be cooking even though it’s pretty hard to ignore that there is clearly an argument going on.

Eames swipes the eraser over the next few places on their glass board schedule and scrawls onto it “A & E.”

Then he stalks out of the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Arthur leaves the completely silent Luisa and Timothy and finds Eames in their bedroom. Where Eames is clearly furious.

“How could you—”

“I’m not having an argument with you here,” Arthur interrupts him.

Eames lifts an eyebrow. “Really? Well, I’m having an argument with you, so I suppose you’ll just have to—”

“I am not making our bedroom where we go to have arguments. This is our bedroom. It’s an important room to me.”

Eames looks exasperated. “Do we have a designated argument room and I don’t know about it? Is that another thing you haven’t told me about?”

Arthur grits his teeth. “This house is fucking big enough, we could have a designated argument room. You could give up on the complete folly of the fucking river hallways—”

“You bought me the river hallways!” Eames protests.

“—and design us an argument room somewhere.”

“What the fuck would I even put in an argument room? What does that even look like?” Eames demands.

Arthur closes his eyes, because they’ve gotten off-track. “Can we start over?” he asks.

“Yes,” Eames snaps. “Yes, we can fucking start over, because the way this should have started was you should have come into this room and said, ‘I’m sorry that I lied to you.’”

Arthur takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly and then says, calmly, evenly, “I am sorry. And I want to talk to you about this. But I don’t want to do it here. Can we not do it here?” He is aware that it sounds like he’s begging, and he’s also aware that that’s exactly what he’s doing. But Arthur loves this room and Arthur has gone to a lot of trouble, in their very public lives, to keep this room private, to keep this room theirs. And it isn’t that they’ve never fought in this room before, but it’s that now, on the cusp of giving everything else in this house over to someone else, Arthur doesn’t want the bedroom to default to where they go to let their relationship be ugly. His attachment to this room may be vaguely unhealthy but it’s real and he’s worried.

Eames, after a second, lets out a heavy sigh and rubs his hands over his face. “Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. Front room,” he says, and on his way past Arthur, he kisses the side of Arthur’s head.

Arthur, closing the bedroom door behind them, following Eames down the river hallways, thinks of the fact that Eames, furious and hurt, still kisses Arthur, still knows that sometimes Arthur really needs the reassurance of that touch, and always gives it to him.

Luisa and Timothy watch them silently as they walk through the kitchen, through the living room, into the front room, where Arthur closes the door and turns to Eames, who seems calmer now and waits for him to speak.

“Okay,” Arthur says. “First. I’m sorry. I should have told you about the rumors when I learned about them. Although, in fairness, I didn’t really get what they were until I verified with Luisa.”

“You could have said, ‘There’s a bunch of weird tweets here, I don’t know, whatever,’ so I don’t get blindsided on a call with our agent.”

“Right. Yeah. I should have. It seems obvious, now, yes, but I didn’t think they were…I mean, it was just stupid. I didn’t…I don’t know. You’re always so much more up on our fandom than I am, I assumed that if it was anything major you’d already know about it anyway.”

“I haven’t been paying as much attention. I’ve been busy. And we had Luisa. I thought Luisa was going to tell us if there was anything we need to know about. But instead the two of you just decided independently that I didn’t need to know about it.”

“It wasn’t like that,” Arthur says. Because it wasn’t.

“They’re stupid, ridiculous rumors, I get that. But that’s not the point. The point isn’t even Luisa and what she is and isn’t telling us. The point is that I knew something had bothered you that day—I knew—and I asked and you said it was nothing and I believed you. Do you know why I did that? Because I trust you. If it’s anything really bothering him, I told myself, he’d tell me. But you didn’t.”

“It wasn’t really bothering me—”

“You brought it up with Luisa.”

Arthur has nothing to say to that. Because Eames is right. Arthur steps forward into Eames, which Eames doesn’t protest, because Eames never protests a good snuggle. Eames tucks his head against Arthur’s neck and Arthur says, “I’m sorry. We’re in this together. I know. I’m sorry.”

Eames sighs against him. “You’re supposed to make me worry. I mean, not really. But…”

“Yeah. I know. I’m sorry. You were so tired, Eames, that day, coming back from Hong Kong, you looked wrecked, and you love the fandom stuff, and I had this protective thing that kicked in that I didn’t want to…I didn’t want to upset you, that day. I know why you’re upset. But can you know why I did it?”

“Let’s make a deal,” Eames says, lifting his head up. He keeps his hands linked lightly at the small of Arthur’s back but he also puts some space between them. “We need to tell each other everything, we need to answer questions honestly, we can’t self-censor and curate our conversations in private, because we already do too much of it in public, we can’t fall into that habit and have it be our whole lives. Do you see why that worries me?”

Arthur nods, because he does.

“But I understand that sometimes there are very good reasons for not following that rule. Reasons like one of us had a bad day and needs to be coddled. Or one of us is planning an exquisite surprise.”

Arthur nods, because, again, yes.

“So we can go easy on each other. We can leave stuff out and tell little white lies. But if it’s a big enough deal that we remember that we did it, then we have to correct it when it comes to our attention. Like, at the moment when you were concerned enough to bring it up to Luisa, I would have appreciated being let in on it.”

Arthur nods.

“Thank you,” Eames says, “for wanting to give me a perfect day in Boston.” Eames pulls Arthur in.

It’s Arthur’s turn to bury his face, pressing it into Eames’s neck. He says, “Thank you for leaving the bedroom.”

“No, that was a good idea. We should have a designated argument room. Not that I intend to argue with you a great deal. But you make a good point.”

“I’ll try to carve out a space for it. I’ll mention it when we talk to the network about the boundaries,” says Arthur. “Should we make a decision on the engagement thing?”

“No,” says Eames. “I think we should resume today’s regular schedule. I think tonight, when it’s just you and me, we’ll make a nice dinner and open a bottle of wine and we’ll talk about it then, calmly, sensibly, having thought it over.”

“You mean we’ll reheat a nice dinner Timothy’s made for us.”

“I do mean that,” agrees Eames.

“Says the soon-to-be cookbook author,” says Arthur.

Eames laughs.

Chapter Text

They sit on their couch with plates loaded with one of Timothy’s meals and wineglasses on the coffee table. It doesn’t seem all that adult, but Arthur concedes it’s very them.

Eames sighs and says, “Christ, what a day. Should we watch some EastEnders, just to not think for a while?”

“Yes,” Arthur agrees readily, because God knows he could use a break from thinking.

So they watch an episode of EastEnders, and when it’s over Eames shuts off the television and turns to Arthur and says, “Okay. Should we talk about this whole thing?”

“One thing’s for sure,” remarks Arthur wryly. “Luisa’s going to tell us everything social-media-related from this point on.”

“It’s just growing pains,” Eames says, shrugging. “I’m not worried about that. Let’s make a decision about the engagement. Should we make an announcement?”

Arthur takes a deep breath. “If we make an announcement now, it’ll look like we’re trying to refute the rumors—”

“Fuck that,” Eames says mildly. “Seriously. Don’t think about that at all. Look at me and tell me whether you want to make an announcement about the engagement. You and me, just us, alone, in this house, with no filming. Do you want to announce it?”

“No,” says Arthur, immediately, instinctively, intuitively. He’s never wanted to announce it. He doesn’t want to start a media field day over the prospect of their wedding. When their wedding happens—when Arthur gets around to planning it—he wants it to be entirely theirs.

“Okay,” Eames says, and refills their wineglasses. “Then we don’t announce it and it’s off-limits for filming.”

“Well, what do you think? Do you want to announce it?”

“No,” Eames says. “But I probably would have been able to be convinced either way. But no. I have no particular desire to share that part of us. I don’t think it’s relevant to our ‘brand,’ regardless of what Saito thinks.” Eames shifts so he can sprawl over into Arthur’s space, settling against him.

Arthur adjusts to absorb his weight and cards his hands through Eames’s tousled hair. It needs a cut, it’s on their glass board agenda before filming starts, but Arthur kind of likes the length, likes how it gives him something to close his fingers around. He says, “I’ve been bad about wedding planning.”

Eames has his eyes closed. He snorts and says, “Why do you say it like you’re the one responsible for wedding planning? It’s both of us, right? Isn’t that what we decided?”

“Yes. You’re right. So we’ve been bad about wedding planning.”

Eames chuckles. “Okay, so let’s do some planning. When would you like to get married, darling?”

“I don’t know,” says Arthur.

“Well, let’s narrow it down. Would you rather get married tomorrow or ten years from now?”

“Tomorrow,” says Arthur. “Actually, yesterday.”

Eames opens his eyes and grins up at him. “Darling, we can arrange that. We can go to city hall as soon as possible. Get the piece of paper, have it done and over with.”

“But our family, Eames. Your parents.”

“I’m not marrying them,” Eames points out. “That would be weird.”

“And I don’t mean to make it sound like I want marrying you ‘over with.’”

“I’m not taking it that way,” Eames says. “Honestly I’m not. I wish I’d married you the day I met you, darling. It would have saved us a lot of heartbreak.”

“If you’d married me the day you met me, would you still have gone for a run after our first night together?”

“Ha,” says Eames. “Haven’t I lived that down yet?”

“Somewhat,” says Arthur.

Eames laughs and kisses Arthur’s abdomen because it’s at his face level at this point. “Prick,” he says.

“That’s lower,” says Arthur.

“It is,” says Eames, but doesn’t look inclined to take the hint. He looks up at Arthur seriously. “I think we should do it.”

“Do what?”

“Get married, quickly, unobtrusively, here, next week, or whenever. And then we’ll plan a lovely, beautiful celebration of our love, later, once it’s already done and the pressure is off, the weird rumors, the way you get this little crease in your forehead when you think about it how much work the planning’s going to be because of our reputation.”

Eames knows him so well, thinks Arthur. He looks down at Eames thoughtfully.

Eames says, “We’ll ring our parents and talk to them about it. And May, darling. May is a lovely time of year for a wedding anniversary.”

“We could get married on the day you proposed,” Arthur realizes.

“We could,” Eames agrees.

Arthur likes that idea. “Yes,” he says. “Yes. Let’s do it.”

Chapter Text

Luisa walks in the next day with a small box that she sets on the kitchen counter.

“What’s this?” Eames asks, where he’s otherwise monopolized the countertop with tiny sample pieces of stonework for one of his clients.

Arthur, who had been on his way to his own office to work, pauses in the doorway with his coffee in his hand.

Luisa says, “I feel like we left fandom with a sour taste recently.”

“Really,” Eames says, “don’t worry about—”

“So I have brought you fandom teas,” says Luisa, and gestures to the box.

“Fandom teas?” exclaims Eames, which was very predictable. He pulls the box over and immediately starts opening it.

“What does that mean?” Arthur asks. “Fandom teas?”

“Fans make tea blends based on the two of you.”

Eames has pulled out a small bag of tea and gleefully reads off of it, “Eames Tea is a blend of good, old classic English breakfast—he’s British, isn’t he?—with outrageous, surprising twists of fruit for some sweetness. Just like an Eames design, it will keep you guessing while also being utterly perfect.” Eames sets aside that bag of tea and pulls out the next one. “Arthur Tea is a deeply tasteful Ceylon with vibrant hints of chocolate lurking and just the slightest sharp edge of tart raspberry. We dare you not to fall in love; it’s impossible.” Eames looks up at Luisa in delight. “Luisa! These are wonderful! I adore them! Thank you!”

“Yes, thank you, Luisa,” Arthur agrees. “Although it wasn’t necessary. We’re really all good.”

“Well, you know, there’s precious little necessity to use any of my defensive training to defend you two. If I’m not going to be fencing in real life, I should do a better job fencing online for you.”

“No fencing necessary,” Eames says. “Just telling us is good enough. Darling, I am going to make us enormous pots of tea.”

“Tell me how mine is,” says Arthur.

“You won’t make a tea-drinking exception for your own tea?”

“I trust your judgment.”

“I bet yours’ll be my favorite,” says Eames wisely.

“Flirt,” says Arthur, and goes to his office.

Behind him he hears Eames say to Luisa, “Wait, when you mentioned fencing, did you mean that metaphorically?” which cannot bode anything but ill, thinks Arthur.

He gets a text later, a selfie of Eames with a teacup. Arthur Tea: Description totally spot-on. Impossible not to fall in love. I am completely smitten, no hope of escape.

Chapter Text

They send e-mails to Arthur’s mother and to Eames’s parents saying they want to set up Skype dates to discuss something. Arthur is worried maybe that sounds too dire, so Eames sends follow-up e-mails with the subject line, “NOTHING DIRE.”

“Helpful,” says Arthur drily.

“Isn’t it?” says Eames sunnily.

They Skype with Arthur’s mother first, and Arthur is a little relieved that Saito isn’t there, because sometimes, he thinks, there is a line between being an agent and being his mom’s boyfriend, and it’s difficult to navigate that line. Arthur is relieved not to have to deal with it.

His mother looks a little worried as they get settled in.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

“Eames’s NOTHING DIRE e-mail didn’t reassure you?” asks Arthur.

“Well, I mean,” says his mother, clearly not wanting to offend Eames.

“It was singularly ineffective as a soothing device,” says Arthur.

“It was very Eamesian,” says his mother diplomatically.

“Thank you, Laura,” says Eames primly. “I certainly thought so.”

“Yes,” says Arthur. “Eamesian e-mails are much like Eames: all caps, slightly nonsensical, opposite of soothing.”

“I take all that as a compliment,” says Eames.

“I knew you would,” says Arthur.

“Especially since the opposite of soothing is stimulating.”

“Not alarming?”

“Saito would tell you to save it for the cameras, boys,” says Arthur’s mother, sounding amused.

“He would,” says Arthur. “He doesn’t know we have an endless, inexhaustible supply of banter in this house.”

Eames laughs next to him.

Arthur says, “So how are you? You look good.”

“I’m very good. Happy to have gotten the request for a chat from the two of you. But curious.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says, and wishes he’d thought to rehearse this. “Listen. We have this…idea. That we were thinking of. Because there’s so much going on and—”

“Arthur, whatever it is, I’m sure it’s fine,” says his mother.

Eames squeezes his hand, clearly trying to communicate the same idea.

“We think we might want to go to city hall and get married, quickly, without a lot of fuss,” says Arthur.

His mother blinks, clearly surprise. “What? When?”

“Soon,” says Arthur. “Next week. Before filming starts.”

His mother regards the two of them. Then she says carefully, “Nothing’s wrong, is it?”

Arthur shakes his head. “No. It’s just that there’s so much—Our lives are a circus. We don’t want our wedding to turn into a circus. We want it to be just us. I mean, not that we don’t want you there, but—”

“Arthur,” his mother cuts him off. “You two need to have the kind of wedding that you want to have. If this is what you want, then you should do it. If it’s not what you want, though, if you’re only doing it because you feel like you have to, then you shouldn’t.”

Arthur glances at Eames, then back to his mother. “No,” he says, and he knows this is true. “I feel like maybe I might have wanted all the trappings, once, before, before I met Eames. And now I just want Eames. The rest of it doesn’t matter.”

His mother smiles. “Then do it and be happy.”

“Yeah?” Arthur says. “You’re not…hurt or offended?”

“That you just want your wedding to be the two of you? No. It’s your wedding.”

Eames says, “We’re still going to plan a party, though. To celebrate. We just want to do it with the legal part of it behind us, so we can just be together and enjoy it.”

“And I’m sure you’ll plan a fabulous party, if I know you two. Do you want me to tell Saito?”

“I think he’ll say it’s our decision,” says Eames.

“I’m sure he will,” agrees Arthur’s mother, eyes steadily on Arthur.

“I don’t want fuss,” Arthur says. “I don’t want a single…We’re not telling anyone, Mom. You, and Eames’s parents, and that’s it.”

“Then we won’t tell Saito,” she says simply.

“I don’t want to ask you to lie to—”

“You’re my son, and you’re trying to have the exact wedding you want. You deserve that. And he’ll understand that.”

She looks unworried, and so Arthur decides to let her do this for him, because the more people they tell, the more worried he gets that someone will slip somewhere, somehow, and there’ll be some incredible amount of paparazzi at what Arthur realizes he is now envisioning as a very cozy, sweet, intimate ceremony.

“I’m so happy for you both,” she says. “You look happy, and relaxed, and like this is what you want. So I think you’re making the right choice. Don’t worry a single second longer, Arthur. Put it out of your head. Go and get married and be happy.”

The thing about Arthur and his mother is that he’s lived away from her for years now, but he knows that he is never quite beyond the instinct that it’s the two of them against the world, that nothing is real or right until he runs it by her first, and he appreciates that she knows his tendency to think this way and is unfailingly good at being supportive and giving stamps of approval when he needs it.

Arthur lucked out so entirely with his mother.

“Bye, Laura,” Eames says, perhaps sensing that Arthur is busy being too ridiculous in his own head to string a sentence together. “Give Saito a kiss from us. But don’t tell him it’s from us. Let him wonder and ponder and guess.”

“Everything about that is creepy and gross,” Arthur says to Eames, mentally thanking him for being Eames and jarring Arthur out of his own head. He says to his mother, “Don’t do anything involving Saito and kissing and us in the same sentence, oh, my God.”

His mother is smiling. “Bye,” she says, and gives them a little wave as she signs off.

“That went well,” Eames says. “Did you think?”

Arthur pushes him back onto the couch, spreading his weight to keep him pinned underneath him.

“Okay,” Eames says, looking pleasantly surprised. “You think that went very well, apparently.”

“Thank you,” Arthur says.

“For what?”

“Being you. Loving me. Marrying me.”

“Mmm,” says Eames, looking comfortable now underneath Arthur. “Those are all silly things to thank me for.”

Arthur knows he’s grinning widely, dimples deep, as he leans down to bite under Eames’s jaw. He should leave bruises, he thinks. He’s not going to be able to do that much longer, once filming starts. Not visible bruises. “Are they?” he murmurs against Eames’s stubble, rasping his tongue against it.

“You should be thanking me for the fact that you get to live with river hallways.” Eames lifts his legs up, hooking them around Arthur, dragging him in.

“Oh, is that what I should be thanking you for?” asks Arthur, rubbing his nose against Eames’s.

“Yes. I don’t think you express the proper amount of appreciation for the river hallways.”

“They’re fucking death traps, Eames,” Arthur says, tugging Eames’s lower lip between his teeth briefly.

“They’re not,” mumbles Eames, pulling Arthur in for a deeper kiss. Arthur doesn’t resist. “They’re barely—You’d just—break an ankle—”

“Thank you for my fucking health hazard river hallways,” says Arthur into Eames’s mouth. “I love them so much, because they remind me of you.”

“Excellent,” says Eames. “Let’s fuck quickly before we have to call my parents.”

“Christ,” says Arthur, “you say the sexiest things, you know it?”

Chapter Text

Arthur is a little concerned that they look pretty obviously blissfully fucked-out when they have to call Eames’s parents.

Eames keeps saying, “Darling, don’t worry about it, your hair looks fine.”

If Arthur’s hair looks anything like Eames’s hair, it definitely does not look fine.

“You’re not even trying,” Arthur hisses at him, while the Skype rings at them, trying to smooth Eames’s hair down.

“Because I don’t care if they think we don’t comb our hair properly.”

“That’s not what they’re going to think,” Arthur says hastily, and then answers the Skype call, smile plastered on, as if he wasn’t just panting sweatily on their son’s chest a few minutes earlier. “Hi!”

“Hello, parents!” says Eames, waving.

“Hello, Arthur! Hello, Eamesie!” chorus Maggie and Albert, looking very fond and enthusiastic as they wave at them.

Then Maggie says, “Are we interrupting something?”

“Nope,” Arthur says.

“We were trying something out,” says Eames. “With our hair.”

Arthur pinches Eames’s thigh.

Eames winces satisfyingly.

Arthur says, still smiling widely, “How are you guys?”

Maggie and Albert launch into a rundown of basically every piece of village gossip they’ve been holding onto: Maisie Fourget is pregnant; little Millie Turndook fell on the school playground and broke her ankle and is on crutches, poor thing; Bill Donovan is in so much credit card debt that he’s had to move back in with his parents; the Moseleys have put a new lawn ornament on their lawn and it is “disgraceful,” in Maggie’s word.

“Positively obscene,” says Albert cheerfully, looking delighted about the lawn ornament. “You would love it, Eamesie.”

“I’m sure I would,” says Eames, and he does sound intrigued. Arthur mentally adds no obscene lawn ornaments to his list of things to warn Eames about when it comes to decorating. “Take a picture and send it to me.”

“You mean, on my phone?” says Albert.

“Dad,” says Eames, with fond exasperation in his voice.

“I know, I know,” says Albert. “I’m not ridiculous. I even tweet now.”

“He does,” Maggie says, nodding. “He gets into all these wars over boy bands.”

“Boy bands?” says Eames.

“A lot of people on Twitter talk about boy bands,” says Albert.

“Do you follow exclusively tweenagers?” Eames asks.

“What are those?” says Albert.

“Tweens,” Arthur says. “I think they’re called tweens.”

“Branch out, Dad,” says Eames. “You could at least get into arguments over politics instead.”

“I know what I’m doing on Twitter,” Albert says loftily. “I tweet out ‘armes5eva’ every so often.”

“We thank you for the support,” says Eames drily. “Speaking of Armes.”

“What’s Armes?” asks Maggie.

“It’s what they call themselves,” says Albert.

“Not really,” says Arthur hesitantly, a little embarrassed. “We don’t really call ourselves that.”

“It’s more of a fandom thing,” says Eames.

“They have fans,” Albert tells Maggie.

“Well, of course they do,” says Maggie. “They’re brilliant.”

“We are,” Eames agrees. “And we have news.”

“Yes,” says Albert. “NOTHING DIRE, right?”

“Exactly,” says Eames, beaming, and giving Arthur a look, like, See? Totally worked.

“Well, go on, then,” says Maggie. “What’s this nothing dire news?”

“We’re getting married,” Eames says.

Maggie and Albert do not look suitably impressed.

Because Eames is doing a terrible job of leading this conversation. “Next week,” Arthur says.

“Next week?” exclaims Maggie, as Albert exclaims, “What?”

“I thought you didn’t have any plans,” says Maggie. “I thought you weren’t in any rush. That’s what you told me.”

Arthur hadn’t been privy to these conversations. Maggie must have asked about the wedding on private calls with Eames.

Eames says, “I know, and we’re not in a rush, except that things are about to get busy here and our lives very quickly get overwhelmed with paparazzi and Twitter follows us everywhere and we decided that we want to get the piece of paper, get it official, and have the party later when the scoop quality has gone out of it for the press.”

“Lean closer to the camera,” Maggie commands. “Both of you,” she adds, when only Eames obeys.

Arthur, after a second, crowds in with Eames.

Maggie smiles. “You look happy. Both of you. Good. Do you want us to fly in?”

“We’re doing it very quickly, just us and a justice of the peace,” says Eames cheerfully.

“Is that okay?” Arthur asks anxiously, because Eames will never ask that question. “Are you okay with us just doing it by ourselves like this? We really will have a party later.”

“Bless, Arthur, you are a lovely, thoughtful man and our son does not deserve you,” says Maggie warmly. “Do what makes you happy. We look forward to the party.”

Chapter Text

Worcester City Hall is one of the old, grand public buildings that every Massachusetts town seems to have as a matter of course. Arthur is slightly paranoid as they make their way inside. He’s deliberately dressed down, with hair in disarray, to try to be less recognizable. Eames is impossible to render less recognizable, and Eames doesn’t seem the least bit worried about that, because Eames is busy wandering off to poke his head down new and different hallways, and Arthur is worried they’re going to get arrested for looking like security risks wandering in off-limits areas.

Fortunately Eames has a British accent and Arthur hasn’t yet encountered the situation that can’t be immediately resolved by Eames’s accent.

“We are here,” Eames announces to the employee who has asked what they’re doing wandering down the hallway, “to lodge our intentions to be married. And also to admire this hallway’s beautiful woodwork.” Eames, a hand on the small of Arthur’s back, curls a smile at the woman leading them away from the restricted hallway.

“Aww,” says the woman, looking between them with a pleased smile. She doesn’t seem to have recognized them; apparently she’s not a home-design-show person. The pleased smile is entirely because she sees an in-love couple who wants to get married.

Arthur is aware he’s grinning ear-to-ear and he can’t help it but he’s okay with not being able to help it, because they are going to get married. Very soon.

The woman directs them where they have to go and Arthur speaks to the clerk because Eames is busy murmuring about beauty of the washed-out mural on the wall behind her head. This is what it’s like being in a new and interesting building with Eames; he just takes constant mental design notes that he often feels compelled to murmur them to Arthur.

So Arthur answers. “We want to get married.”

“Congratulations,” says the clerk, smiling. “I’ll have you formally lodge your intentions and then your license will issue in three days’ time and it will be good for sixty days—”

“We want to schedule to be married here in three days,” says Arthur, because this is what he and Eames agreed, upon learning there was a three-day waiting period. They wanted to be married as quickly as possible; why leave the license on the books to be discovered any longer than necessary?

The clerk looks at Eames, who is paying attention now and nods his assent.

She smiles and says, “Then I’ll make the appointment for you. Here’s your paperwork.”

They lean together as they work on the paperwork, and the thing is it’s just routine paperwork, and yet at the end of it they’ll be issued a marriage license, and then they’ll be bound together, legally, husbands.

Arthur looks up at Eames to watch him filling in his form, in handwriting now as familiar to Arthur as his own, handwriting that is dear and precious to him, handwriting that fills the notes that Arthur keeps tucked in his desk drawer. Eames is intent on what he’s doing, moving briskly through the blanks he’s filling in, that seriousness that can sometimes overtake him, that Arthur thinks so few members of their fandom would ever recognize.

Eames must sense his gaze, because Eames looks up at him, and Eames smiles. And then Arthur watches him sign his name at the bottom of the document, in a completely illegible flourish.

Chapter Text

“Good luck meeting with your fancy-pants producer tomorrow,” says Timothy on his way out of the house. It reminds Arthur that Timothy has never worked for them when they were filming before.

Arthur says, “She’s our director, and she’s not fancy-pants, and there’s nothing to filming. I promise. This is all going to go very smoothly.” Because he’s worried Timothy might be worried about it.

“I believe you,” Timothy says, although Arthur isn’t convinced. “But I still made you a chocolate cake that you should only eat as a reward.”

Arthur tells Eames about the chocolate cake.

Eames says, “That Timothy is a prince among men.” But he says it absently, looking through piles of papers he has scattered all over the dining room table, drifting down to the floor.

Arthur watches him closely, thinking that he’s seemed uncharacteristically quiet over the past few hours. Sometimes Eames needs to work things through in his head, and Arthur is always patient with that, because usually he’s the one who needs the time, but he also knows that he sometimes needs to prod Eames to remember that it’s okay to work things out with Arthur. Eames is generally good at this; he doesn’t often shut himself up inside, which is why Arthur is always rusty when dealing with it.

Arthur says, because he feels like maybe it will lighten Eames’s mood, “I was going to suggest we have the chocolate cake for dinner.”

Eames does look up at that, and he does smile, which is nice. He says, “Oh, were you? How irresponsible of you.”

“Fuck responsibility,” Arthur rejoins. “Soon there’ll be cameras all over this place and I’ll have to pretend we eat a lot of Brussels sprouts or something. Tonight, let’s have chocolate cake for dinner.”

Eames leaves his papers behind, backs Arthur directly up against the wall. “Say that again.”

“What?” asks Arthur.

“That we’re having chocolate cake for dinner.”

“We’re having chocolate cake for dinner,” Arthur repeats obediently.

Eames growls into his neck, “That was the fucking sexiest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

Arthur laughs and lets Eames bite him because soon he’s going to start protesting that because of the arrival of the cameras and says, because he is in an amazingly excellent mood now that Eames seems back to himself and he would do anything Eames wanted to do at the moment, “Do you want to have the chocolate cake in bed?”

“Fucking hell, kitten,” Eames says, and then immediately lets go of Arthur to march to the fridge and pull out the chocolate cake. He dips a finger into the frosting and makes a pornographic display of licking it off.

Arthur, kind of slumped up against the wall as a result of being quickly revved up and then equally quickly abandoned, says, “You going to make love to the cake or to me?”

Eames, balancing the chocolate cake in one hand, grins as he amiably crowds Arthur back up against the wall. “Make love?”

“You looked like you had a lot of emotions toward the cake,” says Arthur. “You didn’t look like you were about to fuck the cake.”

Eames swipes another finger into the frosting. “I’m not fucking the cake.” He sets the finger at Arthur’s lips expectantly.

Arthur is actually smiling too much to do the ridiculous pornographic routine with Eames’s finger. He says, “You’re not fucking the cake?” and darts out just the tip of his tongue to the tip of Eames’s finger.

Eames quirks an eyebrow at him. “I’m not.”

“Are you making love to the cake?” asks Arthur, and takes Eames’s finger into his mouth while he’s still grinning.

Eames says, “I have an almost-husband around here somewhere, he’s better than chocolate cake.” Eames leans forward to lick at some chocolate on the corner of Arthur’s mouth, moving his finger out of the way.

“Wow, high praise,” murmurs Arthur, hands in Eames’s shirt, pulling him in for a proper kiss.

Eames sighs into the kiss, like he’s been waiting all day for it. And Arthur will make out with Eames for-fucking-ever if that’s what Eames wants.

He doesn’t actually know how long they just kiss, there against the wall, until Eames draws back and says, “Should we go to bed?”

Arthur says, “Yes. And bring the cake.”

Chapter Text

Arthur, post-coital, is sprawled boneless in bed. He is letting Eames amuse himself by spreading chocolate cake across Arthur’s belly and then licking it off. It isn’t terribly arousing, and if Arthur weren’t already gross from sex he’d be protesting that it’s vaguely disgusting, but post-coital Arthur’s synapses work differently and right now he feels nothing short of adored in the face of Eames’s attention.

Eventually Arthur is finally recovered enough that he stretches luxuriously and curls his toes and says, “Can you stop using me as a plate now?”

“Mmm,” says Eames, and rolls onto his back and stretches as well, and then yawns enormously. “Fucking brilliant cake. We’ll have to tell Timothy in the morning.”

“I’d be offended, except the cake was brilliant.” Arthur rolls onto his side to look down at Eames, whose eyes are closed. Arthur doesn’t want to make Eames quiet again, the way he had been, but he also knows they can’t tiptoe around issues. If something’s making Eames quiet like that, Arthur needs to know about it. Especially if the topic that makes him quiet, for whatever reason, is their wedding. “Can we talk about the wedding?” Arthur asks, to test the waters.

Eames opens his eyes and says, “Of course we can. What about it?”

He seems thoroughly untroubled by the choice of topic. So far, so good. Maybe not the wedding he’s thinking so hard about then. Arthur could, of course, just ask, but he knows Eames well enough to know that Eames before he is ready to discuss something will demur and won’t see it as a lie or as avoidance because he can’t articulate yet what the thing is.

Arthur says, hitting upon a point that had been bothering him from the moment they’d decided on a quick wedding, “Are you planning anything for the wedding?”

“Darling,” says Eames. “I promised you a low-key wedding and I will give you a low-key wedding.”

“Right. Yes. Low-key. Except.” Arthur gives Eames a meaningful look.

Eames looks blank. “Except what?”

“Except that you are the opposite of low-key! You are as high-key as they come! And I say this with love, you know I do, but you adore special occasions!” Arthur reminds him. “You’re obsessed with grand gestures and making things memorable and being romantic!”

“I’m—” says Eames, and then cuts himself off and says, “Okay, maybe, yes, I do things like that—”

“You do things like that all the time,” Arthur says. “And I love it, you know. I mean, it’s ridiculous, how often you buy me just-because gifts and plan elaborate seduction scenes and tell me you love me, you know that I love it—”

“I know you love it,” Eames says carefully, “but I also know that it can stress you out sometimes, if I go too over-the-top and you feel pressure to—”

Bingo, thinks Arthur. He knew Eames was thinking this way. “Listen to me.” Arthur leans over Eames, urgent, needing him to know how much he means this. “I don’t want to change you. Not a single iota of you. I asked you for a low-key wedding, I know I did, and I know you’re trying to give it to me. You’re always thinking of me, and what I want, and what would be best for me, you always prioritize me, and that’s amazing, it’s…fucking magnificent about you, but you know I only let you do it as much as you do it because I make sure to look out for you in return, right? Like, while you’re worrying so much about I want, I am well aware that what you want is to pull out a ton of romantic stops, and I want you to get that, too. I want us to have a low-key wedding that’s still our wedding, which means there’s got to be something high-key about it, too. I really want that. But I know that you’re thinking you don’t want to stress me out, and I’m thinking I don’t want you worrying about stressing me out, so I think we should compromise. Why don’t we talk about what we want for our wedding, even our little low-key wedding, and then I won’t be stressed and neither will you.”

After a second, Eames smiles. “You’re very clever. Let’s do it.”

“Do you want to write vows?” asks Arthur.

Eames shakes his head immediately. “For the party we’re going to have later, yes, definitely. For this wedding now? No. Do you?”

“No. So we’re agreed on that. And we’ll wait on rings until the party we have later.”

“That’s just practical,” Eames says.

“What do you want to wear to the wedding?”

“Ah, fashion is your department.”

“Fine. I plan to wear those gray trousers you adore, and the blue blazer I wore when you proposed to me.”

“Because you’re terribly sentimental and people who think otherwise about you are idiots,” says Eames fondly.

Arthur doesn’t bother to deny it because there’s no use denying it to Eames. Eames knows how deep Arthur’s sentimental streak runs. So Arthur just says, “And what do you want to wear? I know you’ve thought about it.”

“I have,” Eames admits. “But truthfully I don’t know. I thought, as a wedding gift to you, for the party we’re going to have later, I’d have Giacomo make me a proper suit. But for this low-key wedding, I really don’t have any ideas. Do you?”

“I do have an idea, if you truly don’t know what you want to do.”

“I don’t.”

“You have, in the back of your closet, an outrageously hideous yellow shirt with orange stripes,” begins Arthur.

Eames finishes for him. “That I was wearing the day we met.”

And the fact that Eames also remembers that makes Arthur lean down and kiss him hard. “Yes,” Arthur says against Eames’s lips. “Wear that.”

“Done,” Eames agrees, and Arthur stretches out next to him, relishing the skin-to-skin contact.

“When should we tell our friends?” asks Arthur. “Because I think we should tell them, before they find out somewhere else.”

“Agreed. Hmm.” Eames considers. “Why don’t we have pre-filming drinks with everyone Sunday night? We can tell them then. We’ll make it very casual. Just go to our regular place where no one will make a fuss.”

“Tell them in public?” Arthur says.

“Do you want to tell them in private and be subjected to incredibly high-pitched squealing?”

“Do you think telling them in public will cut down on incredibly high-pitched squealing?”

“Maybe not,” admits Eames. “I was just trying to…”

“Not have a lot of fuss here at the house the night before filming starts?” guesses Arthur.

“Yeah,” says Eames.

Arthur gets that. “Let’s ask the bar if we can rent out that little wine cellar room they have in the back.”

“Good idea,” says Eames.

Arthur says, “Let’s talk about what we’re going to do for the wedding night.”

“I assumed we would have sex with each other,” Eames proposes. “Did you need more specifics than that?”

“Well,” says Arthur, pretending to consider. “Were you going to seduce me? Because I might be too tired after the wedding to just falling into bed.”

“I’d never think you were an easy lay,” Eames assures him. “I’ll never stop seducing you.”

Arthur looks across at Eames, and know that Eames means it, knows that he is in for a lifetime of being ridiculously seduced in ways Arthur will never see coming but that will always delight him. Arthur can’t wait for every single delightful surprise Eames might have in store for the rest of their lives.

Eames says, after a moment, “After our wedding, I want to come home here. I want to fill the place with candles. I want to open a bottle of wine. I want to sit and stare at you and say, ‘Husband,’ a few thousand times until it starts to seem slightly less astonishing.”

Arthur smiles. Arthur says, “Do you think that’s going to work?”

Eames’s eyes are soft when he says, “I don’t know.”

“So this is your way of saying that you’d like me to allow candles in the house for a change?”

Eames laughs. “They’ll be a novelty for us.”

Arthur smiles more, letting his dimples show, and leans forward and kisses the tip of Eames’s nose, then the bridge of it, before saying, “Okay. It’s a plan. Fill the house with candles, if you like. Now, this bed is disgusting and I’m hungry, I have to go eat something other than chocolate cake and your dick.”

Arthur intended to lighten the mood, and is pleased when a startled, delighted laugh punches out of Eames.

Chapter Text

Arthur locates the meal Timothy probably intended for them to eat for dinner and heats it up and has it on the counter when Eames drifts into the kitchen, dressed in nothing but a pair of sweatpants. Arthur eyes his tattoos and says, “Will you get another one?”

“I’ve been thinking about it.” Eames looks down at his own chest, studying it critically. “I’m thinking of a lovely, devastating little A over my heart. But then I think maybe that’s too predictable and I should do something more clever. A tie, perhaps? Or maybe a house, to represent the home you are? I haven’t decided yet. Hence why no tattoo yet.”

“I wasn’t fishing for a tattoo about me,” says Arthur, “although I’m always happy to be the subject of one. As long as it isn’t a fucking fedora.”

Eames laughs.

Silence lapses as they eat, and Arthur watches Eames, clearly back to thinking about something, something more than his next tattoo. Arthur leaves the silence. He wants to give Eames room to be quiet if he needs to be. Eames, who does so much endless talking as a matter of course, whose public persona never shuts up. Arthur likes to be the person Eames doesn’t feel obligated to talk to every minute they’re together, likes to be the person Eames thinks in front of. And he wants to trust Eames to talk to him when he’s ready. Arthur’s trying to strike a balance. Apparently Eames’s thoughtfulness wasn’t entirely about wedding planning, and so Arthur decides against fishing and to give Eames a little more time to come to him.

His patience is rewarded. Eames starts talking as he’s washing the dishes while Arthur dries. “I want to make you happy for the rest of our lives.”

Arthur glances at him. He’s focused on his hands in the soapy water. So Arthur just says lightly in reply, watching himself dry the dish in his hand, “I’m sure you will. Most of the time.”

“Right,” agrees Eames thoughtfully, and then turns away from the sink, leaning his hip against the counter. “And you’d tell me if I wasn’t.”

“I don’t consider us to be ordinarily shy about communication,” remarks Arthur. “And didn’t we promise each other not too long ago to be honest with each other except in very special and limited circumstances?

“It’s a different sort of communication, a different sort of honesty, telling the love of your life you’re not happy.”

“Are you not happy?” Arthur asks quizzically, even though he’s ninety-nine percent positive Eames is. Eames has been quiet this evening, but Arthur is pretty sure it’s not because he’s unhappy.

Eames confirms this. “No, I’m very happy. Just the sight of you makes me happy. When I’m not with you, the fact that I get to look forward to eventually being with you makes me happy. You’re so clever, and hilarious, and sweet, that sometimes I worry that you will eventually realize you’re getting the raw end of this deal.” Eames delivers this entire speech in an anxious rush, very unlike his usual method of communication, and then looks at Arthur as if he’s holding his breath.

There it is, thinks Arthur. He puts down the dish in his hand and steps into Eames’s space and takes his tense, soapy hands into his own and looks at Eames and says, very gently, “Hey. Breathe.”

Eames breathes.

Arthur steps even closer and presses his nose into Eames’s neck and says, “I don’t have the raw end of this deal. Trust me. I definitely do not. Let’s make a pact not to think that way about each other, not to forget that we’re in love with just a regular human being and neither one of us has the raw end of the deal, we both have amazing deals.”

“I know,” says Eames, sounding frustrated with himself. He lifts his arms up to crush Arthur closer and talks into his hair. “I know. I’m almost never like this, really, but you were filling out those forms today and you had this little frown of concentration on your face and you were so you and suddenly I remembered why I went for that run that morning because you take my breath away, all the time, even now, I forget how to breathe when you’re there, and meeting a person who does that to you is—terrifying--and I don’t mean to do this to you, I really don’t, but it’s like when we had the discussion about having children. And we decided that neither of us felt strongly one way or the other, but if that changed, we’d talk to each other about it. That’s what I want for this now. For our entire relationship. If something changes for us, I want us to talk about it. I don’t want us to—I want us to talk. Because what we have is so amazing, you’re so amazing, I never want us to—I want us to always talk.”

It is easy sometimes to forget, Arthur thinks, that Eames was initially the one who was terrified of them. That Eames was initially the one who ran away. Eames is, to Arthur, such a steady rock, such a fixed point, that Arthur has to consciously watch for the fact that Eames’s terror lives much deeper below the surface than Arthur’s does, that it swims around down there and comes up for air so little but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.

“That’s the deal,” Arthur promises him, kissing his neck. “That is absolutely the deal.”

Eames sighs heavily. “I don’t know what’s got into me. I’m really happy to be marrying you. I really want to be marrying you. I don’t know why suddenly I’m worrying.”

“I will tell you exactly why.”

“Please do,” says Eames.

“Because this is, possibly, the first thing in your life you’ve ever had to wait a long time for, after deciding to do it. You don’t make decisions this way. You make decisions on the fly, as you go, and then immediately pursue them. Even when you proposed marriage to me, maybe it was something you’d been thinking absently, but you made up your mind in the span of a minute and then that was the end of it. But we lodged our intentions to be married and then they made us wait three days and that’s not what you’re used to. I do not at all think that you don’t want to marry me. What I do think is you’re going to drive yourself mad if you think of all the things that could go wrong with us. I know, because I’ve been there. And you know what helps with that?”

“What?” asks Eames.

Arthur draws back so he can meet Eames’s eyes. “You help. You help me with that. So now it’s my turn to help you.” He smiles. “How’m I doing?”

Eames tips the corner of his mouth up in a smile. He looks better than he did, and that’s a relief to Arthur. “Brilliantly,” says Eames. “But no surprise there. You learned from the master.”

Arthur laughs. And he says, seriously, “The other reason you’re worrying is because the only thing in the world you’re bad at is believing that you’re good enough for me. It’s why you almost fucked everything up at the beginning. But I make sure to watch for it now. I won’t let it fuck us up again. You make me happy. Just you. And I plan to remind you of that every single day. ‘Eames,’ I’m going to say every day, ‘I’m happy. You make me happy.’ And then I’ll whistle.” And Arthur gives Eames a dramatic wolf whistle to top off the speech.

Eames looks…calmer. So much calmer. It’s good. He says fervently, “Thank you.”

Arthur says, “Kiss me.”

Eames does, soft and gentle, and Arthur feels him relax into it.

Arthur murmurs, without opening his eyes, leaning his forehead against Eames’s, “When you kissed me before, over the chocolate cake, it felt like you’d been wanting to do that for hours, and I thought, How silly. You can kiss me whenever you need to. I’m here. If you want to kiss me, just ask. You don’t have to articulate why you need it. Just do it. That’s how this works.”

“I love you more every single day,” Eames says, voice raw with sincerity.

Arthur squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath to try to compose himself. “It’s a good thing you’re marrying me, then,” he manages.

Chapter Text

Their wedding turns out to be excellently timed, because it is scheduled directly after they have to meet with Kalinda to talk through the filming boundaries, and that means that Arthur is thinking of their wedding and not of Kalinda the morning of their meeting, which is good for staying calm and not going into a panic spiral over the filming boundaries and Kalinda.

Eames invades Arthur’s closet while Arthur’s pulling a soft blue shirt over his head. Arthur says, when his head emerges, “What are you doing in here, terrifying my beautiful clothing with your paisley?”

“I am looking for my belt,” says Eames, and he is indeed frowning through Arthur’s forest of hanging belts. “What the fuck,” says Eames. “How many belts do you bloody have? It’s like a fucking jungle in here. Tarzan could swing on these.”

“Get away from my belts,” Arthur says good-naturedly. “There is no way your belt ended up with my belts.”

“You probably stole it,” says Eames, sounding unconvinced.

“I didn’t steal your belt. I don’t want your belt. Would your belt even fit me?”

Eames regards him. “I am vaguely insulted by every single one of those sentences you just said.”

Arthur laughs. “I would never have accidentally put your belt in my closet. And I’m the only one who ever puts anything in this closet. Did you look for your belt in your closet?”

“It’s not there,” says Eames mournfully. “And it’s my favorite belt.”

“I didn’t even know you had a favorite belt,” remarks Arthur, walking over to Eames’s closet.

“It’s like you don’t even know me,” Eames says dramatically.

Arthur opens Eames’s closet door and says, “Jesus Christ.”

“Don’t touch a thing,” Eames says, hopping past Arthur into the closet and putting his arms out, as if Arthur is about to rush in and start tossing everything around.

Although to Arthur it looks like Eames has already tossed everything around thoroughly. Arthur thinks it looks as if Eames’s closet has been ransacked. Arthur says, “Were we robbed at some point and you just never picked anything up because it’s a crime scene and you’re preserving evidence?”

“Ha ha,” says Eames. “I know exactly where everything is in this wardrobe.”

“It’s a closet,” says Arthur.

“No, it isn’t. It’s a wardrobe. Because ‘wardrobe’ is a sexy word.”

“What makes ‘wardrobe’ a sexy word?”

“It’s British. That’s the only criteria.”

“That is not the criteria of word sexiness.”

“It’s my criteria. What’s your criteria?”

Arthur’s actually never thought about it before. He says instead, “Clearly you do not know where everything is in this closet, because you can’t find your favorite belt.”

“That’s because you stole it. It’s not in here.”

Arthur gives him a look. “When’s the last time you wore this favorite belt?”

“I don’t know. The other day.” Eames waves his hand vaguely, nudging his toe through the pile of his clothing and accessories on the floor. Arthur thinks Eames basically has a wading pool of clothing in his closet. “Whenever I last wore a belt.”

“Did you look in the pile of your clothing in the corner of the bedroom where I kick all of the things you refuse to put properly in the laundry because of what a trying and impossible individual you are?”

“Where is that pile?” asks Eames, as if he’s never noticed it, as if that pile isn’t the bane of Arthur’s existence.

Arthur sighs and walks over to the corner of their bedroom and indicates the pile with a grand gesture.

Eames genuinely looks surprised to see it there. “Huh,” he says.

Arthur says, “This pile is literally the thing I find most annoying about you. Just so you know. If you’re ever wondering. It’s this. I mean, I love you anyway. But this.”

Eames doesn’t seem to be registering this, because he is busy digging through the pile and suddenly pulling a belt up out of it. “Aha!” he says. The belt is literally still tucked into the loops of the pants Eames was wearing it with.

Arthur shakes his head and sighs and looks at his watch. “I need coffee,” he says. “I cannot believe how much of this day has happened before coffee.”

Eames finishes buckling his belt and beams at Arthur and kisses him lightly.

Arthur curls his fingers into the collar of Eames’s shirt to keep him from moving entirely away and says, “Hey. How are you?”

Eames gets the import. “I’m fine,” Eames says. “I’m really fine. I’m sorry for last night.” He leans forward to kiss the hairline over Arthur’s right temple, nosing Arthur’s hair out of the way to do it. There’s no filming yet, so Arthur’s left his hair loose and ungelled, and he feels the way Eames’s nose nudges at it.

He says, “Don’t apologize for that. That was nothing. That was us being in a relationship. You love me enough to be thinking all the time of how I’m feeling, and I love that you love me the way, and you let me love you that way in return. So don’t apologize for it.”

Eames, after a second, nods.

Arthur continues, “If you want to apologize for something, you should be apologizing for that fucking travesty of a closet that you have over there.”

Eames laughs and kisses his temple again and Arthur thinks it’s going to be a good day.

Chapter Text

Luisa is already waiting in their kitchen, because Luisa lets herself in most mornings. Arthur has been letting himself get lazy in the non-filming times. He is usually up much earlier than Eames—because Eames’s sleeping schedule is fucked at all times—but he’s not always up as early as when they’re filming. So, after he became somewhat more confident Luisa wasn’t going to sneak in and kill them—you never knew about these things—he gave her a key and let her let herself in.

The tremendous bonus of this: there is excellent coffee in the pot waiting for him. Luisa is a wizard at making coffee. Arthur thinks she must be doing something different—different beans, different water, something—but Luisa pretends that she is not. It drives Arthur a little crazy.

But not too crazy, because: excellent coffee.

“Good morning,” Eames says cheerfully, accepting the cup of coffee Arthur presses into his hand. “I found my belt.”

“Was it missing?” asks Luisa, not even batting an eyelash. Luisa is really glorious when it comes to dealing with Eames.

“It was exactly where I left it,” says Eames. “Which was very wise of it.”

“Let me know if your belt evolves legs,” says Luisa.

Eames pulls Pop Tarts out of the cupboard because that’s the kind of thing Eames eats for breakfast.

Eames says, “Pop Tart, darling?”

“Yes,” agrees Arthur sheepishly. Really, before he met Eames, he had decent eating habits, he really did.

“Luisa?” asks Eames.

“No, I ate before I got here,” answers Luisa.

“What time do you get up?” says Eames, sticking Pop Tarts into the toaster. “You must get up at three o’clock in the morning in order to get here so early.”

“Eames,” says Arthur, “it’s nine o’clock.”

“So what’s the agenda for the day?” asks Luisa.

“It’s fairly straightforward,” says Arthur, unfolding the newspaper Luisa brought in and left on the counter. “Kalinda will come in, with a couple of camera people, Eames will give a house tour, and then, six hours later, we will discuss some ground rules as to where and when filming will happen, and talk through a plan for the first week. Clients and stuff like that.”

“This should be smooth sailing,” says Eames, steadily watching the toaster, where the Pop Tarts are still toasting. “We have a ferocious contract. And we hand-picked Kalinda.”

“So we are hoping, for once in our lives, to get to work with someone who listens to us. You know, you’re scaring the toaster staring at it like that.”

“A watched Pop Tart never pops up?” says Eames, still not looking away from the toaster.

“So this is it, huh?” says Luisa. “This is what you guys do for a living?”

That gets Eames to look up from the toaster. It gets Arthur to look at her, too.

“What?” says Eames.

“You’ve never watched our shows?” says Arthur.

“Well, I watched a couple when I got hired, of course. I didn’t want to tell you this but interior design isn’t really my thing.”

“Dear God,” says Eames, sounding stricken, a hand actually clutching at his heart, “you say such a thing in our very home.”

Luisa grins at him. “I think your house is nice, though.”

“Nice,” echoes Eames faintly. “She thinks this house is nice.”

“The Pop Tarts are done,” Arthur tells Eames, and looks back at Luisa curiously. “Why did you want to work for us, if you didn’t know us?”

Luisa shrugs. “Saito recommended you, and I trust Saito. And then I Googled you and found your fandom and I was sold. Your fandom rocks.”

Eames slides a Pop Tart in front of Arthur and sits down next to him and says, “How exactly do you know Saito again?”

“Classified,” says Luisa.

“Dragon,” murmurs Eames under his breath.

“Anyway,” says Luisa, “the point is: this show is different from your other shows, from what I understand. Like, is this going to be the entire thing? Just the two of you hanging out in your house talking to each other?”

Bantering,” says Eames, blowing on his Pop Tart. “We banter.”

“And yes,” finishes Arthur.

Chapter Text

Kalinda arrives precisely on time.

This gains her seven million bonus points—if Arthur was a person who worked on a point system—because filming days are so much better when they actually start on time.

She pauses to look curiously at their glass board, where her name is prominently blocked out over the entirety of the day. With a bunch of penises drawn around it.

She points to it and looks at Arthur. “Should I ask why my name is surrounded by penises?”

“Eames,” says Arthur. “The answer to that question is always Eames. Hi, Kalinda.”

“Hello, Arthur. You’re looking very well. I like your hair.”

“It’s special, private-Arthur hair,” says Eames. “We like it very much.” Eames swoops in to kiss Kalinda’s cheek, because that’s how Eames greets people, and Arthur is just never the one who’s going to do that, he thinks.

Kalinda says, “What’s this royal we you’ve started using now?”

“There’s a rumor I’m a viscount,” says Eames. “Have you met our PA Luisa? Careful, she might be a dragon.”

Neither Luisa nor Kalinda reacts to that. They just shake polite hands.

Luisa says, “We missed you at the good old-fashioned fun party.”

“I was, as you can imagine, devastated to miss a good old-fashioned fun party, but I was filming in Argentina.”

“Cheating on us,” says Eames. “Right out in the open.”

“I have no shame,” agrees Kalinda easily. “Here are your two main camera people, Dev and Tavi. There’ll be more but generally one of us will be here at all times when filming is going on, so we’ll be the ones who know the rules.”

Everybody shakes hands and Luisa asks if she can get anybody anything and everybody refuses refreshments and Kalinda says, “Okay, show me this allegedly incredible house.”

“Well,” says Eames, “Luisa only think it’s ‘nice,’ not that I’m holding it against her.”

“The thing is,” deadpans Arthur, “I’d be more worried about that if I were you if you’d designed the house to impress Luisa.”

Eames grins at him. “True.”

“What we’ve learned, Eames, is apparently you’d be very unsuccessful with getting into Luisa’s pants,” says Kalinda.

“That takes different skills,” says Luisa.

Kalinda looks at Luisa speculatively and says, “I bet.”

Arthur thinks, Oh, no, Eames is totally going to play matchmaker again.

Chapter Text

Eames starts the house tour in the public part of the house.

He says that to Kalinda and Tavi and Dev. “We call these the public rooms. If we’re going to have a party, this is where we have it.” He gestures to the main front room, where they are all standing, and his voice echoes off of the expanse of marble all around them.

Dev tips his head back to look at the ceiling way above and says, “So this was a store, huh?”

“Originally, yes,” confirms Eames.

Tavi says, “What’s all up in those shelves?” pointing to the gallery level.

“Things no one else wants,” Eames says.

Which gets him a blank look.

“Sometimes Eames goes on shopping trips for clients,” explains Arthur, “and he finds hideous things that no one will ever want, and he feels bad for these hideous things because he anthropomorphizes furniture as having feelings and feeling sad that no one wants them—”

“I don’t ‘anthropomorphize’ them,” Eames says, “as if I’m making it up, as if they don’t have feelings—”

Arthur ignores him. “—and so Eames buys these things and they end up here.” Arthur indicates the shelves along the gallery level.

“Someone made those things at one point and thought they were beautiful,” Eames says. “They were beautiful, at some point, to someone.”

“And so we keep them here, and we keep them alive,” finishes Arthur.

Eames smiles at him, pleased, because Arthur thinks it’s a little mad to have a gallery of things no one else wants but he understands the deeply empathetic streak in Eames that makes him unable to be mean to things and he loves that deeply empathetic streak in Eames—it’s part of what makes him such an incredible designer—and so he encourages it. He especially encourages it now that they have settled on a space for all of these things because Arthur drew a line in the sand the day Eames tried to line up terrifying clown faces in Arthur’s office.

“The house stretches onward from here,” Eames says, leading them away from the space where they actually live. “Here we are planning in-law flats.” Eames gestures to rows of doors. “We’ve got an architect working out how to put it together for us. And then here—” Eames turns to his right and throws open double doors into a vast space that at one point was a storage space for the stores in the row. The rabbit warren of smaller stores will be the in-law apartments they’re planning, but this long, narrow storage space, divided haphazardly, had been mainly untouched by them since moving in.

Eames has grand plans for it now. It’s been scrubbed clean and he’s drawn lines on the floor that make sense only to him, squiggles that look random to Arthur but that he knows Eames will eventually turn into magic.

Eames stands in the middle of the empty room and beams with pride and says, “This is our indoor forest.”

There is a moment of silence until Kalinda points out the obvious. “There’s nothing in it.”

“Right,” agrees Eames. “But it will be the indoor forest. It turns out plants need, like, sun. And also soil. It’s complicated. We’re talking to engineers. At several points in time I have pointed out that it would be easier to make the garden entirely chocolate—”

“Like in Willy Wonka?” asks Kalinda.

Eames looks at her brightly. “Kalinda. I knew there was a reason I liked you. Yes, exactly like Willy Wonka.”

Kalinda looks less than convinced. “I’ve always thought that seems like it would attract bugs.”

Exactly,” agrees Arthur.

They get back to the “normal” part of the house, and it’s saying something that the “normal” part of Arthur’s house has a construction zone right down the middle of it.

“What are these?” Kalinda asks curiously, standing at one of the barricades that has been erected along the dry riverbeds by Paul. Arthur is pretty sure they’re there because Paul is terrified they’ll have sex in the riverbeds again unless deterred otherwise.

“Oh!” exclaims Eames enthusiastically. “These are my river hallways!”

Kalinda looks back at the dry riverbeds. They’re really very pretty, now that they’ve been undisturbed, with their sparkling sand and their flashes of bright stones, but they look a little like an abstract art installation. She says, “What makes them rivers?”

Eames says, “Well, once they’re filled with water, they’ll be rivers. They’re basically rivers. They’re as good as done.”

Eames, Arthur thinks, has no comprehension of the passage of time. It’s one of the things that makes Paul tear his hair out so delightfully.

“It’s a good thing you have the barriers then,” says Kalinda, “to keep people from falling in.”

“We won’t have the barriers,” says Eames. “Why does everyone think they’re going to fall into the rivers? Just don’t walk near the rivers.”

Kalinda raises her eyebrows and looks at Arthur. “What do you think of the river hallways?”

“I think Eames is very taken with them, and so we will make them work. And hopefully your camera people won’t walk into the rivers while following us along the hallways.”

“Maybe we could cover them with glass or something?” suggested Kalinda.

“But then how will I feed the fish?” asks Eames.

“The fish?” echoes Kalinda.

Chapter Text

Arthur has consented to filming in his office. Eames has also consented to filming in his office, although that means less, since Eames treats every room in the house as his office.

Arthur stands in the middle of the hallway, just past his office, and says, “And this is where filming is cut off.”

“What’s down there?” asks Dev, as if that’s relevant information.

Arthur says shortly, “Our private rooms. We’re allowed them by contract.” In truth, it’s mainly their bedroom and then a spare bedroom that he and Eames have agreed to have as the Argument Room. Or, maybe more accurately, the Hide from Filming Room, which Arthur senses he might need every so often. He’s grown accustomed to being filmed but he still needs a break somewhat more frequently than Eames does.

“Yes, you are,” Kalinda agrees, thoroughly uninterested in what Arthur’s blocking access to. “So where’s the sex club? I believe I was promised a sex club?”

“You haven’t cleared the security yet,” deadpans Arthur. There actually is a sex club in their house, because Eames had most of the decorative features of the sex club room Arthur had designed for him moved to one of their empty public rooms. The fact that their house does have a sex club is something Arthur definitely doesn’t want getting out, though, so it was, by agreement, left out of the tour, one of the glossed-over closed doors.

Arthur tries not to think too hard about the fact that they’re designing in-law suites for their parents to come and visit in the same wing of the house that contains their fake sex club. He tries to think about it even less when Eames says it makes perfect sense, their parents and Saito will love the sex club. Arthur has tried desperately to scrub that image from his head.

Kalinda smiles at Arthur’s security joke and then says, “So, Dav and Tavi are going to wander around a bit scoping out camera angles for them to set up when they have to film here. I thought you and I would go over your first week of clients with you.”

Arthur knows he has to trust these people, because they’re going to be an almost constant part of his life for the next couple of months, but he doesn’t know them yet, other than Kalinda, and so he says, “They’re staying in the public rooms, right?” just to clarify. He wouldn’t have a complete meltdown if they wander into his and Eames’s bedroom but it would be an important signal that these people don’t respect boundaries and that is a non-starter in Arthur’s eyes.

Kalinda says with deceptive lightness, “If they don’t, they’re being fired. So yes.” She glances at Dev and Tavi.

Who do nod enthusiastically about adhering to the rules.

Kalinda turns back to Arthur and Eames, “You can walk me through the houses you’ve picked out for the clients, Arthur, and, Eames, you can walk me through what retail suppliers you want on your filming list, and then I can walk you through the details for the first trip.”

“I can make us coffee,” Luisa offers.

“Or we can have our fandom teas,” says Eames. “We have fandom teas,” he tells Kalinda.

“Like fandom t-shirts?” asks Kalinda.

Luisa laughs like Kalinda is the most hilarious person she’s ever met.

Luisa has never laughed at Eames like that, which is probably why Eames gives Luisa an astounded look.

Then he turns back to Kalinda to deal with the other horrifying issue. “No, tea. Like the drink.”

“You have teas inspired by you?” Kalinda says. “Is that what you’re saying?”

Eames nods, looking proud.

Kalinda says, “Do they have weird drugs in them?”

“No,” says Eames. “We don’t need drugs. We’re just naturally high, Arthur and me.”

Chapter Text

Luisa makes them tea in proper teapots and they have it in the living room because the dining room table is covered by a scale model Eames is building of a project he’s working on.

“This is Arthur’s tea,” Luisa says, indicating a lovely sleek white porcelain teapot that Eames bought for Arthur at a museum in Denmark. “And this is Eames’s tea.” She points to an elaborate Baroque pale yellow teapot Arthur bought for Eames directly off a shelf in a house he’d been showing because it had reminded him so strongly of Eames he’d had to have it.

“What’s the difference between them?” Kalinda asks, studying the teapots.

“Well, one is Arthur in tea form, and one is me in tea form,” explains Eames.

Arthur’s heard more helpful descriptions of tea.

From the look on Kalinda’s face, so has she.

Arthur says, “Eames’s is a slightly sweet English breakfast, and mine is a darker sort of Ceylon with some chocolate in it, a little bit tart.”

“That’s simplifying them somewhat,” says Eames. “Obviously we are far more complex than that.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Eames, but I’m going to start with Arthur,” says Kalinda.

“I am definitely taking that the wrong way,” replies Eames. “I am going to remember that for the rest of our working relationship.”

“However long that might be,” says Kalinda lightly, cautiously sipping her tea.

“Isn’t Arthur delicious?” asks Eames.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Kalinda says, looking amused.

Eames throws an arm over Arthur’s shoulder and smacks a kiss into his hair and Arthur rolls his eyes a little.

Kalinda says to Luisa, who is pouring out more tea, “So this is one of your talents? Tea-making?”

“I have many talents,” Luisa replies, “not all of them immediately obvious.”

There is actual smirking involved in this exchange.

Eames lifts his eyebrows and gives Arthur a look that says, Can you believe this cheekiness right in front of us?

Arthur takes a cup of Eames’s tea—because he honestly does prefer Eames’s to his own—and smiles into it.

Kalinda clears her throat and gets to business, unrolling a spreadsheet onto the floor where there’s space for it.

The spreadsheet is a color-coded calendar.

Arthur hears himself make a noise in his throat that sounds kind of like the noise he makes when Eames blows on his nipple but he can’t fucking help it, because—

“Color-coding,” remarks Eames. “Great. Arthur’s going to run away with you, Kalinda.”

“It’s a thing of beauty,” Arthur says reverently, and peers down to look at their lovely, beautiful, organized filming schedule, with its joint sessions and its split sessions and its locations and Arthur is mostly in love with Eames but a little piece of him is now in love with this calendar.

“It’s a schedule,” Kalinda says, sounding bewildered by this reaction. “It’s just a standard shooting schedule, to keep us straight. I’ll e-mail you boys a copy.”

Arthur makes that noise again, and Eames gives him a wry look, but, no, Arthur can’t help it.

Eames says to Kalinda, “Don’t take this the wrong way about Cobb and Mal, but we’re not exactly used to filming with competent people. Actually, no, never mind, the way you’re taking it is exactly how I’m intending for you to take it.”

“I don’t understand,” Kalinda says. “They didn’t have schedules?”

“No, they had schedules,” Arthur says, because they did, they just had been…chaos.

“Cobb and Mal always used to just film whatever the fuck they wanted,” Eames says, with a bitterness lacing his voice that surprises Arthur, who looks over at him. “It’s the reason we’ve been so very careful with our contract: When we don’t want to be filmed, we’re not going to be filmed.”

Arthur looks back at Kalinda.

Kalinda looks confused. “When you don’t want to be filmed, you won’t be filmed. This isn’t meant to be an ambush. We’re in your home. Jesus, it’s a miracle you two kept doing this, if you were constantly getting filmed when you didn’t want to be.”

“We made the story our lives,” says Arthur. “We can’t really complain when it’s our lives that then get filmed.”

Kalinda looks at him and says gently, “No offense, but…that’s not true. You’ve made the story some facsimile of your lives. You’re different, you know, without cameras on you. Surely you know this about yourselves. You are truly incredible at what you do, and what you do isn’t being you, it’s the way you turn some version of you on when there’s a camera on you. It’s my job to capture that, that version of you that you want out there, because that’s the version of you that your fandom wants. It isn’t my job to capture you, the pieces of you that you don’t want to give away.”

Arthur thinks it would be inappropriate to hug the breath out of Kalinda but he really wants to.

Eames says bluntly, “Kalinda, if you would like me to kiss your feet, I absolutely would.”

“I absolutely do not want that,” says Kalinda, “don’t put me down for anything like that in my sex club preferences.”

Eames chuckles. “Make a note, darling.”

Chapter Text

Dev and Tavi eventually leave, but Kalinda stays for several hours, and Arthur is amazed. If she isn’t genuinely interested in the houses he’s chosen to show his clients, she’s at least professionally interested. On Love It Or List It, Cobb used to ask if Arthur could choose houses closer to his house, so that less driving was required. Kalinda just asks if it suits what the couple wants, why that one over, say, that other one, and then takes notes when Arthur says it has a dazzling sunroom he thinks Eames can work absolute magic in. Arthur doesn’t know what to make of it.

Except that he loves it.

When he and Eames had decided to do this show, Arthur had been excited because he was getting to shape the show he wanted. He put together a list of demands, merged them with Eames’s demands, asked for them, and got them. He hadn’t even thought through to the fact that maybe everything about this show would be better. Not just the him-and-Eames part, but the actual production part.

Luisa eventually walks Kalinda out, and ostensibly they’re going over how things will work next week when filming starts properly, but Arthur has his doubts and probably figures they’re making out in his kitchen. That kitchen sees more action than most sex clubs, Arthur thinks. He is running a sex club: it’s his kitchen.

Not that Arthur really even cares. He’d been sitting on the floor, the better to see everything they’ve spread out, and now he leans his back up against the couch and smiles happily at his lovely organized piles of paper.

Eames says to him, “You are practically purring, kitten.”

Arthur laughs. He’s in that sort of mood. “It was good for me. Was it good for you?”

Eames crawls over paperwork to kiss Arthur’s dimples.

Arthur says, “Don’t crumple my papers, I need to show them to my clients.”

Eames says, “They’ll be worth more if they’re Eames-crumpled. The clients will love it.”

“You just think everything you do is the most charming thing that’s ever happened in anyone’s life.”

“Yes,” says Eames, completely serious, and kisses Arthur’s left eyebrow. And then smiles at him and says, “I think we’re going to have a hit show, darling.”

“Good,” Arthur replies. “We need it, since that indoor forest of yours is a money pit.”

“Oh, is it? Let’s talk about your monthly tailor bill,” rejoins Eames good-naturedly.

Arthur knows the tips of his ears go pink, not just because his monthly tailor bill is appalling but also because Eames kisses the tip of one fondly.

Luisa says, “Do you need anything else? A condom, maybe? Lube?”

“Go away,” Eames says to her.

Luisa grins and says, “See you tomorrow, gentlemen!”

“Bye!” Arthur calls to her.

Eames looks back at Arthur—and looks genuinely and gleefully scandalized. “Could you believe that?”

“The condoms and lube thing?” Arthur asks in confusion. “Eames, you draw genitalia with her, I don’t think—”

“No, the flirting. So much flirting. In our house.”

Arthur lifts his eyebrows. “Our house that otherwise never sees any flirting whatsoever?”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, I really don’t.”

“I mean, they were barmy over each other.”

“Barmy?” echoes Arthur.

“Complete and utter lack of dignity,” continues Eames, managing to sound smug, as if he has never suffered from this.

“Eames,” says Arthur. “You’re sitting in my lap kissing my eyebrow.”

“Yes,” says Eames. “I didn’t say I wasn’t barmy. And I gave up dignity long, long ago.”

“Ah, so that’s what’s up with your wardrobe,” says Arthur.

“This is very exciting,” continues Eames. “Wait until you tell Julia.”

“About your wardrobe, or your lack of dignity?”

“About Kalinda and Luisa! Kaluisa? Lalinda? Oh, dear, what do you think?”

“Eames,” Arthur sighs.

“This is fantastic. I am, as you know, an absolutely incredible matchmaker.”

“You’re going to take all the credit for this, aren’t you?”

“Of course I am. You know, I think our show missed its mark. We should have been matchmakers.”

“We are matchmakers,” Arthur points out. “We match people up with their perfect homes. It’s every bit as important as finding the right people to put into it. You can’t find the love of your life until you’re comfortable in your own house. Metaphorically, but also literally.”

Eames smiles and says, “You’re right, of course. And God knows I have introduced many people into torrid love affairs with travertine.”

“It seems like travertine would make a cold bedmate,” muses Arthur.

“Travertine can surprise you.”

“I’m thinking travertine would be good for a good fuck but then you’d kick travertine out of bed afterward. Not exactly a cuddler.”

“What’d you go with for cuddling?”

“A nice Palladian window,” says Arthur. “A genuine old-fashioned one.”

Eames laughs at him and kisses behind Arthur’s ear and then rolls a little off of him so he can settle his head comfortably on Arthur’s shoulder.

They sit like that for a while in silence. Arthur watches it grow dark in the room around them, swallowing up all the evidence of their professional life, leaving just the two of them, wrapped together.

Arthur says eventually, “I liked what Kalinda had to say. About it being some facsimile of us that we’re giving people. I love you on television, but it isn’t the television you I love.”

“Agreed,” Eames says.

“Also, I’ve come to a conclusion, and it’s an annoying conclusion, and you’re going to gloat.”

“Oh.” Eames sounds tickled pink. “Excellent. Those are my favorite type of conclusion.”

“It’s you.”

“Yes. Of course. It’s always me.” Eames pauses. “What’s me?”

“My sexy word criteria: It’s you. The word doesn’t have to be British, it’s just…you saying it. You make ‘travertine’ sound sexy. No wonder you sell so much of it.”

Eames chuckles. “I think you’re sexy when you say ‘anthropomorphize’ like it’s a regular word people use in conversation.”

“It is a regular word.”

“It’s a sexy Arthur word.” Eames noses behind his ear. “You’re my criteria, too.”

“No wonder we have so much sex,” says Arthur.

Eames snorts laughter.

Chapter Text

On the night before their wedding, Arthur wakes in the middle of the night to find Eames in bed with him. He’d gone to bed alone, Eames caught up in a design spree that involved something that sounded like yellow feathery ponytail kitchen sink, but that can’t possibly be right so Arthur, yawning, had just dropped an affectionate kiss on the top of his head and gone to bed. Neither of them had mentioned that it was their wedding eve. To be honest, Arthur had forgotten in the moment of his bed-going.

He wakes in the middle of the night, though, as abruptly as if someone has just shouted in his ear, You’re getting married today!

And there is Eames, in the bed with him. He’s on his stomach, an arm underneath his pillow, turned toward Arthur, the covers pulled up mid-back. What Arthur can see of his skin is bare and on-display.

Arthur looks at the clock on his side of the bed, which reads 3:27, and then turns back to Eames.

When he was younger, Arthur thinks, he felt like he was always waiting for all good things to end. You’d age out of your favorite teacher’s class, your baseball season would reach a conclusion, you’d grow up and leave your mom’s house, etc. Life, Arthur had always thought, was a series of fleeting moments that you had to treasure very intently, because they were always over so quickly.

But the weird thing, Arthur thinks, is that in a few hours he’s getting married, and while he’s still acutely aware of how fleeting life can be, of how some terrible tragedy could separate him and Eames, there’s something…settled…about all of this. Something settled about the very idea of marriage. It’s the law of the land where you live saying to you, This doesn’t end until you end. This is something good you get to keep. Here it is, this is yours, you can keep him forever. He wants that, and so do you.

Arthur worries that the rest of his life with Eames will be too short for him. But Arthur also knows odds are good that the rest of his life with Eames will be the rest of his life. That Eames is something wonderful and adored that doesn’t really have an end-date. At least, not one Arthur can mark on a calendar the way he could with other things. Holidays will come and go, they’ll each kill a few more houseplants, their show will eventually get canceled, and through it all there will be Eames. Arthur can plan on him, a fixed steady point. If he doesn’t get Eames for the rest of his life, he’ll adjust, he knows he will, he’s good at that. But marriage is a way of getting to say, But I really want you for the rest of my life. I’m planning on you.

Arthur inches closer in the bed, leans over and presses a careful kiss to Eames’s forehead. “I love you,” he whispers.

Eames doesn’t stir, not that Arthur expected him to, not that Arthur wanted him to.

Arthur slides back down under the covers and wriggles his way closer to Eames, blatantly nudging his way under Eames’s arm. Eames makes automatic room for him, dragging him in, and Arthur tucks his head up against Eames and breathes him in. Forever, he thinks. I’m going to do this forever.

And he won’t really. He won’t even do it for the rest of the night, because Eames always gets warm and eventually pushes him away.

But still. He knows what he means.

Chapter Text

Arthur wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall back to sleep but he wakes to bright sunshine in their room and no Eames in the bed. Arthur stretches and looks up at the ceiling over his head, which, because Eames designed it, isn’t just an ordinary ceiling but has small specks of silver scattered over it. Stars over our heads, Eames had said, when he’d shown Arthur the effect. Arthur is still enchanted by it and doesn’t know why every bedroom doesn’t have a starry ceiling.

“You’re awake,” says Eames, coming into the room with a breakfast tray.

Arthur lifts his eyebrows and struggles to sit himself up. “I am awake. And you cooked?” Arthur looks down at the tray Eames places over his lap, which is a full English breakfast.

“I cooked,” says Eames, and gets back into bed with Arthur and reaches for one of the cups of coffee on the tray. “I couldn’t resist one small surprise for you, on this, our wedding day. Also, I’m practicing for my cookbook.”

“Is ‘fry a couple of eggs’ going to be a recipe in your cookbook?” asks Arthur wryly.

“Possibly,” says Eames.

“Careful now,” says Arthur. “You don’t want to revolutionize cooking too much. People might not be able to handle your shocking ideas. You don’t want your cookbook to be the Rite of Springs of cookbooks.”

“I love you,” Eames says, laughing at him as he kisses underneath his jaw, “you horrible, sarcastic arsehole.”

“I’m going to start calling you Stravinsky,” Arthur says. “It’s going to be my pet name for you.”

“‘What do you think of this wall color, darling?’ ‘Smashing, Stravinsky,’” says Eames.

“I never say ‘smashing.’”

“You don’t, it’s true. You should say it more often.”

“I’d sound like an idiot saying ‘smashing.’ Just like I sound like an idiot when I say ‘bloody.’”

“When do you say ‘bloody’? I never hear you say ‘bloody.’”

Arthur clears his throat and focuses on feeding Eames a piece of bacon. Eames doesn’t seem deterred from his question, lifting his eyebrows at him.

“I tried it out in the bathroom mirror one day,” Arthur admits. “I looked like an idiot.”

“I bet you looked hot.”

“You always think I look hot. You’re not a helpful opinion to seek on that question. Thank you for my breakfast, it’s delicious.” And it is. Eames can cook, when he focuses. Although Arthur can only imagine what their kitchen looks like. “Also, I have a surprise for you, too.”

“Mmm, I do hope that’s a euphemism.”

Arthur leans carefully over the edge of the bed and pulls out from underneath it, where he’d tucked it the night before, a jar of Marmite.

Eames’s jaw drops satisfyingly when he sees it. “Darling.”

“Have at it, Viscount,” Arthur says, tossing the jar to him and indicating a slice of his toast.

“I have the best husband. I will hear no statements otherwise,” announces Eames.

“You don’t have any husband yet.”

“In England it’s already afternoon, so in England we’re already married.”

“That’s not how time zones work,” says Arthur.

Eames gives him a look. “Pretty sure it is, darling. In England, is it or is it not afternoon?”

“Right,” says Arthur. “But that doesn’t change the fact that…” Arthur sighs. It’s not even worth it. “Never mind.”

Eames grins at him, happily slathering Marmite on his toast.

Chapter Text

They gave both Timothy and Luisa the rest of the week off, half because of the wedding and half because they might as well all be especially well-rested for filming to start. It means, though, that Arthur feels vaguely at loose ends, once he’s cleaned the kitchen and dressed for his fucking wedding. They have an awkward amount of time to kill.

Arthur looks at Eames, who is also done dressing, and has done his hair in the messy, barely combed style that for some reason works incredibly well on Eames and is Arthur’s favorite. They’ve both, without consulting, done their hair in the way the other is fondest of, but it makes sense, because it’s their wedding day, and it’s for them, so it doesn’t matter. And Eames is wearing that terrible shirt and Arthur looks at it and remembers meeting him for the first time with a pang that’s so nostalgic that it’s physical. Eames, saying hello, darling, for the first time, and Arthur’s entire life changed its course, and he can’t even count how many darlings have piled up in the wake of that moment, so many that he responds to it as his name, so many that he can’t recall what it was like before the entry of the word into his life.

Eames says to Arthur, “So. I could put you up on that bathroom counter there and fuck you up a little bit…”

“Before our wedding?” says Arthur, a little tempted and a little askance.

“That’s what I thought,” says Eames. “So I have another suggestion, because you look too good for us to stay indoors, and it’s a gorgeous day, and it’s our wedding day. So let’s go out and enjoy it.”

There’s a chance they’ll be recognized if they go out, Arthur knows. But, at the same time: Fuck it, he no longer cares. Let all the paparazzi in the universe show up. Now that the day is planned and they’re ready to go, Arthur could not give less of a fuck, because it turns out, in the end, he was never going to care as long as they end up married at the end.

“Where are you thinking?” he asks.

“Hmm. We’ll start with coffee,” Eames decides. “Go on from there.”

They go to their favorite coffee shop, where they are semi-regulars. The baristas make no comments about their appearance but probably they don’t look any different than they do on most non-filming days. They hear about the latest barista gossip and are handed across their lattes and Eames says, “It’s more gorgeous outside than I even thought. Let’s go to a park.”

“A park?” says Arthur, because they’re not the type to ordinarily go to a park, and he’s not exactly dressed for nature.

“I could take notes for the indoor forest,” says Eames. “We’ll stop at home and get a blanket to put down. Not your fleece-and-feather-boa blanket. A disposable blanket.”

Because Eames is Eames, his disposable blanket ends up being a bolt of sky blue silk that he got for a sample and then decided against. Arthur doesn’t even want to ask what the silk cost but he’s okay with it because it’s deliciously soft as he sprawls back on it, basking in the sun. Eames was right: it’s a gorgeous day, warm without being overpowering, the way spring can be in Worcester. The lilacs are out and Eames spreads the blanket by a weeping willow and a picturesque bridge that arcs over the babbling stream beside them. Eames sits next to Arthur, sketching tree details into the sketchpad he’s brought, and Arthur enjoys the feeling of his presence, his soft steady breathing, the fact that Arthur can reach out and touch him whenever he wants to.

Arthur had half-thought that Eames had something planned with his park suggestion, but he turns out to be wrong about that, because if there had been a plan, apparently this is all it is. Which—don’t get him wrong—is still a fucking phenomenal plan.

Arthur says, “We should have made plans to go away this weekend. A mini-honeymoon.” Because suddenly he wants to just do this for the rest of the weekend. Sprawl around with Eames nearby and just think about being married.

Eames doesn’t look up from his sketchbook. His tongue is between his teeth in concentration. Eames doesn’t sketch very often, at least nothing more detailed than a sofa design. He says, “We can still go away if you like. We have an entire holiday home sitting on a Caribbean island waiting for us.”

“It might be nice,” Arthur muses. “Symmetry there. Where you proposed to me, and where we honeymooned.”

Eames does look at him then, squinting in the sunshine. “Then we’ll go. We don’t have any other plans this weekend. Until Sunday night when we’re meeting everyone and we’d be back by then anyway to make sure we’re here in time for filming.”

Arthur smiles at him and closes his eyes again. “Good. Let’s go.”

He dozes off, in the warm contented quiet all around him, and wakes when Eames stirs to pack them up. He rolls to look at Eames, and Eames looks back at him and smiles and says, “Come along. Let’s make husbands out of us.”

Chapter Text

When Eames had first proposed, when Arthur had gotten over the first euphoric blush of it, when Arthur had started to think about their wedding, it had been dizzying to him. He had thought Eames would want it to happen in England, where Eames’s parents had a fairy tale garden just made for a wedding ceremony. Eames had a whole village to attend, and Arthur only had his mom, so it made sense to go to England. But other than that, the details had escaped Arthur, terrified him. He’d had no idea what else should happen at their wedding.

Arthur stands next to Eames in the Worcester City Hall, with witnesses they’ve never met before, a little wind-tossed and a little sunburnt, and thinks that everything that should happen at their wedding is this, right here.

Arthur doesn’t even remember the words of the ceremony later. What he remembers is the way Eames doesn’t take his eyes off of him.

“By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” says the justice of the peace marrying them, “I pronounce you married.”

Eames takes a step closer to Arthur, actually tucks his hands into the pockets on Arthur’s blazer as he does so to tug him in, and whispers, “Hi,” like they haven’t been standing next to each other all this time.

And yet it makes sense, because Arthur feels, all over again, like it’s meeting him for the first time, from a completely different vantage point.

“Hi,” Arthur whispers back, and Eames kisses his right dimple and then, ever so gently, his mouth.

There’s a tiny smattering of applause from their witnesses and someone offers to take their picture and the resulting photograph of the two of them, their outfits clashing horribly, their hair equal amounts of messy, is literally Arthur’s favorite photograph of them ever, because he has never seen quite that look in either of their eyes.

Arthur is admiring the photograph and Eames is paying when the justice of the peace says hesitantly, “I didn’t want to disturb the wedding, but I just wanted to say: I’m a huge fan, and I’m delighted to have gotten to marry you.”

She does look delighted, too.

And Arthur hadn’t really wanted to be recognized but he also doesn’t give a fuck about anything anymore but the photograph on his phone and the marriage license Eames is being handed, that he brings over so Arthur can tuck it in his pocket.

“Hello,” he says, finding Arthur with the justice of the peace.

“She’s a fan,” Arthur tells him.

“Oh.” Eames smiles at her. “How lovely. Thank you.”

“I’m very happy for the two of you,” she says.

“Yes.” Eames tucks his hand under Arthur’s blazer, a finger into the belt loop at his back. “I considered listing it, but in the end I decided to love it.”

The justice of the peace laughs in delight.

“After the proper amount of fixing up?” queries Arthur, playing along.

“Darling, don’t be hard on yourself, it was just a bit of cosmetic work.”

“True, yours was entirely structural,” Arthur says. “And took forever.”

“You should never judge a remodeling job by its timeline,” Eames intones wisely.

The justice of the peace says, “I know that you must be trying to keep this event private for the two of you, and I won’t say anything to anyone about it, I’ll keep it a secret for you, but I just had to tell you: You’re basically my favorites and this has been the highlight of my career.”

Eames leans forward and says conspiratorially, “It was a pretty good day for us, too.”

Chapter Text

Arthur texts the photograph from their wedding to both sets of parents, adds, Married! We’re going silent for the weekend! Love you all!, and then adds in a text to his mother, You can tell Saito now. Thank you for keeping it quiet for us. I’ll talk to you soon, and then shuts his phone off. Then he sits in his office and buys them plane tickets to St. Thomas. Then Eames calls, “Alright, I’m ready!”

Arthur is saying, “We leave for our honeymoon first thing—” and cuts himself off when he realizes that Eames has filled their entire house with candles. They’re even flickering in the dry riverbeds of their hallways. Arthur had assumed, when he said fill the house with candles, that he’d just meant a single room. But the candles are everywhere. And there’s music playing, something low and crooning. Because of course there is.

Eames is in a clearing among the candles that he’s left for them in the living room. He’s draped the coffee table with paisley and there’s champagne and caviar, because Arthur has a fucking incredible weakness for caviar since the first time he had it, which had been at a Love It or List It party when he’d still been so starry-eyed over Eames that he was sure he’d made a fool of himself, drinking too much and waxing rhapsodic constantly about caviar. Eames had watched him with eyes that at the time Arthur had found inscrutable and that Arthur now knows were utterly besotted and Arthur just hadn’t known how to read them.

At any rate, they don’t eat caviar very often but it is a treat Eames procures for Arthur every once in a while, and Arthur should have anticipated it tonight but he somehow didn’t.

Arthur tries to think of something to say. “You…took me at face value when I said you could fill the house with candles.”

Eames laughs and pops the cork on the champagne and says, “Come here, I’ve been wanting to get you out of that outfit all day.”

“Same,” Arthur says, walking carefully over to accept his champagne. “But mostly because of how hideous it is.”

Eames smiles. “Did you want it off me when you first met me, too?”

“Yes. You really ought to just always walk around naked.”

Eames laughs and clinks his glass against Arthur’s and says, “To us.”

Arthur can’t say anything in reply because he’s suddenly scared he’ll start crying which is fucking ridiculous so he steps close enough that he can tuck his face against Eames’s shoulder. Eames lifts an arm up to tuck around Arthur’s waist, and then he starts moving them to the beat of the song. It’s nice. It’s better than nice. It’s perfection.

“You know,” Eames murmurs into Arthur’s ear, “I was always going to stay with you for the rest of our lives. So I don’t know what changed other than being able to call you my husband but I don’t know, it feels…” Eames takes a deep breath and lets it out on a long, slow exhale. “Momentous.”

“Yeah,” says Arthur, because he agrees. He kisses the side of Eames’s neck and takes his own deep breath and says something he’s been thinking for a while. “I…know how much you love me. You’re…so good at telling me and so good at showing me and really, since the day that you kissed me under that tree in the backyard of that house that was flooding, I have never once doubted how much you love me. And it’s been…” Arthur has no idea how to describe what it feels like to be loved the way Eames loves him. No one has ever invented a word that captures it.

So Arthur takes another deep breath and lifts his head up so he can see Eames’s face. He says, “But your head is this unknowable space to me, you know? The only thing I can ever know of it is what you tell me, and you’re so good at telling me, and I always worry that—that maybe I don’t do as well with communicating my head to you. So this is me communicating what’s in my head. I love you the same way back. I loved you the same way back for so much longer than I ever wanted to admit, and I will always love you the same way back, and I just…wanted to make sure you know. I mean, I know you just married me, so I know you must think you know that I love you, but I love you. The way you love me, in this…ridiculous way that I didn’t think people loved. This ridiculous, over-the-top, very Eamesian, very you way, that’s…that’s how I love you back, even if I’m not good at showing the…Eamesian extent of it.”

Eames cups his non-champagne-holding hand around Arthur’s face and smiles at him softly and says, “Actually, the most Arthurian thing about you is that you don’t realize how very Eamesian your head can be.” Eames leans forward so he can whisper in Arthur’s ear. “But I know your secret. I know exactly how Eamesian you can be about loving me. Never worry I don’t know. I do. It’s part of how well I know you, it part of how well I love you.”

Arthur says in reply, the truth of it startling in that moment, “And I know exactly how Arthurian you can be about loving me.” Because in the heart of Eames’s Eames-ness is that kernel of stubborn, determined seriousness that would never be denied, an Arthurian part of him, and that’s where he loves Arthur, dipped in several layers of Eames-ness on its way out.

Eames chuckles and kisses the side of Arthur’s head and says, “I have something for you. Something more than all of this and something non-euphemistic.” He steps away from Arthur, walking over to the coffee table where the remote control is.

“Well, then,” says Arthur. “Okay.” He sits on the couch, moving Eames’s sketchbook to do so, and it flips open on a sketch of him, dozing in the sun on the blanket under the weeping willow.

Arthur lifts it up to show Eames when Eames settles on the couch next to him.

“I thought you were sketching indoor forest ideas.”

Eames laughs. “My primary indoor forest idea involves you lounging around in it looking delicious.” Eames waggles his eyebrows in one of his trademark leers and the television suddenly starts blasting at them, volume very loud.

Eames scrambles to turn the volume down, but Arthur’s attention is already caught away from the sketchbook. How could it not be? Because what Eames has put on the television is the very first episode ever of Love It or List It. Arthur on-screen looks very young and very serious in a somewhat terrible suit.

“Eames, your hair,” Arthur can’t help but say when Eames shows up on-screen, because it’s so greasy-looking that it’s gross. “How did I ever fall in love with you?” Arthur marvels.

It’s been a while since Arthur’s seen the first episode of their show. He will, sometimes, watch a repeat if he comes across one, but it’s not like he and Eames sit around marathoning old seasons. They’re not quite that egotistical. Arthur is surprised by how hilarious he finds the show now, how charming, how much he and Eames spark against each other, even here in the first episode. Eames already looks at him in that way that Arthur somehow didn’t notice for so long and now cherishes, like he is the best, most amazing thing Eames has ever encountered and Eames is willing to fall all over himself trying to get Arthur’s attention. Arthur already looks at Eames in that way that used to embarrass Arthur whenever he saw it, starry-eyed and awe-struck and desperately trying to cover it with horribly fake, not-fooling-anybody exasperation. And they are incredibly funny together, as they try to find the rhythm of their interaction, not quite at rapid-fire banter pace yet, so that there are odd false starts and Eames’s double entendres don’t always land as skillfully as they do these days and Arthur’s beats of reaction time sometimes look like he really is thinking, What the fuck, as he scrambles for a response.

“Your double entendres are better these days,” Arthur tells Eames. “And I’m only telling you that because it’s our wedding night and I’m being extra-nice to you.”

Eames laughs and says, “Darling, I know this is a compliment I give you all the time but your arse in those trousers, honestly, how did you slip that past the censors?”

“I want to know how many shots there are in this episode of you blatantly staring at my ass,” remarks Arthur, because there’s another one, Eames’s eyes completely focused on Arthur’s rear as he follows him through the house.

Eames snorts. “I love that you think it’s blatant now. At the time this was all going on I could have shown up at your house naked with a condom already on and lube in my hand and you wouldn’t have noticed.”

“That is not true,” Arthur denies. “That is completely not true. I would have noticed that. I just…You were the hottest thing I’d ever seen in my life, and Christ, was I in love with you. I was so fucking gone over you. I didn’t think you…I didn’t think you.” Arthur doesn’t know how to finish the sentence.

Eames kisses behind his ear and says, “That went both ways. That’s why I never showed up naked on your doorstep. I was scared you’d laugh at me. And then I was scared you’d steal my heart and never give it back.”

Arthur is silent for a long moment. Then he turns to Eames and says, “How did that turn out for you?”

“Turns out you don’t miss your heart when you get another one in exchange,” says Eames, and kisses Arthur’s right dimple.

“Oh, wow, very good line, viscount,” Arthur says, because he is impressed.

“Ah, thank you for your condescension, darling,” Eames says into his skin, making Arthur laugh.

The design Eames unveils at the end of the episode is incredibly gorgeous. It’s such a distillation of Eames: playful and brilliant with little moments of gravity thrown into it. It takes Arthur’s breath away all over again, and he remembers seeing it for the first time and realizing there, in that very moment, This man is going to be quicksand for you.

Arthur is cuddled against Eames, munching on a cracker spread with caviar. He says, “Eames, this design…”

“I was trying desperately to impress you,” Eames says, his lips in Arthur’s hair.

Arthur says, “You succeeded.”

“Beyond my wildest dreams,” says Eames.

The couple chooses to love it—how could anyone walk away from that design? Arthur certainly couldn’t—and Arthur turns in Eames’s arms. “Want me to show you how much you impressed me?” he asks, and starts unbuttoning Eames’s horrible shirt.

“Yes,” Eames says. “Yes, I encourage that.”

Arthur grins at him and stretches out over him and kisses him. Arthur loves kissing Eames. Arthur wants to kiss him for the rest of his life. Luckily he can.

So Arthur sprawls on top of Eames, kissing him, for a long time. It’s unhurried, leisurely. Eames’s hands rest low on Arthur’s back, just above the swell of his ass, gently possessive but not demanding, nothing more than there, a warm and familiar weight against him. And Arthur’s hard, and he can feel that Eames is hard, but it’s not urgent, they have all the time in the world, they have the rest of their lives.

Arthur pulls back eventually, who knows how much later. The room is silent except for their breathing, and some of the candles have sunk low enough to be guttering.

Arthur whispers, “Before we have sex, we have to blow all of your candles out.”

Eames turns his head to look at the sea of candles and says, “Fuck, I wish I’d got fewer candles,” and Arthur laughs and laughs during the absurd amount of time it takes to blow them out, and then lets Eames take him apart and put him back together in their bedroom. And Arthur thinks, Perfect. Perfect.

Chapter Text

When Eames gave him a fucking house as what was effectively an engagement present, Arthur thought he was out of his mind. Who gives a house as a gift? Setting aside the fact that, actually, it’s a very Eames thing to do.

But Arthur loves the Virgin Islands house. Not just because Eames designed it especially for him. He likes who they are there. They’re not allowed to work there—it’s an explicit rule they have for the house—and since their house is Worcester is also basically their office, it’s an odd luxury to have a house where no work happens. Where they show up and watch the terrible movies Eames likes to watch and Arthur reads novels while Eames flips through design magazines on the terrace making little approving or disapproving noises depending on what he’s looking at, and sometimes Arthur only pretends to read and really watches Eames across the way, dashing in his sunglasses and stubble, because Eames tends to be bad about shaving regularly anyway and he’s even worse when they’re on vacation.

Sometimes Arthur feels like he’s cheating on the Worcester house with how much he loves the Virgin Islands house, even though whenever he gets back to Worcester he’s reminded of how much he loves that house, too. So he just loves both of them.

Eames tells him it’s a polyamorous house relationship that Arthur has.

Regardless, the mini-honeymoon is a good idea. They sprawl around in the sun and hardly talk about work. Well, Arthur tells Eames to put sunscreen on or Julia will kill him in make-up Monday morning and Eames just chuckles at the prospect and that’s a little bit of work talk but mostly Arthur lets Eames direct the conversations into spinning swirls of those “serious questions” he loves so much, and they laugh until they can’t breathe over their answers to “would you rather be plankton or a sea anemone?” and how the fuck Eames even came up with a question like that in the first place.

On Sunday morning, when they have to leave, Eames wakes Arthur up ridiculously early to give him one last slow, leisurely, Virgin-Islands fuck, just them, moving together in pre-dawn darkness, with their balcony doors open to the waking island outside, their hands on each other and then clenched tight, like they don’t want to let go, and now they never have to.

Arthur is still half-asleep as they sit at the gate together, waiting for the flight. His hair is unkempt and he’s looking forward to curling up on Eames’s shoulder on the flight. The pre-dawn fuck was lovely, but it came at the expense of sleep.

Eames comes back from buying useless things at the airport store, because that’s what Eames does. He’s never seen a store he didn’t want to go buy something in. He says to Arthur, “Look what I bought you,” and drops a bag on Arthur’s lap.

It’s an apron with a lascivious winking woman on it.

“What the fuck,” Arthur says, even though it’s exactly the kind of gift Eames sometimes gets him.

Eames looks proud of his gift-giving abilities. “Like it?”

“What am I going to do with this?”

“Wear it, darling. Obviously. But just for me.”

“Damn right just for you. This is never seeing the light of anyone’s day but yours.”

Eames beams at him and kisses his right earlobe and says, “You spoil me.”

Arthur says, as he bundles his apron back up in its bag, “Who the fuck is even the target market for that product? Wait. It’s you, obviously. You’re the target market.”

Eames chuckles and people-watches happily for a second.

Arthur yawns.

Eames says, with that abrupt seriousness that he has, “So. Any regrets?” He looks at Arthur, rakish and impossibly attractive, and worried that Arthur might have regrets.

“Yes,” Arthur says. “I have a lot of regrets. I have a hideous apron that I very much regret.”

Eames smiles a little.

Arthur says, “No. I don’t have a single regret.”

Eames smiles more.

Chapter Text

They call their parents after they land and before they have to meet everyone for drinks. They start with Eames’s parents, because it’s much later where they are and also because Arthur feels like the conversation with his mother might be complicated by the fact that he asked her to keep their plans from Saito.

Albert and Maggie want to hear every detail of the wedding day, and Eames tells it as if it was the most romantic day of their lives. In his narration, the coffee shop beginning, the interlude at the park, the fannish Justice of the Peace—it all adds up to the best wedding day anyone could have planned, and Arthur realizes abruptly that, well, he agrees with that. He spent a lot of his engagement trying to figure out exactly what he wanted his wedding to be, and it never looked anything like that, and now that it’s done he realizes it was exactly what he wanted.

“Aww, it sounds lovely.” Maggie smiles at them and she looks teary-eyed. “You both looked so happy in that picture you sent. So happy.”

“We are,” Eames says, and kisses the top of Arthur’s head.

“Tell us about life in England,” Arthur says. “How’s it going?”

“Our cat is having a stand-off with the cat next door,” says Maggie.

“I’m sure it’s just UST and they’ll get their act together,” says Albert.

Arthur blinks. He knows what “UST” means but he thinks Albert must not mean that UST. He says, “UST?”

“Unresolved sexual tension. Arthur, don’t you read the fic?” asks Albert.

Arthur doesn’t even know why he questioned that Albert would be up on the fic. “No,” Arthur says drily. “That’s apparently an Eames family obsession.”

Albert and Eames both laugh delightedly.

Eames says, “Well, we should go resolve some UST of our own. We are on our honeymoon, after all.”

“I’m going to stop him talking now,” Arthur says.

Exactly,” says Albert, with one of those eyebrow waggles he passed on to his son, and Arthur wants to be horrified but can’t muster up the emotion. His dominant emotion, maybe for the rest of his life, might be joy. He’s okay with that.

“Good luck with the filming!” Maggie calls.

“Yes! Tweet about it!” calls Albert.

“Bye!” Eames waggles his fingers at them. “Love you! Talk to you later!”

Chapter Text

They pause before calling his mother.

“You always get so stressed out over what Saito might think of you,” Eames remarks, watching Arthur closely. “Saito works for us, you know. He has to think good things about us.”

“Saito’s dating my mom,” Arthur points out.

“Yes,” says Eames, “and also he’s probably the closest thing you have to a father figure and was before he started dating your mother, so I can see why it’s fraught for you.” He says this so casually, like it’s nothing.

Arthur says, “How much do I owe you for that psychoanalysis?”

Eames grins. “Nothing. Well. I accept payment in blowjobs.”

“Oh, do you?”

“Good blowjobs, at least. Lucky for you you’re very good at blowjobs.”

“You have never met a blowjob you didn’t love,” Arthur says. “You have no such thing as a bad blowjob.”

“I beg your pardon,” says Eames, “but when I was a young lad in London in the middle of the swinging sex scene—”

“You were never in the middle of any swinging sex scene in London—”

“—I had a particularly horrible blowjob that was interrupted by the sprinklers going off.”

“The sprinklers going off,” Arthur echoes.

“We were outside,” explains Eames. “On an estate.”

“Were you trespassing?”

“No, the bloke owned the estate. Well, his father did. Well, he said his father did. The point is: You’re the best at blowjobs.”

“Because I refuse to give them outside surrounded by lawn sprinklers.”

“No, no, I bet you’d even have saved that blowjob,” says Eames. “Okay, now that you no longer look sick with worry, let’s call your mother,” and leans over and presses the call button on the Skype.

Arthur knows that by now he shouldn’t keep falling for Eames’s distractions and yet he does it ever time. He says, “Was anything about that story you just told me true?”

Eames looks at him. “Do you think I make up stories just to make you feel better?”

“Yes,” Arthur says. “Yes, I think you do exactly that.”

Eames laughs, “Fair enough,” and then Arthur’s mom answers the Skype call and she’s by herself, no Saito in sight, which is almost worse, since Arthur had braced himself for Saito.

“Oh, congratulations!” his mother says, leveling a completely untroubled, completely happy look on Arthur. “I’m so happy for the two of you. Are you happy? Was it everything you wanted it to be?”

“It was more,” Arthur admits. “It was more than I thought it could be.”

“Good.” His mother smiles. “Good. I’m so glad. You look wonderful. Both of you.”

“Do we look different?” asks Eames jocularly. “Has marriage changed us irrevocably?”

“No. You look exactly like yourselves, which is the best way to look,” says his mother.

Eames smiles. So does Arthur.

His mother says carefully, “Saito sends his congratulations as well.”

“Was he very upset?” asks Arthur, a little anxiously.

“He’s happy for the two of you. He’s on your side. I know it’s a complicated relationship that you have with him—I know I’ve complicated it—”

“No, you haven’t,” Arthur says immediately and automatically, even though it’s true.

His mother knows it’s true. She gives him a look. She continues, “But he’s on your side and happy for you and he’d do whatever you wish, including keep your secret for you. He wouldn’t try to talk you out of what makes you happy.”

Great. Now Arthur feels terrible for not trusting him.

“Is he there?” Eames asks. “Can we talk to him?”

Arthur supposes Eames has a point and they should just rip this off all at once like a Band-Aid.

“Yes,” his mother says, and calls for Saito, and then Saito appears, and his mother says tactfully, “I’ll just go make us some tea,” and disappears.

Saito says smoothly, unruffled, “I understand best wishes are in order.”

“Look,” says Arthur, “we didn’t mean to keep it from you—”

“That is, of course, exactly what you meant to do, and you needn’t apologize for it. You’re still permitted a personal life, the two of you. I just am looking out for the fact that it’s trickier for you these days, and I’m here to try to help you with that, I’m here to try to protect that. Professionally speaking, it’s only a good thing for me if you’re happy and want to keep making good television together. Yes?”

Arthur feels a little scolded. He nods.

“And also: personally speaking, of course I wish nothing but happiness for the two of you. I understand why your instinct was to keep your plan as entirely secret as you could manage, but I also wanted to let you know that I would have kept it secret for you. I would never have broken your confidence. I’m not upset in the least, and you can continue to keep everything you wish from me. You’re navigating challenging waters and you must do as you see best. But I just wanted to let you know that I’m on your side and most useful to you when I know things. As well as being, generally, interested in the two of you.”

Arthur nods again. Saito is speaking gently, not angrily, and Arthur feels less guilty than he did, and more like Saito understands and appreciates where they were coming from.

Saito says, “So congratulations. I wish you every happiness in your future together.”

“Including much hit television,” says Eames, clearly intending to lighten the mood.

Saito’s eyes crinkle with a smile. “Speaking of television, shall we talk business? Is everything in order for tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “As far as we can tell.”

“Kalinda was a dream,” Eames says. “She has a schedule. I had to marry Arthur just to keep him from running away with her.”

“Everyone’s clear on filming boundaries?” Saito says. “I don’t need to call the network?”

Arthur shakes his head. “We’re good.”

“You’ll tell me tomorrow if there’s an issue?” Saito lifts an eyebrow at him.

Arthur nods.

His mother comes back into the screen, with such unerring timing that she must have been eavesdropping. She sits next to Saito and smiles and says, “Good luck tomorrow.”

“Luck is not necessary,” says Saito. “You’ll be fine. You’re both very good at what you do and this is exactly the show you wanted it to be.”

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees, because this is a nice Saito pep talk. “But the luck is still nice to have.”

“How is Luisa working out?”

“So far so good,” says Arthur.

“We love her,” says Eames. “Kalinda also loves her. We’re matchmaking.”

Saito says, “What an excellent use of your time,” in that way he has that Arthur doesn’t know if he’s joking or not. “Call me tomorrow even if there are no issues. I’d like to hear how it goes.”

They promise to call and they end the call and Arthur looks over at Eames.

“How do you feel?” Eames asks. “Guilt somewhat resolved? Willing to believe that Saito doesn’t hate us?”

“Willing to believe that, yes,” says Arthur.

“Good. Now let’s get ready to go for drinks and let our friends fuss over our wedding.”

Chapter Text

He and Eames don’t often go out for drinks. They like to go out for dinner, but if they’re going to just drink with each other, they open a bottle of wine and get drunk in private, which is good, because Arthur gets handsier the drunker he gets. (Eames starts off handsy; he’s already a lost cause in public.)

But, if they do meet friends for drinks, they do it in a dimly lit, atmospheric place down the street from them, part of the revitalization of the area. Arthur worries about the gentrification of downtown, because he’s not sure “gentrifying” is all good, and he knows their choice of location to live kind of helped move it along, but Eames says very little in life is “all good,” and they just need to pay attention to worrying about pricing everyone else out, and as long as it’s abandoned businesses being turned into spas and ridiculous fake speakeasy bars, Arthur admits he’s quite happy.

If they go out drinking, Eames likes to order incredibly complicated drinks, and luckily the bar down the street is the perfect place for this, because it specializes in odd cocktails that are constantly changing. Eames studies the menu very closely, like it’s an academic paper or something, and Arthur just says, “I don’t know, I guess a Scotch on the rocks.”

Eames says, “Darling. A Scotch on the rocks? They have a cocktail here called the Best Sex of Your Life, and you’re going to get a Scotch on the rocks?”

“I don’t think that cocktail is going to be the best sex of my life,” Arthur tells him, “and if it is, then you’re kind of in trouble, aren’t you?”

Eames makes a skeptical noise. “You’re not going to leave me for a bar.”

“Oh, won’t I?”

“No. Not enough fuzzy blankets in here. I’m going to have a Tongue Down My Throat,” Eames tells the patient waiter.

“That’s not what it’s called,” Arthur says, because it can’t be.

“Yes, it is,” says Eames. “Didn’t you even look at the menu?” He shows Arthur.

Arthur lifts his eyebrows and sighs and says to the waiter, “I will have the Best Sex of Your Life. Or my life. Or whatever you want to call it.”

“Done,” says the waiter. “You’re expecting more people?” He gestures to private room they’ve rented.

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “Just send them back here as they show up.”

Ariadne arrives first, and Arthur is relieved, because he’d been most worried about Ariadne this night before filming.

“Hello,” she says brightly, unwinding her impossibly long scarf as she sits down.

“GPS,” Eames greets her with a kiss on the cheek. “How are you this filming eve?”

“Trying not to freak out,” she replies, smile still plastered on. “How am I doing?”

“Terrifying,” says Eames.

Arthur says, to be supportive, “Fine. You’re doing fine.”

“Listen up,” Eames says, leaning forward. And he catches Ariadne’s eye and then he does that serious thing that he does so well and Arthur wants to cry with how good Eames is at being good to other people. “You’re a really good designer. That’s why I wanted to work with you. I only work with people I admire. I have that luxury. But you’re also not me. And that’s also why I wanted to work with you. I work with me all the time, I needed other perspectives and other opinions. So don’t freak yourself out trying to anticipate what I think a client’s going to want. I want to hear what you think the client’s going to want. And it’s never going to be stupid or horrible or wrong, because there is no wrong answer to that, there’s no wrong design, because design is too collaborative a process to ever go completely wrong. The hardest designs you ever had to do were winning Next Big Thing, and that’s over and done with now. Now you’re famous in your own right and the camera loves you and if you don’t think Arthur’s going to fall all over himself making sure that you come off as an absolute genius on camera than you don’t know Arthur at all. And I know better than that. I know you know that Arthur always makes sure that the people he loves are the stars of the show. Arthur knows how to make a designer look like the best designer in the whole world. He did it for me and he’ll do it for you and so if you don’t trust yourself and if you’re slightly terrified of me you can trust Arthur. Right?”

Arthur blinks at Eames in astonishment, because he…doesn’t think any of that’s true. Eames is a star in his own right, Eames has always been a scene-stealer, they just re-watched the first episode of Love It or List It and Eames’s genius had been right there, on display, for everybody to see.

But Ariadne just nods and says, “Yeah. Yeah. You’re right, of course. I know you’re right.”

“So, if I or anything else about this stresses you out or terrifies you tomorrow, your goal is to find Arthur, as soon as you can. He’s always watching, and all he needs is a look to know that you need someone to run filming point for you. No one knows this better than me.”

Ariadne nods.

Eames leans back as the drinks arrive. “As for Gon, take it from me, kiddo, there is no better place to let yourself fall in love than on camera in front of a national television audience.”

Chapter Text

Julia and Paul arrive in the cloud of effervescence that Julia brings everywhere with her, Paul genial in her wake.

“What’s that you’re drinking?” Julia asks Eames.

“A Tongue Down My Throat,” Eames replies. “And Arthur’s having the Best Sex of His Life.”

“That pronoun changes every time you say the drink’s name,” Arthur points out.

“Arthur,” Julia says, kissing his cheek because Julia does stuff like that. “Should you be having the best sex of your life right here in public like this?”

“If this is the best sex of my life,” says Arthur, “it’s extraordinarily sedate.”

Julia grins at him as she sits down, then says, “You two look like you’ve had a lot of sun recently.”

“We were away this weekend,” Eames says.

“Ah, pre-filming getaway,” says Paul.

“And we wanted to give Julia a challenge for the makeup tomorrow,” Eames adds.

“I tried to stay out of the sun for you,” Arthur says loyally.

“Liar,” Julia says fondly. “I can see all the fucking freckles on your nose, silly.”

Eames laughs and says, “Arthur is very bad about not sprawling in the sun if he gets the chance to sprawl in the sun. He’s like a cat.”

“The fic is spot-on then,” remarks Julia.

“The fic is not ‘spot-on,’ I’m not like a cat, I’m like a human, I don’t have a tail or anything.”

“Only Eames would really know that,” Julia muses.

“And I’m not telling,” says Eames.

Which is when Gon arrives, looking a little flustered. “I got lost,” he says.

“Lost?” says Paul. “We’re down the street from their house.”

“It’s a speakeasy!” Gon defends himself. “It was hidden!” He takes the seat next to Ariadne, which had been conveniently left open for him.

“Are you excited about filming tomorrow?” Julia asks.

“I am terrified about filming tomorrow,” Gon replies, with the same brightness Ariadne had used.

“There’s nothing to it,” Paul assures him. “Those two do all the work, seriously, they do.” He points to Arthur and Eames across the table. “You just have to keep up with them.”

“I figure if I made it through all of the drama of Arthur and Eames and an ex-boyfriend, I can make it through this new show,” says Gon.

“Oh, you don’t know,” says Eames lightly. “Maybe an entire parade of Arthur’s exes will suddenly show up.”

Arthur gives him a look. “An entire parade? Really?”

“Oh, please, darling, we all know that you left a string of broken hearts in your wake. You just possibly didn’t notice. I mean, who could resist those dimples?”

“I love that you think anyone even saw those dimples before you came along,” Arthur says without thinking, because it’s true and Eames has seen Arthur’s frowny serious baby pictures to prove it. And then realizes how much it reveals about him, to admit how little he smiled before Eames, and looks up from his drink anxiously.

But Ariadne is just saying, “I don’t think Kalinda’s into that kind of ‘gotcha’ filming that Mal was so fond of,” and then Julia’s saying, “Was Alec Mal’s fault? Is that who I have to blame for that?” and no one seems to have taken Arthur as seriously as Arthur meant the statement.

Eames’s hand lands high on Arthur’s thigh, because of course he knows what Arthur meant by the statement, and then he leans over and kisses Arthur’s right dimple, dormant at the moment, and then he murmurs, “Shall we?”

Arthur nods. “You do it.”

Eames clears his throat and says, “So. Now that we have all of you here, we have an announcement to make.”

“Oh, my God,” says Julia. “Are you getting married?”

“Julia,” says Eames. “My dear. Absolutely not.”

“Shh,” Paul says to her. “Just let them make the announcement.”

Eames says, “We already got married,” and that provokes a screech from Julia that makes Arthur relieved they rented the private room. Although he’s quite sure everyone out in the bar is now just staring toward the private room.

Julia stands up to rush around the table to give them hugs. Ariadne leans over and shoves Arthur and says, “Really? Really? And you didn’t tell me?” but she’s grinning as she does it.

Julia shrieks, “When? When? We have to have the details!”

“It was last Thursday,” Eames says. “We did it very small.”

“Just us,” Arthur says. “Us and the justice of the peace. We didn’t want to make a big thing.”

“We’re going to have a huge party later and everyone can help plan but we wanted to be married before the show started,” adds Eames.

“We didn’t want our wedding to be a storyline,” finishes Arthur.

“I think it’s so romantic,” says Julia, starry-eyed. “I think it’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard.”

It wasn’t actually completely entirely meant to be romantic and yet… “It kind of was,” Arthur agrees.

Ariadne smiles at him. “Yeah? Did you have a beautiful wedding?”

Arthur looks at Eames and says honestly, “I think we had the most beautiful wedding any two people have ever had in the history of time,” and in a way that kind of effusive statement sounds more like something Eames would say and in another way it feels totally Arthur.

Eames gives him one of his Arthur-only smiles, so soft Arthur could wrap himself up in it, like the fleece-and-feather-boa blanket that is still Arthur’s favorite in their house, and he just says, “Yeah. Agreed.”

Chapter Text

They’re supposed to be heading to their respective homes, and they’re outside and everything, except that Eames has cornered Paul about something, and Paul is looking dubious, and Gon is looking amused, and Julia and Ariadne take the opportunity to turn to Arthur for last hugs.

“I always said the two of you were going to get married,” Julia says, “and I always said your wedding would surprise us. And I was right on both counts.”

“I also knew the two of you would get married,” Ariadne agrees, “and I’m happy that you look so happy about it and that you had a perfect day.”

“So you knew we would get married, huh?” Arthur says, accepting both of their hugs. “We were that obvious?”

“You’re both shockingly traditional at heart,” Julia says. “You’re not the types to not be ceremonial, you both really love ceremonies.”

“Do we?” asks Arthur, wrinkling his nose, because he doesn’t think of them as traditional.

“Plus, you’re both obsessed with over-the-top romantic gestures,” says Ariadne. “Of course you were going to get married. I cannot even imagine what romantic one-ups-man-ship occurred during the proposal.”

“I—No, the proposal was all Eames,” Arthur says. “Eames is obsessed with over-the-top romantic gestures. I’m just…good at accepting them.”

Julia and Ariadne give Arthur a look, then exchange a look themselves, then give Arthur the look again.

“What?” says Arthur, indignant.

“You designed a surprise sex club for him, Arthur,” Ariadne reminds him.

“I…That was just…I mean…” Arthur flails a little.

Julia says, “You gave him river hallways for his birthday. River hallways! Nobody even knows what the fuck those are, including Eames!”

“He loves the river hallways,” Arthur protests.

“Yes, because your husband is the sort of person who likes to get abstract ideas as a gift, and you know that about him,” Julia explains wisely. “Honestly, sometimes I think the reason the two of you are together is because your romantic gesture addiction would exhaust anyone else but seems like the absolute perfect way to express affection to the two of you.”

“I think Eames fell for you because he likes that you keep him on his over-the-top romantic gesture game,” Ariadne adds.

Arthur says, “I think you two are both ridiculous. Want to talk about over the top? It’s you two, right now. And I think I should save your boyfriend from my husband.”

“Way to change the subject, Arthur,” Julia tells him. “Very smoothly done.”

Arthur ignores her and walks over to Eames and Paul and Gon and says, “Hey, leave everyone here alone, you can boss them all around tomorrow on camera.”

“Hey yourself,” Eames says, hooking an arm around his waist and pulling him in and then peering at the tip of Arthur’s right ear. “You’re blushing. Whatever have you three been discussing over there? Something fabulously naughty and we weren’t invited?”

“No, we were too busy talking about whether it’s possible to have the river hallways go through seasons,” Paul points out.

“Seasons?” Arthur echoes.

“Yes, darling, you know, like spring and summer and—”

“I know what seasons are, but how would the river hallways go through them?”

“Well, sometimes they’d be ice. Ice hallways!” Eames’s face is lit up with the joy of ridiculous creation.

Arthur says, “But what happens to the fish when the river hallways freeze?”

Paul says, “Wait, your river hallways have fish now?”

“Oh, they were always going to have fish,” Eames says. “Didn’t I tell you?”

Paul stares at Eames.

Arthur says, “I think everyone needs to go home and get a good night’s sleep.”

“Yes,” Eames agrees. “See you bright and early, Julia.”

“Have coffee ready,” Julia commands.

Chapter Text

Arthur curls his hand into Eames’s and puts his head on Eames’s shoulder as they walk home to their house. He’s not drunk but he might be slightly tipsy. Or maybe he’s just drunk on Eames and being married.

“Do you think we’re over the top when it comes to romantic gestures?” Arthur asks thoughtfully.

Eames starts laughing. In fact, Eames laughs so hard he has to stop walking and lean up against the nearest building to catch his breath.

“What?” Arthur says to him.

Yes,” Eames replies. “Yes, I think we’re over the top. Christ. Do you see other people do the things we do?”

“I…don’t know.” This makes Arthur vaguely uncomfortable. He’d never thought about this before. “I don’t really pay attention to other people’s relationships.”

“Did you ever do it any of your other relationships?” Eames resumes walking, pulls Arthur back in against him, this time with an arm around his waist as they walk.

“No,” Arthur says thoughtfully. “But I didn’t do a lot of things in other relationships that I do with you. That doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“We’re a bit over the top,” Eames says. “But we’re over the top people.”

“I’m not,” Arthur denies. “You’re incredibly over the top. You’re the most over the top person I’ve ever met, but I’m completely normal. I’m…under the top.”

“Darling, the Best Sex of Your Life was a potent drink, wasn’t it?”

“You know what I mean,” Arthur says. “Should we stop…the over-the-top gestures?”

Eames turns suddenly to press Arthur against the nearest wall and kiss the life out of him. And then, when Arthur’s head is spinning so much that he’s got a death grip in Eames’s shirt to keep himself upright—when maybe the only thing keeping him upright is Eames pressing him into the wall—Eames draws back and says, “Darling, do you want to stop?”

Arthur, a little dazed, tries to tug Eames back in. “No,” he says.

“Not the kissing. Do you want to stop the over-the-top gifts?”

“Fuck no,” Arthur says immediately. “I love all the over-the-top gifts. Christ, it’s super-embarrassing but I fucking adore them. I only worry, as you know, that I don’t reciprocate them—”

“But you do. And you know it. You said that we’re over the top with romantic gestures. And we are. Both of us. And I love it. I love that sometimes I love you so much I can think of no better way to express it to you than to be…extravagant. And I love that I watch the same impulse in you. I never want to pressure you into over-the-top-ness but the truth is, darling, you simply are a trifle over-the-top. And I love you for it. Anyone who wears the clothing you wear is over the top, you must admit.”

“I…” Arthur is about to say that he just wears nice clothing, not over-the-top clothing, except that for drinks out with friends he wore a pair of dark trousers with subtle lavender pinstripes that have been specifically tailored to his body and a contrasting lavender shirt with subtle dark pinstripes that he had to have personally made to match the trousers in just such a way that it wouldn’t also clash with the trousers. “Okay,” Arthur admits. “Maybe I’m a little over the top, too.”

Eames grins at him and kisses his right cheekbone and then resumes walking, arm slung over Arthur’s shoulders again.

Arthur leans into him and says, “Thank you, by the way, for that speech you made to Ari. To calm her down. You’re her idol, you know. She really looks up to you. Apparently you can be intimidating.”

“Apparently,” Eames agrees mildly. “God knows I never managed to intimidate you.”

“I don’t find horrible double entendres intimidating so much as nauseating.”

“Darling.” Eames sounds amused. “I hate to break it to you, but you find horrible double entendres hot. You’re over the top, and you have a thing for horrible double entendres. It’s why we’re perfect together.”

Arthur ignores him. Arthur says, “What you said, about me making you a star. Making the people I love stars, or whatever. That’s not true.”


“No,” Arthur insists, turning and trying to walk backwards so he can see Eames’s face and impress upon him how earnestly he believes this. He’s not so successful with the walking backwards but he may be impressing Eames, he decides. He says, “Don’t argue with me about this. You’re right, that I watch you when we’re filming. You’re right, that I run filming point for you. That, if you need me to step in, I do it. I can’t argue with that, although you do the same for me so it’s silly to make that sound like something unique I’m doing, when the reason why we work is we’ve always had each other’s on-screen backs, even when we were terrible about covering each other’s off-screen backs. But. You’re wrong that I made you a star. You’re wrong that you think it was me who made you look like the world’s best designer. You did that, all by yourself. All I did was fall in love with you. And that’s what everyone else was doing, too. Because you’re you. Not because of me. You could have had anybody opposite you on Love It or List It, and you would have been a star.”

Eames reaches out to grab him by his terribly expensive shirt before he can stumble entirely over, rights him, and says, “I’m not so sure you’re right about that. I tend to think our chemistry had something to do with it.”

Arthur shakes his head in frustration. “I won’t let you think less of yourself as a designer, I won’t let you think you’re anything less than brilliant. Because you would never let me think that way.”

Eames, after a moment, smiles at him, Arthur-only, soft and fond. He says, “Touche, kitten. Stand down. You make yourself a compelling case.” He pulls Arthur in with the hand steadying him and kisses his left eyebrow.

Arthur says, “We’re both brilliant.”

Eames chuckles against him and says, “Yes. Yes, we are.”

Chapter Text

First day of filming and the truth is…Arthur is not the least bit nervous. Arthur knows exactly how to do this. Arthur is fucking good at this. It’s a non-client day, so although he wears a tie, he doesn’t add a suit jacket to it.

Eames says, “I thought we were supposed to be casual today,” when Arthur emerges from the closet in his outfit.

Arthur looks at Eames, who isn’t wearing any shirt at all. “So you interpreted that to mean you don’t have to wear a shirt?”

Eames grins and does a full turn, preening. “How could you deny all of America this?”

“There are naked pictures of you on the Internet,” Arthur reminds him dryly. “No one in America is denied the sight of your naked chest.”

“Those are tastefully done,” Eames responds. “You make it sound like I did a porno or something.”

Arthur had wandered into the bathroom to do his hair but suddenly pokes his head back out. “You haven’t done a porno, have you?”

Eames is pulling on a shirt, buttoning it up. He gives Arthur a look and says, “Darling, do you not think that I would have boasted long before this if I’d done a porno?”

“Boasted about it?” Arthur says. “Actually, good point, you definitely would have boasted to me about it.” Arthur goes back into the bathroom.

“I would be brilliant in a porno,” Eames calls to him, “and don’t even try to pretend otherwise.”

“I’m sure you could find a porn star AU,” Arthur remarks, slicking his hair back, “if you looked hard enough.”

“Hmm,” Eames muses, coming into the bathroom and standing behind Arthur, looking at him in the mirror. “I’m sure I could, too.”

Arthur meets Eames’s eyes in the mirror. And then he grins, his dimples on deep display. “Happy filming day,” he says.

“Happy filming day,” Eames replies, and holds his phone out and takes a photograph. It’s a close-up of the knot on Arthur’s tie, Eames’s fingers against it as if adjusting it. Eames tweets it out with First day of filming! #cominghome #dreambigger #armes5eva #arthur4everything (p.s. this is casualwear)

The retweets start blowing up Eames’s phone before they even leave the bedroom. He ends up shutting it off.

Chapter Text

The plan for the day has been personal interviewing. Each one of them individually, and then in groups, and then all together. And then he and Eames are supposed to discuss the plan of attack for the first clients they’re meeting with tomorrow.

Kalinda has started with Ariadne and Gon, for whatever reason. Arthur doesn’t really care. He’s sitting on the floor in his office sorting the upcoming clients into piles of completeness. Dev the cameraman has been assigned to him, while Tavi sticks with Kalinda and Ariadne and Gon.

Arthur says, “You know, you should really find Eames, he is way more exciting than I am.”

“He was just standing in front of a window with two pieces of fabric taped to it, staring at it,” Dev says. “He did that for a full forty-five minutes. At least you’re moving.”

“He does that,” Arthur says. “He’s seeing how he feels about the light through the fabric. Interior design: frequently like watching grass grow, apparently.”

“Grass?” asks Eames brightly, squeezing past Dev into the room. “Are we speaking of grass? Should I find a way to grow grass along the river hallways?” Eames flings himself onto the room’s couch and looks with interest at Arthur’s activities.

Arthur looks up at him thoughtfully. “Serious question time,” he says.

“Oooh,” says Eames, perking up a bit. “I hope you’re going to ask me if I’d rather drink an entire bottle of ketchup or an entire bottle of mustard.”

“No,” Arthur says, not even surprised at how random Eames’s mind is. “I am not going to ask you that. I am going to ask you if you actually really love nature, and I never realized this about you.”

“What do you mean?” asks Eames blankly.

“You wanted river hallways. You want an indoor forest. Now you’re talking about grass. Eames, we don’t even have a yard here. I didn’t realize that was something you wanted. I feel a little bad I’ve never indulged your love of the outdoors before.”

Eames’s lips twitch as he looks down at Arthur. “Would you go camping with me, darling?”

“No,” Arthur says evenly, “but I would definitely stay in a hotel close to wherever you’re going camping.”

Eames laughs. “We could just camp in our indoor forest.”

“Much more my type of camping,” Arthur agrees.

Eames smiles but then visibly turns thoughtful, and Arthur knows he’s turning Arthur’s question over in his head. He finally says slowly, as if processing it, “I don’t think it’s a nature obsession, per se. I think it’s the challenge of it. And it’s not a challenge any of my clients are likely to ask me for. It’s not like I’m known for designing with nature. And I don’t particular want to be, I just…like the idea of doing something different.”

Arthur knows this. Eames’s mind is nimble and voracious in its enthusiasm and eagerness for new things. Arthur is much more reserved by nature but he both understands and appreciates Eames’s exuberant restlessness. He says, “Well, design away, then. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t standing in the way of your desire to have a vegetable garden or something.”

“Ooh,” says Eames, grinning at him. “A vegetable garden. Now there’s an idea.”

Arthur laughs, then says, “Actually, I think Timothy would love you forever if you decided that you wanted to plant a vegetable garden. He could probably make us beautiful things with the resulting bounty.”

“Timothy already loves me forever,” Eames says readily. “Anyway, do you think we’d be successful growing vegetables?”

Arthur looks up from his files on the floor, genuinely thoughtful. “Actually, our rooms are very bright.”

“You like natural light,” Eames points out, as if he invented the very idea of windows to indulge Arthur’s affection for sunlight. (To be honest, Arthur doesn’t doubt that Eames would have invented windows for him, had they not already existed.)

“Right. But we’ve done pretty well with a few of the houseplants, now that I put the watering schedule on the glass board. Maybe we could do some more adventurous stuff.”

“Darling, did you just say the word ‘adventurous’?” says Eames, and glances toward the camera. “Please stop filming us, I have to ravish my husband now.”

“Should I stop filming?” Dev asks uncertainly.

“No,” Arthur tells him. “Eames is being silly.”

“Not at all. It’s not a silly subject. I am never silly.”

“You are almost always silly,” replies Arthur.

“I have been thinking about the river hallways, though.”

Arthur lifts his eyebrows at the subject change. “Have you?”

“I think they’re gorgeous, I do, but I’m not sure about filling them with fish. I think we should keep the water feature that feeds them and have the water go trickling down the halls and cover them with something attractive so we don’t fall into them but that will let the sound of the water come through still.”

Arthur looks at him curiously. “But I thought you were very excited about the fish idea.”

“I do really like the idea of having fish, it’s true,” says Eames. “I envisioned myself feeding the fish and it was going to be lovely. And then, I don’t know, Paul’s been raising cleanliness issues and it does make sense to cover them somehow so it wouldn’t be like the fish would be leaping the way I imagined they would and…” Eames shrugs.

And all of this is eminently practical and sensible and should always have been Eames’s approach to the river hallways but Eames always has to take a while to come around to practical and sensible. It isn’t something he ever accepts easily.

And Arthur always hates the moment when Eames gives up the extremes of his whimsy.

Arthur doesn’t quite know why feeding fish is looming so large in Eames’s imagination but he says, after a second, “You do know, if you want fish, that we could always get an aquarium.”

“An aquarium,” Eames says. “With, like, penguins and whatnot?”

“No. Penguins would be overkill. I’m not sure people are allowed to have penguins as pets.”

“That’s what they have at the aquarium.”

“That’s what professionals have at aquariums. We would just a fish tank.”

Eames sits up as if he had never heard of such a magical thing before. “A fish tank!” he exclaims.

“Yes. We could have a fish tank. That might be nice actually.” Arthur’s never given much thoughts to having pets—he and Eames lead such busy lives, so full of travel, that it had always seemed unwise—but now there’s Luisa, and maybe fish would be nice to have. Pretty, and soothing.

“Yes!” says Eames. “Let’s do a fish tank! We’ll have the best fish in the whole universe!”

Arthur doesn’t doubt it.

Chapter Text

Julia did their makeup that morning but she touches them both up before it’s time for their individual interviews. She’s set up shop in the large front room, which has basically been converted over to be a television studio. It’s odd, how buzzing with activity it is, when ordinarily it’s a vast empty room, except for when they are holding one of their mad parties.

Ariadne and Gon come in and collapse on the couch in Julia’s little makeup area.

Arthur says, “How’d it go?”

“Great,” Ariadne replies. “We said absolutely terrible things about the two of you and how horrible you are to work for.”

“I held up a sign behind her head the whole time that said ‘Send Help,’” adds Gon.

Eames laughs.

Arthur is busy trying to stay still for Julia’s benefit so he just quirks his lips in acknowledgment of the joke.

Luisa stops by and says, “Anything I can do for anyone?” and receives a chorus of no’s in response. “Excellent,” she says. “I’m going to go back to sharpening my knives.”

No one laughs.

“That’s a joke,” she clarifies, just as Kalinda comes over.

“Hello, comers,” she says.

“Don’t call us that,” Ariadne says.

“I assumed Eames chose the show name ‘Coming Home’ based entirely on the number of sexual innuendoes people could make with it,” Kalinda replies.

Arthur says, “It isn’t even innuendo, it’s, like, right there.”

“Darling, our show is about coming home and it saddens me that people are turning it into something filthy.”

“It’s your natural sexual vibrancy,” Julia remarks. “Can’t be hidden under a bushel.”

“Let your natural sexual vibrancy shine,” agrees Kalinda.

Eames looks smug as fuck to be called “sexually vibrant,” so Arthur says, “No one here is ‘sexually vibrant,’ what does that even mean?” just for the look Eames shoots him, fondly amused.

Kalinda says, “How are we doing so far? Ready for your close-ups?” and looks at Arthur and Eames.

“Ready to go,” Eames confirms.

“This morning’s establishing interviews went splendidly, so you have a high bar to reach.”

“Please,” Eames snorts. “Arthur and I are professionals. And also I’ll be sure to include lots of dick jokes in my interview responses because that always goes over well.”

“I was just asking if there was anything I could get anyone,” Luisa says to Kalinda. “How about you? Anything I can get you?”

Julia, scenting flirtation, immediately lifts her head like a bloodhound.

Kalinda says, “I wouldn’t want to trouble you, but I did want some shots of the glass board and your perspective on it.”

“Oh, I can give you my perspective,” Luisa agrees. “And then I’ll go sharpen my knives.”

Still no laughter.

“Still a joke,” says Luisa, as she and Kalinda depart.

Julia turns to Arthur and gives him a little shove. “Shut. Up.”

“What was that for?” asks Arthur, even though he’s pretty sure he knows.

“Your PA and your director are totally going to make out a lot behind the scenes. If you know what I mean.”

Eames waggles his eyebrows in appreciation and says, “Excellent double entendre.”

“No. Not an excellent double entendre. What was that even a double entendre for? It was a single entendre, at best.”

“I’m thinking Kaluisa, right?” says Eames, ignoring Arthur. “As a couple name?”

“Or Kalisa,” says Ariadne. “Kalisa’s got a pretty ring to it.”

“Is she really going to sharpen her knives?” asks Gon.

“What, you think that was some kind of lesbian code?” responds Julia.

“I don’t know,” Gon says, sounding confused, and Arthur doesn’t blame him. “It could be.”

“It’s not a lesbian code,” Julia says.

“So Luisa really is sharpening her knives?” Gon says. “Because she’s not the cook, so I find that a little alarming. Am I the only one who finds that alarming?”

“That’s a reasonable thing to feel,” Arthur says drily, “so you will find zero support for it here.”

Eames looks at Arthur and grins like all of this mad chaos around them is the best thing to ever happen ever and Arthur has to admit he agrees.

Chapter Text

Arthur is being interviewed alone at the moment, prior to being joined by Eames. They’re doing the interview in Arthur’s office, and Arthur is sitting on the couch that is more often Eames’s domain than Arthur’s.

“So, Arthur,” says Kalinda, relaxing in Arthur’s squashy chair, as Tavi indicates the camera is rolling. “First question. Why Eames?”

For a first question, Arthur thinks, it is a virtually impossible question to answer. “Why Eames what?”

“Why Eames?” Kalinda just repeats the question back to him.

“Well,” Arthur considers, “if you ever watched Love It or List It, then you have a pretty good idea ‘why Eames.’”

“I think watching Love It or List It is better at telling you ‘why Arthur,’” says Kalinda.

Which is just ridiculous. “Eames is so talented,” Arthur says. “He’s so brilliant. He’s capable of using a room to create the most beautiful feelings. To relax you or inspire you or comfort you or excite you. And he’s so good at that because of how good he is with people. How good he is at understanding them, who they really are. He can put anyone at ease. He’s incredibly charming. People are always falling for Eames. He’s amazing.”

“You’re talking about Eames the designer,” remarks Kalinda.

“Partly,” says Arthur. “But it’s also who he is as a person. For someone who pretends to be so flippant and breezy, he’s remarkably thoughtful. He’s very kind, and sincerely sweet, and being cared about by him makes you so incredibly lucky. You want your designer to be empathetic and patient, but you also want your partner to be that way.”

“Business partner,” asks Kalinda, “or life partner?”

“Both,” answers Arthur. “Although it depends on what you like. I like Eames as a life partner. I’m sure lots of other people would tire of the constant whirlwind of energy around him. But I like Eames as a life partner, and I like him as a business partner. I trust him in both personas.”

Kalinda says, “This show is a departure from your previous television shows really, in that it’s very explicitly a collaborative process. You find the homes, Eames designs the homes. Any thoughts on how different you might find being on this show as opposed to Love It or List It or Next Big Thing?”

“Well, I am much happier to be collaborating with Eames rather than competing the way were in Love It or List It. Our lives are one massive collaboration, and I’m confident it’s going to make for some really good television.”

“And what about Next Big Thing?” Kalinda asks.

“Well,” remarks Arthur drily, “I expect to run into fewer of Eames’s ex-boyfriends on this show.”

Chapter Text

While Eames is being interviewed in his office—Arthur watched the set-up, before being shooed away, and Eames basically sat on a pile of fabric samples and paint swatches on his desk, and Arthur said, “We have chairs. This office has chairs,” and Eames said, “The chairs are all being used as storage space,” which was true of Eames’s office chairs, so Arthur just gave up—Arthur wanders into the kitchen, where Ariadne and Gon are drawing all over the glass board, Ariadne drawing a border of beautiful artistic curly-cues all around it, while Gon concentrates on a very detailed drawing of the Eiffel Tower.

Luisa has a platter of Timothy’s excellent key lime pie bars out, and Julia is munching on one of them and watching Luisa, who’s bouncing around a little and saying, “Well, no, it’s all in the wrist,” when Arthur walks in.

Arthur snags a cookie and says, “What’s all in the wrist? Do I even want to know?”

Ariadne grins at him. “Luisa’s telling us about fencing. Did you know she’s a champion fencer?”

“I did know that,” Arthur says. “Eames wants to learn. I think that would be a terrible idea.”

Luisa says, “I’m also a certified EMT, so it would probably be okay.”

Arthur says, not for the first time, “Where did Saito find you?”

Arthur spends his break watching Luisa demonstrate fencing to Ariadne using a wooden spoon as a sword. Luisa says its balance is all wrong but Ariadne and Julia are fascinated. Arthur thinks they’re going to end up having fencing lessons in the front room.

Gon says, “Is fencing a practical skill nowadays?”

Luisa gives him a withering look.

Julia says, “The next time someone threatens you with a sword, you’re going to wish you knew fencing.”

Gon just shakes his head.

Kalinda arrives and looks at the tableau and says, “I miss all the fun.”

Chapter Text

They go back to Arthur’s office for the joint interview, because Arthur’s office actually has places to sit. Arthur points this out, as they settle on the couch together, waiting for Tavi and Dev to be happy with the lighting and the angles.

Eames throws his arm around Arthur’s shoulders and says, “It’s a very boring thing, to only use chairs for sitting.”

“Is that what you say to your clients?”

“I tell my clients a chair should never just be suitable for sitting. A chair should be a work of art that whispers to you, ‘Come. Put things on me. Including yourself.’” Eames waggles his eyebrows.

“This chair sounds creepy,” says Arthur.

“It’s a sexy chair,” says Eames. “My chairs are seductive.”

“I often think that you don’t really know the meaning of that word,” remarks Arthur.

And then Kalinda says, “Shall we get started?” and indicates the cameras are rolling.

Eames leaves his arm stretched on the couch behind Arthur, and it’s a comforting presence. Arthur’s been enjoying today but it’s still nice to have Eames next to him. He thinks about Kalinda’s questions about partnership, and how true it is that Arthur would rather be doing this with Eames, mad as he is, than any other person Arthur has ever met.

Kalinda says, “So tell me, you two. How do you expect this business venture of yours to work?”

“It’s simple, really,” says Eames. “Ordinarily you buy a house, and then, if there are things you don’t like about it, and if you’re lucky, you go out and find yourself an interior designer to help you place your belongings in it and choose new paint colors and maybe suggest knocking down a few walls.”

“But when you buy a house,” Arthur continues, “it’s a very stressful time. It’s hard to think about tackling the issue of finding someone to help you decorate the house. It’s even harder, sometimes, to envision what a house could be, beyond someone else’s taste that might be all over it.”

“So our thinking is that it would make your life much easier if the entity choosing houses for you to look at was the same entity that could tell you what makes the house perfect for you. Hence: Dream Bigger House Services. A full-service operation.” Eames waggles his eyebrows.

“He keeps trying to make the innuendo happen,” Arthur says. “I keep telling him it’s not happening.”

“Oh, it’s absolutely happening,” says Eames. “It’s happening already.”

Arthur rolls his eyes.

Kalinda says, “What’s up with the name? ‘Dream Bigger.’”

“It’s something I ask Eames to remind me to do,” Arthur answers. “It’s something he’s very good at.”

“It’s something we’re both much better at together,” Eames says. “And something we think all house hunters should remember. I think lots of times you’re told to settle during a house hunt, but we’re here to tell everyone to dream bigger.”

Arthur hopes that doesn’t come back to bite them on the ass.

Chapter Text

“Tomorrow’s clients,” Arthur announces. They’ve cleared off the dining room table, and Arthur actually has room to spread out the contents of the folder he’s carrying. “Alice and Rusty Niles.”

“Rusty Nails?” says Ariadne.

“No, Rusty Niles,” Arthur corrects her. “Searching for a home within easy commuting distance of Boston.”

“Define ‘easy commuting distance’ of Boston,” says Gon.

“Nothing,” replies Ariadne. “Nothing is easy commuting distance of Boston. Not even being inside of Boston is easy commuting distance of Boston.”

Gon laughs.

Arthur says, “I’ve focused on towns with public transportation into the city. Their must-have list says ‘environmentally married.’”

There’s a moment of silence.

Ariadne says finally, “What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure,” Arthur admits, “but I think it’s probably something positive to do with the environment.”

“If they were environmentally divorced, I’d be worried for them,” remarks Eames.

“So I thought I’d assume they meant they love the environment so much they’re married to it, and in that case I also assume they’d be a fan of public transportation.”

“Even more of a fan of biking,” Gon suggests.

“Good point, and I’ve tried to keep bike- and pedestrian-friendliness in mind in what I’ve chosen for them. Many of the properties on the market are older—”

“We can make them greener,” Eames offers readily. “If these people are really as committed to the environment as to marry it, we can make any house they might decide on greener. And I don’t just mean with an indoor forest or two. Gon’s been working specifically with energy-efficient designs.”

“Oh, good,” Arthur says. “They’ll love you, Gon.”

“I didn’t know you were focusing on energy efficiency lately,” says Ariadne, her eyes shining. “That’s very cool.”

Gon looks vaguely embarrassed. “Well, I’ve been trying. It’s nothing big.”

“There is nothing bigger than saving the planet,” says Eames wisely. “It’s the biggest thing there is.” Eames pauses, and then looks plaintively at Arthur. “Can I add a double entendre to that sentence?”

“Let’s just consider it added and move on,” says Arthur. “Anyway, their wish list calls for two bedrooms, two bathrooms, at least one thousand square feet, updated kitchen, updated bathrooms, outdoor space, in-unit laundry, multi-paned windows, crystal doorknobs—”

“Wait, their wish list specifies the windows and doorknobs?” interrupts Eames.

“They seem to be people who know what they want,” Arthur replies. “And what they want is nothing they’re ever going to be able to afford on their budget. So I’m counting on your magic there. We’re going to need some imagination to see the good in some of these houses.”

“Imagination is my speciality,” says Eames.

Chapter Text

Eames sits on the living room floor all night with Arthur’s pulled property specs in his lap, making notes in the margins and little hmm sounds as he studies floorplans, until Arthur says, “Let’s go to bed. I don’t want us to have bags under our eyes for the first client tomorrow.”

“Alice and Rusty,” Eames says, allowing Arthur to tug him up to standing. “I can’t wait to meet them tomorrow but I am enjoying the fact that tonight they are nothing but sheer possibility. Alice and Rusty could turn out to be anyone in the world. Alice and Rusty could turn out to be magicians.”

“Magicians?” says Arthur. “Where are you getting that from?”

“I’ve always thought a magician would make a great client. They would probably want all sorts of cool things in their house.”

“Well, I’ll hope they’re magicians, then.”

“Or maybe they’re bounty hunters. Bounty hunters would need all sorts of secret compartments. Actually, probably magicians would want secret compartments, too.”

“Have we moved off of nature and now you’re developing a thing for secret compartments?” Arthur asks.

“Are we talking about your secret compartment?” Eames asks, waggling his eyebrows. “Because I’ve always had a thing for your secret compartment.”

“Not sexy,” Arthur tells him.

“No? Not even a little bit?” Eames holds his forefinger and thumb close enough together that they’re touching. “Surely I am a little tiny bit sexy.”

“Negative sexy,” Arthur says. “You are negative sexy,” and allows Eames, grinning, to push him back onto the bed and sprawl out on top of him.

Eames says, “I wanted to thank you.”

“Whatever it is you’re about to thank me for, don’t. Whatever it is, it’s just a matter of loving you, that’s all.”

“Yes, ordinarily I would just say solemnly, ‘Thank you, darling, for being you,’ and let it cover everything but today I have specific gratitude to express.”

“Does it have to do with my ass in these trousers?” asks Arthur.

Eames chuckles. “No, but that’s a thing that you should know I am always grateful for, every moment. No, thank you for dealing with me and the river hallways, whilst I thought terribly nonsensical things about what we ought to do with them and made them much more complicated than necessary and drew out their production process absurdly. I know it wasn’t a picnic for you, living with all that disarray, and I know I didn’t make it easy for you, so thank you.”

“You know that I don’t mind being the homeowner you experiment on, right? You know that I didn’t marry you for the free interior decorating? I’m not a client, and you’re very welcome to throw my life into disarray. I chose you on purpose for your talent in doing it. My life hasn’t been arrayed since the moment I met you.”

Eames smiles and leans down and kisses Arthur, says against his lips, “You don’t mind me experimenting on you, huh?”

“Mmm, do you have a good experiment—in mind?” Arthur asks, around Eames’s kisses, chasing Eames’s mouth. “On a scale of one to ten, how good is this experiment?”

“Numbers?” Eames mumbles into Arthur’s skin. “Really? That’s what you’re doing as foreplay.”

“Fuck yeah,” says Arthur.

“On a scale of one to ten, this experiment is going to be river-hallways good,” Eames promises him.

“I don’t know what that even means,” says Arthur.

“Oh, then I’d better show you,” says Eames.

Chapter Text

Alice and Rusty Niles are a couple in their forties.

Eames, on a charm offensive, asks them how they met and how long they’ve been together, and Rusty says brusquely, “On a blind date a few years ago, should we talk about the house we’re looking for, because we have a few things we’d like to add on to the must-have list.”

So Arthur supposes they’re done with the getting-to-know-you portion of things. Which is fine. Arthur likes to know enough about his clients to find them a nice house but Arthur doesn’t need to be best buddies with all of his clients. Eames, however, dislikes when people don’t respond to his warmth. Arthur can tell he already vaguely disapproves of these clients. He isn’t taking any notes, but Arthur can see him making mental ones. Arthur knows Eames well enough that Eames might as well be taking notes right on his face, frankly.

Arthur says, “I think it might be helpful if we separate the list into a must-have list and a wish list.”

“What do you mean?” says Rusty, with the sort of blank belligerence that Arthur is beginning to realize is his standard communicative expression.

Arthur says, “We’ll take this one list, and make it into two lists.”

“And what would be the point of two lists?” demands Rusty.

Arthur can sense Gon tilting his head curiously at Rusty. Ariadne has that “taking-mental-notes-for-my-memoirs” look on her face again. Eames is doodling on a piece of paper in front of him. Unpleasant doodles.

He says evenly, “One list would be for must-haves, and one list would be for the things you wish you could have.”

“Sometimes called a wish list,” drawls Eames, without looking up from his doodle.

“Wish list,” echoes Rusty flatly.

“You know,” Alice says casually, studying her fingernails, “it’s a list about not getting everything you want. Not that you would know what that’s like.”

“We gave you a list of what we need to have in a house,” insists Rusty, ignoring Alice. “That’s the list.”

Arthur says quickly, because he doesn’t want to fight with their first clients, “Okay, so I have my list, then. Anything you want to elaborate on?”

“It should be pretty clear, I think,” Rusty says confidently.

Arthur glances over the list. It’s ridiculous but clients often demand the moon. He’ll pare it down and Eames will work his magic to make the houses seem irresistible. He says, “Fairly self-explanatory, yes.”

Eames says suddenly, “Except for the ‘environmentally married’ bit. What does that mean?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” says Rusty.

“We love the environment,” says Alice.

“Yes,” agrees Rusty. “We love the environment.”

Eames looks at Arthur. “They love the environment.”

“Got it,” says Arthur.

“Who doesn’t love the environment?” asks Alice. “I mean, really. Do you not love the environment? You should love the environment.”

“She really loves the environment,” says Rusty. “It’s almost the love of her life.”

“Oh, don’t be silly,” says Alice. “You’re the love of my life.” Alice laughs lightly.

Rusty laughs lightly.

Eames starts doodling the image of a gun.

Gon tries to laugh.

Ariadne stares.

Luisa keeps her head down.

Arthur thinks that, frankly, this is just another day in house hunting. Couples, he’s found, seldom tend to be at their best while house hunting. Even he and Eames were terrible while they were house hunting. It’s stressful and frustrating.

“I also love the environment,” says Eames suddenly. “I’m on a quest to bring the outside inside.”

Alice and Rusty appear to finally be on the same page, in the looks they shoot Eames.

“That’s weird,” says Rusty.

Alice says, “The outside should stay outside.”

“Yeah, that’s why it’s called outside,” says Rusty, as if playing his ace.

Eames says dramatically, “Oh, that’s why.” He looks brightly at Arthur. “Darling, did you know that?”

“I hope you know that we want our must-have list to happen inside,” Alice says. “The house should probably have a ceiling.”

“Darling, make a note: their house must have a roof. Cross off that charming little sheep meadow you were going to show them.”

“Baa,” says Arthur.

Eames smiles and winks at him.

Chapter Text

“That’s a wrap on filming,” Kalinda proclaims, after they see Rusty and Alice out, and Tavi and Dev start packing up their cameras.

Eames says, “Timothy left Jello shots,” and pulls them out of the fridge.

Ariadne says, “Do you pay Timothy enough? I’m not sure you pay Timothy enough,” and takes a Jello shot.

Arthur refuses a Jello shot because he’s a lightweight.

Eames says, “Kalinda, Tavi, Dev, stay for a Jello shot.”

“I’ll have one,” Kalinda says immediately, while Tavi and Dev look awkward about the invitation.

Ariadne says, “I have an important note to make. Luisa, you should probably add this to the glass board.”

Luisa obediently goes over to the glass board, poses a pen over it.

Ariadne says, “These clients want a ceiling.”

Luisa writes CEILING on the glass board and then underlines it and circles it.

Eames adds a series of penises pointing at the word like arrows.

Arthur laughs because he can’t help it. “Fuck,” he says. “I can never tell if people legitimately think I’d show them houses without ceilings, or what.”

“Now I definitely want you to show them houses without ceilings,” Ariadne says. “At least one.”

“Every single design we plan for these people is going to try to disguise the ceiling,” Eames announces. “We’re going to paint the sky onto the ceiling. We’re going to bring the outside inside. And.” Eames pauses to toss back a Jello shot, then grins, looking very pleased with himself. “We are going to make them love it.”

Eames doesn’t always turn his persuasive superpowers to evil, thinks Arthur, but sometimes it can be a thing to behold.

Chapter Text

The first place Arthur brings Rusty and Alice to see is too big. The second place is too small.

“This is a Goldilocks house hunt,” Eames says. “We need to find the just-right house.”

“I just thought we’d have a lot to choose from,” Rusty says, “and so far we’ve seen nothing good.”

“The day is young,” Arthur says, because it is, and this is honestly part of the challenge that he enjoys, pleasing the impossible-to-please. He doesn’t know what that says about him, but…yeah.

Alice says, “You’ve got to give him a chance, Rusty. So far you haven’t given him a chance. Rusty is terrible at giving people chances. Very quick to judge.”

“It’s okay,” says Arthur. “You’ll know your perfect house when you walk into it.”

“Did we tell you we need a bidet?” Alice says. “We need to add that to the must-have list.”

“You can always add a bidet,” suggests Eames. “That’s what I’m here for. To add bidets.”

“He’s a bidet expert,” says Arthur.

“We’re also going to need double ovens,” Rusty adds.

“Oh, because you cook all the time?” says Alice.

“You know what’s the best thing about having a beautiful house?” muses Eames. “Having a beautiful relationship to fill it with.”

Arthur almost trips trying to hide his amusement. Luckily, Rusty and Alice seem oblivious. They’re much busier sniping at each other.

Eames falls into step next to Arthur, and it’s nice. It’s just the two of them for this portion of the filming, and it’s exactly what Arthur wanted when he proposed the new show: the two of them, united, against the rest of the world.

“So what you thinking, darling?” Eames asks him. “We’ve got the too big and the too small. Where do we go from here?”

“We go to the just-right,” Arthur replies. “Like you said.”

“And you know what that is?”

Arthur grins at him. “Of course I fucking do.”

“I’d make out with you if we weren’t being filmed right now.”

“The fandom weeps,” Arthur rejoins.

Chapter Text

Arthur is good at his job. He’s good at taking clients who might be cranky and difficult and finding them the place that makes them think home. It’s a lot of spreadsheets and algorithms but it’s also—which he’s never really said out loud—some sort of magical alchemy that he can’t articulate through his spreadsheets and algorithms. Arthur, watching closely Rusty and Alice’s crinkled-up faces in reaction to the first two houses, flips mentally through his choices, completely recalibrates, and takes them to a place that wasn’t in his plan.

It’s a corner loft, flooded with light, and completely not redone. In fact, it barely has an intact roof.

Rusty looks up at all the exposed wires and ductwork and says immediately, “We said we needed a ceiling—”

“Hear me out,” Arthur says, hand up. “First of all, size-wise, it’s exactly between the two we’ve already seen.”

“It doesn’t have double ovens,” Alice points out.

“True,” says Arthur. “But it does have…” He strides across the vast empty space to the one door, and throws it open. It’s a dingy restroom, much in need of a cleaning, but it has…

“A bidet,” says Alice, in surprise.

“You’d have to clean it,” Arthur says blandly.

Eames suggests, “I think I’d recommend just replacing the bidet. But at least you know the plumbing’s right.”

“Well, you asked me for a bidet and I delivered, didn’t I?” says Arthur. “So now you can build the rest of the house around the bidet.”

For a second, Alice and Rusty stare at him, dumbstruck. And then, they start laughing.

Arthur, pleased, smiles and walks through the space. He points out the view from the windows (which are already multi-paned), the fact that it comes with a rooftop deck that could be charmingly renovated, the way it’s full of original touches that he thinks should appeal to people who wanted crystal doorknobs, and also the way that it’s part of a renovation to make the old factory into a greener, more environmentally friendly space.

“And,” Arthur finishes, “it is way below your price range. You could have a kitchen with twenty-four-karat gold countertops, if you wanted.”

“And a platinum bidet,” adds Eames. “Probably not in the kitchen, but, what the hell, you’re the bosses.”

“It sounds like a lot of work,” Rusty remarks. “A lot of decisions to make.”

“A lot of opportunities to disagree with each other,” Alice says, meeting his eyes. “To argue.”

“Sounds fantastic,” Rusty says breathlessly.

“Let’s do it,” Alice says back.

And then they make out a lot.

“So I guess it was all just foreplay,” Eames comments, watching them.

“Ew,” says Arthur. “Can we just go?”

Chapter Text

“Well,” Eames says, as he gets into their car, where a camera has been set up to capture their interactions. “I suppose that’s a successful day for us.”

“A successful day for me.” Arthur turns the car on. “I’ve made Alice and Rusty Niles happy. Now it’s all up to you. Good luck.”

“Now, now, not so fast, darling. You still have to buy them the place.”

“They should get the place. Unless they want to make an offer too insulting for words, they’re going to get the place.”

“And you’re confident they won’t make an offer too insulting for words?”

Arthur considers as he pulls the car into traffic. “Actually, no. Dammit.”

Eames laughs, unrepentant.

“Are you up for a little more filming?” Arthur asks.

Eames looks at him curiously. “Sure. Do you have more clients lined up?”

“No, I have a surprise,” says Arthur mildly, pretending that his dimples aren’t showing with his pleasure in himself.

“Look at you,” Eames says, sounding amused. “All deliciously smug over this surprise. Well, then, I absolutely want to see it.”

“Good. Kalinda’s going to meet us there. It’s been rather more trouble than I anticipated, I’ll be honest.”

“‘Rather more trouble?’” echoes Eames.

“Are you happy when you make me sound British?”

“Very happy,” Eames says. “I sound quite American enough, thank you very much. I like to see it goes both ways. Hear it goes both ways, I suppose.”

“Then,” says Arthur, affecting a British accent, “be prepared for a smashing surprise in your near future, Mr. Eames.”

He feels Eames’s look of surprise. “That was very good.”

Arthur snorts, falling back into his regular accent. “I do spend a lot of time listening to you, you know. You talk a lot. Plenty of opportunity to study your accent.”

Eames laughs. “It is, I was once told, the only thing I have going for me.”

Arthur laughs as well, surprised by the reference to Alec, surprised even more by the fact that Alec can be referenced and it doesn’t even bother Arthur. That, in fact, Arthur laughs about it. He says, “You have nice eyes, too.”

“How kind of you, darling,” Eames says, and Arthur glances sideways, just to catch a glimpse of those eyes.

They are nice.

Chapter Text

When Arthur had proposed the surprise to Kalinda, she had been enthusiastic about it, and then it had commenced a level of fussing that Arthur hadn’t realized would happen. With his other shows, the filming always took place in very controlled environments. Arthur is a little unprepared for the commotion it causes when he and Eames step out of the car in front of the New England Aquarium. People have been pushed back to give the cameras room to film and Kalinda moves forward to meet them.

Eames says, sounding delighted, “The aquarium? Is my surprise the aquarium?”

“I thought you might get ideas,” Arthur says, both pleased that Eames is so happy and a little embarrassed, because, well, it’s embarrassing how happy it makes him to make Eames happy.

Eames swoops in and kisses the tips of his ears and then both of his dimples and says, “The aquarium, darling, you lovely, magnificent genius.”

“Are we done?” Kalinda asks. “Can we go into the aquarium now?”

“Am I done kissing and making much of Arthur?” asks Eames. “No. Never. But I can do it inside, I suppose.” Eames straightens away from Arthur and tosses his arm over Arthur’s shoulder, and then he waves his free hand toward the scattered people watching them, like they’re fucking celebrities.

Someone does squeal, “Hi, Eames!” so Arthur supposes that’s proof that, well, weirdly enough, they are.


Inside the aquarium they are greeted by Sumiko, who shakes their hands and says, “I’m a huge fan. Is that weird for me to say?”

“No, it’s lovely,” Eames says. “It makes you our favorite kind of person.”

Sumiko, wildly charmed by Eames the way most people are, grins and says, “I’m probably going to bother you for a photo after the tour, if that’s okay.”

“Looking forward to it,” says Eames, and then, “Tour?”

“A VIP behind-the-scenes tour has been arranged for the two of you,” Sumiko says. “I hear you’re a huge fan of aquariums.”

Huge fan,” Eames says.

And even though Arthur has really never heard Eames mention aquariums until recently, the truth is that Eames is a huge fan of most things. He is full of inquisitive curiosity about everything. It’s why his designs are so successful, because there is an attitude of optimistic adventure to them that is the hallmark of someone who loves almost everything he’s ever encountered—almost every color, almost every fabric, almost every pattern. Arthur likes the challenge of making sense of a limited number of options, Eames likes for his options to be unlimited.

Arthur wishes so much that he could go back in time just to see exactly what Eames was like as a child. Had his energy and appetite been even more boundless back then?

As it is, Eames is overflowing with enthusiasm for everything at the aquarium. He asks a million questions about the marine creatures in the main tank, including which would be most appropriate to have at home. And then Sumiko allows him to stand at the top of the main tank and sprinkle food into it, and fish drift up toward him, eating happily, and Eames looks as if a lifelong dream has been fulfilled. Arthur takes a video of the moment, thinking it will be perfect for their Tumblr.

Arthur is persuaded to join Eames in saying hello to Myrtle the turtle, and then they are taken to the sea lions.

“If you’re really kind to them, they might come give you a kiss,” Sumiko says, and Eames gets his kid-on-Christmas-morning look. He turns to Arthur excitedly.

Arthur says dryly, “You never look that excited before kissing me.”

“Yes, I do, actually,” Eames says. “I actually look exactly this excited before kissing you.”

It’s true, Arthur has to admit, so he says grudgingly, “Maybe.”

Eames grins at him.

Sumiko looks absolutely delighted at her front-row ticket to the banter.

“I am ready for a sea lion kiss,” Eames announces, and naturally the sea lion is more than happy to oblige.

Arthur captures the moment on his phone and tweets it out. Even sea lions fall for Eames. He’s irresistible.

“Alright, darling, your turn,” Eames says happily, getting his own phone ready.

Arthur feels a little silly, leaning out over water, waiting for a sea lion to kiss him, but when it happens it’s…more delightful than he imagined it would be. He finds himself laughing helplessly. When he looks at the photograph Eames tweets out, his dimples are on full display, the sea lion’s whiskers tickling him.

Look at this besotted sea lion! Eames’s tweet reads. Can’t say I blame it! #arthur4everything

Arthur replies, Kissing the sea lion was not entirely dissimilar to kissing you. #arthur4eames

“Ha,” Eames says, reading Arthur’s tweet as they follow Sumiko back down to the ground floor, past the huge central tank, his face glowing in the water-light. “You’re hilarious.”

He tweets, Darling, you know I love a good double negative. Very sexy.

Arthur is in the process of responding to the tweet with nothing but a reaction gif of himself, rolling his eyes, when they reach the bottom of the ramp and Sumiko says, “And that concludes our tour.”

“Thank you so much, Sumiko,” Eames says. “I learned a great deal.”

“He wants to put an aquarium in our house,” Arthur says, hitting send on his tweet. “I’m hoping you might be amenable to consulting a bit for us. We sorely lack your expertise on this subject.”

Eames gives Arthur a dazzling smile, as if Arthur’s done something incredible instead of something so thoroughly sensible as to be unremarkable. Then he turns his dazzling smile to Sumiko.

“I’d love to,” Sumiko says, looking delighted.

“Full disclosure,” Arthur says. “He is hell to work with.”

“Lies,” Eames says. “He speaks lies. I’m a delight.” Eames hooks a finger into one of Arthur’s belt loops, uses it to tug him in close, then slips a hand into Arthur’s pocket to keep him there. “See, look at those dimples.” Eames pokes a free finger into Arthur’s left dimple. “The dimples always come out when he’s lying.”

Arthur shakes his head at Eames’s ridiculousness, not that that has ever once deterred Eames’s ridiculousness.

“Can I get a picture with the two of you?” Sumiko asks.

And they pose in front of the tank, with a stingray in the water behind them.

Chapter Text

“Your phone is buzzing like mad,” Eames says, where he’s sitting up in their bed on his tablet.

Arthur, who’s just gotten himself ready for bed, groans dramatically as he crawls onto the mattress and reaches for his phone on the bedside table. And then, squinting, he reaches for his glasses as well. It’s way too fucking late in the day for squinting.

Eames says, “Who is it?”

“Fucking fuck,” says Arthur.

“Oh, so it’s Rusty,” says Eames pleasantly.

Arthur tosses the phone back over to the bedside table. “I can’t deal with that right now. The offer he wants to make is just…”

“Told you,” Eames singsongs.

“You’re unpleasant sometimes, you know,” Arthur tells him.

Eames glances over at him, then puts his tablet away. “I know. I’m sorry. Can I make it better with my penis?”

Arthur can’t help it. Arthur bursts into laughter. “No, you can’t…” Eames smothers the rest of the sentence with his mouth. “…make it better with your penis, you fucking…mmm.” He lets himself give in to being kissed, to being soothed. Eames has kisses for every occasion, and this kiss isn’t a revving-up kiss, this is a reminder-you’re-adored-just-enjoy-it kiss.

Eames draws back eventually, dots a kiss on the tip of Arthur’s nose. “Better?” he murmurs.

“Yes. For the record, it wasn’t your penis that did it.”

“My poor penis,” Eames says. “You never want to give it any credit.”

“Yes. Your poor penis. Hardly ever gets to have any fun. Poor neglected thing.”

Eames chuckles and shifts so he can snuggle against Arthur, pulling his tablet back over to him. Arthur cards his fingers through Eames’s hair and looks over Eames’s shoulder. Eames is checking social media.

“Are we all over Twitter?” Arthur asks.

“Yes,” Eames says. “Well, all over our corner of it. The pictures are lovely. Look at how gorgeous you are. My gorgeous husband.”

Arthur’s heart stops for a beat when Eames says it. He wonders if his heart will ever stop doing that. He kind of hope it doesn’t. “My gorgeous husband,” he says.

“We’ll have to have a fight over that,” Eames says. “A penis fight.”

“Can your penis stay out of one thing for just one minute?” asks Arthur.

“No,” says Eames. “It can’t.” He’s still scrolling through Twitter, and honestly Arthur is too tired to pursue sex. He doesn’t really want sex. He wants to lay here, close to Eames, and just be still together. To be still but not be alone.

Arthur yawns.

Eames says, “I’m not keeping you up, am I?”

“No,” Arthur mumbles. “Do people still think our relationship is fake?”

“Yes. But I get the feeling people are always going to think that. That’s just how the world is.”

“Mmm,” says Arthur drowsily.

“Does it bother you?” asks Eames after a second.

“No,” Arthur says immediately. “It doesn’t. I have a gorgeous husband, and I have the piece of paper to prove it.” Eames is silent, so Arthur opens his eyes to check on him. “I know you love me.”

“I know you do.” Eames brushes a quick kiss onto Arthur’s abdomen.

“So does it bother you?” Arthur asks.

“A little,” Eames admits. “A little, because…” Eames shifts so he can look up at Arthur. “Because it saddens me that people would look at how happy we are, at how much we love each other, and think, ‘It must be fake. It must be a show they’re putting on for the cameras.’ Like, that’s sad.”

Arthur says, after a second, “It is sad. But we can’t eliminate all sadness from the world. We can only do what we can.”

“One home at a time,” Eames says.

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees. “One home at a time.”

Chapter Text

Rusty says to Arthur, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

This is one of Arthur’s least favorite things to be told by clients who definitely do not know what they are doing. Arthur says, “Oh, so you’ve negotiated to buy a house before?”

Rusty says, “Well, no, but I know how to negotiate.”

“He does it all day,” Alice says. “I never hear the end of all of his negotiating.”

And Arthur is apparently going to have the delight of being part of their foreplay all day again. Arthur has nothing against what other people consider to be foreplay—fuck knows he and Eames have had weird enough foreplay in their life together—but he does object a little bit to having to be part of it. If he wanted to be part of other people’s sex lives, he’d actually run a sex club the way everybody thinks he does.

They are set up in Arthur’s office, just Arthur and Eames and the Nileses, with Kalinda directing the cameras. Gon and Ariadne have another day off from filming, mostly because Eames already has each of them developing proposals for the major makeover of the Nileses’ space that’s going to have to happen.

Arthur says, “My negotiating experience tends to be house-specific, and I can tell you that their asking price is already very low, and going in at literally half-asking, the way you want to, is…an extreme tactic.”

“I don’t want to leave money on the table,” Rusty says.

“I won’t let you leave money on the table,” Arthur promises.

“Let’s go in at half-asking and see what they say,” says Rusty.

“Right,” says Arthur, “I know that’s what you think we should do, but I’m telling you that you run the risk they’ll be insulted and just—”

“But I don’t want to leave money on the table,” Rusty says.

Arthur pauses. “Yes. I heard you say that the first time.”

“What you’re suggesting leaves money on the table.”

“No, I promise you it doesn’t. I promise that it’s a reasonable—”

“Maybe we should listen to Arthur,” Alice suggests.

“But he’s going to leave money on the table,” Rusty says to her.

“You don’t know that.”

“I do. I negotiate a lot. I spend all day negotiating. I know how to negotiate. This is what I want to do.” Rusty looks at Arthur. “We get to decide what we want to do, right?”

Arthur sighs. “You get to decide what you want to do,” he confirms. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that I think it’s a bad idea.”

“We don’t want to leave any money on the table,” Rusty says.

Chapter Text

Arthur comes back from talking to the seller’s agent to find Luisa and Eames fencing with actual swords in their front room. Kalinda is directing Dev to try to find the best angle to capture the swordfight and watching a little raptly. Tavi, who had had the boring job of watching Arthur negotiate, immediately goes to film the action sequence instead.

Eames, seeing him, says brightly, “Luisa is teaching me fencing!”

“I can see that.” Arthur looks at Luisa and says, “This is a terrible idea.”

Luisa says, “I’m also a certified EMT.”

Arthur says, not for the first time, “Where did Saito find you?”

“If she told us,” Eames says, also not for the first time, “she’d have to kill us.”

“Avoid his face,” Arthur says. “He’s a television star, he needs his face.”

“Also you’re fond of my face,” Eames points out.

“A little bit,” says Arthur.

Eames kind of swishes his sword in Arthur’s direction.

“A very little,” says Arthur.

Eames laughs and says, “Cheer up, darling, it turns out I am a natural at swordsplay. Did you ever doubt it?”

“Are we talking euphemistically, or…?” says Arthur.

Eames says to Luisa, “Wait, can we have a time out, I have to go and kiss his adorable chin.”

Luisa waves permission to him.

Eames tries to catch Arthur up at the waist.

Arthur says, “Put the sword down first.”

“Non-euphemistically speaking,” says Eames. “Because euphemistically speaking I can’t really put my sword down—”

“Stop talking now,” Arthur says. “Kiss me quickly before I change my mind about—” Arthur swallows marrying you, surprised it had been there, on the tip of his tongue.

Eames grins at him, like he knows exactly what Arthur was about to say, and does indeed kiss his chin. And then he says, “Alright, recap, darling. Did you leave money on the table?”

Arthur rolls his eyes. “I got laughed at. Literally laughed at. But I was able to tell them truthfully that my client, who is very good at negotiating, says this is the way to go.”

Eames laughs. “What do you think the response is going to be?”

Arthur considers. “Fuck you,” he says, and then glances at the cameras. “You’ll have to beep that one out.”

Chapter Text

The response is not “fuck you” in literal terms, but it is in symbolic terms: they come back atten grand above asking. Above asking.

Rusty is apoplectic. Arthur is disinterested. Rusty and Alice are not their only clients this season and they’re losing their exclusivity. Arthur asks Rusty if he wants to up his offer and Rusty insists that they remain steady, at their insultingly low number. Arthur says mechanically, “I advise you against this,” and gets treated to Rusty explaining what a great negotiator he is and how Arthur is trying to leave money on the table.

When Rusty says “leave money on the table,” Eames darts into the office and kisses Arthur’s shoulder, because Eames’s version of a drinking game is to kiss Arthur whenever Rusty says “leave money on the table.”


Arthur is focused on the next client now, Mickey D’Amato.

“Call me Mick,” he says, when Arthur and Eames greet him.

“Hello, Mick,” Eames says, with a genial smile, as they all get settled in Arthur’s office.

“Well,” says Mick. “I’m just a free-wheeling bachelor looking to have some fun. You know how it is.” Mick actually gives Eames a knowing little elbow.

Arthur lifts his eyebrows, because there are few things he hates more than this hyper-masculine bonding over some insulting image of “bachelorhood” that never had anything to do with Arthur’s bachelorhood, such as it was. Arthur says, “Actually, neither of us is a bachelor.”

“Oh, I know, I know.” Mick lifts his hands up in a gesture of innocence. “It’s cool, bro. I wasn’t trying to barge in on your territory.”

“Bro,” Eames echoes faintly, as if trying the word out.

Arthur gives Eames a look that he hopes translates to not a nickname you’re using on me, don’t even think about it.

Mick continues, “But you were bachelors, right? Once?”

“I’m not sure that ‘bachelor’ is a universal experience—” Arthur begins.

Mick says, “You know, all of us have been involved in youthful indiscretions we’d rather forget. Or pretend we want to forget but really love, right?” Mick sends one of his knowing looks around again. “You know, who among us hasn’t had a naked photograph end up in the wrong place?”

Arthur. Arthur hasn’t. Arthur doesn’t send naked photographs of himself around.

Eames has naked photographs of himself on the Internet, though, so Eames says, “Well. Sometimes that’s just art.”

Mick laughs. “Exactly, exactly. Art.” Mick gives the word elaborate air quotes, laughing again.

Arthur says, to try to move this along, because his phone has buzzed with a response from the other agent on the Niles property, “So you’re a bachelor. What sort of property are you looking for?”

“A bachelor pad,” says Mick, as if Arthur is dense.

“Obviously,” Arthur says lightly, as if that’s a genre of house, when it definitely isn’t. Arthur says, “What does your particular version of a bachelor pad look like?”

“Like a place where women will want to have a lot of sex.”

Arthur doesn’t want to point out that this isn’t exactly Arthur’s specialty. But it isn’t.

Mick continues, “But you know all about that. Whatever place you’d use for a sex club, that’s where I’d like to live. I want you to find me that. I figure you’re the go-to for sex clubs.”

“That’s what my business cards say,” deadpans Arthur. There is literally no point to dissuading people from the idea that he has a sex club. They never believe him.

Eames snorts laughter.

Mick looks impressed. He leans forward and drops his voice, as if every word isn’t being filmed right now. “Any chance of seeing the sex club?”

“Membership’s full up,” Arthur says.

“What about the waiting list?” asks Mick.

Chapter Text

Ariadne and Gon arrive to discuss designs for the Nileses’ house.

This means they have to buy the house first.

Considering that the agent’s response to their holding steady on the insulting offer was to send Arthur a bottle of vodka with a note reading I feel like you need this, Arthur doesn’t think it looks good at the moment.

“They went up on asking?” says Ariadne. “What did Rusty say?”

They’re all in the living room, snacking on cookies that Timothy’s bringing out to them. Even Julia’s joined the snacking, because she is very okay with being on camera and even more okay with cookies.

“Doesn’t want to leave money on the table,” says Arthur, eating his sorrows in the form of a very delicious chocolate chip cookie. Eames leans over and kisses his collarbone. “Nothing hurts the ego of the master negotiator,” continues Arthur. “He is unflappable.”

“Have you had Luisa talk to him?” Ariadne asks. “I feel like Luisa could scare anybody into doing what you say.”

“Guys,” says Luisa. “I’m sitting right here.”

“Being terrifying,” Julia says.

“I’m not terrifying,” says Luisa. “I’m literally eating a cookie.”

“You’re terrifying to me,” says Gon.

“Hey, does your cookie taste like almond?” Luisa asks Julia.

“A little bit,” Julia says.

“Could be arsenic,” Luisa says, and smiles.

“See?” says Julia. “Terrifying.”

“Hey, I have an important question,” Eames says, leaning closer to Julia.

“No, you don’t,” Arthur says. “You never have an important question when you say you have an important question.”

“Every question that comes out of my mouth is important, darling,” Eames says mildly, and turns back to Julia. “Do you think I should call Paul ‘bro’?”

Julia chokes on her cookie.

“Quick, Luisa, you know the Heimlich, right?” says Ariadne.

Julia manages, “What do you want to call Paul?”

“Bro,” Gon translates helpfully.

Julia shakes her head. “No, Eames has to say it.”

“Bro,” says Eames blankly.

Julia bursts into laughter.

Eames looks bewildered.

Arthur says, “It’s your accent. It sounds fucking ridiculous in your accent.”

“My accent is wonderful,” Eames protests.

“Don’t use it to say ‘bro,’” says Julia around her laughter. “Or, wait, definitely use it to say ‘bro.’ Paul would have no idea what to make of it.”

“Paul doesn’t have a nickname,” Eames says. “I don’t want Paul to feel left out.”

“Why would Paul feel left out?” Julia asks. “You’re not sleeping with him, are you?”

“Ew, no,” says Eames. “I mean, not that Paul isn’t attractive. If the two of you were, you know, into that sort of stuff, then maybe—”

“No,” says Arthur simply.

Julia says, “Paul doesn’t need a nickname. Besides, Paul has a nickname.”

“What nickname?”

“A special nickname that I’ve given him. I can’t tell you what it is. It has to do with sex.”

“Of course it has to do with sex,” grumbles Arthur. “All I’ve done today is talk about sex.”

Julia gives him an amused look. “Wow, Arthur, your job is very hard,” she says, and tousles his hair.

Which she’s allowed to do, because she’s the one who does his hair for him in the first place.

Arthur says, “I have to find a bachelor pad. A bachelor pad. Me. I have news for everyone, in case you were wondering: I was the least ‘bachelor-y’ bachelor to ever exist. I never had a sex swing, or whatever.”

“Do you think all bachelors have sex swings?” Ariadne asks curiously.

“I don’t know.” Arthur shrugs. “Some of them probably do.”

“A surprisingly large number of them do,” offers Julia.

“Julia, seriously, who do you sleep with?” asks Eames. “What quality of man? Thank God we found Paul for you.”

“Mick wants a place where women will want to have sex,” says Arthur. “I’m probably going to need consultation on that one.”

“I hope you’re not looking at me for that,” says Ariadne. “Because there are limits to this guardian pixie sprite-ness.”

Chapter Text

“They’re going to end up paying listing,” Arthur says, by way of finishing his story and his pasta in one fell swoop.

He and Eames are eating dinner in the kitchen, Arthur at the table like a normal person, Eames cross-legged on the counter. Dinner is pasta that Timothy made for them before he ducked out to go to his watercolor class. (“It’s like we’re running a salon here,” said Eames, and Arthur replied, “Yes, that’s us, modern-day Voltaires.”) Everyone has departed, cameras packed up for the night, and Arthur is relishing the temporary emptiness of their house.

“After all that fucking nonsense about leaving money on the table, they’re going to end up paying asking price,” Arthur says, because he still can’t believe how royally Rusty fucked that negotiation up.

“Only if Alice gets her way,” Eames points out.

“She’ll get her way. I could tell from the tone of her voice. And the tenor of their relationship. Rusty’s all bluster. He puts up with a lot from her because he adores her. She doesn’t want to keep house-hunting. She wants this place, and a from-the-studs-up Eames design.” Arthur stands, walking over to the kitchen sink to rinse his plate and put it in the dishwasher. “They’ll pay asking to get it.”

Arthur takes Eames’s plate for him, but Eames grabs his hand before he can move away. He says, “I want you to know that you make me put up with nothing in exchange for my adoration of you. Absolutely nothing. You’re the easiest person on the planet to adore.”

“You’re besotted,” Arthur tells him.

Eames grins at him. “I am. Thoroughly besotted. It’s disgusting, isn’t it?” Eames pulls Arthur in, and Arthur goes, settling into the kiss and smiling through it at the same time.

“We’re married now,” Arthur informs him. “You should be getting sick of me.”

“Stop being so besottable,” Eames tells him.

“There’s no way that’s a word.”

“It’s a word. It’s an Arthur word. The perfect word for an Arthur.”

“I never send you photographs of my dick,” says Arthur abruptly.

Eames draws back from the little sipping kisses he’d been engaged in, lifting his eyebrows. “No,” he says slowly. “That’s true. You don’t.”

“Do you want them?” Arthur asks.

“I…” Eames tips his head in confusion. “What?”

“I don’t know,” says Arthur. “There are no naked pictures of me anywhere. I just…never went through a phase where I took naked pictures of myself. And I was always like, Why would I want naked pictures of myself? But I realize now that probably I was supposed to be offering them to you. Do you want naked pictures of me?” Arthur feels like an idiot asking this, which is probably why he’s never asked before, but if Eames for some reason really wants a picture of his penis, then Arthur will take a picture of his penis for him.

Eames’s eyes have that soft and impossibly fond look to them that might be Arthur’s favorite. He says, “I don’t want any naked pictures of you. As long as I get to see naked you in real life fairly often.”

“That can be arranged,” says Arthur.

“Can it?” asks Eames.

“It’s on the schedule and everything.” Arthur waves toward the glass board.

Eames laughs. “What does the glass board say about sex tonight? Is it on the schedule?”

“That depends,” Arthur says. “Make me a good enough offer and I’ll draw a penis on the glass board myself.”

Chapter Text

Sorry, I had to go out of town for a work thing and I thought I would have time to post, except that Internet has been a weird and crazy adventure, and then I realized I'd kind of disappeared on everyone without warning, oops. Things should resume tomorrow!

Chapter Text

Rusty and Alice end up paying asking.

“Do you feel vindicated?” Eames asks, when Arthur breaks the news.

Arthur considers. “Somewhat. But it’s a hollow sort of vindication.”

Eames smiles. He and Ariadne and Gon are in Eames’s office, which Gon is making a valiant effort to organize. Ariadne has a number of collages spread out around her.

Eames says, “Did they seem happy at least?”

“Alice seemed happy. I told Rusty I was pretty sure no money was left on the table. He seemed bewildered that I used that phrase. First time Rusty had ever heard that phrase, apparently.”

Eames laughs. “Well, we are busy planning how to turn the loft into their dream home.”

“I look forward to the transformation,” Arthur says, and glances at Gon, who is stacking books of wallpaper samples. “Are you trying to clean this place?”

“Just a bit,” says Gon sunnily.

“Good luck,” says Arthur, who once, in the early days of living with Eames, tried to clean Eames’s office.

There’s a knock on the door, revealing Paul, who looks confused and says, “Are we using your office? To, like, work in?”

“I use my office to work in all the time,” says Eames.

“You use your office to shove the mess into because you promised Arthur you’d try to minimize the chaos in the rest of the house,” says Paul.

“Well,” says Eames, clearly unable to deny that.

“And I love you for it,” Arthur assures him. “I’ll leave you designers to—”

“No, no.” Eames scrambles up. “Paul has important things he needs us to make a decision on.”

“What?” asks Arthur, confused.

“River hallway stuff,” Eames says. “Come and see.”

Arthur follows Eames and Paul out of Eames’s office and into the hallway. Ariadne and Gon do, too.

What Paul has laid out on the hallways are small square pieces of glass. At least, that’s what it looks like to Arthur. Some of them are colored, and some of them are wavy, and some of them are sparkly. There’s a lot of them.

Arthur says, “What’s this?”

“To cover the rivers,” Eames says. “Remember I said that it might make sense to cover them somehow. For safety’s sake.”

“Might make sense,” Arthur repeats wryly. “Yes, I recall that being discussed.”

“So I asked Paul to bring us samples. What do you think, darling?” Eames bounces up onto his toes, delighted to have a design conundrum in front of him.

There are a lot of samples. And Arthur hasn’t done enough thinking about this to really have opinions as to what the covering should look like. The river hallways belong to them, so they should be unexpected, different, unique. He hasn’t thought through the rest of it.

He looks at the samples and says, “I don’t know yet.”

“Of course not. Very wise. We must live with them first.” Eames sits himself down right in the middle of the hallway and begins arranging the squares of glass, frowning over them thoughtfully.

Chapter Text

Naturally Mick is house-hunting in Miami. Because where else but Miami would you want to have a bachelor pad? That’s what Mick asked Arthur. “The women are the best in Miami,” Mick said.

Arthur has no opinion on this, so he asks Julia. “Are the women the best in Miami?”

“No,” Julia says. “What the fuck. I’m a best woman sitting right in front of you, not in Miami.”

“I’m talking about from the point of view of a heterosexual man,” says Arthur.

“From the point of view of a heterosexual man, I am pretty fucking best,” says Julia.

“You know we’re filming this, right?” says Arthur. “You know the network has to censor every time you swear?”

Julia shrugs.

They are sitting in the living room together, going over Arthur’s picks for Miami houses. He and Eames will be flying out to Miami together but at the moment Eames is getting Gon and Ariadne started with the Nileses’ place. So Arthur is using Julia to ascertain if he has picked places where women are likely to have sex.

“You know that women don’t have sex with men based on their houses, right?” says Julia. “I mean, that isn’t our primary decision-making impetus. It’s one of a very complicated number of factors we consider.”

“I don’t know. That’s what he asked for. I guess I just need to find him a house that won’t weigh against him in the multi-factor test.” Arthur pauses. “Also, I slept with a guy based on his house, so, you know, it seems like that could be a thing.”

“You’re a very special case,” says Julia.

“No, Eames just had very special houses,” says Arthur. “So.” He gestures to the photos he has spread out. “Which of these gets you most, I don’t know, in the mood?”

Julia lifts her eyebrows at him and says, “You know what we need to have this conversation?”

“Vodka?” guesses Arthur.

“So much more vodka than we’ve had so far,” Julia agrees.

Arthur goes to retrieve their vodka and comes back and says, “You know, I read that vodka is good for your hair.”

“Of course it is,” Julia says, accepting the glass he’s poured her. “Vodka is good for everything.”

“That’s not actually true,” Arthur says. “You know that, right?”

“Uh-huh,” says Julia, sipping her vodka and looking at the photos of the houses. “Do you think your guy is an exhibitionist? Because some of these places would be better for that than others.”

“What is my life,” marvels Arthur.

Chapter Text

Eames in Miami is…something else.

“What the fuck is that?” Arthur asks him, when he sees the outfit Eames has chosen for the day’s house-hunt.

“We’re in Miami,” Eames explains.

“You have buttoned a grand total of one button on that shirt. One.”

“Miami wants to see this.” Eames gestures to his chest. “I have it on good authority.”

Arthur rolls his eyes and reaches for his sunglasses. “Whose good authority?”


“What did you Google?” They walk out of the hotel room together, closing the door behind them, off to meet their entourage and start their filming day.

“I Googled ‘should the people of Miami get to see Eames’s fantastic chest?’”

“And Google answered yes?”

“The answer to that question is always yes. Just so you know, I’m not going to let anyone touch it but you.”

“Touch what?”

“My bare chest.”

Arthur glances at him as they get into the elevator together. “You think a lot of people are going to want to touch your bare chest?”

“Yes. Darling. Look at my bare chest.” Eames gestures to it again.

Arthur says, “You’re a lunatic, you know it?” And, because there’s no camera with them for the moment, “I married a lunatic.”

Eames smiles at him and corners him and says, “Let’s make out a little bit before we get our make-up put on.”

“Eames,” Arthur says, and puts his hands on Eames’s bare chest.

“Yeah,” Eames responds.

“You make me happy,” Arthur says. “I know there are days I forget to tell you. Sorry about that. You make me happy.”

“You tell me every single day, darling,” Eames assures him. “Really, every single day.”

Chapter Text

The elevator doors open and Luisa says, “Is this kissing time? Because it’s not in the schedule.”

“Luisa!” exclaims Eames, as if he hadn’t expected to see her. “Keeper of the schedule! What is on the schedule?”

“Make-up,” Luisa says. “Julia’s all set up down by the pool.”

“Why by the pool?” asks Arthur, following Luisa.

“Because of the crowds,” Luisa replies.

“What crowds?” says Eames, as they step outside.

Arthur’s shirt instantly clings to his chest with the humidity.

“Christ,” says Eames, “it’s hot, isn’t it? I would have been better off entirely shirtless.”

Kalinda is coming up to them, looking more harried than Arthur has ever seen her.

“Everything okay?” he asks in alarm.

“Yeah. I just wanted to warn you. I want to start filming you now.”

“We don’t have make-up on,” Eames points out.

“Right, but I kind of want the reaction moment. It’s just going to be quick.”

“Reaction to what?” asks Arthur, thoroughly confused.

“Brace yourselves, my meal tickets,” says Kalinda. “You’re popular.” She gestures them around the corner.

Eames exchanges a look with Arthur, and then they both step around the corner.

And there’s a barrage of cheers from a ridiculously sized crowd that has been ushered into a garden area, trampling all over the tropical flowers. Some of them are waving signs that say things like “Miami Decides to LOVE Armes!”

“Bloody hell,” breathes Eames, as they both freeze.

Arthur blinks at the crowd. Some of them are waving things around, holding pens out, and Arthur can hear his name and Eames’s name being called loudly, from all corners. It’s dizzying and overwhelming and astonishing and amazing. These are the people, Arthur thinks. These are the people on Twitter and Tumblr, the ones who fret when one of them is sick, who aww when they banter over their social media, who write thousands of words about how he and Eames would find each other in every lifetime, and Arthur suddenly wants to get a megaphone and say, Thank you. Thank you for believing in my relationship as much as I do. Like, it’s undeniably weird, but these people in front of him just want him to be happy, and they don’t even really know him, and Arthur suddenly turns to Eames because he’s afraid he might start crying and they’re being fucking filmed.

“Hey,” Eames says softly, and kisses his temple. “Okay?”

Arthur looks up at him. Eames’s eyes are shining with absolute delight. Which Arthur would have predicted.

Arthur nods and says, “Just…didn’t expect so much love first thing in the morning.”

“Do you want to say hello?” Eames asks. “Because I kind of want to say hello.”

Arthur looks back at the crowd and thinks, yeah, definitely, they have to say hello.

Chapter Text

My grades are due first thing tomorrow and I am behind, oops!

Chapter Text

Arthur signs his name more times than he’s ever had to sign his name. Arthur poses for countless selfies. Arthur answers seven million questions: about who made his suit, about whether he’s enjoying the new show, about whether he’s been to Miami before, about whether he chose Eames’s outfit.

At that question, Arthur tries to direct a patented Arthur reaction gif look at whoever asked it and says drily, “No. I definitely did not choose that.”

There’s a ripple of laughter from his side of the crowd. Eames is busy answering questions about his tattoos, which he is very happy to have on display.

“Which one is for Arthur?” someone asks.

There isn’t one for Arthur yet, but Eames just smiles and says, “That’s a secret.”

Arthur glances at him and Eames senses his glance and looks up at him and says in delight, “Look. Look how happy they are that my chest is on display. Arthur doubted whether my chest needed to be on display today,” Eames tells the crowd.

Arthur is good-naturedly shouted down by the crowd, who is clearly delighted to have Eames’s chest on display. He shakes his head and rolls his eyes and lets Eames kiss a dimple, which will doubtless be all over social media by the time they finally make it to the makeup tent.

Which they finally do. He’s not sure if they signed everything there was to sign, but it felt impossible to do. There were just too many people to even begin to keep track of.

When they reach the edge of the crowd, Luisa is standing there, looking alert as she scans the faces of the people, and Arthur realizes with surprise that Saito sent them a bodyguard when he’d asked for a PA, and maybe Saito, with his unerring foresight, had seen this all coming.

Arthur kind of desperately wants to call him and say, How could you have seen this coming?

Julia is waiting for them in the tent that’s been set up by the swimming pool, positioned in such a way that they can get their makeup done in peace.

She says, “Hello, big stars.”

Eames collapses onto one of the chairs and says, “Well, that was exhausting. Someone fetch me Icelandic water immediately, and exactly 32 red M&Ms.”

Julia snorts and starts on Arthur first, as Kalinda rounds into the tent.

“I don’t get it,” Arthur says, trying to stay still for Julia’s ministrations but also trying to see Kalinda at the same time. “Where did all those people come from?”

“It wasn’t a secret that you were filming in Miami,” Kalinda says. “It wasn’t even a secret where you were staying, really. I mean, we didn’t go to a lot of effort to keep it secret. We didn’t announce it but we didn’t—”

“Probably a thing we need to think about for the future,” says Luisa. “We’re going to need to think harder about the security set-up at these places.”

“Jesus,” says Kalinda, “when I said we’d set Julia up in the lobby, I thought it would just drum up free publicity. The network wants me promoting the show as much as I can.”

“I think the show’s publicity level seems to be pretty high,” remarks Eames.

“Did anyone ask you to sign their boob?” asks Julia.

“No!” exclaims Eames, sitting up a little straighter. “And now I am appalled. I would love to sign someone’s breast.”

“Eames,” sighs Arthur.

“Well, I would! If asked, I would sign a breast.”

“That is going nowhere near social media,” Arthur warns everyone in the tent.

Chapter Text

“What a great shirt!” Mick tells Eames enthusiastically.

As far as Arthur can tell, Miami is populated entirely by people who are only too happy to be exposed to Eames’s bare chest.

Mick says to Arthur, “And you’re all covered up.”

“It’s my thing,” Arthur says laconically.

“It is his thing,” agrees Eames. “Even in the sex club, he’s always all covered up. Dressed to the nines. He has to be, because of his feral sexuality. I mean, it’s dangerous. It’s literally basically a weapon.”

“We don’t have a sex club,” says Arthur, and pauses. “But my feral sexuality is a dangerous weapon.”

Eames laughs with delight.

Mick looks like he doesn’t know what to make of him. Which is okay by Arthur.

Mick rejects bachelor pad after bachelor pad that Arthur takes him to. He rejects the penthouses and he rejects the waterfront homes in equal measure. What he just keeps saying over and over again is that they aren’t big enough.

Arthur has shown him nothing under four thousand square feet, and Mick lives alone, and yet nothing has been big enough for Mick all day.

“Kalinda?” Eames calls, when they are taking a break in a spot of shade in the back of one of the houses, close to the canal it’s sitting on. Not that the proximity to the water is helping. The air isn’t moving one whit.

“Yeah,” she replies. She’s supervising the setting up of a shot by the canal, so that Mick can not-like it for the cameras.

“This isn’t being filmed, right?”

“No, you’re clear right now,” she confirms.

“I think he’s using house size to compensate for the size of his penis,” Eames says, so matter-of-factly and so unexpectedly that Arthur starts laughing and can’t stop.

He knows that everyone is looking at him now—Kalinda with the cameras, Mick wandering along by the canal—but Arthur really can’t help it. He’s practically falling off the bench they’re on, he’s laughing so hard.

Eames is looking at him in amusement. “Okay,” he says, “it was a decent line, but it wasn’t—”

“Do you know how big our house is?” Arthur gasps. “How completely, unnecessarily huge our house is, oh, my God.”

Eames’s mouth drops open. “Do you think people think…” he hisses. “You know.”

Arthur laughs and laughs. Arthur laughs until his stomach hurts and he’s sprawled over Eames’s lap.

“I feel like I should tweet this,” says Eames. “‘For the record, there is no correlation between the size of my house and the size of my penis.’”

Arthur looks up at him. “Don’t tweet that,” he says.

Eames picks up his phone and takes a photo of Arthur, grinning up at him. It’s a dramatic photograph when Arthur sees it later, Arthur’s face in shade, with bright sunlight behind him, but his hair has been tousled by sprawling on Eames’s lap and he’s obviously grinning widely and it’s a good picture. Eames tweets it with the tweet, Working very hard today.

Chapter Text

Arthur’s job can be annoying but he prefers to call it “challenging” and what he loves about it, always, is that moment when he gets it right. And that moment comes late in the day for Mick, much as it did for the Nileses, after he revises his expectations and shows Mick a sprawling 22,000-square-foot house on an exclusive island.

Mick loves it. And that moment when he falls in love with it, and Arthur gets to watch it, makes everything else totally worth it. Arthur feels like he could conquer the fucking world in that moment.

Mick goes running from one end of the bowling alley—yes, the house has a bowling alley—to the other, ends up next to Arthur, and gives him a very “bro” hug, all thumping on Arthur’s back as if he’s worried Arthur might be choking, and he says, “Arthur. This is incredible. I knew you would do it. Look at what you’ve found me. It’s perfect.”

Mick’s eyes are shining with joy, and nobody ever looks quite the way Eames does when he looks at Arthur, but sometimes Arthur thinks some of his clients have looks in the same species about the houses he finds them. Arthur says, “I’m so glad that we found you the right place. Now we just have to get it for you.”

“Oh, I leave that to you,” says Mick, music to Arthur’s ears. “I trust you totally. I mean, who wouldn’t trust you, am I right?” Mick turns to admire his bowling alley again. “Incredible. Absolutely incredible.”

“Glad you’re happy,” Arthur says. “I really am. That was my job. So now I’ll get you the place, and I won’t leave any money on the table.”

Eames’s lips twitch, which was Arthur’s intention, since Mick wouldn’t get the joke.

But the viewers at home will eventually, and Arthur likes that idea. Kalinda even gives him a surreptitious thumbs-up to display approval.

Chapter Text

The day’s work over, the cameras stay behind to film Mick roaming around his enormous house a little more, and a limo pulls up to take Arthur and Eames back to the hotel.

“Excellent day, boys,” Kalinda tells them as she sees them off. “Don’t forget, tomorrow we shoot promos in the morning and then hopefully Arthur has the deal done so we can get you in the house, Eames, to start gathering information for preliminary designs.”

Eames gives Kalinda a little salute.

Arthur gets into the limo and takes out his phone to call the other agent and then says, “Fuck it,” because he’s buzzing with joyful energy and has been since that morning.

Eames has slid in next to him, has closed the door, and Arthur says, “Sorry,” and puts the divider up behind the driver—something he ordinarily hates to do because it’s so snobby—but Arthur immediately straddles Eames’s lap.

Eames says in surprise, “Oh. Hello,” and Arthur kisses the fucking life out of him. Arthur knows exactly how to kiss Eames to take him from zero to sixty immediately, to make him almost instantaneously hard, and sometimes Arthur likes a slow burn but there is no time for a slow burn and anyway he feels like he’s vibrating out of his skin and he wants to get Eames to that state, too.

Eames growls, shoving at the suit jacket that Arthur’s managed to maintain this entire godawful hot day.

Arthur splays his hands on Eames’s chest, so accessible today, and pants into his mouth, “Today—was incredible.”

“Really?” Eames mumbles against him. “Because it seems much more incredible right now.”

“Did you see the fucking house I just found for that guy?” Arthur demands.

“I saw,” says Eames. “A literal house for fucking.”

“I’m in a good mood,” says Arthur, and grins wickedly and slides his way off of Eames’s lap, onto the floor of the limo, which is humming underneath his knees, as he nudges Eames’s knees further apart.

“I can tell,” says Eames, eyebrows raised.

“I have this husband,” Arthur says, leaning forward between Eames’s legs to plant a wet, open-mouthed kiss as low on Eames’s abdomen as he can currently reach.

“Oh, do you?” says Eames, hands tangled in Arthur’s hair. “What’s he like?”

“He’s, like, this super-sexy celebrity,” Arthur says to Eames’s left nipple, and swipes the flat of his tongue over it.

“He sounds pretty great,” says Eames breathlessly.

“He is. Good enough for a celebrity blowjob in the back of a limo.” Arthur catches Eames’s mouth into another kiss.

“Kitten,” manages Eames. “Not that I don’t—love this—thought—” Arthur undoes Eames’s belt, unzips his trousers. “—oh, Christ—I really—love this—fucking—thought—” Arthur gets a hand around him, finds him as satisfyingly hard as Arthur knew he would be. “--Jesus--but I don’t know—if there’s enough time—to—”

Arthur stops stroking him and stops kissing him and sits back. “Oh, really?” he drawls, and lifts an eyebrow at him. “Really?” Arthur drags his cell phone out of his pocket and swipes at it and sets the stopwatch going and puts it on the seat next to Eames. “Fucking time me,” he says.

“Fucking hell,” says Eames dazedly, and Arthur swallows him down and uses every fucking trick he knows, because if Eames thinks Arthur doesn’t know him, doesn’t know how to bring him off in no time flat, he is dead fucking wrong about that.

Eames is talking and moaning and making aborted little gasps, and Arthur assumes that the barrier between the driver is soundproof but it’s really way too late now, and Eames comes and Arthur swallows out of necessity and really, his talent at doing that is why Eames gets to get blown all over the place.

Arthur leans over Eames’s splayed knee to punch the stopwatch off, and then he gives Eames what he hopes is the fucking smuggest look ever.

Eames, slumped into the seat, brushes a hand through the hair tumbled over his forehead and manages a breathless laugh and says, “Fuck.”

“How was that?” Arthur asks. “Pretty good?”

Eames fists his hand into Arthur’s shirt and pulls him forward roughly for a messy kiss. “You’re such an obnoxious prick,” Eames mumbles, “and I love you so fucking much, and not at all just because you give good head.”

Arthur laughs into the kiss.

And then someone tries to open their limo door. Arthur didn’t even realize they’d stopped. He scrambles forward to slam the door shut and calls, “Just a minute,” while Eames does a terrible job of getting himself back into his pants because he’s laughing too hard.

Chapter Text

When they walk into the hotel together, Arthur is pretty sure there’s color high on his cheeks in a suspicious way but he doesn’t even care because he’s so fucking happy. It was a good day. An excellent day. He has a job he loves and a husband—a husband--he fucking adores and random strangers are happy for him and want him to be happy and he gets paid a lot and people fuss over him and he has a personal assistant and multiple houses he loves and most of the time Arthur is just living his life but today he feels like his eyes are spinning with the jackpot he’s hit in life.

Luisa meets them in the lobby. “Hi. How’d filming go?”

“Mmm, bloody spectacular,” says Eames, arm flung over Arthur’s shoulder, brushing a kiss into his hair, talking not at all about the filming, Arthur can tell.

Arthur doesn’t try very hard to swallow his smirk. He says, “We found a house.”

Luisa smiles at him and says, “That’s good,” as they all step onto the elevator together. “So you’re done for the day. Nothing else on your schedule.”

“That is excellent news,” says Eames.

“Julia and I are going out for dinner,” Luisa says. “If you guys want to join.”

“I think we will let the two of you complain about your unreasonable bosses for the evening,” Eames decides.

“Suit yourselves,” Luisa says. “Are you two staying in?”

They step off the elevator onto their floor, with Eames saying, “I know you’re used to knowing everything about our schedule but must we clear all of our plans with you?” He says it mildly but it’s got that edge to it that Eames can lend to his inflection that makes people pay attention.

Luisa pays attention. She says, “After what happened this morning, I think I might want to know if you plan on going out.”

“We’re not in danger,” says Eames. “They were fans asking for autographs. Your dragon blood is getting excitable.”

“I don’t think you’re in danger necessarily. I just think maybe you’ve reached a level of fame that you’re not used to yet, so we should feel it out.”

“We’re staying in,” Eames says in a clipped tone, as Arthur opens the hotel room door. “I owe my—Arthur an unspeakable sex act.”

Chapter Text

Eames doesn’t let Arthur take two steps into the room before he pushes him back against the door and drops to his knees. And then he lifts up Arthur’s hand, tips his watch toward him, and says sweetly, “Time me.”

Arthur laughs at him, as Eames tackles his pants, and then Arthur isn’t laughing because Eames has the most amazing mouth and knows how to do this thing with his tongue that just turns Arthur into a puddle every single fucking time.

Eames doesn’t let him come there against the wall because Eames is a prick who Arthur hates, which he tells him very enthusiastically while Eames is manhandling him over to the bed, amidst very creative names, and Eames says, “Yes, yes,” nodding very seriously as he gets Arthur onto the bed and stretches out over him and damn it, he is a delicious weight, it’s annoying.

“You’re annoying,” Arthur tells him, too trapped by Eames’s weight to get useful friction going instead of annoying friction.

“I am,” Eames agrees, kissing him. “I’m very annoying. Do you want me to finish you off?”

“No,” says Arthur sulkily, meeting the kisses. “I’ll just do it myself.”

Eames chuckles. “You’re such a petulant little brat,” he says.

“And you’re a fucking tease. I gave you a really good blowjob.”

“And mine is subpar?”

“So far, yes. Mine was a fucking work of art. Just saying.” Arthur wriggles as much he can and huffs in frustration.

Eames laughs. “Alright, fine, I’ll go take a shower and leave you to put yourself out of your misery.”

“You’re a nightmare,” Arthur says, as Eames goes to roll off the bed.

Eames laughs and rolls back and goes to work and by the time he’s done Arthur has changed his tune and is gasping, “I love you,” and given that Arthur is seeing stars he thinks it’s a suitable turnaround.

Eames rests his head on Arthur’s abdomen, and Arthur pets his hands through his hair and closes his eyes and let himself drift.

“We have the best sex life,” Eames announces suddenly. “Like, other people wish they had our sex life.”

Arthur yawns. “Can’t argue with that.”

“So,” says Eames, “now that you’re feeling better…” He walks his fingers up Arthur’s chest, to flutter underneath Arthur’s jaw.

Arthur shifts, manages to catch one in his mouth and playfully bite it. Then he says, “I had a fucking spectacular day. And then my husband gave me an amazing blowjob. I couldn’t possibly feel any better.”

“Hmm,” says Eames, and lifts his head. “What if we went…clubbing?”

Arthur stills. Because this is not an idle question. Eames is asking it with serious intent. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, here we are, in Miami, where I hear there are good clubs. And I happen to have a husband who loves clubs. So.” Eames taps a finger against Arthur’s lips.

Arthur kisses it absently, regarding Eames. “You know,” he says, “that I would love to go clubbing.”

Eames shakes his head. “I hear a ‘but’ coming and don’t even say it.”

“But do you think we should have told Luisa that we were planning to go out?”

“No,” Eames says. “No, I don’t think—I don’t want a baby-sitter. Do you?”

“No—” Arthur begins, but Eames talks over him, and Arthur realizes abruptly that Eames is seriously angry about this.

“We are scheduled to the hilt, you and I. We have sex scheduled.”

“Not entirely,” Arthur ventures slowly, because it’s true. “That’s mostly a joke, we can—”

“And now we have this personal assistant who basically knows everything about us. Maybe I don’t want her knowing when I want to surprise my husband with a date. You know?”

“I know,” Arthur says thoughtfully. He hadn’t realized Eames was this agitated about this but that’s always how it is with Eames: nothing ever bothers him until the sudden moment when it overflows. “That’s why you cut yourself off in front of her, don’t refer to me as your husband.”

“We said we were only telling a few people—”

“And she wasn’t on the list because we don’t know her well yet. And I completely agree. But you’ve been trying to keep little pieces for us.”

Eames sighs and puts his head back down on Arthur’s stomach. “We can control the cameras coming on and off. The personal assistant is, to me, much more invasive. And I know she’s helpful to have around, I know she takes a lot of pressure off of us—”

“Off of me,” Arthur suggests, because he feels like Luisa is mostly to assuage his organizational tendencies.

But Eames corrects firmly, “Off of us. We need someone to manage us, and trust me, I appreciate that. I’m not resentful that she’s around, and I’m not regretful that we need her, I just…I had this idea I wanted to take you clubbing tonight. It was going to be sweeping and romantic. I didn’t want to have to clear it with a committee.”

“I agree,” Arthur says after a moment. “I agree. Thank you for telling me that you feel this way.”

“I love having her,” Eames says, shifting so he can meet Arthur’s eyes. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t. I just want a balance.”

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees. “A balance is good. This is good communication.” Because it is. With this out in the open, now they can move forward, find that balance.

Eames grins. “Yeah? A-level communication?”

“We should go clubbing,” Arthur decides, reasoning it through in his head.

Eames gives Arthur his Christmas-morning look. “Yeah? Really?”

“Yeah. I don’t know what the fuck happened this morning, and I don’t really understand why we’re fucking celebrities in the first place—”

“It’s because of your feral sexuality,” Eames explains seriously.

“No, it’s not,” says Arthur. “But anyway, I think, if we’re some new and unfamiliar level of fame, then we need to figure out ourselves how we’re going to deal with it. Luisa can help, of course, but we need to figure it out. You and I. It’s our lives, our marriage.”

“So your proposal is we figure out our new level of celebrity by going clubbing?” clarifies Eames.

“That was your proposal,” Arthur corrects him. “I’m just endorsing it.”

Eames looks delighted. “Let’s go for it, kitten!”

Chapter Text

Arthur dresses down, casual but upscale. Eames spends an obscene amount of money to get artfully ripped designer jeans in Arthur’s size sent up. They cling to Arthur’s ass obscenely and they almost don’t get out of the room at all. Arthur puts his foot down and they make a determined escape without losing any clothing.

Eames is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and looks both smarmy and unbearably sexy.

Arthur says, “Sometimes I worry about my taste in men.”

Eames laughs and says, “I never worry about your taste in men.”

“You wouldn’t,” says Arthur, and then they walk straight out the hotel’s front door.

Not a single person gives them a second glance, and Arthur relaxes. He had been a little worried maybe they were going to be stalked by paparazzi and have to turn around and go back inside but everything stays reliably boring and normal.

It’s too early for a good club so they kill time with dinner, at a loud and completely generic place that they choose entirely because it’s in a convenient location and they don’t want to think very hard. The food is passable but food is less important when Eames is entertaining, which he unfailingly is. Arthur laughs until he cries over Eames’s proposals for decorating what he calls “Mick’s fucking house” (“I’m thinking penis doorknobs,” he says, “seriously,” and Arthur says, “You think Mick will pay to custom-make penis doorknobs? Will they use his penis as a model?” and Eames says, “No, they come pre-made, I can order them,” and then Arthur was laughing too hard over the fact that Eames at one point sat on his tablet studying penis doorknobs, that is such a fucking designer-porn thing to do), and then they linger over espresso and hazelnut gelato, until Arthur is satisfied it’s late enough to blend into a club crowd.

Arthur chooses the club but he does it the way they chose the restaurant—at random—and he definitely can’t complain about it. The music is loud with a driving beat and the drinks are fantastic and the dance floor is crowded and Arthur fucking loves it.

He drags Eames out into the thick of it, and alcohol gets jostled all over them, and the crowd presses them together, and everything about it is the best. Eames looks like he’s having a blast, and Arthur knows him well enough to know that he can’t really fake that with him anymore, and Arthur keeps it away from being NC-17 the way it was the first time they went clubbing together in favor of more of an R rating, a little bit of light grinding, a little bit of sucking bruises onto Eames under the collar of his shirt, a little extra thrill knowing they’ll be there for the filming tomorrow. Eames catches him up close and growls into his neck and closes his teeth around his earlobe and tugs and Arthur laughs against Eames.

It’s hot and they’re sweaty and they’re close and Arthur is plastered against Eames, because he has to be, his face in the curve of Eames’s neck, and Eames’s arms are around him, his hands lightly on his hips, and Arthur feels so safe, and so loved. Like, here in the middle of this teeming crowd of strangers, he has Eames, holding him, keeping him close. He always has Eames.

Arthur lifts his head high enough to shout into Eames’s ear, “I love you.”

Eames turns his head, smiling, and shouts back, “Very sexy club talk.”

Arthur laughs, all dimples, and kisses Eames, not hard or filthy but fond and sweet, arms up around his neck, hands gentle in his hair.

When they leave the club, they pour themselves into a cab and from there into their enormous hotel bed. They leave the curtains open, partly because they have to wake up early the next morning anyway, and partly because their view is of twinkling city lights and it’s a novelty. It casts the bed in shades of neon, and Arthur watches it drifting over Eames’s skin.

“You had a good time, right?” he asks, just to check. He’s pretty sure Eames did, but he also knows Eames goes clubbing just because Arthur loves it. And also he might be a little drunk still.

Eames rumbles amused laughter and pulls Arthur against him, and when he answers he sounds affectionate in a way that tells Arthur he must still be drunk, because Eames is finding him extra-adorable at the moment. He says, “I had a very good time. Did you have a good time?”

“Mm-hmm,” Arthur says, turning drowsily into the warmth of Eames’s body. “I always have a good time with you. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. You’re just…fun. We have fun, don’t you think?”

He feels Eames brush his lips over his temple. “Yes,” Eames says, voice swamped with bunches of emotions Arthur’s too addled to place. “We have fun. You’re fun, too. I have a good time with you.”

“We have the best life,” Arthur mumbles. “Period.”

He falls asleep to Eames saying, “Yeah. We do.”

Chapter Text

In the morning, Eames suggests they save time by showering together.

“That has never once saved us time,” Arthur points out.

“First time for everything,” says Eames.

“Also, we’re not late,” says Arthur. “We don’t need to save time.”

“Which is exactly why we should shower together,” says Eames.

Arthur considers the shower, considers Eames, then says, “Okay, fine, get in here.”

Which makes them predictably slightly late for meeting Luisa.

Eames says jovially, “How was dinner?”

“Good,” says Luisa. “We complained about the two of you a lot.”

“They must have been lies,” says Eames, “since we’re generally amazing.”

“And how was your evening?” asks Luisa.

“Very boring,” says Eames.

“No unspeakable sex acts?” says Luisa.

“Oh, many unspeakable sex acts,” replies Eames. “But our lives are full of so many unspeakable sex acts that Arthur and I now find them boring.”

“Let’s pick a different topic of conversation,” suggests Arthur. “Is there another huge crowd waiting for us to get our makeup done?”

“No, we hid Julia this time. Yesterday was a miscalculation. We didn’t realize what was going to happen. Today there are no autograph-hunters.”

It’s true. It’s almost anticlimactic to reach Julia’s little makeup tent by the swimming pool without crowds of people.

“They still have you out here by the swimming pool?” Arthur says to Julia.

Julia shrugs. “Everything was already set up, so they just left me here.”

“Kalinda’s conferring with the photographer about what he’s thinking for shots,” Luisa says. “I’m going to circle back with her and see if I can get us an agenda for the day.”

“Thanks,” Arthur says, as Eames plops down into the chair to go first.

As soon as Luisa walks away, Julia turns from Eames to shove Arthur hard.

“What the fuck,” Arthur says in surprise, stumbling a couple of steps.

“Did you know?” Julia hisses.

“Know…what?” asks Arthur, completely bewildered.

“Number one, your PA? She is not human.” Julia looks deadly serious about this.

“I told you!” Eames crows triumphantly. “I told you she’s a dragon!”

“She’s not a dragon,” Arthur says.

“She’s not human,” Julia reiterates.

“Okay, but you also think I’m a leprechaun. ‘Not-human’ is, for some very weird reason, your go-to for…basically every situation. It’s, let me repeat, weird.”

“Most situations can be most accurately explained by things like leprechauns and dragons,” says Julia matter-of-factly.

“She’s right,” says Eames.

“No, she isn’t—Never mind, what makes you think she’s not human?”

“She drinks like a thing that can drink a lot.” Julia looks to Eames for help. “What’s a supernatural thing that drinks a lot?”

Eames considers. “A centaur?”

“A centaur?” says Arthur. “That’s your pick for a supernatural thing that can drink a lot?”

“If I had a horse’s body, I’d drink a lot,” says Eames.

“Why would that make you drink?” asks Arthur. “You could run really fast. I think it’d be kind of cool.”

“Focus,” says Julia.

“On what?” Arthur says. “On the fact that you think our PA is a centaur?”

“She’s clearly not a centaur. That was a stupid choice.”

“Hey!” Eames protests.

Julia ignores him. “But she drank me under the table. And I’m Vulia.”

“Vulia?” Eames asks. “What the hell is that?”

“It stands for Vodka Julia,” Julia informs him.

“It sounds vaguely obscene,” Eames remarks. “I might rethink that nickname. Unless that’s what you like about it.”

“This entire conversation is pointless,” Arthur decides. “I think I’m going to take a nap and you two should wake me up when you’re done talking about drunk centaurs and nicknames.”

“And vulvas, because with a nickname like Vulia, that’s definitely going to be our next topic of conversation,” remarks Eames.

“Oh, my God,” says Arthur.

“Moving off the topic of drunk centaurs,” says Julia.

“Thank Christ,” says Arthur.

“She and Kalinda have a…” Julia makes a gesture with her fingers that looks like a cross between an a-okay symbol and a shadow-puppet rabbit.

Arthur stares at her. “What…”

Which is when Kalinda and Luisa arrive back.

Julia immediately begins focusing on Eames’s makeup, humming energetically, like humming while she applies makeup is something Julia has ever done.

Kalinda says, “The photographer has an idea for the photo shoot. It’s a little…unconventional. You don’t have to agree to it if you don’t want to.”

“What’s the idea?” asks Arthur.

“They want Eames naked.”

“I am all over this idea,” Eames announces definitively. “Will it be problematic that Arthur left a lot of marks on me last night, though?”

“Oh, Christ,” mumbles Arthur. He has a feeling this is going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Always before, when doing publicity shots, they’d had a fairly ordinary photographer who had them look directly at the camera and smile a little bit. Arthur tends to hate these types of photo shoots, because Eames takes excellent pictures, has a charm that translates easily to still photography, but Arthur always looks stiff and posed.

This photographer is clearly not like their usual photographers.

Arthur says, “Where do you want me?” and the photographer says, “I don’t want you anywhere,” and Arthur has no idea what to make of that.

The photographer can tell, coming up to him and smiling quickly. “Hi. I’m Morgan. My preferred pronoun is ‘they.’”

“I’m Arthur,” Arthur says, shaking their proffered hand. “And mine is ‘he.’”

“It’s nice to meet you, Arthur,” says Morgan, with a quick smile. “I especially love that you thought you had to introduce yourself to me.”

“I don’t like to presume,” says Arthur. Plus, there have been photo shoots in his past where the photographer had barely understood the show the photos would be used to promote.

Morgan clearly gets the show. Morgan clearly gets Arthur. They look Arthur up and down and say, “Who chose your suit?”

Arthur looks down at it. He loves this suit. It’s a little too heavy for Miami but it’s the perfect blend of classic and unconventional, navy blue with a very fine, pale blue check. In photos, he thinks it will come across as interesting without being loud or shouty, rewarding a second look but not requiring one if the viewer would rather just move on.

Arthur says, “I did. Do you not like it?”

Morgan smiles again, the same quick smile as before. They seem to specialize in quick smiles. Arthur gets the impression Morgan has a million things going on in their brain all at once, and smiling is only getting a tiny amount of brain power devoted to it. Arthur thinks Eames is going to like Morgan; there’s a hurried feeling to them that he thinks Eames will appreciate. “No, I love it, I was making sure that you like it. I want you to be relaxed on this photo shoot. I’ve studied your photos. I don’t think anyone’s ever said that to you before.”

“Is it that obvious?” asks Arthur drily.

Another quick smile. Morgan says, “When you’re on television, when you’re in control, you’re a force of nature. It’s my job to get that to translate into the photos. That’s why people are going to watch your show, after all. Because you’re going to lure them in. So, I want you to feel in control of this photo shoot. So I guess I should ask you: is it going to bother you that Eames is going to be naked?”

“No, I’m used to Eames being naked,” remarks Arthur, still dry.

“While you’re fully dressed,” Morgan finishes.

“I don’t want to get too much into our sex life,” drawls Arthur, “but this is going to be fine. It’s all very sex-club-chic.”

“I thought so,” says Morgan, looking pleased. “Are you okay with that?”

Arthur glances out over the lush garden area by the swimming pool where they’re shooting. It’s been completely closed off, considering that Eames is about to make a naked entrance. And it’s odd, but being told that he’s in control of this photo shoot really has worked to kill his nerves. People think he’s some kind of badass sex club manager? He is going to fucking own it.

“Yes,” Arthur says. “Let’s do it.”

Chapter Text

Morgan positions Eames on one of the swimming pool’s lounge chairs. Julia’s spiked his hair into deliberate, studied bedhead, to increase the debauched impression. Frankly, Eames is basically swimming in debauchery at the moment, sprawled naked on the lounge chair, completely unbothered. Eames has done naked photos before, and Eames thinks his body is a work of art to be shown off at every given opportunity.

Eames isn’t exactly wrong about that, but Arthur tries not to tell him that, Eames has a high enough opinion of himself.

They’re both given sunglasses, and at first Arthur thought it was an odd choice, obscuring their eyes like that, but since everything else of Eames is exposed, it makes sense for him. And Morgan says it makes sense for Arthur because it links him thematically to Eames and also is the “edge” of Arthur’s outfit.

“The sunglasses are edgy?” Arthur says.

“The way you wear them,” Morgan replies, “yes.”

Arthur looks at Eames.

Eames says, “They're right, darling, I’d pull them off you with my teeth, were we alone.”

“Is that something sexy?” Arthur asks, bewildered. “I don’t even know if I would find that sexy.”

“No, we can’t talk about sexy things, I’m on too much display at the moment.” Eames gestures downward, as if Arthur would forget.

Morgan has Arthur perched on the edge of Eames’s lounge chair, and Morgan is scurrying around, trying out many different angles, and suddenly they exclaim, “Yes! This is it! Right there! Don’t move your bodies.”

“Should we smile?” Arthur asks.

“No, you should talk to each other. Your photo shoot, your rules, remember? Just talk to each other. Forget I’m even here.”

“We’re meant to forget they’re here,” Arthur tells his naked husband, while he can hear the camera snapping feverish photographs of them.

“I heard,” says Eames. “Let’s talk about what Julia was going to say about Kalinda and Luisa. Do you think it has something to do with gray market goods?”

“Gray market goods?” says Arthur.

“Gray market goods are—”

“No, I know what gray market goods are, it’s just…why the fuck would Julia have been trying to tell us about gray market goods?”

“Well, what do you think that hand gesture was?”

“I think they’re probably sleeping together,” Arthur says. “All awkward hand gestures indicate sex. Julia has an especially weird one that makes me not want to know anything more about her and Paul. And I understand the irony of me talking about other people’s weird sex lives while a photographer takes photos of me in my suit with my naked husband.”

“I knew it,” says Eames, grinning broadly, looking pleased as punch. “Do you think it’s possible I’m Cupid? Like, the Cupid? The way you’re a leprechaun.” [credit beginningwithA]

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Arthur mutters under his breath, rolling his eyes.

“Look at me,” commands Morgan abruptly, and they both look at them.

Morgan’s angle manages to capture the two of them in exactly the right position that Arthur is blocking anything that should be blocked, but not so much that it’s not still clear to the viewer that Eames is naked. Eames in the photograph looks smug, like the cat who just caught the canary, a smirk on his generous lips. Arthur in the photograph looks no-nonsense, determined, compelling.

It’s not what Arthur expected of the photograph. It’s not how Arthur sees himself most of the time. But Arthur…kind of loves it.

Eames loves the photograph even more than Arthur does, loves it desperately, says it’s one of the best photos of Arthur he’s ever seen.

He tells Morgan that, brimming over with enthusiasm.

He says it again to Arthur, as he puts his clothing back on. “The thing about you is that I love your adorable dimples and your utter hilariousness,” Eames says, “but you know I first fell in love with all of your ruthless, vicious competence, and that’s what’s in that photo, and it’s stunning. Who wouldn’t want you as their real estate agent? Who wouldn’t want to watch you in a television show? Who wouldn’t want to just do whatever you told them to do, frankly? That photo of you is bloody hot. You’re sexy as fuck, you blow me out of the water and I’m the one naked.”

Arthur says, fondly, “You’re being hyperbolic,” but Arthur also steals another look at the photograph and thinks, I do look good.

Chapter Text

With the photograph done, they meet up again with Luisa and Kalinda for a briefing on the rest of their afternoon. Julia stands behind Luisa and Kalinda and makes ridiculous, incomprehensible gestures that are apparently supposed to communicate to them that Luisa and Kalinda are sleeping together, or whatever. Arthur thinks Julia is making this communication way more complicated than it needs to be. There are some pretty obvious hand gestures that could be used for sleeping together. Maybe heteronormative hand gestures, but still.

“Eames, I’m going with you and I’m bringing Dev or Tavi,” Kalinda is saying, while Julia mimics what looks like choking.

Arthur knits his eyebrows at Julia.

Eames is apparently being professional and paying attention, because he says, adjusting his collar, still finishing up getting dressed, “Only one?”

“I had an idea for the other one, if Arthur’s okay with it.”

Julia is now twerking, which is something Arthur doesn’t need to see.

Arthur looks at Kalinda determinedly and says, “Okay with what?”

“Luisa mentioned you were planning to go shopping.”

Arthur has a free afternoon, shopping seemed like a good way to spend it. That way he didn’t have to bore Eames with it. He says, “I was, yeah. Why? Do you need me to do something else?”

“No, I would like you to do exactly that. I’d just like you to take Dev or Tavi with you and film it. People would love to see you shopping. If you don’t mind.”

“People would love to see me shopping,” repeats Arthur. “I mean, that’s fine, but it’s very boring. I take forever. I look at everything. Not even Eames likes to see me shopping.”

“That’s not true,” Eames protests. “I like it very much whenever you try something on that accentuates your arse.”

Arthur gives him a look. “What about all the moments when I am not trying something on that accentuates my ass?”

“Those moments are very boring,” agrees Eames. He pauses. “And there are a lot of them.”

“It’s fine,” says Kalinda. “We’ll edit. If you’re okay with being filmed.”

Arthur shrugs and says, because he really doesn’t, “I don’t care.”

“Then it’s settled,” says Kalinda.

Luisa says to Arthur, “I’ll stick with you, if you want. I can help keep track of the purchases and stuff.”

Arthur’s not sure he’ll need Luisa but he thinks Eames definitely won’t need her because he’ll be in his own little designing world and barely making sense, so he nods. Then, as it occurs to him, “You could just take the afternoon off if you want.”

“This is my job,” Luisa reminds him. “Come along with you in case you need things during filming.”

Arthur supposes that’s mostly true, so he decides to let it drop.

Eames says, “See you, darling. Buy lots of beautiful arse-hugging garments,” and kisses Arthur’s dormant right dimple.

“Uh-huh,” says Arthur, as if he buys clothes just to please Eames’s objectification of him.

Eames winks at him as if he knows what Arthur is thinking, and moves off with Kalinda and Dev.

Luisa says, “Let me check to make sure we’ve got transportation and stuff in place.”

Which, Arthur decides, it’s why it’s nice to have a PA who worries about those details.

Arthur shrugs out of his coat and starts taking off his tie, because there’s no need to be dressed to the nines for the shopping trip, and watches Julia basically flop her way over to him.

“You are, like, the least subtle person ever,” Arthur informs her. “And terrible at charades. Honestly. Does Paul know how bad you would be at charades?”

“Why is that relevant to my relationship with Paul?” asks Julia.

Which gives Arthur pause. “I don’t know. Level of talent at charades is weirdly relevant to dating Eames, for some reason.”

“Did you get what I was trying to tell you?” Julia hisses, ignoring him.

“That Luisa and Kalinda are sleeping together?” asks Arthur calmly, unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling his sleeves up.

“You knew?” exclaims Julia. “And you didn’t tell me?”

“I didn’t know,” replies Arthur. “But I suspect they’d head in that direction. They do a lot of flirting.”

“Well, I was basically a third wheel all night last night.”

Arthur feels sympathy. He’s been in that position and he hates it. He always worries he and Eames are putting people in that position. He says, “Was it horrible? I’m sorry.”

“Oh, no,” Julia says brightly. “It was delicious. They’re delicious. I enjoyed every second of it. I was just mad you didn’t tell me before what a show I was missing out on.”

Chapter Text

Arthur wondered if they would be able to get any of the shops he’s chosen to agree to filming but most of them fall all over themselves wanting to get on film.

Most of them also refuse to let him pay. It’s…disconcerting.

“What are we going to do about that?” he asks Luisa fretfully.

“It’s pretty standard celebrity stuff,” Luisa replies. “Celebrities pick up free stuff all the time.”

“But I can pay for it,” Arthur points out. “And what’s the point of giving me all this free stuff? What are they getting out of it?”

“They’re hoping you’ll wear it on the show and give them tons of publicity. Also, maybe they like you.”

“Secret Armes shippers,” remarks Arthur, squinting into the sunshine. Even with sunglasses on, the glare from the sun is fierce.

Their camera is starting to attract attention. Or maybe Arthur himself is starting to attract attention. It’s hard for Arthur to figure it out these days. But there are people gathering, whispering, taking pictures. Some braver ones are waving to him.

Arthur says, “Should I sign autographs?”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Luisa says. “It’s up to you.”

Arthur doesn’t know how to play this. He doesn’t know how to handle this. He thinks of sneaking out on Luisa the night before, of how he and Eames have to learn to navigate this themselves.

He stops walking, which forces Luisa to stop walking, and Tavi. Arthur says to her, “Turn the camera off,” and Tavi instantly agrees. It’s nice. Arthur says to Luisa, “This is new for us. I mean, we’ve had fans before, we’ve even had people watch filming before, but this--” Arthur gestures to emphasize the scale of it—“is new to us. We’re probably going to make mistakes, and we’re probably going to do things in a way you might not be totally on board with. Because we work best, Eames and I, when we figure out our way together. One of the ways in which we’re similar is that neither of us is very good at blindly accepting advice. We tend to have to flail our way into it first. You don’t know us very well still, so I’m just kind of…warning you. And asking for your patience. I feel like you might know this celebrity world better than we do. Which is weird, because we’re the celebrities, but…yeah.”

Luisa smiles at him. “You remember that you’re the ones paying me, right? I’d put up with you two even if you were horrible. For at least a little while.”

“Yeah, but…we’re kind of new to having ‘staff,’ we’d rather not have all of you hate us, or even merely tolerate us.”

Luisa says, “Is this about how you two went clubbing last night?”

Arthur blinks.

“Because,” Luisa goes on lightly, “I feel like this is coming from a guilty conscience about how you told me you were staying in.”

Arthur opens and closes his mouth. Then says, “How do you know we went out last night?”

Luisa pulls out her phone. “Because my job is to monitor your fandom for you. There’s video.” Luisa hands it across.

It’s not nearly as X-rated as their first club video. In fact, it’s just them hardly dancing, more talking, shouting at each other, laughing. It’s a quick video, more like a gif, and not damaging at all.

Arthur hands the phone back to Luisa and says honestly, because this is something he needs to make sure he clarifies, “We want a personal assistant. Not a baby-sitter.”

“It’s cool, Arthur,” Luisa assures him. “It was cool to tell me last night that it was none of my business, or you would handle it. I asked because I do have an expertise you two don’t have and I wanted to offer it. But if you need to find your way through this for yourselves, that’s cool. My job description is what you need it to be. It really is.”

Arthur knows that he should know this. He also knows that this is all an adjustment, and it’s going to take time. This is their processing time, his and Eames’s.

He says, “Thanks. Really.” And then he glances at the crowd watching the filming, some of whom immediately start shouting his name. “I think I’ll go sign some autographs.”

Chapter Text

Everyone in the little crowd watching wants to know where Eames is (“off being a famous designer,” Arthur answers jocularly) and then what he bought, so in between autographs, he lets Luisa pull a few pieces out to show them off.

“This is Luisa,” he introduces her to them. “And she’s watching all of you online to make sure you’re behaving.”

“And reading fic for Eames?” someone asks him.

“No comment,” says Arthur, and flashes his dimples in the direction the question came from, and that earns him some laughter.

“How’s business at the sex club?” someone asks him.

“Booming,” answers Arthur blithely, without missing a beat.

“Will you model the clothes you bought for us?”

“No, nothing’s tailored yet.”

“Going home to Giacomo?”

“Tonight,” Arthur says, still signing. “Well, not to Giacomo tonight. I try not to bother him too much at ridiculous hours. But soon.”

There’s a smattering of more laughter, and several people tell him to say hi for Eames for them, and someone says, “I knew that you two were okay and there wasn’t any kind of trouble going on,” which makes a few people around that someone hiss out, “Shh,” as if Arthur doesn’t know everything that goes in the fandom, Arthur thinks, including shipping wars. These people clearly, despite knowing he and Eames know the fandom, still underestimate how much they know it.

Arthur says, in the general direction from which that comment came, “Look, we don’t have a relationship only for the cameras. And the way you know that is exactly because of how much of our life doesn’t happen in front of cameras. So what you can tell people is that it’s real. And what you can also tell people is that if they think it’s not real because we seem too happy, they need to demand more out of their relationships.”

There’s a small smattering of applause, and Arthur knows his ears are pink, but he keeps signing, and taking some selfies, and finally they hit the end. “Did I get everyone?”

There’s general nodding and choruses of thank you’s and Arthur gives a little fluttering wave and turns to Luisa and says, “Okay. Next store? You can turn the camera back on,” he adds as an afterthought to Tavi.

Chapter Text

Arthur stretches out in first class. It’s just the two of them, since Julia flew home earlier in the day, Kalinda and the crew are staying behind to get some B-roll footage, and Luisa has family in the area and is taking the weekend off to visit with them. And probably make out with Kalinda, Arthur thinks.

Eames asks the flight attendant for champagne and says to him, “You, darling, are sunburnt. You look like you had a much better day than I did.”

“I signed autographs,” Arthur says. “And then I did some naked sunbathing by the swimming pool.”

“Liar,” Eames sighs. “You’re such a tease, darling, really.”

Arthur laughs at him. “Why does naked sunbathing sound like a good idea to you? Like, why would you want certain parties of your body to be blistered? Because I wouldn’t want that to happen.”

“Well, you’d be careful about it, obviously,” says Eames.

“It just doesn’t sound like fun to me,” says Arthur. “You’ll have to do naked sunbathing with your next—significant other.”

Eames gives him an amused look and then kisses underneath his jaw and then the flight attendant arrives with their champagne.

“So I talked to Julia, and to Luisa, and to our fans,” Arthur says.

“My, you did a great deal of talking today. How did those conversations go?”

“Julia’s angry I didn’t tell her earlier about Kalinda and Luisa.”

“Kalisa,” Eames corrects him.

“Yeah, I don’t…” Arthur just moves on. “Anyway, not really angry, just mock angry. I’m sure she’ll want to talk all about it.”

“Delightful,” Eames says. “I am looking forward to it.”

“I knew you would be. Now. As for Luisa. I talked to her about going clubbing last night.”

There’s a moment of silence before Eames huffs out an unhappy exhale and says, “Darling.”

“She already knew,” Arthur says. “There’s footage out on the Internet. We were recorded. It’s not a big thing, but it is there and she knew about it. She didn’t bring it up, but I kind of did, in a roundabout way, because I feel like it’s my job to set the boundaries for Luisa.”

“It’s not your job, it’s our job,” Eames says. “I don’t want you to feel like it’s all on you.”

“I know. I don’t. But, anyway, I was the one with her for the day, so I brought it up that we don’t want a baby-sitter. I mean, I think that was fair to say to her. We’re trying to find a balance.”

“Agreed,” Eames says.

“So I said that we need to figure this out for ourselves, you and I, how we want to deal with this. And right now it’s not clearing everywhere we go, that’s not how we’re going to do this.”

“And what did she say to that?”

“That she’s fine with it. That we’re the boss. That she just asked last night because she wanted to be there to help us if we wanted it, but that she’s fine with whatever we need.”

Eames considers. “Okay,” he says. “That’s good. That works. And now what did you tell the fans?”

“That you’re horrible. Really bad in bed, tiny little dick, hideous clothing.”

“I only believe the last one,” says Eames loftily.

Arthur chuckles. “I just signed autographs, really. So tell me what you did this afternoon.”

“Oh, I talked to Mick about design plans. He wants a dining room table with a stripper pole through the middle.”

Arthur starts laughing.

“You think I’m joking,” Eames says. “I’m not joking.”

“You’d have to custom-make it, I hope,” says Arthur. “Or do they make dining room tables with stripper poles?”

“Let’s see,” says Eames, pulling his phone out and starting to scroll through it. “If they do sell them, we definitely need one for the sex club.”

“Would you want to eat on a table with a stripper pole on it?”

“No, I don’t think he plans to do much eating on this dining room table. Well. Not much eating of food.”

“Gross,” says Arthur. “This is a gross conversation. And I’m not sure if a dining room table with a stripper pole is something that would make women want to fuck this guy.”

“The huge house will make women want to fuck this guy,” says Eames, still looking at his phone. “I mean, not all women, of course, but enough women to satisfy him, I think.”

Arthur snorts. “I don’t know if any amount of women would satisfy him.”

“Arthur signed autographs today,” Eames reads out loud from his phone.

Arthur says, “What?”

Eames tips the phone over to him briefly. “Tumblr entry. Nice photos of you, really. You look hot.”

“Again: you always think I look hot.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m wrong, though. You do always look hot.”

“You think I look hot when I roll out of bed with uncombed hair and stubble.”

“Darling, that’s when you look hottest. Ha, did you tell everyone business was booming at the sex club?”

“I did. If I had a sex club, business would definitely be booming there.”

“No argument from me. Aww, thank you, darling.”

“For what?”

“‘Arthur introduced their new PA Luisa and her job is apparently to keep them up-to-date on the fic so let’s write Eames some hot ones that she can pass along!’”

Arthur rolls his eyes but he knows he’s smiling.

Eames keeps reading, “‘Eames wasn’t there today because Arthur said he was off being a famous designer, so he must have been with a client. Arthur had words for all of you silly people out there who think their relationship is fake, though, and it was really sweet. He said something like, “If you think this is fake because we’re too happy, you need to demand more out of your relationships.”’ Aww, darling, that’s lovely.”

“Well,” says Arthur, vaguely embarrassed. “It’s true.”

“It is,” Eames says, and kisses Arthur’s temple. “Hashtag Arthur for Eames.”

“Hashtag Arthur for Armes,” Arthur corrects him.

Chapter Text

Arthur is in the middle of negotiations over Mick’s house, which are going reasonably well because of Mick staying out of it, which is really by far Arthur’s preferred way to handle house negotiations, because Arthur’s fucking good at his job and doesn’t get overly emotional at inappropriate parts of the negotiation. Eames is meeting Ariadne and Gon for filming later that day at the Nileses’ house. Arthur is going to tag along, partly because his side of things is under control for the moment and partly because he wants to be there to support Ariadne, who he knows is nervous.

In the meantime, Kalinda is filming what she calls “slice of life” footage, which is fine with Arthur, he’s aware that their life is partly what this show is all about.

Arthur is sitting at the kitchen table trying desperately to design some ties. He doesn’t think he’s any good at designing ties.

Eames is…doing God knows what over by the sink. Every few minutes there’s a new huge clatter that Arthur dreads asking about.

“You know what you like in ties,” Eames is saying to Arthur by way of encouragement.

“When I see it,” Arthur says, “yeah. I don’t just spontaneously have ideas for ties floating around in my head.”

“Right, but no one just has spontaneous ideas floating around in their heads. Trust me, all ideas come from somewhere. Why do you think I look at so many design magazines all the time? I get a kernel of an idea, and then I take it one step further.”

“One impossible step,” Arthur says.

There is another huge clatter from the sink. “Not always impossible,” Eames says. “Sometimes I actually manage to achieve my objectives.”

“But, like, where did you come up with river hallways?” asks Arthur.

Eames glances over at him and says, “Nature, darling. I came up with river hallways from nature.”

Which isn’t really a satisfying answer in Arthur’s opinion. He sighs and puts his pencil down as there’s another enormous clatter from by the sink.

“Seriously,” Arthur says, “what the fuck are you doing over there?”

“I am practicing recipes for my cookbook,” says Eames.

“What recipes? What are you making?”

“It’s going to be a shepherd’s pie. I’m just assembling all the pots and pans.” More clattering.

“Why do you need that many pots and pans to make shepherd’s pie?” asks Arthur.

“The thing is,” says Eames, arranging all of his pots and pans artfully around the kitchen counters, “I feel like maybe I just need them for company?”

“For company,” repeats Arthur blankly.

“Yes. In case I need them, they’re there. They’re like emergency pots and pans.”

“They would still be there if they were in the cupboards,” Arthur points out.

“Right,” says Eames, “but there would be an extra step to retrieving them. And in an emergency, who can afford to wait that long?”

Arthur supposes he can’t really argue with that.

Luisa comes in the back door and pauses to cross mail out fan requests from the glass board, because she’s taken over responding to fan mail with autographed photos and it’s lovely of her. And then she looks at the state of the kitchen and says, “Uh-oh. Did you clear this with Timothy?”

“It’s our kitchen,” says Eames loftily, brandishing a knife. “We don’t need to clear what we do in it.”

“Can you watch out?” Arthur says to him. “You have a knife in your hand.”

“With which,” announces Eames, “I am going to chop things,” and then he turns to his cutting board and begins doing something very dramatic with the knife.

“Is that safe?” Luisa asks Arthur. “That looks less safe than when I teach him fencing.”

“It is definitely less safe than when you teach him fencing,” Arthur agrees.

As if on cue, Eames exclaims, “Oh, my God!”

Arthur, convinced Eames has just chopped off a finger, says in a vague panic, “What? What happened?”

Fuck,” says Eames eloquently, backing away from his cutting board and raising his hands to his eyes. “Like, seriously, fucking hell.”

“What is it?” Arthur demands, leaping up now and running over to him, and he expects to see blood or, yes, an entire thumb on the cutting board but there’s nothing but a half-chopped onion. “What the fuck happened?” Arthur bites out.

“My eyes are burning,” says Eames. “My eyes might have to get clawed out of my head.”

Arthur stares at him, his heart racing and every atom in his body attuned toward panic, but… “Eames,” he says slowly. “You were just chopping an onion.”

“So?” says Eames, squinting at Arthur from behind his eyes.

“So onions make you cry. Get your hands away from your eyes, you’re making it worse.” Arthur grabs Eames’s hands and pulls them away from his eyes.

“This is not making me cry,” Eames protests. “This is making my eyes shrivel into acidic jellyfish.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” Arthur says, peering at Eames’s eyes, which are red and puffy and streaming tears but otherwise fine. “Your eyes aren’t shriveling.”

“Put your head in the freezer,” Luisa suggests helpfully. She looks completely unfazed by all of this.

Eames notices. “You probably used onions as a form of torture in your assassin days, didn’t you?” he demands, as he obediently sticks his head in the freezer.

“That’s classified,” responds Luisa.

Eames sniffles into the freezer. Arthur pulls out a bunch of paper towel and is there waiting when Eames lifts his head out of the freezer, and he delicately pats the tears on Eames’s cheeks and tries not to laugh because Eames looks miserable beyond the telling and it was a single fucking onion.

“Okay?” Arthur asks finally, when Eames’s face is less generally wet and gross.

“No onions in the cookbook,” says Eames. “At all.”

Chapter Text

Sorry. I planned my day poorly and am now collapsing into bed with no chapter. Back tomorrow!

Chapter Text

The Nileses’ apartment has been basically torn to pieces while they had bene working on Mick’s stuff. Eames had decided it would be easier to just start from scratch. He’d left Gon and Ariadne to stay in the place and “get inspired,” and now they’re meeting to go over ideas for material choices that Eames would then present to the Nileses. Eames prefers to do material selection in the environment, wherever possible. He likes to see it in the right light, visualize it in the right space.

Eames walks in and announces, “Today has been a trying day so far. My eyes are not what they usually are.”

“What happened?” asks Gon, sounding concerned.

“He chopped up an onion,” drawls Arthur.

“Not an ordinary onion, though,” says Eames. “An evil onion. Definitely an evil onion.”

“A supervillain onion?” says Ariadne.

“Yes,” says Eames. “Definitely a supervillain onion. Now let’s see what you lot have come up with.” Eames wanders off to look at Gon’s selections.

Ariadne looks to Arthur and hisses, “The first time I have to present something to him, he has a run-in with a supervillain onion?”

“Okay,” says Arthur. “This is making it sound like there was an actual sentient onion trying to take over the world who we had to battle with this morning. There was not. There was an onion, that he chopped, and it made him cry. That is literally all that happened.”

“Right, but I want him to be in a really good mood. Could you maybe take him out and like, you know, do something?”

“Something like what?” asks Arthur blankly.

“I don’t know. Whatever it is the two of you, like, do. A blowjob? Do you give good blowjobs?”

Arthur gapes at her. “What? I’m not…I mean, yes, of course I give good blowjobs but I’m not sure why we’re—”

“If it would put Eames in a good mood, I think you should take one for the team and go give him a blowjob,” Ariadne decides frankly.

Arthur spends a moment looking at Ariadne, and then remembers all the ways in which people, including Ariadne, are kind and wonderful to him when he is being irrational.

He says, “Okay, that’s a great idea but I have a better idea and my better idea is that you should tell it to me right now.”

“Tell you what?”

“Your presentation. What you’re going to say to Eames. Who knows Eames better than I know Eames? Nobody. So. What are you going to say?”

Ariadne, after a moment, licks her lips and says, “Well, Gon really wants to go with quartz for the countertops because he thinks the Nileses are the type of people who would really go for quartz but I think that’s just because they don’t know to think outside the box, and we should make them think outside the box, and I want to intercut the quartz with veins of wood.”

“That’s good,” Arthur says, and means it, because it sounds like the kind of offbeat thing Eames will love. “Outside the box thinking” is Eames’s favorite kind of thinking.

“Yeah?” Ariadne says.

“Yeah.” Arthur nods. “Go on. Knock him dead.” He gives her a little nudge.

Eames is holding court by a corner of the apartment that’s graced with huge windows, light flooding in from both sides. It forces the cameras into weird angles to counteract the glares but it means that Eames has a good feel for the materials spread on the floor in front of him.

“GPS,” Eames says fondly when she walks over to him. “Gon says you’re in favor of wood for the kitchen counters. You share an adorable impractical streak with Arthur, wood is normally not a kitchen counter material I recommend.” He says it pleasantly, with an affectionate smile on his face, but Arthur winces, thinking of how nervous Ariadne had been. Arthur kind of wants to run in and say, Start over, say something nice first.

But Ariadne takes a deep breath and lifts her head a little bit and says, “Not for the whole counter. I want to run veins of wood through the quartz at strategic places. It’ll break up the quartz, and warm it up, because let’s face it, quartz can be cold, and I don’t think the Nileses are cold, exactly, they just need to be told to be warm.”

Eames tilts his head and says, “Hmm. That’s different. I kind of like that idea.”

And Arthur watches Ariadne relax.

Chapter Text

“I am not entirely sure what happened in here,” remarks Timothy thoughtfully, looking at the pots and pans that are still out on the kitchen counter because Arthur and Eames just got back from filming and haven’t had a chance to clean them up yet. “Were you making some kind of sculpture? Is it meant to be some sort of art installation?”

“I told them not to touch your kitchen,” Luisa says. “I was looking out for you.”

“And I appreciate that,” Timothy says. “I know that you at least always have my back.”

“We have your back,” Eames says.

“This is basically what it looks like when Eames cooks,” Arthur says. “Sorry, we’ll clean it up.” Arthur is already trying to pile the pots and pans back in the appropriate cupboards.

“What did you make?” asks Timothy, as he helps Arthur.

Eames says, “I didn’t get to make anything, because I was attacked by an onion.”

Timothy looks from Eames to Arthur. “How…?”

“It was an onion,” Arthur says. “It made him cry. He’s taking it as a personal offense.”

“It did not just ‘make me cry.’” Eames puts exaggerated air quotes around the words. “It tried to eat my eyes.”

“No, it didn’t,” Arthur says. “Onions don’t actually eat people’s eyes.”

“It’s probably allied with bacteria,” says Eames.

“How?” asks Timothy blankly.

“Have Arthur tell you about his evil bacteria army that he controls.”

“I don’t control a bacteria army,” Arthur assures Timothy, as if that’s a thing Timothy might actually be concerned about.

“I didn’t think you did,” says Timothy. “But I was prepared to be impressed.”

“Do you cook with onions?” Eames asks Timothy.

“I do, yes,” Timothy confirms.

“And why don’t they attack you?” asks Eames.

Timothy says seriously, “Did you ask permission before you chopped into it? There’s a whole ritual you have to do.”

“I knew it!” says Eames triumphantly.

Arthur rolls his eyes.

Chapter Text

Arthur leaves Eames in the living room sitting under the coffee table and making notes for the Nileses’ house and gets ready for bed. And then he comes back into the living room and stands in the doorway and says, “Were you not coming to bed?”

“I wasn’t really planning on it,” says Eames, finishing up a notation, and then looks up. “Why? Did you want me to?”

“I guess not. I mean, you can keep working.”

“Hmm,” says Eames, and puts his work aside. “What is it?”

Arthur should have known that his hesitation in the doorway is a dead giveaway. Normally if Eames wants to work all night, he just kisses the top of his head and goes to bed alone. And he knows now that he’s interrupted Eames’s work, he might as well go through with it.

Arthur walks into the living room and sits on the floor opposite Eames and then leans forward and gently kisses his eyes, the eyelids fluttering closed for him as his lips brush over them.

“I didn’t mean to belittle your onion attack,” Arthur says, and sits back. “You never belittle my perceived attacks. I’m sorry.”

Eames tips one corner of his mouth upward in a soft smile. “I wasn’t angry with you. I was being ridiculous.”

“I know,” Arthur says, because he does know. “I just wanted to say it. Also, Ariadne was nervous, and you were nice to her, so thanks.”

“I’m always nice to people,” says Eames, sounding amused. “Aren’t I? At least to people who mean something to you. And, anyway, her designs were fabulous.”

Arthur knows this, too, because Eames spent all of dinner raving about Ariadne and Gon’s designs. Part of why Arthur is bothering Eames now is because he hadn’t wanted to interrupt Eames’s exuberant flow of dinner conversation with a bunch of little details, but Arthur had sat and watched Eames expound enthusiastically about the day he’d had, and Arthur had had this thought that crystallized that he desperately wanted to say.

So he says it. “And we can talk about this more so much more later but I wanted to say: September, at your parents’ house, in their little garden. For our wedding party. I think that’s what I want.”

Eames’s gaze is soft and impossibly fond. “We don’t have to do it at my parents’.”

“I want to,” says Arthur. “I really want to. Do you think they’ll like the idea?”

Eames snorts. “I think they’ll be ecstatic. Have you just been collecting all these little bits and pieces of ideas that you wanted to tell me, throughout the evening? Why didn’t you just interrupt me?”

“Because I like to hear you talk,” says Arthur. “I didn’t want to interrupt then. I just wanted to hear you talk.”

“Fair enough,” says Eames. “I do have a beautiful voice.”

Arthur says, “And I have this other idea, it’s kind of…half-developed. But I wanted to talk it through with you. Because I’ve been thinking that…we have all these people out there who love us. Who show up and just want a few seconds with us, for us to sign a thing for them, to be able to say they met us. Like, us, we’re no big deal. We’re just two people, you and me, who have been…so incredibly lucky that if I start to think about it it’s almost terrifying.”

“It’s some luck,” Eames agrees, “I won’t argue with that, but it’s not entirely luck. We’re good at our jobs. And we’re good at our relationship. We’re good at loving each other. That isn’t luck, darling, that’s actually work.”

“Right,” says Arthur. “I don’t entirely disagree with you. I’m just saying, I’ve been thinking about all these people who seem to love us, because we’re good at our jobs, and wouldn’t it be nice to do our jobs for them? Or, I mean, for people other than the ones who come to us. The rich ones who can afford our exorbitant fees. I would like to find a dream home for people who never imagined they’d get the chance to get one. I’d like you to give magical rooms to people who have stopped thinking that that kind of beauty could be tailor-made for them. We named our business Dream Bigger, and that’s what I want us to do, for everyone else. I want to start a foundation to find people homes. Homeless people, low-income people, working-class people. I just want everyone to get to live in a place that makes them feel loved. You know?”

Eames looks at him, and then Eames reaches out and puts a hand on the back of Arthur’s neck and pulls him in gently. “I do know,” he murmurs against his right ear, and then kisses it. “It’s an excellent idea. You have remarkably fabulous ideas.”

“I just…” Arthur, a little embarrassed, just lifts his shoulders in a shrug.

Eames says, “Do you know how to start a foundation?”

“I thought we’d ask Luisa to look into it for us.”

“Good call,” agrees Eames.

Chapter Text

It’s another slice-of-life day, this one revolving around the visit of Sumiko from the New England Aquarium, who is going to give them important lessons in keeping fish. Paul gets to be present in this slice-of-life day.

Paul says, as Julia does his makeup, “Why am I here, though? I’m not going to have to take care of the fish, am I?”

“You’re here to get to show off your river hallways,” says Eames. “Surely Sumiko will be very impressed with the river hallways.”

“But I thought you weren’t putting the fish in the river hallways anymore,” says Paul.

“I’m not,” says Eames. “But we’re still going to show them off so that Sumiko can see how responsible we are in not putting fish in the river hallway.”

Paul looks at Arthur. “You are probably the most amazing person I know for how well you deal with him.”

Arthur chuckles. “I often think that you are probably the most amazing person I know for how well you deal with him.”

“Oh, hush, both of you,” says Eames, and tugs Arthur over to him with a finger through his belt loop. “I am not at all that difficult to deal with.” He kisses Arthur’s left dimple.

Julia says, “Don’t make out too much, I just finished with your makeup.”

“Julia,” Eames says, “it is just impossible for me not to make out with Arthur. Have you ever looked at Arthur? Turn around and look at Arthur.”

“I’ve looked at Arthur,” says Julia drily.

“Aren’t his dimples irresistible?” asks Eames.

“Stop,” says Arthur, embarrassed, but lets Eames kiss the pink tip of his left ear.

Kalinda says, “If you two are done flirting—”

“Impossible,” Julia throws over her shoulder. “They are never done flirting.”

“And you should be grateful for that,” remarks Eames, “because it’s your meal ticket.”

“Can’t argue there,” says Kalinda. “But do you think you could flirt on camera for me?”

“We might deign to do that,” agrees Eames.

Chapter Text

They set up in Arthur’s office, which somehow has become their preferred space for joint episode interviews.

Kalinda says, “Okay, why don’t you walk me through the history of the river hallways.”

Eames brightens, which should be impossible because Eames is always so bright already but he gets even brighter. Arthur is sure he starts preemptively blushing.

Eames says, “Arthur got them for me as a birthday present.”

“And how did that work?” Kalinda asks.

“I really just kind of said, ‘If you want to do this odd and unusual thing that very few other people would think to do, then go for it,’” Arthur explained. “It was my way of telling him that I would be okay with the chaotic fits and starts of this sort of unique design.”

“There has been a lot of revision and re-working,” Eames allows. “And it was a wonderful present. Most clients, understandably, wouldn’t give me such a free rein to do something like this. Arthur is willing to put up with living in a constant construction zone, and I can’t tell you how much that gesture meant to me.” Eames turns to beam at Arthur, and he doesn’t need to say how much the gesture meant to him, it’s written all over his face.

Which was exactly why Arthur gave it to him. Arthur knows that, far more important than river hallways, which he doesn’t even know if Eames actually even wants, has been the free-wheeling absurd creativity Eames has engaged in around the river hallways. Arthur smiles at Eames and says, “So what’s the verdict? Are we getting river hallways finally?”

“Finally,” Eames says, with a little flicker of his eyelid that could be a wink, and then turns back to the camera. “I think we’re almost done. They have been, as I said, through many iterations, but I think we’ve settled on just a little riverway along the side of the hallway, with some pretty sand and semi-precious stones at the bottom, and the water will run along with it in a slight current, and then we’re going to put woven glass over it. Woven glass. It’s amazing. Isn’t it gorgeous?” Eames looks to Arthur for confirmation.

“It’s gorgeous,” Arthur agrees, because he did help choose it, after all.

“So no fish in the river hallways?” Kalinda asks.

“No fish,” Arthur confirms.

“The fish have been a long and winding journey,” says Eames. “I really wanted fish. I envisioned gracefully feeding all of the fish from above.”

“He has some vision about feeding fish,” Arthur says. “I don’t really get it.”

“You don’t get wanting to feed fish?” asks Eames, sounding shocked, as if everyone in the universe harbored deep desires, outrageous fantasies, of fish-feeding.

“It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about it,” Arthur admits, and he can’t help the fact that he knows his voice is swamped with affection for this ridiculous man as he says it.

“Well, I wanted to feed fish,” Eames says, moving on, “so originally I wanted the river hallways to be open, and the fish would swim along them, and you could walk along, sprinkling fish food down into them. But then I became convinced through a series of events and somewhat passionate speeches on the part of Arthur and Paul, that perhaps open river hallways were somewhat dangerous.”

“Yes,” says Arthur drily. “Somewhat dangerous.”

“In what way?” asks Kalinda.

“See?” Eames says. “It’s not obvious, is it? But anyway, if you’re not paying attention, you could walk right into the river hallway. And then you’d be all wet, and you might kill a fish. Horrible all around.”

“More horrible for the fish,” remarks Arthur, who had not heard quite this chilling version of the hazards of the open river hallways.

“Agreed. More horrible for the fish. Anyway, we’re not going to have fish in the river hallways but I still would like to explore the idea of having fish.”

“We are just exploring the idea,” Arthur says, to just reiterate.

“Fish do seem like a good introductory pet,” Kalinda suggests.

“Maybe a goldfish would,” Arthur says. “But we are never going to just start with a goldfish.”

“Oh, goodness, no,” says Eames cheerfully. “I want a whole ecosystem. And possibly seahorses. Seahorses are amazing. Seahorses are basically fictional. Did you know that male seahorses can have babies? They are basically the patron animal of fanfiction.”

Chapter Text

“Wow,” says Sumiko, standing in the middle of their living room. “Wow.”

“Thank you,” says Eames, who always is very happy when people express appropriate admiration for the house.

“Wow,” says Sumiko again.

“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” says Eames.

“Wow,” she says.

Arthur thinks maybe eventually they will move past wow but it might take a while.

“So this is where we were thinking for our aquarium,” Eames says, pointing to the expanse of empty wall beside the television. Right now it’s occupied with an Eames chair that Eames stuck there because of his sense of humor. Neither of them ever uses it, since they either sit on the couch or the floor, and that corner of the room is frankly wasted space.

“A small aquarium,” Arthur says. “A reasonable-size aquarium. An aquarium one might expect to have in a house and not in a James Bond villain lair.”

“Darling,” Eames says happily, looking over at him, “you just made a James Bond reference.”

“I did,” Arthur agrees.

“You paid attention when we watched all of the movies!”

“I always pay attention when you want to show me something,” says Arthur, a little bewildered that Eames doesn’t see how very obvious that is.

Eames smiles at him and smiles at him and then turns back to Sumiko.

“Wow,” says Sumiko, and then shakes her head a little bit. “Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m just…here in your house listening to your banter, I’m just…a little overwhelmed.” And now she gives herself a full body shake. “But I’m going to be professional now. Okay. So you want an aquarium here. The first thing you have to ask yourself is if you want fresh-water or salt-water. Salt water is somewhat more expensive and somewhat more complicated but the fish are often considered to be more vibrant.”

“Oh, dear,” Eames considers, and looks at Arthur. “I think…maybe salt-water? Because fish live in the ocean.”

“Well,” says Arthur. “Fish live in rivers, too, and this initially started with river hallways.”

“True,” Eames muses. “But I think I’d rather have a mini-ocean here. We’ve got the rivers out there, and in here will be the ocean. Let’s run through all of the possible bodies of water we can.”

“Okay,” says Sumiko. “So once you’ve decided upon salt-water, now you have to consider the mix of fish you’re going to have. It’s important to have the right mix.”

“What happens if you don’t?” asks Eames.

“Sometimes, one fish will eat all of the other fish,” Sumiko says.

“Eat the other fish?” says Eames. He sounds both intrigued and horrified. “Like a fish cannibal?” (rereader3)

“Please don’t sound so excited about the possibility of having a fish cannibal,” says Arthur.

“A fishibal,” says Eames, grinning at him.

Sumiko laughs because Sumiko clearly thinks Eames is hilariously adorable. She then says seriously, “Now fish are pets just like any other pet. You can’t just leave them all alone when you go away, you have to have someone come in and make sure they’re being taken care of.”

“That was not exactly Luisa’s job description,” Arthur points out, because he can imagine that taking care of other people’s fish for them would be stressful.

“It depends,” Luisa says casually. “Are you going to have piranhas?”

Arthur can’t help but feel that this is some sort of foreplay Luisa and Kalinda are engaging in right here on camera, but Eames just says, “No, I don’t think so, but I really want seahorses.”

Chapter Text

Arthur’s next clients are fairly straightforward, which is a thing that sometimes happens even when the network is trying to find as dramatic clients as possible. So Arthur’s got them under control and decides to drop in on the Nileses’ project.

The construction is well underway by this time, and basically Eames has the apartment stripped to the very barest amount of structure. And Eames looks in his element, sprinting from project to project like some kind of demented gazelle.

“Are you worried they’re going to freak out when they see the state of this place?” Arthur asks wryly, because it almost doesn’t have a ceiling anymore, and barely has a floor.

“They aren’t allowed in at the moment,” Eames says.

Arthur laughs. “Which is one way of dealing with that.”

“They approved the design. They can’t complain now about how the design gets achieved. It’s like sausage being made. Or law. Or whatever that saying is.”

“Eames?” Gon calls, from where he is in the corner with paint chips scattered around him.

“Coming!” Eames calls back, and immediately sprints off toward the decorating emergency.

Arthur, smiling fondly, wanders over to where Ariadne is in another corner. She is surrounded by scraps of fabric and is frowning over them.

“And what’s your assignment?” Arthur asks.

“This whole house is going to be this mix of modern with more earthy accents,” Ariadne answers. “So right now we’ve promised the Nileses a kind of bohemian-inspired reading nook over her. I’m supposed to be choosing fabrics for it but I think I can’t really decide. None of them seem perfect. So I’m actually thinking what I really want to do is kind of combine all the fabrics. Like, weave and braid all of them, and then this corner could just be a total riot of color, and it would balance the fact that the rest of the apartment is pretty monochromatic.”

Arthur smiles at her.

Ariadne says self-consciously, “What? What do you think?”

“I think you’re good at this,” Arthur says. “I think relax. I think: Are you having fun? I hope you’re having fun.”

Ariadne considers. Then a smile slowly spreads across her face. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I’m having fun.”

“Good,” says Arthur. “That’s important.”

Ariadne gives the fabric one last happy look and then turns her attention to Arthur. “So how are you? Having fun, too?”

“A ridiculous amount of fun,” Arthur says. “It’s good to be back to work. And I like the way this show is shaping up. It’s nice to just be hanging out with Eames, making things with Eames, and have it be what we do. Before it was always…what we wanted to do but not quite the focus of the show. This just feels so relaxed.”

“Well, yes,” agrees Ariadne. “Because banter is what you two do naturally. It comes very easily to you. You do it even when you don’t get paid for it. Now you’re being paid to literally flirt with each other.”

“Well,” says Arthur, “we were always kind of paid to flirt with each other. This is just more transparent about that.”

Ariadne laughs. “True. It’s good to see you so…steady. You seem very, very confident. Very assured. And you always looked that way, but this seems less like an act this time around.”

Arthur gives her a rueful smile. “I feel very…confident sounds like the wrong word, but comfortable? Comfortable.”

“Call it what you like,” says Ariadne fondly, and then Eames calls for her from across the room.

“Come and consult with us!” he says. “Gon and I can’t make up our minds.”

Arthur knows he would be welcome to go and consult with the three of them, but he also wants to just wander around the space and take in the changes. So he does. Paul is busy supervising some kind of violent construction project in the kitchen, or what will someday be a kitchen once again, once Eames puts it back together.

“Does the design obey all the rules of gravity?” Arthur asks him.

He gets a short, not-entirely-amused laugh in response, and then Paul runs off, so Arthur thinks the answer to that question probably isn’t yes.

Arthur has just finished ducking his head into the bedroom space—such a mess he can’t even walk into it—when he hears what he is fairly sure is Eames calling his name. His actual name.

“Arthur!” says Eames’s voice, and Arthur turns to him in confusion, because Eames never calls him—

And then everything goes black.

Chapter Text

Arthur comes to to Eames leaning over him and shouting at everyone else to step away and give him air, and Arthur winces because his head is pounding and says, “Shh,” because he really needs Eames to stop shouting.

“Darling,” Eames says, and floats his hand around Arthur’s face without really touching him. At least, that’s what Arthur thinks is going on. It’s hard to tell in Arthur’s current state but Eames’s hand looms in and out of focus all around his face. Arthur can’t actually feel it touching him but who knows at this point. “Darling. How many fingers am I holding up?”

“What?” Arthur says, and winces again as he talks, because, Christ, that hurts.

“Where is the fucking ambulance?” Eames demands. “Did anybody even ring for one?”

Someone replies, off in the distance. Arthur can’t be bothered to parse the reply because it’s more important that he get Eames to stop shouting. “Don’t shout,” he tries to say.

“Darling.” Eames’s voice is urgent, and now Arthur feels his hand, palm pressed against his cheek, and then Eames says, “Open your eyes, hmm? Stay with me here.”

Arthur hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes. He opens them obediently and winces again, because it is fucking bright. “Ow,” he says.

“Okay,” Eames murmurs, and then suddenly leans over him and presses his mouth against Arthur’s, very gently, breathing against him, and then pulls back. “Darling,” he says, softly, lightly, “would you like to hear a story? A very quiet story?”

“Very quiet,” Arthur agrees.

“Stay with me and listen, hmm? Once upon a time there was a man with tight trousers.”

“I know this story,” Arthur says.

“Eyes open, darling. Do you? How does it go?”

“Happily ever after,” Arthur blurs out, tipping his head against Eames’s hand. “It goes happily ever after.”


Arthur isn’t exactly unconscious. In fact, he feels like he’s mostly conscious, when the paramedics arrive, and flood over him, and ask him demanding questions about how dizzy he is.

“Fucking dizzy,” Arthur snaps harshly, when he’s nudged and the entire world tips underneath him and he clutches at Eames’s hand to keep from falling off.

Eames clutches back, hand tight around Arthur’s, and Arthur is so grateful to him he couldn’t put it into words even if his head wasn’t pounding horribly.

They shine lights into his eyes and poke around at the back of his head and Arthur flinches and flinches and hates everyone in the universe. Everything is bright and loud and he just wants to go home, and curl into a ball, and have Eames tuck a blanket around him, and sleep.

Instead they have to go to the hospital, and it feels interminable, and he just wants to sleep, and his head hurts so much, and he lets Eames deal with all of this, barking at everyone who comes in their vicinity that Arthur needs attention, support, painkillers.

Eventually a doctor sits down with them and explains that Arthur has a concussion and needs to be monitored and there are instructions for the monitoring that luckily Eames seems to be paying attention to because Arthur can’t focus enough to think about them. He’s too busy trying to determine how he got a concussion.

He finally interrupts in frustration, unable to remember. “How did I get a concussion?”

“The stupid ceiling basically fell on you,” Eames answers grimly.

“What ceiling?” Arthur asks, bewildered.

“The Nileses’ ceiling,” Eames says.

The Nileses, Arthur remembers. Right. He was at the Nileses’.

Eames says brusquely to the doctor, “Is this normal? Should he be remembering these things?”

“He’s a little fuzzy,” the doctor says. “It’s to be expected. Nothing to worry about. You’re fine to take him home, let him rest, and give him some painkillers. And tell him to take it easy for the next few days.”

Eames nods and nods and looks at him and says, “Darling, we are going to stay holed up in our bedroom and not go outside.”

“Thank fuck,” Arthur says fervently, because he had arrived at that preferred course of action ages ago.

Chapter Text

So Eames takes them both home. He drives, which he almost never does when Arthur is available to drive, because Arthur thinks Eames is a horrible driver, but he seems to drive very carefully and very slowly, and Arthur slumps up against the car door and looks out the window at how dark it is and says, “Is it nighttime?”

“Yes,” says Eames, navigating a left-hand turn. “It was a very long day.”

Arthur feels like it was just morning a few minutes ago but he lets that go.

Luisa meets them at the door to their house and looks at him and then asks Eames, “How is he?” like Arthur is incapable of talking.

Then again, Arthur feels incapable of talking, so he lets Eames answer, “He has a concussion,” like it is the worst thing in the world.

Luisa says, sounding worried, “Should he eat, or something? What did the doctors say to do?”

“You said we were going to bed,” Arthur reminds Eames, so tired he feels like he’s not even sure he can make it there.

“We can,” Eames agrees. “I’m supposed to keep waking you up to monitor you.”

“That’s fine,” Arthur says. “Whatever.” Waking up means he gets to sleep, and he curls onto their bed, on top of the bedspread, still in his clothes, not even bothering to take his shoes off. And he sleeps.

Chapter Text

When Arthur wakes finally for good, actually awake, not the middle-of-the-night shakings by Eames that Arthur has only dim memories of, he’s still on top of the bedspread, but his shoes are off and his fleece-and-feather-boa blanket is tucked around him. He cracks one eye open. The room is reasonably dim but Arthur can tell it’s daytime. And Eames is on the bed next to him, staring at him.

“Hi,” Arthur says to him.

Eames is not smiling, and Arthur can’t remember the last time he said hi to Eames and didn’t get a smile in response. Eames says very gravely, “Darling. How do you feel?”

“Like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four,” says Arthur. “Which apparently I did?”

Eames still doesn’t smile. He says, “Yes. You did. How’s your head? Do you want anything? Does it hurt? Do you want anything to eat? I told Timothy not to bother coming in today but he stopped by anyway with an enormous variety of breakfast foods, anything you want you can have.”

Arthur figures he should be hungry, and figures he should eat something, but he’s not interested in it at the moment. And, although his head is suffering from a dull, persistent ache, it’s nothing compared to the sharp, slicing pain of the day before, so that doesn’t seem pressing, either.

What does seem pressing is Eames, unsmiling in the bed beside him.

Arthur says gently, “Hey.”

“Yes?” says Eames.

“Nothing,” Arthur says. “Just…hi. Hello. Give me your hand.” Arthur takes it, when Eames looks confused, and presses it against his chest, flat over the thudding of his heartbeat. “Can you feel my heart?” he says. “It’s right there. I’m right here. I’m just fine.”

Eames stares at his hand over Arthur’s chest and takes a strangled breath and manages, “You really weren’t.”

“Right. I know. I’m sorry. But I’m right here.”

“Fuck,” Eames says raggedly. “That was terrifying. That was bloody…” He takes another harsh breath.

“I’m right here,” Arthur says again, because he feels like he needs to just keep saying it until Eames gets it, until that glassy look of terror leaves Eames’s eyes, like Eames is reliving everything that happened instead of registering Arthur right there in front of him. “I’m right here. Come here.” He uses Eames’s hand to tug and Eames follows reluctantly, but he does press up against him, and Arthur slots them together, tucks his aching head up against Eames’s shoulder, and murmurs, “I’m right here. See? It’s fine. I’m right here. And we’re not moving again until you know that I am right here and fine. Breakfast can wait.”

And it does wait, while Eames holds Arthur up against him and breathes unevenly into Arthur’s skin and keeps his hand pressed over Arthur’s heartbeat.

Chapter Text

When they move again, Eames is better. The look is gone from his eyes, and he smiles at Arthur and kisses his fluttering eyelids closed and says, “Stay put. Let me fetch you your Timothy feast.”

Arthur doesn’t want to stay there. Arthur wants to get up and go to the bathroom. But he also doesn’t want to alarm Eames, who told him to stay put, so he waits patiently until Eames comes back with what really is a feast: muffins and Danishes and beautiful brioches, gorgeous pieces of fruit, several different types of granola, an array of yogurts, breads and meats and cheeses for a breakfast charcuterie.

Arthur says, impressed, “You weren’t kidding when you said a feast.”

“Timothy loves you,” Eames informs him, “and you gave us all a scare yesterday.”

Arthur feels horrible about that. Obviously he didn’t mean to terrify all of his loved ones, and obviously it wasn’t his fault, but he can’t help that he feels bad about it. He says, “Before we eat, am I allowed to go to the bathroom?”

“With supervision,” Eames says firmly. “You might get dizzy and fall and hit your head again, and we can’t have that.”

So Eames supervises Arthur’s visit to the bathroom, leaving Arthur as much dignity as possible, and then allows Arthur to survey himself in the mirror as he washes his hands. He…doesn’t look bad. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but given Eames’s behavior and his own spotty memories of the day before, he’d thought he’d look horrible. His stubble is scruffy and his hair is a bit unkempt but all he really needs is a shower and a shave. Maybe he’s a little paler than usual but he also hasn’t really eaten.

Eames watches him taking stock and says bluntly, “You should see the back of your head.”

Arthur meets his eyes in the mirror. “Why? What does that look like?”

“Well, that’s where you got hit the hardest when the ceiling started to tumble. It bled and bled and bled. It was horrible. Ariadne kept trying to tell me that that’s just how head wounds bleed but there was so much blood, and you were unconscious, so it wasn’t very comforting. Anyway, now you have a huge bandage and maybe someday a scar. We’re meant to keep the cut clean, but the dressing’s got to stay on right now.”

Arthur lifts his hand cautiously, presses against the back of his head, and can indeed feel the bandage. Now that it’s been pointed out to him, he feels as if he should have noticed immediately the presence of it on his head.

“From now on,” says Eames, “you wear at least three helmets at all of our houses.”

Arthur looks at Eames and thinks that really, though, now that all is said and done, it’s Eames who is clearly going to suffer the most from the ordeal, Eames who has in his head forever whatever it looked like when the ceiling caved in on top of Arthur. Arthur would never have wanted that memory of Eames. Arthur has kind of had the easier time of it here.

So he says, because he’s pretty sure there’s no way Eames has eaten since the day before, “Let’s have breakfast.”

Chapter Text

Breakfast seems to improve Eames’s spirits. Probably because Arthur forces himself to eat enthusiastically and well, as if nothing is wrong with him, and Eames seems to start to relax a bit in response. He won’t allow them to leave the bed, insisting Arthur is supposed to be resting, but he does turn the television on and seems calmer when Arthur makes conversation with him.

Arthur lets them watch some trashy reality show for a little while before venturing, “What happened to our filming schedule?” because the glass board had been filled with things they were supposed to be doing.

“It’s all been pushed,” Eames answers. “Don’t even worry about it. Luisa took care of all of it for us.”

“Is this all over social media?” Arthur asks, because it seems likely.

“Yes,” Eames says. “Luisa’s also monitoring that but it’s fine, it’s just people expressing worry and concern. Saito put out a statement for us saying that you needed some recovery time but would be fine and we’d be back on social media to make statements of our own in a few days.”

“You talked to Saito?” Arthur says.

“I think Kalinda called him. Or something. I don’t know. He knew. Who even knows how he knew? He probably sensed it with his dragon instinct. Or heard it through the bugs he has Giacomo sew into your clothing.”

“Neither of those things seems likely to me,” Arthur remarks. “So you’ve talked to my mother?”

“Yes. I promised her you were okay. My parents, too. I didn’t want them worrying. Your mother offered to come down here if we needed help but I told her it wasn’t necessary, unless she wanted to come and see you. She might still show up here to make sure you’re okay but I think she’s going to give you a couple of days to recover first.”

“I need to call her,” Arthur says, cuddling against Eames. “She must be worried sick.”

“I filled her in,” Eames promises. “You can just rest for a little while now. Concentrate on getting better.”

“I’m better,” Arthur insists. “It was just a concussion.”

“‘Just a concussion,’ he says. Like concussions are nothing. Like people get concussions every day.”

“I think they do, actually,” says Arthur. “I think they’re pretty common.”

“You were hit in the head by a collapsing ceiling beam,” Eames says. “You’re allowed to make a big deal out of that. And I am definitely allowed to make a big deal over you in the wake of that.”

“Alright,” Arthur agrees. “Fine.”

“Just to be clear, we’re agreeing that I can fuss over you enormously now?” says Eames.

“You already fuss over me enormously pretty much all the time,” says Arthur. “It’s frankly embarrassing.”

Eames grins, which is a good thing to see.

Arthur puts a fond hand against his lips, against that familiar, beloved curve of them, and says, “This is nice. I missed this. Keep smiling.”

Eames kisses his fingertips and says, “Try not to get hit by any more collapsing ceilings.”

“I am definitely going to try,” agrees Arthur. “Definitely.”

“Good. Because you’re not allowed to do that again. If anyone is allowed to be hurt in a dramatic fashion entailing lots of extravagant fussing, it’s me. It’s my turn for all of this coddling, and your turn to be the stoic demanding one dealing with the doctors.”

“Thank you for dealing with the doctors,” Arthur says.

“That was my pleasure,” Eames replies. “I mean, not really. But you know what I mean.”

Arthur says, “Before the beam hit me, did you call me ‘Arthur’?”

Eames gives him a rueful smile. “Yes. I thought the shock of that might cause you to react more quickly.”

Arthur can’t deny that he feels like he certainly did react more quickly than he would have if Eames had called him darling, even if the reaction was just to look in Eames’s direction more quickly, and maybe that had made a difference. “Well,” remarks Arthur, “I understand why you did it, but don’t do it again.”

Eames chuckles and kisses Arthur’s fingertips again and says, “You don’t do it again.”

Arthur says, “I’ll try.”

“Darling all the time from hereon out,” Eames promises, and kisses the inside of Arthur’s wrist.

Chapter Text

In the afternoon the doorbell starts ringing and Arthur feels like it doesn’t stop.

“Make it stop,” he complains to Eames, burying his head under a pillow. Every time it rings, even though it’s just trilling birds, it feels as if someone is ringing a bell directly inside his head, making everything vibrate with pain.

Eames convinces him to take painkillers, even though Arthur hates them because they make him feel fuzzy and disconnected and exhausted, and goes out to the kitchen to intersect everybody at the door.

When Arthur wakes from his narcotics-induced nap, the bedroom is filled with flowers and fruit baskets and balloons.

“What the fuck,” he says, surprised.

“It turns out you’re very popular,” Eames says. “Lots of people love you.”

“What is all of this?” Arthur asks, amazed.

So Eames gives him a little presentation: flowers from the network, flowers from Kalinda and Dev and Tavi, a fruit basket from Ariadne and Gon, flowers from the Eameses, a fruit basket from his mother and Saito, another fruit basket from Timothy and Luisa, more flowers from Giacomo, and balloons from “the fans.”

“The fans?” Arthur echoes.

“Yes,” affirms Eames.

“The fans sent us balloons?”

“They sent them to the network,” Eames says. “Before you get too alarmed. The network forwarded them to us. Oh, they also included this.” Eames hands him a stuffed animal cat.

“Ha,” says Arthur drily. “Hilarious. We have hilarious fans.”

“It was kind of sweet of them, I thought,” Eames says.

“No, it was,” Arthur agrees. “Especially since they don’t actually know me.”

“Oh, and this is from JuPaul,” Eames says, hanging Arthur a wrapped package.

“Please don’t call them that,” Arthur says.

“That’s their couple name.”

“It really isn’t. Nobody calls them that but you.”

“Julia calls them that.”

“Why is Julia calling herself by her own nickname?” asks Arthur. He is unwrapping the gift, and pushes back the paper to reveal… “It’s the complete box set of Gossip Girl,” says Arthur. He lifts it up to show Eames. “What am I doing with this?”

“Ooh, Gossip Girl,” says Eames, grabbing the gift, as if he’s ever in his life cared about Gossip Girl.

Arthur notices the note Julia slipped into the package and reads it out loud to Eames. “Arthur, Sorry about your concussion. Since you’re going to be doing a lot of nothing to recover, this is to keep Eames company while you sleep and he refuses to leave your side. He’ll enjoy the Sebastian Stan sighting. Make him save the best outfits to show you later. Love, JuPaul.” Arthur sighs.

“See?” says Eames triumphantly. “I told you that Julia uses JuPaul!”

“Yes, yes, you were right,” says Arthur.

“So should I watch the Sebastian Stan porn?” Eames asks.

“It’s not Sebastian Stan porn,” says Arthur.

“No, it’s not, which is a huge tragedy but Julia can’t be perfect. And this is probably the next best thing.”

“I hear that was the show’s tagline,” drawls Arthur. “‘Next Best Thing to Sebastian Stan Porn.’”

“It would make people want to watch the show, undoubtedly,” proclaims Eames.

Chapter Text

Eames spends an entire day watching episodes of Gossip Girl. From what Arthur sees of it, it is the world’s most ridiculous show. Eames is, of course, transfixed, because Eames’s taste in television tends toward this kind of absurdity, all pretty people with impossibly complicated love lives.

“Is this why you like to surround yourself with love stories?” Arthur asks, munching on a pear from one of the fruit baskets and watching Blair Waldorf scheme on the screen. “You secretly wish your life was a soap opera?”

“What love stories?” Eames asks, not even glancing away from the television screen he is clearly obsessed with.

“I don’t know. Paul and Julia. Kalinda and Luisa. Gon and Ariadne. All the matchmaking I feel like you engage in. You actually have a shockingly dull love life, so I think maybe you like to express interest in everybody else’s.”

Eames pauses the show to look at Arthur. “First of all, we definitely do not have a shockingly dull love life.”

“No,” Arthur agrees. “Our lives are full of creative, laughing sex.” [kedgeree11]

Eames doesn’t even blink at the chosen adjectives, obviously deeming them accurate. “Secondly, I don’t like to think that I force everyone around us to pair up. Do you think I do? I just think…if people might suit each other, then it’s nice to see people together. But if they wouldn’t suit, I don’t think that I force people into relationships just for the sake of a relationship. Do you think that I do that?”

“No,” Arthur agrees. “You don’t. I just feel like you’re actively invested in the happiness of all the people you care about. And that’s a nice thing. That’s a good thing.”

Eames considers, looking thoughtful, and Arthur wishes that he hadn’t said anything at all. He hadn’t meant to make Eames feel self-conscious. He had really just been teasing.

He starts, “Look—”

“I’m very happy,” Eames interrupts him, looking at him. “You make me very happy.”

“I know,” Arthur says, because he does. “It’s mutual.”

“Right. And I thought I was happy before. Before I met you. I mean, I was perfectly content. I had lucked into this amazing job that was everything I’d ever dreamed of. I was walking on air. And then there was you, and then there was us, and then there was this, and I just want people—even happy people—to know that if you meet someone like an Arthur, then you should grab for that. I mean, you don’t need someone else to be happy, but if you find someone else who does make you happy, then… Do you think people find it annoying?”

“No,” Arthur says honestly. “I don’t. I was really only teasing you. But I do think you like love stories. And I think there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I’ve got news for you,” Eames says. “We both like love stories.”

And Arthur, looking at him, has to admit that maybe Eames has a point. “Maybe you’re right,” he agrees.

Chapter Text

The following day, Arthur wakes feeling almost as good as new and convinces Eames to let him leave the bedroom.

“We’re still not working,” Eames warns him.

“Fine,” Arthur says. “But I am showering and shaving and getting dressed properly. Can I wash my hair?”

“No,” Eames says. “Not yet.”

Arthur huffs but looks at Eames, who is looking anxious again, and says, “Aren’t you going to join me in the shower? You have to make sure I don’t fall, right?”

And since being invited into Arthur’s showers is one of Eames’s favorite things, Eames brightens immediately. There is no sex, because Eames seems to think you can’t have sex with someone recovering from a concussion, and Arthur doesn’t feel up to the energetic acrobatics of shower sex anyway, so he just lets Eames wash him up, careful and slow, and then shave him just as carefully.

Arthur regards his newly smooth jaw in the mirror afterward and says, “Look at that. So you are capable of shaving properly, you just choose not to when it comes to you.”

“Far be it from me to deny the world my rakish stubble,” replies Eames.

Arthur rolls his eyes and lets Eames kiss his dimple.

Timothy is in the kitchen when they emerge.

Eames says, “I told you you didn’t have to worry about coming in.”

“And I told you that I wasn’t going to have the two of you starve to death while Arthur was recovering,” replies Timothy. “How are you feeling?”

“Good. And I would like to remind the world at large,” says Arthur wearily, as he sits at the kitchen counter, “that you’re worried about us starving and Eames is writing a cookbook.”

“It’s going to be an excellent guide on how to order in,” says Eames, grinning.

Arthur hopes that he musters a full smile in return but he might still be recovering because he feels very tired from showering and getting dressed.

Eames notices and says, “Do you want to lie back down, darling?”

“No,” says Arthur sulkily. “I’m sick of lying down.”

“You could lie down in the living room instead,” suggests Eames, “for a change of pace.”

“I’ll bring you in an omelet,” Timothy offers. “Any ingredients you want. I stocked up.” Timothy indicates the piles of shopping bags on the counter. Arthur can see asparagus and romaine leaking out of a couple.

Arthur says, “Spinach and mushroom and tomato and cheddar?”

“Done,” says Timothy, and looks to Eames. “What about you?”

“I could have a cupcake,” muses Eames, poking through the shopping bags.

Arthur clears his throat.

“Or a nice healthy omelet like Arthur,” Eames corrects himself, and winks at Arthur.

Chapter Text

Arthur, apparently starving, devours his omelet in front of another episode of Gossip Girl.

Timothy interrupts to say to the two of them, “I breaded some chicken for you and left careful instructions on how to cook it. And I made some scalloped potatoes and roasted some asparagus already, tossed it with some olive oil and vinegar. It’ll be good for dinner. And for lunch I threw some salads together for you.”

“There wasn’t any need,” Arthur says, as they could have ordered in easily, but the fresh food sounds delicious, so he adds, “but thank you very much.”

“I told Luisa I’d text her and let her know if you needed anything,” Timothy says, “but you seem like you’re doing okay, now that you have food. You’re just going to rest the rest of the day?” Timothy glances at the television. “Oh, and watch Gossip Girl?”

“You know it?” asks Eames, sounding delighted.

“Of course,” Timothy replies. “Have you never seen it before? Sebastian Stan shows up eventually.”

“Exactly why we’re watching,” agrees Eames, pleased.

Arthur says, “Tell Luisa we’re fine. No need to worry about us. I don’t even know when we’re going to start filming again.”

“When we’re ready,” Eames says mildly, which means that he is very firm that there will be no filming until he is satisfied with Arthur’s well-being.

Arthur says, “So I guess we’ll be in touch.”

“Feel better,” Timothy says, and waves on his way out the door.

Arthur looks at Eames and says, “Have you at least been in contact with the network? Or are you just dictating for yourself this extended vacation we’re on?”

“Fuck the network,” rejoins Eames, eyes on Gossip Girl. “The most important thing is that you’re fully recovered and don’t take on too much. Anyway, Saito is dealing with the network for us.”

Arthur wants to tell Eames that all it was was a concussion, and yeah, that’s not good but also football players get them and go on playing football again, and all he has to do is film a silly television show about their lives.

But Arthur also wasn’t the one of them who watched a ceiling collapse on the other, and so if Eames needs some time with just the two of them and no cameras, then Arthur is willing to give it to him.

Chapter Text

Arthur insists that they start to make contact with the outside world the next day. He is willing to give Eames as much time as he needs, but he also thinks that Eames probably needs a little indication that the sky isn’t going to literally fall again once they resume their routine.

Arthur tweets, Thank you for all the well wishes! It was just a little bump on the head and I’m feeling much better now!

Eames frowns at the tweet and retweets it and adds, It was an ENORMOUS bump on the head, basically a ceiling fell on him. We are very lucky, and thank you for thinking of us.

Arthur leaves Eames’s characterization of things, because let Eames have this dramatic telling of the story. He sends thank-you texts to all of their friends. Julia’s text in return reads Have you reached Sebastian Stan yet???? Ariadne’s text in return reads Jesus Christ, Arthur, that was terrifying, glad you’re feeling better.

Then Arthur Skypes his mother.

She answers immediately, as if it had been scheduled, or as if she had been waiting by the computer for contact from him.

“Arthur,” she says, anxious and concerned and studying him closely. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Arthur assures her. “It was just a concussion.”

Eames, who had been in the kitchen getting them water in a quest to keep Arthur properly hydrated, leans into the computer screen and says, “He keeps saying ‘just’ a concussion. Like there’s any such thing.”

“You should listen to Eames,” his mother says worriedly. “Concussions are serious.”

“Yes,” Arthur agrees. “I know. But I’m feeling much better and Eames is taking care of me. It’s all good. I’m going to be just fine.”

His mother still looks worried.

And Arthur gets it. Because, a couple of winters ago, his mother came down with bronchitis, and insisted she was fine-fine-fine every time Arthur spoke to her, until she ended up in the hospital and Arthur was a nervous wreck wracked with guilt that he’d let her get away with that.

So he gets it. He says, “Do you want to come down here and stay for a few days?”

He hadn’t cleared that with Eames before blurting it out, but he glances at Eames, arranging their glasses just so on the coffee table in front of them, and Eames nods encouragingly.

“I don’t want to intrude,” his mother says.

Eames leans back into the screen. “I could use the help,” he says generously. “Your son is a terrible patient.”

“No, I’m not,” Arthur denies, but only half-heartedly, so that his mother will take the bait and come.

“So demanding,” Eames continues. “Complains incessantly. Wants to be waited on hand and foot. I definitely need to have someone for a second shift so I can get some rest.”

Arthur’s mother smiles, and Arthur knows it’s because she knows that none of this is true, and that this has all been engineered on her behalf, but she says, “I’ll come. Would tomorrow work for you?”

Arthur says, “Yes,” and Eames says, “Splendid,” and it’s settled.

Chapter Text

Eames finally has enough of Gossip Girl and decides to join Arthur in bed.

Arthur says, “Asking my mother to come stay was kind of spontaneous. But I think she needs to reassure herself that I’m okay.”

“Believe me,” Eames says, getting into bed. “I get that. I am not angry about it. In fact, far from it. It will be nice to visit with her.”

“While she’s here,” Arthur continues, “we can call your parents and have a joint call about the wedding party.”

“That’s a good idea,” Eames says, and settles against him, and kisses behind his ear carefully.

The back of Arthur’s head is still sore, the cut under the bandage still sensitive to touch. Arthur has to be careful when he snuggles against Eames, and he’s already done it once or twice in such a way as to make him wince and try to pretend not to be wincing. He doesn’t think that Eames is ever fooled and that he knows exactly how much Arthur still hurts sometimes, hence why Eames is being so careful with him.

Eames, who hasn’t left his side for days now. Eames, who loves him so much that Arthur has never seen him shaken by anything but can feel his uncertain fear over losing Arthur. All of that uncertain fear, all of Eames feeling uncharacteristically unsettled, and Eames has not wavered a single second in his focus on Arthur, in taking care of Arthur.

Arthur turns suddenly to look at Eames, there next to him, in a very worn t-shirt with a terrible pun about Frank Lloyd Wright.

“What?” Eames asks, surprised at Arthur’s sudden movement. “Everything okay?”

“I love you,” Arthur says.

“I know,” Eames says, tipping the corner of his mouth up in a small smile. “No need for a grand proclamation.”

Arthur wriggles around until he’s kicked them both free of the covers and is straddling Eames. He says, “No one ever really needs grand proclamations,” says Arthur. “But you deserve them. Every single fucking grand proclamation in the book.” Arthur leans forward to kiss Eames’s neck, to lick at his Adam’s apple, to worry at that spot under his jaw that always makes Eames sigh and lean into him.

It still works: Eames sighs and leans into him, even as he says, “Darling, this isn’t—”

Arthur pulls back and spread his hands under Eames’s t-shirt, against his ribcage, tips just tickling at the spot under his breastbone where Eames’s heart is a steady beat of life.

Arthur says, “I need you to believe I’m fine. I need you to convince yourself that I’m here. And this is how we’re going to do it.”

“Darling—” Eames starts again.

Arthur doesn’t really know what the rest of the sentence is, because he’s focused. “These are my hands,” he says. “These are my fingers.” He walks them up, tiptoeing over the tattoos still hidden under Eames’s t-shirt but that Arthur knows by heart, can see every time he closes his eyes. He finds Eames’s nipples and tweaks one and then the other, rubbing them between alternating fingers, as Eames’s breaths quicken underneath him and his nipples harden, sensitive, and then Arthur flicks a casual finger against each of them, just for emphasis, just to hear Eames’s gasp. “These are my teeth,” he says, and leans down and bites at Eames’s collarbone, not being especially gentle, because he wants Eames to feel this, he wants Eames to wake bruised and dazed in the morning, the fact of Arthur undeniable to him.

Eames says raggedly, “Fuck,” and it’s a good type of ragged, the best type of ragged, not the ragged of too much emotion, of too much bad feeling, but the ragged of too much good feeling.

Arthur reaches inside Eames’s boxers, speaks into his ear. “These are my hands on you. Do you feel them?”

He adds a twist to his stroking, which makes Eames squeak satisfyingly.

Arthur says, insistent, because he doesn’t want Eames to have even one brain cell thinking about anything other than how fucking present Arthur is at this moment, “Answer me. Do you feel them?”

“Yes,” pants Eames.

“I’m right here,” Arthur says, his hands strong and sure to prove his point. “Wouldn’t you say I’m right here?”

Yes,” agrees Eames desperately.

“Say my name,” Arthur prompts him.

“Darling,” Eames says immediately.

Arthur brushes his lips over Eames’s, leans back when Eames tries to deepen the kiss. “And where am I?”

“Right here,” Eames says obediently. “You’re right here.”

“Good. That’s good,” Arthur murmurs at him, and lets Eames kiss him, and it’s a hard kiss, punishing, brutal, and at one point Arthur is pretty sure he tastes blood, but he’s aware this is what Eames needs, the solid there-ness of Arthur, uncrushable.

Eames’s hands are rough on him, and Arthur doesn’t want to tell him to stop and also doesn’t want to admit that it hurts when they brush against Arthur’s scalp a little bit. He can’t imagine what it would be like if Eames grabbed his hair.

So Arthur takes Eames’s hands and pins them up against the back of the bed, stops kissing him, speaks directly into Eames’s panting mouth.

He says, “I’m going to suck you off, and you’re going to stay very, very still and let me take care of you.”

Eames nods frantically and actually says, “Please,” and Arthur smiles and kisses the tip of his nose because he can’t resist.

And then he slides down Eames’s body to tell his cock hello. Eames keeps his hands obediently by his head, and when Arthur brings him close and closer and closest, Arthur clamps his hands over Eames’s hips and shoves them not too gently into the mattress, hoping he’ll leave bruises, and pulls off and waits, while Eames squirms underneath him, hands fisted into his pillows, and finally says, “Please, darling, please--”

Arthur swallows him down and brings him off and sucks him through it. Because what he wanted for Eames wasn’t just the orgasm but all of it, every single second of being adored.

When Eames flinches a little, over-sensitive, Arthur pulls off and gives his favorite spent penis a fond little kiss, and then covers Eames, every inch of skin he can manage in contact, so Eames will know he’s still there.

Eames finally moves his hands, bringing his arms up and around Arthur, crushing him very tightly, holding him very close. Arthur tucks his head underneath Eames’s jaw and breathes.

Eames manages roughly, “Fuck fucking fuck, kitten.”

The kitten is good, thinks Arthur with a smile. The kitten is normal. He says into Eames’s skin, “Where am I?”

“Right here,” Eames murmurs against his temple, and then plants a number of frantic kisses along it, murmuring over and over, “Right here. Right here.”

Chapter Text

“Eames,” Arthur says the next day, after getting off the phone with his mother. “Can you get my mother at the airport?”

“Your mother flew?” Eames asks in surprise. He is in the kitchen, managing to get himself confused over making a fucking bowl of cereal.

Cookbook, Arthur reminds himself, shaking his head.

“She took Saito’s private jet,” Arthur says. “Into Worcester.”

Eames looks up from contemplating his bowl. “Saito’s private jet? Saito has a private jet? Why don’t we ever get to use Saito’s private jet? Do you need to put out to use Saito’s private jet?”

Arthur winces. “Jesus, Eames, it is definitely too soon after my concussion for you to be making sex jokes about my mother and Saito.”

“Are you going to use that concussion to get out of all future sex jokes about your mother and Saito?” asks Eames.

“I imagine for a while, yes,” replies Arthur.

Eames grins. “Fine, kitten. I’ll allow it.” He kisses the side of Arthur’s head haphazardly.

“Hey, you’re the one who said a concussion meant I could be coddled,” Arthur points out.

“Darling,” Eames says gravely, and links his hands casually at the small of Arthur’s back, nudging him against him, “I would coddle you magnificently, every moment of every day, if you would let me.”

“You already coddle me a vast percentage of the time,” Arthur tells him.

“That’s not coddling you,” Eames says. “That’s just loving you.” He leans forward to press a kiss behind Arthur’s right ear, and then rests there, breathing.

Arthur lifts a hand up to rest on the back of Eames’s neck, fingers threading into the short, crisp hair there. He murmurs, “I’m right here.”

Eames says, “I know,” and after another second takes a deep breath and moves away. “So. Shall I fetch your jetsetter mother?”

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees. “I was thinking maybe of telling her about our wedding plans, while she’s here. And then maybe we could do a Skype call with your parents, to plan everything.”

“Ooh, wedding planning,” says Eames.

“Fake wedding planning,” says Arthur.

“Real wedding planning,” he counters. “We had a real wedding.”

“Right, but this is just a party,” Arthur says.

Eames pauses. Eames hesitates.

Arthur says, “What?”

“What if I don’t want it to be just a party?” says Eames.

“You…want it to be something else?” asks Arthur blankly.

“I…I don’t know, I…I think I want it to be A Wedding. I mean, I loved our wedding, I loved absolutely everything about it, every single second of it. But I think maybe I didn’t want to marry you once and be done with it. Maybe I want to marry you a lot of times.”

Arthur lifts his eyebrows. He can tell what Eames is saying is important to him and he wants to understand it but he’s perplexed. “You want to have multiple weddings?”

“No. Not really. I don’t know. Maybe.” Eames looks frustrated even with himself.

Arthur glances at his watch and says, “Okay, clearly we need to talk about this.”

“I don’t mean to make it into a big issue,” says Eames.

“You’re not. This is not a big issue,” Arthur promises. “I just want to make sure I talk about this with you. Properly. So we make sure we have the wedding-slash-party in September that we both want.”

“I love you very much,” Eames says, and kisses Arthur’s chin.

“I know,” Arthur says.

Chapter Text

His mother fusses.

He should have anticipated this—in fact, he did expect there would be some fussing—but he is not prepared for the level of fussing.

It occurs to him, in a way that he doesn’t usually think about, how much he is really kind of It for his mother. How her entire life for many years was him. And she never made him feel guilty for wanting to go off and be his own person, never tried to hold him back from going out into the world, but it had to have been difficult, to let go as much as she did and to make sure he never felt the difficulty of it.

And for most of Arthur’s life he’s been aware that something might happen to his mother and leave him alone, because for most of Arthur’s life he was keenly aware of the way parents can just disappear, but he figures his mother has never really liked to consider the possibility of the reverse happening and Arthur being the one to go first.

So he gets why she hugs him so tightly and doesn’t let go for a long time.

He says finally, gently, “It was just a concussion. It’s really nothing.”

“Eames said a ceiling fell on you,” his mother says.

Arthur gives Eames a look, because maybe the news could have been broken a bit more tactfully than that.

“A ceiling did fall on you,” Eames says in response to the look, which isn’t actually a helpful response.

Arthur sighs and says, “In any case I’m fine.”

“Saito’s been dealing with the network,” his mother says. “He says not to worry about rushing back, he’s handling it.”

“We need to call Saito,” Arthur says.

“I didn’t say that to make you feel guilty about not calling him.”

“No, I know, but he’s been dealing with a lot, and we should really call him.”

Eames, without having to be asked, writes it on the glass board, and sometimes there really are moments when Arthur loves Eames so much he has to stop and consciously breathe through it.

“Thank you for the fruit basket, too,” Arthur continues. “You didn’t have to send anything.”

“Well, I had to do something,” his mother says. “I didn’t want you to have to worry about what you were going to eat.”

“That was a valid concern,” Arthur allows, “but now Timothy spoils us and basically brings us entire supermarkets worth of food.”

“We still don’t cook anything,” Eames says from the kitchen, “but at least we have food. Speaking of, can I get you something, Laura? Something to drink? Or some fruit?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” his mother says.

Arthur says, “He is writing a cookbook. Like, an actual cookbook, with recipes.”

“Actual recipes?” asks his mother, amused.

“I think mainly theoretical recipes,” says Arthur archly.

Eames laughs from the kitchen.

His mother also laughs.

Eames says, as he comes back into the room with a bowl of grapes that he sets down on the coffee table, “Arthur is also meant to be designing ties, did he tell you?”

“Designing ties?” his mother says. “That’s wonderful. You always used to design ties as a boy.”

Eames looks at him with sharp-eyed delight. “Really?” he says, his glee undisguised.

“No,” Arthur says. “Not really. I really didn’t do that.”

“You used to draw little people with beautiful ties on them,” his mother says.

“They were stick figures, Mom,” Arthur reminds her.

“Aww, darling, did you draw your stick figures with ties?” Eames asks. He looks impossibly charmed by this.

So does Arthur’s mom. “Yes. It was the sweetest thing.”

“You two are both addle-minded,” Arthur informs them.

Addle-minded,” echoes Eames, sounding impressed by the word.

“Yes. And considering I’m the one with the supposed concussion, it’s impressive.”

Eames laughs and says, “What do you think we should do about dinner? Shall I order in?”

They do.

Chapter Text

“You don’t have to go to bed with me,” Arthur says, yawning as he settles very gratefully into his pillows. “You can stay up and work, I know this is your prime working time and you’ve been so busy with me.”

“Darling, there is going to come a time when I find it no longer necessary to watch you sleep but it took me months to stop doing it the first time around so I feel I should just prepare you for that.”

Arthur opens his eyes and looks at Eames next to him in the bed. “Did you used to watch me sleep?”

“I used to never take my eyes off you,” Eames says solemnly.

And the thing is: Arthur knows that. Eames really hasn’t taken his eyes off him since the day they met.

Arthur says, “Tell me about the wedding.”

“If you’re tired, it can wait.”

“I’m fine,” Arthur assures him. “Tell me about the wedding. Tell me about what you’re thinking.”

Eames is silent for a long moment. Then he says softly, “I want to marry you. I want you to wear a gorgeous suit and stand in my parents’ back garden and there’ll be sunlight caught in your hair and the scent of honeysuckle and I will slide a ring onto your finger and I will vow, in front of the people who matter to us, the people we love and who love us back, to be married to you for the rest of our time on this planet. And then I’ll kiss you, and everyone will clap. And I want to do that daily, tell everyone around us how very much I adore you, but I’ll settle it for doing it once every few years.”

Arthur stares at him for a very long moment. Then he says, his voice choked, “You should have told me.”

“I am telling you,” Eames replies.

“No, before I made us elope. You should have told me how much it meant to you to—”

“Hey.” Eames interrupts him sharply. “You didn’t make us elope. I wanted to marry you exactly that way. I wanted to do it that way, just you and me and this perfect day that was us. And I also want to marry you this way. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I want to marry you every way. I want to do it over and over. Marrying you was the best day of my life, until the day after that happened, and then the day after that, and basically I want to keep on having all of these best days. That’s what I want.”

Arthur swallows thickly and nods wordlessly, because he can’t handle anything else. Then he scoots closer to Eames so he can press his face into his chest.

“Shh, darling,” Eames says, even though Arthur’s not saying anything, but it’s just gentle soothing, and Arthur gets that.

He says after a second, “We’ll do all of that. We’ll talk to our parents and tell them just that.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to—”

Arthur nods. “No, it feels right. I want it just that way. Exactly like that.”

Eames makes a small affirmative noise, and for a long moment they just breathe.

And then Arthur says, “But don’t even pretend you know what the scent of fucking honeysuckle is.”

Eames laughs and laughs and laughs.

Chapter Text

They call Saito in the morning. Arthur isn’t sure how difficult of a time he’s had with the network but he waves it off and says he’ll assure them that filming will restart as soon as Arthur feels up to it and eases into it and his doctors agree. And then he says that they both look well and he’s glad it wasn’t anything more serious.

“Tell me about it,” says Eames fervently.

Arthur spends the afternoon talking to his mother about who their next clients will be.

“They want a tiny house,” Arthur says, and sighs.

His mother says, “I thought you got to pick the clients for this show.”

“We do,” says Arthur.

“So why don’t you look excited at finding a tiny house?”

“Well, I mean,” says Arthur, “we get to pick the clients but we’re also making a television show, so Eames and I thought a lot about who would make for good TV. Tiny houses are big right now, and please don’t say anything about that joke, because Eames has been making that joke for months now, and it isn’t really a joke.”

His mother looks amused. “I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“So, anyway, I figured I’d do a tiny house. It’s a challenge, which I like anyway, and it should be entertaining. We’re starting a foundation. Luisa’s setting it up. Did Saito tell you?”

His mother shakes her head. “You should know that we don’t share your confidences, you know. We’re careful to keep you as a client separate from you as a son. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t still trust both of us the same way you would have before.”

Arthur looks at her for a moment, and then thinks that he wants to reassure her, somehow, that he really is more than okay with her and Saito, and it’s just growing pains, and it just takes him a longer time to process things than it seems to take other people, but they’re going to get there. He takes a deep breath and starts with, “Mom—”

“No,” she says, and takes both of his hands in hers. “Listen to me. I asked Eames what I could say to you that would make you feel better about Saito, stress out less about Saito.”

“When did you ask Eames that?” Arthur asks, confused.

“After he picked me up from the airport. And he said to tell you that I love you for every minute of processing time you need to get where you need to be, because you are unfailingly big-hearted when it comes to the people you love and I know that and don’t be so hard on yourself.” His mother pauses and regards him and says a trifle anxiously, “Does that work when people who aren’t Eames say it to you?”

Arthur nods, his throat feeling a little too tight to say anything other than “Yes.” He’s going to kiss all of the breath out of Eames the next time he sees him.

His mother hugs him, and Arthur lets himself sigh against her. She’s here to take care of him, after all, so he might as well wallow a little bit.

Then she says, “Tell me about this foundation,” and so Arthur does, telling all about them getting to help the people who really need it, getting to do real good in the world with the skills they have to offer.

His mother smiles and says she thinks it sounds like a wonderful idea and they are companionably silent for a second before Arthur ventures, “Also, Eames and I are going to have another wedding.”

“Of course you are,” says his mother, sounding indulgent.

“What makes you say that?”

“You like to throw dramatic parties,” his mother points out.

Eames likes to throw dramatic parties,” Arthur tries to correct her, but it sounds false even to his own ears. “Anyway, would you be upset if we have it in England? We want to have it in Eames’s parents’ back garden. But if you’d be uncomfortable—”

“I wouldn’t be at all uncomfortable. I’m sure that will be lovely,” his mother insists firmly.

Arthur studies her face closely and then decides that she means this, that this is okay. “We’re thinking September. And we’ll want you to be involved with the planning, and we’ll pay for whoever you like to fly over there.”

“Arthur,” his mother says, amused, “something tells me if you asked, Saito would buy you an entire airline to fly people over there.”

Chapter Text

They Skype Eames’s parents, because it seems efficient to do this all at once.

Maggie immediately says, “Arthur! A ceiling collapsed on you?”

“It wasn’t a big thing,” Arthur says. After all, he’s feeling much better.

“He had a concussion,” says Eames, in a woeful tone of voice that makes it clear how much Eames suffered because of Arthur’s concussion.

Arthur’s actually relieved to hear the posturing in Eames’s tone, because it means that Eames is feeling steadier in the wake of the whole thing.

“Turn around,” Albert commands.

“What?” asks Arthur bewildered.

“I want to see where it hit you.”

“Oh, you can’t really see it anymore,” Arthur says, even though he doesn’t really know, because it’s on the back of his head.

Apparently you can still see something, because when he turns around everyone oohs and aahs and tsks.

“Horrifying, isn’t it?” says Eames solemnly. “You should have seen it before. I was covered in blood.”

“Okay,” says Arthur, turning back around. “This story becomes more dramatic every time you tell it.”

“Laura,” Maggie says, turning to Arthur’s mother. “I’m so glad you’re there with them. How are they doing?”

“Managing,” says Arthur’s mother, with a fond smile.

“We like to think so,” says Eames.

“We have a request,” Arthur says, to get this call on track.

“What’s that?” asks Albert, sounding ready to sound indulgent.

“How would you like to host a wedding?” asks Eames casually, arm thrown over Arthur’s shoulder.

Your wedding?” says Maggie, blinking as if her eyes have gone misty.

“No, a client wedding,” drawls Eames, and Maggie and Albert both look uncertain.

“Yes, our wedding,” Arthur says.

“Of course our wedding!” says Eames. “Who else’s wedding would we ask you to host?”

“Well, you’ve already been married,” Albert points out. “You lot do everything confusingly. You know I don’t care, but is it because you’re gay?”

“No,” says Eames laconically.

“It’s because there’s an Eames involved,” adds Arthur helpfully.

Maggie says, “Ha, he’s right about that,” and gives the back of her husband’s head a playful tap.

“We thought we’d get married again,” Eames continues.

“We might get married every year,” says Arthur, just for the way Eames smiles at him.

“We want to exchange rings and say vows and have a party, and we’re thinking your back garden in September,” Eames finishes.

Maggie definitely looks teary-eyed now. And then she looks at Arthur’s mother and says, “Oh, Laura, we’re going to have so much fun.”

Chapter Text

Now that they have multiple clients in play, their filming schedule has grown more complicated. If Arthur privately wondered sometimes if they really needed the number of people around them assisting them, he no longer wonders, because their lives are descending into a chaos that is only carefully controlled because Luisa is helping Arthur to control it. Arthur probably would have long descended into a panic spiral without Luisa there to help. As it is, he finds himself in his office with the door closed, hiding from filming for a little while, while Eames and Ariadne and Gon negotiate with Rusty and Alice and their penchant for wanting to disagree over everything so they can improve their sex life.

Arthur is looking at tiny houses, although they all look the fucking same to him, because there are only so many ways to squeeze a toilet, a bed, and a refrigerator into two hundred square feet.

There’s a knock on his door, and Arthur considers his mental state, decides he feels mostly recharged, and calls, “Come in!”

It turns out to be Ariadne and not Kalinda, and Arthur smiles at her. “Oh, good, I thought you were work.”

“I, too, am hiding from work. Do you want to hide together?”

“I do,” says Arthur, beckoning her in.

Ariadne drops onto the squashy sofa with a sigh of happiness.

“Where’s everyone else?”

“Probably Rusty and Alice are having sex on your kitchen counters by now, hope that’s okay.”

“Fuck,” says Arthur mildly, “everyone is always having sex on those kitchen counters.”

Ariadne gave him a look. “I hope by ‘everyone,’ you mean you and Eames. Who else is having sex on those kitchen counters?”

“The sex club members, of course,” says Arthur.

“Oh, of course,” says Ariadne. “Do you sanitize this house before people come over?”

“Absolutely,” says Arthur, with only a moment of hesitation.

Ariadne snorts.

“If Rusty and Alice are off having sex on my kitchen counters—”

“Not really,” Ariadne says. “They’re just, you know, making out a lot.”

“—then where are Eames and Gon?”

“Oh.” Ariadne brightens. “Gon is trying to teach Eames about the environment. It’s the best.”

“Trying to teach Eames about the environment?” echoes Arthur. “In what way?”

“The science supporting the green initiatives Gon has proposed.”

“The…science,” says Arthur, understanding why Ariadne looks gleeful.

Exactly. It’s fantastic. Gon’s little face is so adorable and earnest.”

Arthur gives Ariadne a knowing smile. “You had to get out of there before you fell into the Nileses’ mode of making out a lot.”

“First of all, the fact that you think that’s not your default mode with your husband is cute, let me tell you.”

“Whatever,” says Arthur, knowing that the tips of his ears are pink.

“Second of all, I think Eames is mainly winding him up at this point. He was asking Gon to explain why the sky is blue when I left.”

Arthur laughs, because that sounds exactly like Eames, and also like good television, and their show is turning out so fantastic.

Chapter Text

“I want you to know something very important,” Eames says gravely.

They are all sitting around the dining room table, Dev and Tavi calmly filming away under Kalinda’s steady gaze, and Arthur, looking at the files ringed around him, says, “Okay, what?”

“Everyone on this show is hyper-sexualized. Do you think it’s because of your reputation, darling?”

Ariadne and Gon and Luisa all turn to Arthur expectantly, as if very interested in this question.

“If it is, they’re all going to be sorely disappointed by the lack of sex club shenanigans,” says Arthur.

“Darling, no one would ever be disappointed by your feral sexuality.”

“Moving on,” says Arthur. “Status update. How go the Nileses?”

“They can’t agree on anything,” says Eames, “so they spend a lot of time making out and Ari and Gon and I make all the decisions.”

“Is that a good idea?” asks Arthur.

“It’s the only way the project is getting done,” says Eames, “so yes, and they’re going to be unhappy no matter what.”

Arthur can see Eames’s point, so he says, “Okay. What about Mick?”

“Our friend Mick,” says Eames, rolling the name around in his mouth, over-pronouncing it.

“How are the plans going?”

“Oh! Oh! Can I do this one?” asks Ariadne excitedly.

“Take it away, GPS,” says Eames.

“We’ve managed to talk him out of having a stripper pole on the dining room table,” says Ariadne.

“How did you do that?” asks Arthur.

“I pointed out that maybe sometimes the women he wants to sleep with would like to see men gyrating around the dining room table, and I thought it was so great that he was open to that.” Ariadne shrugs. “And then he changed his mind about the stripper pole on the dining room table.”

“Our Ariadne is ruthless,” comments Eames, “but effective. As for the rest of the design, I put Gon in charge of the bedroom.”

“For the record,” says Gon, “I hate being in charge of the bedroom.”

“Oh, hush,” says Eames, “everyone knows bedrooms are your speciality.”

Gon goes red and stammers, “They’re really not.”

Ariadne looks amused and kisses his cheek, and Arthur’s not sure if that helps Gon’s stammering and blushing situation or not.

“And,” Eames continues, as if nothing else is happening, “I bought us a whale penis bone.”

“You bought Mick a whale penis bone, you mean,” says Arthur.

“No, us,” Eames insists.

“What…” Arthur starts over. “What are we doing with a whale penis bone?”

“Putting it on our coffee table?” suggests Eames.

“So that people can see our weird whale penis bone when we have them over for dinner?” Arthur says. “So that our parents can see our weird whale penis bone?”

“What’s weird about having a whale penis bone?” Eames asks. “It’s just an anatomical part.”

“I don’t even know what a whale penis looks like,” says Arthur.

“So would you rather we put a human penis bone on our coffee table?” asks Eames. “You know what one of those looks like.”

“Oh, my God,” says Arthur. “What is this conversation?” He looks at the filming cameras. “I apologize for this horrible conversation.”

“What does a whale penis look like?” wonders Ariadne.

“Where did you even get that?” asks Gon curiously.

“I don’t want any penis bones on my coffee table,” Arthur clarifies, because before he knows it his coffee table will house an entire collection of penis bones.

Eames considers this statement, then says, “What about on the nightstand?”

Chapter Text

“See,” Eames says, much, much later, when filming is done for the day, and dinner is eaten, and they’ve reached the end of the second season of Gossip Girl, and Arthur is getting into bed. “It could go right here.” Eames reaches out and taps Arthur’s nightstand, in the space between the book he’s reading and the box of tissues.

“What could?” Arthur asks, snuggling into his pillows.

“The whale penis bone,” Eames says.

Arthur gives him a look. “Eames. What the fuck. Why would we want that?”

“It’s supposed to bring good penis luck,” says Eames.

“What does good penis luck look like?” asks Arthur.

“I don’t know,” says Eames thoughtfully. “But I think I’d rather have good penis luck than bad penis luck.”

Arthur rolls his eyes and says, “If I say yes to the whale penis bone, does this mean that I’m going to come home to find our home full of penis bones?”

“No,” says Eames. “But.” Eames’s eyes are shining with the sort of good-idea look that Arthur has learned to be slightly suspicious of.

“Oh, God,” says Arthur.

“Darling!” Eames exclaims, jumping happily onto the bed next to Arthur. “There is an entire museum devoted to the art of the penis in Iceland. Did you know that?”

“The art of the penis,” Arthur echoes drily. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?”

“I read all about it online,” Eames continues.

“Does this have something to do with our fandom?” Arthur asks. “Are they writing penis museum AUs now?”

“No, but they should,” says Eames. “I’ve been doing research for Mick’s house. Like, look, if he is that obsessed with his penis, I want him to be surrounded by them.”

“Eames.” Arthur is laughing because he can’t help it. “And what’s he going to say when he walks in and all of his carpets have little dick patterns on them?”

“He’s going to say that he loves it, because one, I am Eames.”

“Oh, Christ,” says Arthur, still laughing.

“And two, I’ve asked him about it, and he thought it sounded like the best idea he’d ever heard.”

“Oh, Christ,” says Arthur, doubled over now he’s laughing so hard.

“He said it will get women in the mood,” Eames goes on. “Women are obsessed with penises, you know. Can’t get enough of them. Well, heterosexual women.”

“God,” Arthur says, trying to catch his breath. “They’re going to have to pixel out this entire house. This network is going to hate us.”

“This network is going to love us because this show is absurdist gold and they hired us because of the sex club rumors and you know it. Their first media campaign with us was to ask me to take all of my clothes off. This is exactly what they want from us, and I’m giving it to them.”

Arthur looks across at Eames fondly. He’s reclining fully clothed on top of the covers, because he isn’t ready for bed yet, he’s ready for a few more hours of work. Arthur says, “You know, I really never forget this about you, but sometimes I just feel compelled to mention it again: You’re a weirdly strategic genius when you want to be. This devil-may-care rapscallion attitude is such a fantastic act.”

“Oooh, ‘devil-may-care rapscallion,’” repeats Eames. “I like that. Sounds sexy.”

“A little bit,” Arthur allows.

Eames grins at him and says, “About your tie design collection.”

Arthur blinks, surprised by the change of subject, and says, “What about it?”

“I know you’re stressing out about it, and you shouldn’t. You’re an incredibly creative person. This straitlaced, unimaginative attitude is such a fantastic act.”

Arthur smiles across at him and says, mockingly begrudging, “Touche.”

Eames winks at him.

Arthur says, “Are you going to do anything about being in this bed, or are you just going to lounge there looking pretty?”

“Aw, do you think I look pretty?” Eames asks, pleased, and rolls onto Arthur and kisses the laughter off his lips.

Chapter Text

The tiny house couple is named Big Dan and Big Don. Neither one of them is big. In fact, they are both shorter than Arthur and Eames. Arthur supposes this makes sense if they want to live in a tiny house, but he doesn’t know what to make of the names. He guesses that they’re meant to be a joke.

Eames says to them, “Once you move into a tiny house, will you change your names to Tiny Dan and Tiny Don?” and smiles brightly.

Big Dan says, “No.”

Big Don says, “The nicknames aren’t about where we live.”

Eames says, “Well, no, I was just making a little—”

Big Dan says, “The nicknames are about the sizes of our penises.”

Of course, thinks Arthur, and wants to bang his head against the desk.

Luisa, sitting next to him taking notes, scribbles, We need so many more vulvas around this place.

Arthur can’t disagree. He says, to get them back on track, “Okay, tell me what you’re looking for in your tiny house.”

“First of all,” says Big Dan, “do you know about tiny houses?”

“I…” Arthur doesn’t understand the question. “I mean, I know about them. I’ve been researching the market. I’m not a tiny house expert, but—”

“Right, well, they’re going to be the next big thing,” says Big Don. “So it’s pretty important that you know all about them.”

“Okay,” agrees Arthur, smiling easily. “I would like to know all about them. Starting with yours. Tell me what your dream home looks like.”

“Small and cozy,” Big Don says.

“No ladders,” Big Dan says.

“We have six dogs,” says Big Don. “They can’t climb ladders.”

“Six dogs,” Arthur echoes. “Are they…terriers?”

“No, Labradors,” says Big Dan.

“Labradors are…” Eames holds a hand above the floor, about the height of a Labrador. “That high?”

“Pretty much.” Big Don laughs jovially. “We’ve got ourselves some overgrown puppies, let me tell you.”

“And three cats,” adds Big Dan.

“So,” Arthur clarifies, “you have six dogs and three cats, and the two of you. In a tiny house.”

“And chickens,” says Big Don. “We also have some chickens.”

“Okay,” Arthur says. “Chickens.” He makes a note on his file. Chickens? He doesn’t know about chicken regulations. He’s going to have to learn. “What else would you like the house to have?” he asks, even though so far mainly what he’s learned is that these people need something that’s not a tiny house.

Big Dan says, “Space for guests.”

Arthur doesn’t even make a note of that. “Okay,” he says. “Are you going to need a full kitchen, or—”

“Oh, yes,” says Big Don. “With a lot of counterspace. We’re both avid cooks.”

“And we’re going to need space for a home gym,” says Big Dan.

Arthur lifts an eyebrow at them. He says, “It’s a lot of stuff in a little house.”

Big Don says, “We haven’t even told you the most important part: We also need it to contain a home brewery.”

Chapter Text

As soon as the cameras are off, Eames laughs so hard he can’t breathe.

Arthur says, “What the fuck.”

Eames says, around his mirth, “You chose these people! You had veto power!”

“I wanted to do a tiny house!” Arthur says. “They’re in right now! A home brewery? What the fuck even is that?”

“Chickens!” gasps Eames. “They also have chickens. Oh, this is going to be the best house hunt ever.” Eames collapses onto the couch in Arthur’s office, looking beyond pleased.

“I don’t even think these people could fit everything they want in our behemoth of a house,” Arthur says. “Never mind a tiny house.”

“You know,” Eames says thoughtfully, “we never actually asked them what their definition of ‘tiny’ is. I mean, they called themselves Big Don and Big Dan and they can’t be more than five-feet-seven. Maybe they’re calling this a tiny house but it’s seven thousand square feet.”

“If they give me seven thousand square feet to work with, I can find them a house,” Arthur says. “It’s the fact that I think they want less than four hundred square feet that’s going to be a challenge.”

Eames gives him an affectionate look. “You know you’re going to pull it off. You always do. You’re a not-so-secret genius with this. And we had veto power and you still chose all of these impossible clients. You love this kind of challenge. You thrive on it. You’d be bored to bloody tears with normal clients.”

“You’re right,” Arthur says, deadpan. “I love chaos. Look who I married.”

“Ha,” says Eames, grinning. “The best kind of chaos, though.”

“Chaos personified,” Arthur says, and allows himself to crawl onto Eames’s chest and kiss him briefly.

Brief because Paul says, “So if I can grab you before the cameras come back—oh. Wait. Never mind. That’s okay. Never mind.”

Arthur has slid off of Eames and is now sitting on his chair, and Eames says, sounding fond, “Paul, don’t be ridiculous, come back in here, no one was naked.”

Paul comes in gingerly, as if he expects Arthur to suddenly launch himself back onto Eames and start pulling penises out and traumatizing him as if he doesn’t have a penis of his own. He says, “I don’t want to interrupt.”

“You weren’t interrupting,” Eames says pleasantly. “Sometimes Arthur just can’t help snogging me. It’s an occupational hazard of being me.”

Arthur rolls his eyes but he can’t deny it so he just says to Paul, “What did you want before the cameras come back?”

“It’s Julia’s birthday next week.”

“Yes,” Arthur says. “She has been reminding us of this every morning as she does our makeup. Usually multiple times a makeup session.”

“What do you think I should buy her?” Paul asks fretfully. “I feel like she sets a lot of store by a big fuss on her birthday.”

“Our Julia want a fuss?” says Eames, mock-shocked. “You don’t say.”

“What are you buying her?” Paul asks, ignoring Eames.

“Vodka,” Arthur answers truthfully. It’s awesome, expensive vodka and Julia’s going to love it.

“And vodka shampoo,” adds Eames. “Do you think our gift says alarming things about your girlfriend?”

Paul sighs. “I think it’s a fantastic gift. I think I am failing at this.”

“You’re not failing,” says Eames soothingly. “You should get her an experience. Like, a really great date.”

“Yeah,” says Paul, “I was thinking…” Paul pauses dramatically, which is very unlike Paul, and then says, “Hot-air balloon. It feels appropriately over-the-top for Julia. Like, literally over the top.”

Arthur thinks of Julia, who likes extravagance, and says, “I think she’ll love it.”

Chapter Text

Later-than-expected wedding tonight means no chapter! Sorry!!

Chapter Text

They go out and do some filming about the river hallways and the new woven glass being installed. Then they film a meeting with Luisa about their upcoming travel to tiny-house-hunt. They’re going to upstate New York, which is convenient because it’s near his mother and not terribly far from their house. He’s just seen his mother but he’d had no way of knowing that when they’d booked the tiny-house trip, and anyway it will also be good to see Saito. And see his mother with Saito.

Then they do some quick interviews discussing the upcoming tiny-house-hunt.

Kalinda says to prompt them, “It sounds like it’s going to be quite the challenge for you.”

Arthur opens his mouth to answer but Eames beats him to it. “Arthur loves a challenge. Arthur excels at challenges. Remember how irresistible Arthur was on Love It or List It? Because he was being challenged.” Eames nods sagely.

Arthur says, “My state of resistibility—”

Irresistibility,” Eames corrects hm.

“—is irrelevant—” Arthur continues.

“Never,” Eames interjects.

“—to the goal of finding Big Dan and Big Don the tiny house of their dreams.”

“Kind of big dreams,” offers Kalinda.

Eames says, “This is why your irresistibility is relevant, darling. You could sell anyone on anything, and that’s going to be important in this challenge.”

“I am not at all concerned about the challenge,” Arthur says blandly. “Each house hunt is challenging in its own ways. You’re finding a place for people to deposit their most private selves, it’s always a challenge. This challenge is no different, and I know I’m up to the task.”

“See that confidence?” Eames says. “Irresistible.”

“The person I’m most concerned for is Eames,” says Arthur sweetly, dimpling in Eames’s direction.

“Me?” says Eames.

“Because you’re the one who’s going to have to decorate this tiny house I find them. Decorate it around all those pets, a home gym, and a home brewery.”

Eames is silent for a second. Then he says, “Fuck.”

Chapter Text

Timothy is in their kitchen making them dinner, because he says that every once in a while they should have a hot fresh dinner instead of a reheated one.

Arthur would point out that they have hot fresh dinners whenever they’re out of Timothy-food because then they invariably order takeout, but Arthur doesn’t want to alert Timothy to how often they still order takeout because Timothy would look so disappointed and Arthur likes to try to pretend he’s a grown-up in front of Timothy.

Timothy says, “So how’s filming coming? It seems like it’s coming along well.”

“Very well,” says Arthur.

“It’s been busy madness,” says Eames, “and we’ve loved every minute of it.”

“Busy madness does seem to be our thing,” admits Arthur.

“I know people who have leisurely normality,” Timothy says. “It’s overrated.”

“Exactly,” agrees Eames. “We choose to surround ourselves with interesting people, hence our interesting lives.”

“Speaking of,” Arthur says, “how’s your watercolor class coming?”

“So good,” Timothy says enthusiastically. “I feel like I’m really improving. And expanding my horizons. Next I’m thinking of taking up Irish step-dancing.”

“We don’t do anything interesting,” Eames says to Arthur mournfully.

“You’re celebrities,” Timothy points out. “You have a hit reality television show.”

“But, like, that’s not interesting,” Eames sulks.

“It’s pretty fucking interesting,” Arthur tells him. “Anyway, you’re also taking up fencing, aren’t you? So that’s something.”

Eames brightens, “That’s true. I guess I do have an interesting hobby.”

“Plus,” remarks Arthur, “you’re writing a cookbook, remember? You should be making cooking a hobby.”

“Oh, yeah,” says Eames vaguely. “The cookbook.”

Arthur shakes his head at him.

Timothy says, “Honestly, your cookbook is probably the thing I’m most looking forward to in life.”

“That’s…a lot of pressure,” remarks Eames. “I should probably, like, come up with some recipes or something.”

Arthur laughs so hard at the look on Timothy’s face.

Chapter Text

They watch Gossip Girl before bed, because it tends to be what they do these days. Eames oohs and aahs over all the clothing and Arthur complains about how horrible every single Humphrey is.

As they finish their spate of episodes for the evening, Arthur says, “Are you coming to bed?”

“I might stay up fretting about tiny house design,” Eames muses. “Or my cookbook. I have much to fret over.”

Eames isn’t really a fretter, so Arthur takes the proclamation with a grain of salt. If Eames were really going to fret, he wouldn’t announce it so blithely.

Arthur says, “Don’t fret. Stay up and design me something completely impractical and ridiculous,” and leans forward to give Eames a kiss.

Eames kisses back briefly before murmuring, “You hate impractical and ridiculous things.”

“Not true. I love you very much,” says Arthur, and shifts so he can straddle him.

“And I am, indeed, your most impractical and ridiculous thing,” Eames agrees.

Arthur pulls back from the kiss just slightly, just enough so he can look into Eames’s eyes when he says, “No, you’re not. Not really. You are impractical and ridiculous, it’s true, but you are not an impractical and ridiculous thing in my life. You’re a vitally important thing in my life. Who makes me very happy. I’m very happy.” Arthur whistles a bar of Yankee Doodle Dandy just to prove it.

Eames smiles at him and kisses his left dimple and says, “Darling, you couldn’t have chosen ‘God Save the Queen’?”

Chapter Text

They drive to upstate New York for the tiny house hunt. Eames loves road-tripping in the United States and would do it much more often if Arthur found it more appealing. Arthur doesn’t find it appealing; Arthur generally likes to be home much of the time—one of their two homes—instead of driving around getting irritated with traffic. But Eames’s enthusiasm can be infectious and Arthur finds himself contemplating a time in the future when he might do more of this with Eames. They could afford to take some time off and just…wander.

Arthur says, “You know, I’d probably be better at road-tripping if I had a tiny house.”

Eames gets his Christmas-morning look. “Really, darling?”

“Probably. I mean, I’ll still complain about everyone on the road constantly, but at least there would be a bathroom.”

“I could drive and you could meditate in our tiny house. Can we have one with a zen garden?”

“No. Also you’re not driving,” says Arthur.

Eames accepts this sunnily. “I am going to pay extra attention to this house hunt,” he says. “Usually I just stand around and admire you being hotly competent during house hunts.”

“I’m just doing my job,” Arthur says.

“That’s what makes it so hotly competent,” Eames points out.

Arthur finds Eames hotly competent as well when he’s doing his job, so Arthur lets the subject drop.

They arrive at Arthur’s mother’s house shortly after noon, and she greets them happily and shows them to the guest room.

Eames says, “What a lovely room. I wonder who designed this,” as he does every time they visit Arthur’s mother, because Eames is the cheesiest person alive.

Arthur’s mother says, “Come and have some lemonade on the porch.”

They do, and Eames says, “It’s just so civilized here. Maybe we should have a porch. We could sit on the porch together and drink lemonade.”

“But would we need to, what with our indoor forest?” asks Arthur.

“Good point,” says Eames.

“How’s the indoor forest coming along?” Arthur’s mother asks.

Eames sighs. “Slow going, because we’ve been filming and also focused on getting the river hallways done. And then we’re going to install an aquarium.” And then Eames launches into a description of all the work he’s done so far designing their aquarium. Most of it Sumiko has sent back as too fanciful to be accomplished. Eames is thoroughly undeterred. Arthur is worried Sumiko might get frustrated by the process. Meanwhile Paul is enjoying having one impossible design on Eames’s plate that Paul doesn’t have to manage.

His mother listens to Eames indulgently, and Arthur spends Eames’s monologue sitting on his mother’s back porch and thinking of how very lovely it is, and how pleased he is that she has this now.

“You’re quiet,” his mother says finally, when Eames has run down.

Arthur turns to her, his mouth open to say something casual, something about the heat in the forecast, or the pollen count, or the beautiful flowers she’s planted, but instead he finds himself caught by the sight of Eames and his mother, probably his two most beloved people on the planet, sitting side-by-side in golden summer sunlight, and he thinks, Fuck, I am the luckiest person alive.

He says, “I was just thinking, Thank God you applied for me to be a television host.”

His mother smiles, as does Eames, who picks up his hand and kisses his knuckles.

Chapter Text

I want all of you to know that tonight I went to Boda Borg. What is Boda Borg? HELL. Basically, it seemed like fun. "Let's go do quests! Like a real-life video game!" Yes. If you are 12. If you are somewhere in the latter half of your 30s, everything about this is a terrible idea. I mean, I didn't realize it at the time. While we were questing, we just went along, having fun. We did SIX HOURS of questing, because we weren't really paying attention? Or worrying? Or something? And now I am so sore. I am very sore. I might not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. SO SORE. SO OLD. Meanwhile the nimble agile 12-year-olds will probably go back to Boda Borg tomorrow.

So, sorry, no chapter tonight. I must lay on this couch and think of my poor muscles.

Chapter Text

His mother has insisted on hosting dinner for their entourage, the rest of whom are staying in town while Eames and Arthur enjoy his mother’s hospitality. Arthur insisted it wasn’t necessary but he also understands that it’s important to his mother to be part of this part of his life, and so he doesn’t fight very hard and relents in the end.

Plus there’s the fact that his mother is a much better cook than either Arthur or Eames.

Arthur is in the kitchen trying to be helpful and mostly failing, he feels. Although he is at least doing a better job of being helpful than Eames, who is busy warning his mother about the danger of onions.

“I’m not sure you fully grasp how evil they are,” Eames is telling her, as Arthur cubes potatoes.

“The trick is to just lean away from them,” his mother says.

“No. That is not the trick. Just leaning away? You think that will be enough to fix the death trap that is an onion?”

“Eames. It was an onion. It made you cry a little bit,” says Arthur.

“You are forgetting what actually happened,” Eames informs him. “Your brain is painting it over with a rosy glow. Like childbirth.”

Arthur gives him a look. “My brain is equating your onion escapade with childbirth? It’s a good thing we’re not filming this, every woman everywhere would be offended.”

Eames says, “Hmm,” and pulls out his phone, and later Arthur discovers that he has tweeted, Onions: Are they like childbirth? #discuss, and a surprising amount of discussion follows.

And then, just like that, Saito walks into the kitchen.

“Hello,” he says pleasantly. “Am I late? I hope I’m not late.” He is carrying a huge bouquet of cheerful flowers and he kisses Arthur’s mother’s cheek.

“You’re not late,” she says. “You’re just in time. You can handle the asparagus.”

“Ah,” says Saito, putting the flowers in the empty vase that had been sitting on the kitchen table and pulling asparagus out of the fridge. “Hello, Eames, Arthur. It is good to see you. How’s the show going? I trust you have no complaints? If you did, you shouldn’t have hesitated to call me.” Saito is rinsing the asparagus and spreading it on a work surface and unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling up his sleeves.

Eames is gaping at this Saito who is preparing asparagus, calmly breaking the stalks.

Arthur throws a potato cube at Eames to stop him from gaping, but realizes he probably doesn’t look much better.

Saito drizzles his asparagus with olive oil and glances up at Arthur and Eames, who are still utterly silent.

“I am going to assume your silence means you have no complaints,” he says drily, and then he says to Arthur’s mother, “Shall I start the grill?” and then he goes out the back door.

Presumably to start the grill.

“Saito grills?” hisses Eames.

“Saito is a perfectly normal man,” Arthur’s mother says.

“Who grills?” says Eames, as if that is beyond comprehension.

“Grilling doesn’t require much talent, you know,” Arthur’s mother says. “You just turn it on.”

“It’s not weird that Saito grills,” Arthur says, very maturely, even though it is clearly super-weird that Saito grills. “I mean, Mom’s right, he’s just a regular guy.”

Arthur’s mother looks between them and sighs and shakes her head. “You two are ridiculous.”

Chapter Text

Dinner that night is Julia, Kalinda, Luisa, Dev, and Tavi. Gon and Ariadne are in Miami supervising the installation of penis decorations, and Paul is working on the river hallways. The five present members of their entourage show up with wine and vodka and more flowers.

“We didn’t know what to bring,” Julia says. “So we brought a little bit of everything.”

“So kind,” Arthur’s mother says, and then beckons them inside.

They eat on the back porch, in the lingering twilight, and at first it’s a little stilted and awkward. Arthur knows he and Eames are thrown by Saito’s presence, and he suspects the rest of the table is following their very bad lead on that.

But eventually Julia—who can always be depended upon to liven up a gathering—says, “So, please tell us all of the embarrassing stories you can about Arthur.” Which breaks the ice a little bit.

“There are no embarrassing stories about Arthur,” his mother says. “He was a perfect child. He did every chore without being reminded and even some chores he was never asked to do.”

“That in and of itself is an embarrassing story about Arthur,” Julia replies, grinning.

Arthur says, “Just because you were a hellion to your parents doesn’t mean we all were.”

“I was an angel,” says Julia.

Eames laughs energetically enough that he coughs a little on his food.

Luisa says, “Raise your hand if you need me to perform the Heimlich.”

Eames shakes his head and recovers his breath and says, “Seriously, Saito, where did you find Luisa?”

Saito takes a measured sip of his wine and then says, “She tended to me after I was stung by a jellyfish on an excursion in Macedonia.”

Arthur has no idea whether that’s true or not. Saito and Luisa have the best poker faces.

Chapter Text

Their entourage leaves together, early enough to allow for much “beauty rest” sleep.

“I don’t need sleep to be beautiful,” Eames says as they leave.

“No, you need Julia to be beautiful,” says Kalinda.

The entourage high-fives each other. Arthur smiles at the affronted look on Eames’s face.

“You’re all sacked,” Eames announces.

“Ha,” Julia says. “Sacked. How British of you.”

“I am British,” Eames points out. “And now you’re extra sacked.”

“Don’t worry,” Arthur says, slipping an arm behind Eames to step close to him, “I’ll put him in a good mood for tomorrow and he’ll take it all back.”

Eames beams at him. “Darling, that double entendre.”

“Eames, that was basically a single entendre,” says Arthur.

“Here’s a double entendre for you,” says Julia. “Arthur, enjoy being sacked.” She punctuates it with an exaggerated wink.

“You all need to leave this house,” Eames announces.

They pour themselves out into the night with choruses of “bye!” and “thank you!” and Arthur stands with Eames to just take a moment of marveling at how nice their lives are. Eames gets it, because Eames usually does, and tucks a hand into Arthur’s back pocket and presses his nose behind Arthur’s ear and breathes for a second.

Then he leaves a kiss there and says, “I’m going to help your mum clean up.”

“Me, too,” Arthur agrees, and they go back into the kitchen together.

“Well, Laura, dinner was delicious,” Eames says heartily. “I took all sorts of notes for my cookbook.”

Arthur rolls his eyes.

Arthur’s mother says, “You have the nicest friends.”

“They’re kind of employees,” Arthur remarks.

“They’re employees because they’re your friends,” his mother says, giving him a look that says he’s not fooling anyone.

Arthur says, “Where’s Saito?”

“Outside cleaning up the grill. He’s very particular with that grill.”

Eames looks at Arthur and mouths, Particular and lifts his eyebrows up very high.

Arthur says, “Maybe I’ll go help Saito,” because maybe it seems like a good idea to…get used to this.

Eames obviously knows what he’s off to do, and gives him a little encouraging smile.

Chapter Text

It’s cooler outside, now that it’s later at night, and Saito is indeed cleaning the grill. But the way probably only Saito would clean a grill, stroking it caressingly with some sort of soft cloth.

Saito says, “Hello, Arthur,” calmly, looking very at-home and relaxed.

Arthur says, “Hi,” and then wonders what the fuck he’s doing out there.

Saito doesn’t seem to think it’s strange he’s out there, though. He keeps being particular about his grill and says, “I take it that it’s a good sign that you invited your entire entourage to dinner. You all seem to get along very well.”

“I think it’s weird we have an entourage,” says Arthur honestly.

“I don’t,” Saito replies simply. “That was to be expected.”

Arthur thinks of Luisa, so calmly transitioning into different roles as their celebrity grows, and says, “You saw all of this coming.”

“I would be a very bad agent indeed if I had not,” says Saito.

Arthur, after a moment, says, “And how are Eames and I handling all this?”

“You tell me,” says Saito, still casual, still cleaning the grill.

Arthur considers, then says, “I think we’re doing really well.”

Saito looks at him in the darkness and gleams a smile his way. “I have seldom seen two people handle it better.”

“Secret panic wedding and all?” Arthur says, hoping that sounds like a joke.

“That was not a panic wedding,” Saito replies. “That was the least panicked wedding. That was a wedding of two people who just wanted to be married. And now I’m told you are planning a second wedding?”

“Yeah. You’re invited, of course,” says Arthur, and then wants to kick himself, because that sounds ridiculous.

Saito says, “I am very much looking forward to it,” and finally stops cleaning the grill. “Was there more, or should we go inside?”

“We can go inside,” Arthur agrees, because he doesn’t know what he was doing outside in the first place.

Saito says, as they head into the house, “The promotional photos.”

Because, yeah, the network has worked up Morgan’s photograph and sent it around. The network seems to plan to use it for virtually every promotional thing about the new show. Arthur thinks maybe he’s going to be subjected to the photo so often that he’ll tire of it eventually. But then he also thinks that he’s probably never going to tire of it. He says, “Yeah.”

“They’re quite something. Prepare yourself.”

Arthur is about to ask for what, except that Eames says, “What’s this?”

Saito says, “The promotional photos.”

“Oh,” says Eames. “Yeah. Arthur’s probably about to get named Sexiest Man Alive.”

“Okay,” Arthur says, knowing he’s blushing. “You’re the one who’s naked in the picture.”

Eames snorts, like his protest is absurd.

Arthur’s mother says, “What photos are these?”

Which results in Saito pulling them up on his laptop and clicking through them.

“Where will they be?” his mother asks, studying the photo in all its iterations.

“Billboards,” Saito says. “Magazines. Some bus shelters.”

“Billboards,” Eames says. “We’ll be enormous.”

“Bus shelters,” Arthur says. “People will take photos of themselves doing lewd things to you.”

“Or to you,” says Eames. “Either way, excellent.”

Arthur’s mother smiles and says, “It’s the most stunning photograph of the two of you. You should hire whoever took it to do your wedding photos. I’ve never seen anyone capture the essence of you so nicely.”

Arthur looks at the photograph and says, “That’s the essence of us?”

“Obviously more than you realize,” his mother replies.

Chapter Text

Arthur and Eames curl up in bed together. The bed is smaller than the bed they share at home.

“Don’t shove me off the mattress in your quest to conquer this entire bed,” Arthur warns Eames.

“Lies,” Eames says. “I don’t try to take over the entire bed.”

“You do it every single night.”

“I’d never shove you off the mattress.”

“The only reason you don’t do that every single night is because our mattress is ridiculously big.”

“Mmm,” Eames says, curling into Arthur a little harder. “Maybe we’ll just cuddle together all night. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“It would be,” Arthur says, already sleepy, “but you always eventually get warm.”

“You know, it makes sense that Saito grills.”

“Does it?” says Arthur, not even trying to follow the conversational gambit at this point.

“Grilling is all about fire. And he’s a dragon.”

“Mmm,” says Arthur. “You’ve cracked the code.”

“I want you to know that we’re not having sex right now.”

After a moment Arthur says, “Yeah, I was…aware of that, I think.”

“I mean, sorry, I should have clarified. We’re not having sex right now because we’re tired.”

“And in my mother’s house,” adds Arthur.

But were those things not true, I would absolutely have sex with you.”

“I hope so,” says Arthur. “You generally tend to have sex with me a lot.”

“Because I am married to the sexiest man on the planet.”

“I’m glad you think so,” says Arthur.

Everyone is going to think so. Darling, when you are beloved by everyone everywhere, including Sebastian Stan, will you at least let me hang about you sweeping the floor in front of you wherever you walk?”

“Why is that something that would be happening, or that you would want to do?”

“Because you’re so sexy.”

“This is only making sense in your head.”

“But would you, darling?”

“If it makes you happy, I would let you do almost any fucking thing. You haven’t realized that yet? Now go to sleep.”

Eames smiles and kisses Arthur’s chin and says, “Yes, darling.”

Chapter Text

In the morning they are up before dawn, because it’s going to be a long filming day to get as many tiny houses in as possible. Arthur and Eames’s housing might be conveniently free but the network is paying to put up the rest of the entourage and eager to minimize costs. And upstate New York isn’t as glamorous a place as Miami to just capture Arthur and Eames at random tasks like shopping.

Arthur’s mother is still up to greet them with coffee.

“You didn’t have to get up,” Arthur tells her, although the coffee is lovely.

She shrugs and says, “Saito’s an early riser. He’s already up and out.”

“And you like to be awake to see him off,” says Eames, and looks at Arthur. “Aw, darling, look at what a relationship looks like before all the romance is dead.”

“None of our romance is dead,” Arthur tells him. “Our relationship still has a profusion of romance.”

“On days when we’re not working, we wake up at totally different times.”

“Because we go to bed at totally different times.”

“Also not romantic. I fear for us, I really do.” Eames affects mournfulness.

Arthur says to his mother, “He’s always like this when we have to get up before dawn.”

Eames grins at him and kisses the side of his neck and says, “Come along, darling, let’s go off to our whirlwind busy lives that are no doubt steadily killing our romance.”

Chapter Text

While Eames is getting his makeup done, Arthur, under the guise of needing to talk logistics with Kalinda, walks to the supermarket in the little plaza across the street and buys a basic bouquet of flowers. One of his fellow shoppers recognizes him and he pauses for a photograph.

“Are you buying flowers for Eames?” the fan asks him, and then looks in danger of collapsing into a puddle. “That is so romantic!”

“Yes,” says Arthur. “Exactly.”

Arthur, crossing back to the makeup tent, checks Twitter, and there’s already a flurry of activity on the #arthur4everything tag about what a total romantic Arthur is.

Arthur arrives back in the tent, where Eames is telling Julia a story about a haunted pantry and Julia is looking decidedly dubious, and offers Eames the bouquet.

Eames looks so delighted that Arthur is pleased beyond measure. Sometimes, he lets himself follow foolish impulses like that, and Eames always loves it and is always completely charmed by it.

“Darling!” he exclaims. “So romantic!”

Julia says, “Uh-oh. Did you do something wrong?”

“Apparently we are not romantic enough,” says Arthur.

“Ha,” scoffs Julia. “You two are the most romantic people in the entire universe.”

“Now, now, Paul’s pretty romantic,” says Eames.

Julia gives him a look. “I am not complaining—I like Paul’s steadiness—but Paul is pragmatic. That’s why he works so well with you.”

Arthur thinks of Julia’s hot-air balloon ride in store for her and tries not to smile.

“Pragmatism does not foreclose romanticism,” Eames says wisely, in his fortune-cookie voice. “Arthur manages to be both.”

“Ah, this morning our romance was dead,” Arthur notes.

“That was before you bought me foolish flowers. Come over here and ruin my makeup.”

“Don’t you dare,” Julia says. “You two can make out inappropriately later.”

“We never make out inappropriately,” Eames protests. “We always make out very appropriately.”

“Your turn, Arthur,” says Julia, and they switch places.

Eames pulls out his phone and takes a picture of his flowers, clearly to tweet them, and then says, “Ha, Twitter is already flooded with paeans to your romanticism.”

“Don’t tell me I don’t know how to use publicity,” says Arthur.

“Luisa will be so proud.”

“Proud of what?” asks Luisa, coming in.

“Arthur bought me flowers.” Eames shows them off.

Luisa blinks. “That is…the most normal romantic gesture I have ever seen the two of you make.”

“Right?” agrees Julia.

“First time for everything,” Arthur says.

“It’s the fact that it’s so expected that makes it unexpected,” says Eames, fortune-cookie voice in place again.

“You are full of aphorisms today,” says Julia.

“Every day,” says Eames.

Luisa says, “What’s our ETA? Kalinda’s filming B-roll of, like, sunshine on tiny houses or something.”

“Is she?” says Julia. “Or is that a euphemism?”

“A euphemism for what?” asks Luisa sweetly.

Which clearly is terrifying enough that Julia says, “Nothing,” and goes back to Arthur’s makeup.

Luisa winks at Arthur and Eames on her way out of the tent.

Chapter Text

They’re in a vast, wide open field, and there are tiny houses shrouded all around. Shrouded, because Kalinda wanted the reactions of the Bigs (as Eames calls them) to be as natural as possible. One of the things Arthur appreciates about Kalinda is her aversion to staging things. He and Eames hate stagey reality shows, it’s why they eschew scripts so passionately, and Arthur likes that the reactions on their show are mostly genuine.

Arthur starts his day with an individual interview, with a backdrop of trees behind him, explaining why he wanted to do a tiny house for a client. “New challenges, remember,” he says, with a smile for the camera, and then adds, “But because this isn’t really my area of specialty, we’re going to bring an expert in later for some advice.”

Then they meet the Bigs again, cameras rolling, and they shake hands, and Arthur asks if they’re excited to see the houses.

“We forgot to mention that we’re also looking for original charm,” says Big Don.

“Original touches,” adds Big Dan.

Arthur says, “They’re tiny houses. They’re almost always brand new. Everything in them will be original.”

“But original to what?” asks Big Dan, sounding stricken that Arthur is being so unforgivably blasé about this suddenly important issue.

“Yes, darling,” says Eames. “Original to what?”

Arthur says, “Let’s just go look at some houses and gauge reactions and see how we do from there.”

Kalinda says, “Do you want to meet the tiny house expert we’ve brought in on-camera or off?”

“Might as well do on,” Eames says, “so we don’t have to do introductions twice.”

They don’t normally have “experts” on the show, but Arthur is admittedly (and intentionally) out of his depth, and the network was willing to bring in an expert to discuss the tiny house phenomenon in greater detail, and Arthur kind of jumped at the chance. It meant less research for him, having to figure out what to say about tiny houses other than they’re very tiny and if I had to live with Eames in a tiny house he would fill it up with dirty laundry immediately.

He didn’t vet the expert himself. He hadn’t really cared enough. The expert would say what the expert wanted to say. He had Luisa handle the expert choosing, basically leaving her with one instruction: Not Alec Hart.

It turns out Arthur was worried about the wrong ex-boyfriend entirely. Because the tiny house expert that Kalinda leads over to them turns out to be…a guy Arthur dated briefly in his real estate agent days. Not terribly remarkable or memorable, but still, a guy Arthur’s had sex with, is who Eames is being introduced to at right that very moment.

And then Victor turns to Arthur and says familiarly, “Arthur! Long time no see!” and kisses Arthur’s cheek.

Eames’s eyebrows try to skid off his forehead.

Arthur says awkwardly, “Victor. Hi. Thanks for…doing all of this.” Arthur gestures toward the tiny houses.

Eames says casually, “So you two know each other?”

Arthur is very aware of the cameras filming them. He knows he could shut them off with a single word but he’s not sure he wants to act like this is any kind of big deal, since it totally isn’t.

Victor says blithely, “We used to date. A long time ago now. Before you pinned him down.” And grins like this is all hilarious.

Eames looks tickled. He says, “An ex-boyfriend. Oh, goodness. We have so much to discuss.”

Chapter Text

Victor meets Big Don and Big Dan and is generally professional and polite, not that that surprises Arthur, because Victor had always been that way. Victor had always been a nice guy, a decent guy, and he is still one. He meets Big Dan and Big Don and listens to their wishlists and must-haves with a professional Serious Realtor Face on, as if they are not ridiculous demands.

And then Kalinda sets Victor up for a solo interview on the task of the day, and Eames comes up to Arthur and settles a finger comfortably into one of Arthur’s belt loops and says, “Darling,” and kisses his dormant right dimple. “An ex-boyfriend.”

“Are you going to make a big deal about this?” Arthur asks.

“Well. I don’t want to embarrass you. But we spent all of Next Big Thing dealing with my ex-boyfriend, so it is a bit of payback.”

“Except that my ex-boyfriend is no Alec Hart,” Arthur says.

“Darling, I had no doubt you would have quality ex-boyfriends,” Eames says, smiling fondly. “You are by far the best boyfriend I have ever had, my parents are well shocked at the quality of you.”

Arthur tips his head, surprised by this statement. “You think you’re not the same for me?”

Eames opens and closes his mouth, looking a little caught-out.

“Eames.” Arthur cups Eames’s face between his hands. “You are by far the best boyfriend I have ever had. But my mother isn’t shocked, and your parents aren’t either, because we both have parents who have always thought we deserve the very best.”

“You,” says Eames, and then kisses each of Arthur’s palms. And then he says, “Is it okay, though, if I ask Victor if you ever sent your bacteria army to attack him?”

“He will have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“We’ll see,” says Eames.

Chapter Text

Victor has no idea what Eames is talking about. He blinks, puzzled, and says, “Arthur’s bacteria army? What’s that?”

“Ignore him,” Arthur says. “I obviously don’t have a bacteria army.”

“He has a bacteria army,” Eames stage-whispers to the camera.

“So,” says Arthur loudly. “Why don’t we look at the first tiny house here?”

Victor, with one last quizzical look, starts to say, “So this is—”

Big Don immediately says, “I hate wood,” pointing to the house’s shingles.

“Oh,” says Arthur, making a mental note. “Okay, good to know.”

“I love wood,” says Big Dan.

Arthur says, “Okay. Great. Also good to know. Why don’t we go inside and see how we feel about the inside?”

They step into the tiny house, and immediately Big Dan says, “It’s a little small, isn’t it?”

“It is,” says Arthur evenly, “in fact, a tiny house.”

Both Victor and Eames smile at him like he’s very funny.

Big Don doesn’t look like he thinks Arthur is very funny. “Where would the home brewery be in here?”

“Oh,” says Victor, “I think there’s space in the bathroom to—”

“We can’t brew beer in the bathroom!” Big Dan exclaims.

“That does seem unsanitary,” Arthur allows.

“Where are the chickens going to go?” asks Big Don.

Arthur says, “I thought that you could have a coop right up against this wall and if you wanted you could even have little portholes to look into—”

“Wait, the chickens would be outside?” says Big Dan.

“Well,” says Arthur, “yeah, I assumed that—”

“The chickens can’t be outside,” says Big Don.

“You want the chickens to be inside with you?” says Eames thoughtfully.

“No,” Arthur says to him, because Arthur’s now been with Eames long enough to know an Eames-thought forming when he sees it.

“What?” asks Eames innocently.

“No, we are not going to start keeping chickens inside the house.”

“I need at least two refrigerators,” says Big Dan from the kitchen. “This is impossible.”

“But I love the dark cabinets,” says Big Don.

“I hate the dark cabinets,” says Big Dan.

“What a great job the two of you have,” Eames murmurs to Arthur and Victor.

“Go work some designer magic on the kitchen,” Arthur commands him.

Eames grins at him and takes two steps into the kitchen and says, “What about we embrace the yin and yang of dark and light and have both?”

Big Dan and Big Don open their mouths to protest, and then close them, and identically frown, and then identically indicate that Eames should go on.

Chapter Text

And so it goes, through tiny house after tiny house. Big Dan and Big Don appear to hate all of them. Victor is sunnily undeterred by this. Eames sketches out beautiful designs out of thin air, and Arthur is dubious about the scientific feasibility of some of them—at one point Eames suggests a floating dog bed, and Arthur isn’t entirely sure if Eames understands that “floating” doesn’t mean “by magic”—but Big Dan and Big Don appear slightly appeased because of Eames’s magic.

Victor remarks, when Big Dan and Big Don have gone home for the day with tiny houses to contemplate in their heads, “That was one of the best house-hunting days ever. It’s useful to have a decorator around.”

That was one of your best house-hunting days ever?” Arthur says, because he cannot imagine that. His best house-hunting days are heady, giddy affairs where his clients find exactly what they never knew they wanted, because Arthur puts it in front of them, and they see an entirely new and perfect vision of home.

Victor says, “Tiny houses are quite the experience. Always a bit of shock initially. The buyers get over it.” He shrugs.

Kalinda comes over and says, “Great job today, everyone. Ready to do it all again tomorrow. Complete with Arthur’s tricks up his sleeves?”

“Tricks up your sleeves?” says Victor.

“Arthur always has tricks up his sleeves,” says Eames. “That’s what makes him the best.”

“Ha, the famous catchphrase,” says Victor, even though it’s a catchphrase from long ago, from two shows ago, in fact. Eames seldom says it anymore but it still looms large in the imagination of the popular culture. Next Big Thing was the bigger hit but Love It or List It was on for more seasons.

Eames says, “Aww, a fan.”

“Of course,” says Victor. “It’s not every day you can say you dated someone who goes on to become a television star.”

Arthur knows the tips of his ears are pink.

Eames says, “It is amazing to be able to say you know Arthur,” and Arthur says, “Shh, stop,” because that’s embarrassing but he also knows that Eames genuinely means it.

Victor smiles and says, “It’s good to know.”

“What?” asks Arthur.

“That it isn’t all an act. I mean, I didn’t think it was, because I know you, and it seemed unlikely, but it’s good to know you’re genuinely happy and it’s not all for the cameras.”

Arthur is surprised, but the surprise is only brief, because Victor was always a nice guy and they parted ways amicably and it really shouldn’t be surprising that he wishes Arthur no ill will since Arthur feels the same. Arthur recovers quickly from the initial surprise and says, “Genuinely happy. Not all for the cameras. You can tell everyone Eames is just as ridiculous in real life.” He says it drolly, to lighten the mood, and it succeeds. Victor laughs. Eames laughs, too, but he also kisses Arthur’s nose. And Arthur feels, yes, genuinely happy.

Chapter Text

Luisa says, as they’re heading for their car, Eames clutching Arthur’s flowers from that morning, and Victor’s off back to his own place, “I am so sorry.”

“For what?” Eames asks quizzically.

“I should have cleared Victor with you, it didn’t even occur to me that—”

Arthur cuts her off. “I told her you didn’t have to. I told you I was fine with whoever you got as long as it wasn’t Alec Hart, and it wasn’t Alec Hart.”

“Sadly lacking fedoras, your ex-boyfriend,” Eames remarks.

“Because I have taste,” Arthur says. “Before you, I always had impeccable taste in boyfriends.”

Eames grins at him.

“I just can’t believe that, of all the applications I went through, I picked an ex-boyfriend,” says Luisa. “Like, what were the odds?”

“Impossibly high,” Eames says. “Arthur left an enormous trail of broken hearts, we’re practically wading through them, you can’t throw a ball around here without hitting one of Arthur’s exes.”

“That’s not true,” Arthur tells Luisa. “But seriously, don’t worry about it. It was a bit of a shock but not upsetting.”

“He seems a decent bloke and nice to work with,” Eames says. “We can’t really ask for more. Especially not when for some reason that is so very difficult to find.”

“That’s why I thought he was a good choice,” says Luisa. “I really did think really hard about getting you someone who would be low-maintenance, considering what your clients have been like so far. He seemed like someone you would like, and when I tried to dig into him, it seemed like you’d possibly crossed paths with him in the past, so I thought he would be nice and familiar. Little did I know how nice and familiar.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Luisa,” says Eames. “Your dragon instinct failed you. It happens to the best dragons.”

“Ignore him,” says Arthur. “Go have a nice dinner with Kalinda. If you’re feeling generous, let Julia tag along, she loves you two.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” says Luisa innocently.

Eames says, “You know, we can tell when your spy training kicks in and you refuse to give up information. We have ways of making you talk.”

“I doubt it,” says Luisa.

“Yeah, probably not,” Eames admits. He grins and says, “Go enjoy a night off. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“And, seriously, don’t beat yourself up about the whole thing,” Arthur says. “It’s not a big deal.”

They get into the car, with one last wave at Luisa, and Eames says, “Fuck, you don’t think Saito is going to kill her now for not vetting Victor properly, do you?”

“No,” Arthur says. “Because Saito doesn’t kill anyone. He’s a man who grills in my mother’s backyard.”

“A man can grill in your mother’s backyard and still send poisoned goldfish through the mail.”

“If you got a poisoned goldfish in the mail, why would you eat it?” Arthur asks.

Topically poisoned,” Eames tells him, as if despairing of his lack of knowledge of weird murderous weapons. “Just touching the goldfish would be enough to kill you.”

“I’m sure Saito’s not going to kill Luisa via poisoned goldfish,” says Arthur.

Eames says, “By the way, darling: no fedora? Really?”

Chapter Text

Saito is back in New York, so Arthur helps his mother make dinner in the kitchen while Eames sits at the kitchen table Skyping Gon and Ariadne about the Nileses’ condo.

“Please be careful, darling,” Eames says, and then tells Gon and Ariadne, “He’s chopping onions. Really, I fear for him.”

“I’m fine,” says Arthur.

“Today I met one of Arthur’s ex-boyfriends,” Eames says.

“I thought you and Gon and Ariadne had work to do,” Arthur says.

“We do,” says Eames cheerfully. “This is part of the work.”

“Talking about my ex-boyfriend is part of the work?” says Arthur.

“Which ex-boyfriend was it?” his mother asks, as if she would know all of his ex-boyfriends.

Arthur says, “Victor. You never met him. He wasn’t a big deal,” and then is relieved they’re not filming. “I mean, he’s a nice person, but—”

“Victor,” says Ariadne. “Sounds like someone you would date.”

“I don’t date people based on names.”

“I hope you don’t date anyone anymore,” says Eames.

“Does Victor wear a fedora?” Gon asks.

“No fedora,” Eames answers.

“Arthur, you are already winning in the ex-boyfriend department,” Gon tells him.

“I didn’t realize that was a competition,” says Arthur.

“Actually, Arthur’s ex-boyfriend was a nice chap. And really good at his job.”

“How did the tiny house hunt go?” Ariadne asks.

“Tomorrow,” says Arthur, dumping the chopped onions into his mother’s bowl, “we do not look at tiny houses.”

“Uh-oh,” says Eames. “Mixing it up. How will the Bigs react?”

“They don’t want a tiny house,” Arthur says. “They want a small house. But not a tiny house. I mean, did you listen to them today?”

“Tomorrow,” says Eames grandly, “we will all get to witness one of Arthur’s trademark tricks up his sleeve. Whereby he gives the client exactly what they never knew they always wanted.”

“Well,” says Arthur. “Let’s hope so.”

“In the meantime,” says Eames, “tell us of the death trap condo. How goes things?”

And they are off and running into the morass of their design issues, while Arthur tries to be an effective sous chef for his mother, and eventually the food is done and Arthur says to Eames, “Okay, enough work, everyone needs to take a break for the rest of the evening.”

Gon says, “Good luck tomorrow.”

Ariadne says, “Knock ‘em dead with the trick up your sleeve.”

Eames says, “There is no question,” and signs off the call with a chorus of goodbyes.

Chapter Text

Eames is full of praise for the meal, and for Arthur and his mother’s bravery in working with onions.

Arthur’s mother says, “I don’t understand the sudden obsession with onions. You never chopped an onion before recently? You never realized they make you cry?”

Eames puts his fork down, the better to speak very solemnly to Arthur’s mother. “I chopped an onion before. I never chopped an onion that evil.”

“It’s true,” says Arthur’s mother, “that some onions are worse than others.”

“Well, this onion was the worst. And now I’ve learned you can’t trust onions.”

“This is such a moot point,” says Arthur, “because we almost never cook. It would be a completely moot point, were it not for the cookbook.”

Eames sighs. “It might be a dessert cookbook now. A cookie batter cookbook.”

Arthur says, “Oh, I meant to bring that up to you. In terms of wedding planning. If you wouldn’t like some sort of cookie batter wedding cake.”

Eames gives him his Christmas-morning look. “Can that be done?”

“According to the Internet,” says Arthur.

“How is the wedding planning going?” asks Arthur’s mother. “Can I help in any way?”

“We haven’t done much,” Arthur admits. “We should, I suppose.”

Eames shakes his head. “The point isn’t for it to be stressful. We’ll plan as we feel like planning. I like the idea of a cookie batter cake, so we’ll have a cookie batter cake. There. There’s some wedding planning done.” Eames looks at Arthur’s mother. “What would you like to wear to the wedding?”

Arthur blinks, startled, because he can’t believe that he hadn’t thought about this earlier.

“Oh, I don’t know,” his mother says.

“Mom,” Arthur says. “Clearly you should get yourself something amazing. We’ll have something made for you.”

“No, no,” she says. “Really, that’s too extravagant.”

“It’s not too extravagant,” Arthur says.

“We’re getting married,” Eames says.

“I’m marrying Eames,” Arthur says. “There will be nothing about this wedding that’s not extravagant.”

Tastefully extravagant,” says Eames. “Like the dress you should get yourself.”

“It really isn’t necessary,” his mother says.

But Arthur looks at her and thinks otherwise.

Chapter Text

“We’re getting your mother a dress for the wedding, right?” says Eames, as he turns down the bed.

Arthur finishes brushing his teeth and says, “We are definitely getting her a dress for the wedding. Of course we are. My mother, who taught me everything there is to know about fashion, and this is an excuse for the most outrageous fashion of her life, and she deserves it.” Arthur crawls into bed next to Eames. “She is just the worst at accepting gifts,” he says, and sighs heavily.

“She’ll accept a gift from you,” he says. “For our wedding. She will.”

“She will,” Arthur agrees. “I’ll just make it concrete enough for her that she sees what I’ve planned.”

“I’m going to have Giacomo make me something gorgeous, too,” Eames says. “But it’s going to be a surprise, so you can’t try to bribe him to give you a preview.”

“I will let you have your secrets,” Arthur says, yawning as he turns into Eames.

He feels the brush of Eames’s lips over the back of his head, haphazard and fond, and they could go to sleep, just like that, no further communication, except that Eames is warm and affectionate and his husband and Arthur says, “I wasn’t in love with Victor.”

Eames says, “It was such a long time ago, darling, I’m hardly jealous.”

“No. I mean, I know you’re not. That’s not why I’m—He’s a nice guy. Victor. A really nice guy. Sweet and kind, attractive, intelligent, nice. And when I was dating him I used to think to myself all the time, ‘Why am I not in love with this man?’ Like, everybody I dated, I dated nice guys, good guys, and I would wonder why I couldn’t fall in love with them. Wouldn’t everything be easier if I could just fall in love with the nice guy? You know?” Arthur turns his head into Eames’s chest and kisses it. Eames is silent beside him, listening, breathing softly. Arthur says into the darkness, “I know why I never fell in love with any of them now. I met you—I looked at you—and I fell in love.”

Eames, after a moment, says, “You fell in love with the guy who tried to relegate you to a one-night stand instead of—”

Arthur props himself up on his elbows and reaches to press a finger over Eames’s mouth. “No. Shh. That was so long ago, and doesn’t matter now. I fell in love with you, and you’re the nicest. You’re here worrying about my mother’s dress for our wedding. You…I’ve never met anyone like you. And I’ve always been so happy that I didn’t fall in love earlier in life, because I fell in love at the perfect time, and I got you.”

Eames pulls him in and kisses him and murmurs, “And I got you.”

Arthur smiles and kisses back and says, “So it all worked out.”

“Plus,” says Eames, with another kiss, “your couple name with him would have been Varthur. That’s just terrible.”

Chapter Text

In the morning, Arthur’s mother berates them for failing to eat proper breakfasts.

“But we’re late,” Arthur says.

“You’re the stars of the show,” she replies. “They’ll definitely wait for you.”

“Yes, darling, they’ll definitely wait for us,” says Eames solemnly, and sits down to be coddled by Arthur’s mother.

Arthur rolls his eyes and texts Luisa. We’re running late.

They sit and eat breakfast, while the network car waits for them, and it’s the most obnoxious-star thing Arthur feels like he’s ever done. When they finally get to the open field with the tiny houses where they’re filming, there’s a crowd assembled that cheers when they get out of the car and Luisa comes up to them.

She grins and says, “Way to build suspense. I let you guys be without me for one day and you’re already all off-schedule.”

“Eames is terrible at schedules,” Arthur says. Eames is busy waving to the crowd, so Arthur goes on. “We had to eat breakfast.”

“Well, eating breakfast is important. I’m going to text Timothy and let him know you ate breakfast.”

“Is Kalinda really upset?” asks Arthur.

“Of course not,” says Luisa sunnily. “We used the extra time productively.”

“Please save these terrible double entendres for Eames and Julia,” Arthur says. “They’re the ones who truly appreciate them.”

Eames, done with waving now, looks at Arthur and says, “What is this? What are you saying?”

“How much you appreciate double entendres,” says Arthur.

“Love them,” says Eames. “Are you doing double entendres, Luisa? I’m sorry I missed them. But. I have to say. I think we should go say hi to the fans in case one of them wants me to sign their breast.”

“You are not allowed to suggest a breast signature to them,” Arthur warns.

“Absolutely not,” Eames says, angelic.

Chapter Text

Eames doesn’t say anything about signing breasts, which is good. He is at his most charming, and Arthur rolls his eyes for the crowds, and then dimples for Eames because he can’t help it, and Eames kisses his dimples, and the crowd loves it, naturally. There’ll be gifs galore the next time Arthur checks social media, he knows.

When they finally get to Julia, Victor is already there, finishing up. He smiles at them and says, “Just a usual day for you.”

“No,” Arthur says, because it’s a little embarrassing. “Really not.”

“Usually the crowds are much bigger,” says Eames, settling into the makeup chair first.

Victor laughs.

Arthur stands next to him awkwardly and wonders if he’s supposed to make conversation, and how to do it. He has never been good at this bit. He’s managed to surround himself with people who don’t mind that he is the worst at small talk.

He says, “How have things been?” and hates himself for how silly that sounds.

But Victor just smiles at him, because Victor has always been a nice guy, and says, “Good. Business is booming actually. Who knew that pivoting into tiny houses would be a good career move? It’s madness, how big tiny houses are at the moment. No pun intended.”

“No, no, intend all the puns,” says Eames from the makeup chair.

“Eames has horrible taste in…language,” Arthur says, unsure how else to state it.

Eames and Victor both laugh.

Kalinda comes in and says, “So we are way behind schedule.”

“Sorry,” Arthur says ruefully.

“No big thing.” Kalinda waves her hand around. “I was kind of expecting the crowds—Luisa noticed word got out on social media where you were filming—and by now I know the two of you well enough to know you would definitely stop for an autograph session, so I’ve moved around some things.”

“No one asked me to sign a breast,” Eames says from behind Julia.

Julia says, “You can sign my breast.”

“Shame on you, Julia. What would Paul say?”

“Nothing. He’d sigh.” Julia shrugs.

“Paul is so perfect for you,” Eames says. “Truly. I am the best matchmaker.”

Arthur says, to get them back on track, especially because he’s painfully aware of Victor watching all of this with open amusement, “What have we moved around, Kalinda?”

Kalinda says, “I think we’re going to start with the trick up your sleeve, Arthur. And, if you don’t mind, we’ve moved some of the fans we’ve gotten filming consent from closer to it. We like their energy.”

“Ooh,” says Victor, “no suspense this morning. I like it.”

“The Bigs won’t know what’s hit them,” Eames says approvingly.

Chapter Text

Arthur’s trick isn’t a tiny house; it’s a cottage. Arthur is firmly convinced that the Bigs are people who want a smaller house, not a tiny house, and their reactions the day before sealed his view on the issue. People get caught up in the tiny house trend and seem to forget that there are sizes in between two hundred and four thousand square feet.

Arthur found the cottage not far away, about to be demolished to make way for something bigger and better and convinced the network (with Saito’s help) to rescue it and have it transported carefully via a highway escort to the field for filming. So Kalinda positions them all in front of the barrier that’s been set up to block Arthur’s cottage from view and starts filming and Arthur gets out all of “So” before Big Don interrupts him.

“But what’s this all about? Is this a secret?”

“A little bit of a secret,” Arthur says, “yes. Now I want you to keep an open mind.”

“We’ve been keeping nothing but open minds,” says Big Dan, “while you’ve been showing us tiny house after tiny house. Our minds are the most open things about this whole process so far.”

Arthur’s not sure that makes much sense, although it does get across Big Dan’s evident point that he is frustrated with how things have gone so far. Well, that’s not Arthur’s fault really, since he’s not the one making impossible demands, but Arthur does know that it’s his job to fix it. This is what Arthur does, after all. He reads between every line. And maybe what Big Dan is really saying is he wants an open floorplan and more windows—which Arthur can do—or maybe what he’s really saying is he doesn’t want a tiny house, which Arthur is about to present him with.

Arthur says, “I understand. Which is why I’m showing you this,” and gestures to have the barrier removed.

The cottage is absolutely charming and Arthur loves it. Not for himself, but for Big Don and Big Dan. It’s five hundred square feet, with space for guests, a home gym, home brewing, dog beds, and chickens. And they can make the kitchen into dark and white cabinets—there are enough cabinets for that—and there’s space for an extra refrigerator, and there’s precious little wood.

It is supposed to be Arthur’s moment of triumph, watching Big Don and Big Dan get won over by this idea of small but not tiny.

“It’s not very portable,” Big Don is saying.

And Victor is responding, selling them on the lifestyle, pointing out that they can move it wherever they want right now, and that they would probably not move their tiny home as much as they might think anyway, what with the chickens and all, as they stand outside and contemplate the cottage together. This is Arthur’s favorite part—why he does this job—and normally he likes to bask in it, except that Eames is distracted, frowning, standing off to the side and looking oddly disinterested in the proceedings, which isn’t like Eames.

There’s a break in filming to allow Kalinda to interview the reactions of Big Don and Big Dan. Eames moves immediately off to the side, which doesn’t allow much privacy, because the fans are right there and calling hello to him. He offers an absent hello, pulling his cell phone out, and Arthur follows him, cornering him.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, head ducked close to him to try to grab as much privacy for them as he can.

“My mum keeps ringing,” Eames replies, looking at his cell phone.

This is unusual. Arthur is aware. Eames’s parents e-mail, and set up Skype dates. They seldom just call out of the blue. In fact, Arthur can’t really ever recall it happening before. They’re just not that sort.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” says Arthur, because he knows he’s supposed to, and the wrinkle of concern on Eames’s forehead sends him into automatic soothing mode.

“Right,” agrees Eames dubiously. “I’m just going to ring her back.”

This is when Victor decides to come up to them, unaware of any uncertain swirl of energy. He is genial and pleased, saying, “Arthur, that was a stroke of genius. Well done. That was smart of you, they really weren’t tiny-house people.”

“Yeah,” says Arthur automatically, with some kind of attempt at a smile, because he is watching Eames carefully as he talks on the phone, and there is something wrong.

Chapter Text

Arthur says, “Excuse me,” to Victor, without preamble, and walks quickly over to where Eames is standing. The fans closest to them are quiet and give Arthur looks as he walks up, so whatever Eames is talking about, they’ve heard enough to know.

“Hey,” Arthur says softly, so Eames will see he’s there.

“Of course I am,” Eames is saying into the phone, and holds his hand up to Arthur, not rudely, just in an in-a-second way. “Of course I am. Don’t even argue. I’m already on my way.” And then he hangs up the phone and looks at Arthur and says nothing for a long moment, just looks horrible.

Arthur says, terrified, “What?”

Eames says, “My father…He had a heart attack. He’s in hospital. I have to go.”

“Of course,” Arthur says. “Of course you do.”

“I have to get on a plane. How will I book a flight? Can you find me a flight? I need a flight right now. Dammit, why are they across an entire fucking ocean?” Eames tears his hands through his hair, and it’s an uncharacteristic gesture, a sign that Eames doesn’t know what to do at the moment, doesn’t know how to occupy himself.

“We’re going to get you a flight,” Arthur says, and wishes they were alone, and not everybody in the universe was watching, and he could gather Eames up and soothe him and make this all better. Arthur wishes it had never happened at all. “Shh,” he says, a hand on Eames’s arm, trying to ground him. “I’m going to—”

“Should I get Kalinda?” Victor asks from behind Arthur, and Arthur knows he’s trying to be helpful, and also wishes, again, that he and Eames were just alone.

“What am I going to do?” Eames asks, sounding dazed. He seems to have forgotten their audience entirely. He seems to be noticing only Arthur. Which Arthur is okay with. “I can’t even think of what I’m supposed to do.”

“Okay,” says Arthur, trying to take control. “Let me—”

Luisa appears, and Arthur has never been so grateful to see her. She doesn’t even ask any questions, she just says, “Let’s get you two out of—”

“Luisa,” Eames says to her urgently. “I need to fly home. You need to get me a flight, right now. Do it. I don’t even know where the nearest fucking airport is, why are we in the middle of fucking nowhere, what is this place?”

“Okay,” Luisa says, “I’ll get you a flight, let’s just—”

“A flight?” Kalinda says, coming up to them. “Is Eames going away? Are you going with him?” she asks Arthur.

And Arthur—Arthur forgets that Kalinda doesn’t really know what’s going on, and forgets their audience, and forgets everything except that Eames is pale and wild-eyed and looks staggered under the weight of what’s happening, and Arthur just snaps, “Of course I’m going with him. I’m not going to leave my husband to deal with this alone.”

He doesn’t think of it again until they’re on the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic, and Eames is knocked out with sleeping pills next to him in an attempt to calm his nerves, but Arthur, sitting wide awake and looking out the window at the dark, lightless sea somewhere below them, thinking of Eames’s vibrant father in a hospital somewhere, thinking of Eames’s wonderful mother alone and worried and waiting for them to get to her, eventually also thinks, Fuck. I said he was my husband.

Chapter Text

Unlike Eames, Arthur didn’t sleep on the flight, so when they land in London he is severely jetlagged and a little disoriented. Luckily, Luisa has arranged for transportation to meet them right at Heathrow, and they’re whisked off to the hospital.

Eames calls his mother on the way, and has a conversation that mainly consists of Eames saying, “Yeah…Yeah…Okay…Yeah,” until he hangs up.

Arthur says gently, “What did she say?” when Eames just looks inclined to gaze out the window of the car.

“Oh.” Eames looks almost startled to find Arthur in the car with him. “She says that everything’s fine. But of course that’s what she would say: everything’s fine, everything’s fine, everything’s fine. She’d say that if my dad was bloody dying, because she wouldn’t want me to worry.”

“I’m sure he’s not dying,” Arthur says, leaning over to squeeze Eames’s hand.

“You don’t know that,” Eames says harshly. “You can’t know that.”

It’s true, in a way, Arthur knows, because it’s not like he’s talked to the doctors. But he also knows Eames’s mother. He says, “Did your mother try to convince you not to come here?”

“Yeah,” Eames replies. “Because she’s barmy.”

Arthur smiles reflexively, he can’t help it, because Eames always gets a hundred thousand times more British as soon as he steps on British soil. Arthur says, “If your father were dying, your mother would not have discouraged you from coming, because she wouldn’t have wanted to prevent you from being able to see him one last time. Heart attacks are not necessarily fatal. Plenty of people survive them. And good thoughts are important to healing, right? So let’s think good thoughts.”

Eames clings to Arthur’s hand and is silent for a long moment, before saying, “Thank you for coming, darling.”

“Eames,” Arthur says. “Stop. Of course.”

Eames looks at Arthur, intently, urgently. “Being loved by you means that I never feel like I have to go through anything alone, and I want you to know how much I love that, how reassuring it is to have you by my side right now, even though I’m an absolute mess.”

“You’re not a mess,” Arthur says. “And even if you were, then, we’re a mess together.”

Chapter Text

Eames’s mother is outside the hospital when they arrive, and she immediately pulls Eames into a tight hug, and then they are silent for a long time, the two of them, just embracing each other, and the warm livingness of the other human. Arthur gets needing some kind of confirmation of that at the moment.

Eventually Maggie lifts her head away from her son’s shoulder and swipes at some tears on her cheeks and sends Arthur a watery smile. “Oh, Arthur, dear, you didn’t have to come all this way, too,” she says, and gives him a hug.

Arthur doesn’t say that of course he did, because honestly he knows Maggie understands that, this is just Maggie’s way. He just returns the hug and says instead, “So how is Albert? How’s he doing?”

“He’s so much better,” Maggie says. “It was a minor heart attack.”

“That sounds like an oxymoron,” Eames says. “How is there any such thing?”

“They’re saying it was just a minor episode. A warning, really. It has to do with his cholesterol. They’ve got him on blood thinners and they’re sending him home soon.”

“Home?” Eames says. “He doesn’t have to, I don’t know, have any kind of heart surgery or anything?”

“No. They promise it’s not severe enough for that yet. The doctors will be happy to talk to you and explain it. I have to admit, I’m glad you’re here, Eamesie. They use a lot of big words and I’ve been so focused on your father, I can’t stop to take a dictionary out every time they talk to me.”

“Of course,” says Eames, and pulls his mother in for another hug and kisses the top of her head. “Of course. Arthur and I are both here now, and we’re going to take care of everything.”

Chapter Text

Eames’s father looks absolutely swallowed up by all of the medical paraphernalia all around him. This is why Arthur hates hospitals, because they do this to people, they just make them seem less like people. Arthur has been lucky, in that his main association with hospitals was when his grandmother was dying when he was in high school. He has not had to do what Eames is doing at the moment—confronting a parental unit in a bed surrounded by medical equipment—and he is selfishly glad about that and then feels horribly guilty for being glad about that and then feels even guiltier that he’s somehow made this about himself and his emotions.

But Albert, when he sees them, gives them a smile that is tired but broad and says, “What utter rubbish, the two of you trekking all the way across an ocean for this silly thing.”

“Silly thing?” says Eames. “It was a heart attack.”

“A mild one,” Albert replies. “Haven’t you spoken to the doctors about it, Eamesie? A mild heart attack, nothing to worry about.”

“He needs to change his diet,” Maggie says.

“As if my own pub food isn’t good enough anymore!” Albert says, obviously offended.

Eames says, “You must eat more salads. I hardly ever see you eat a salad. The pub will just have to start serving salads.”

Albert makes a face and says, “We already serve a salad.”

“It’s a bit of lettuce on a plate,” Maggie says. “We can serve a nicer one. Also, he has to exercise more.”

“Now that is more rubbish,” Albert says. “I walk down to Malcolm’s every day.”

“To gossip and drink too many pints,” Maggie says severely.

Eames frowns and Albert rolls his eyes and Arthur decides that maybe there isn’t much more productive that can be said at the moment. So he steps in and says, “Well, I’m glad it was only minor and diet and exercise are so much easier to deal with than open heart surgery.”

Maggie beams at him and says, “Exactly, Arthur. Lovely way to put it in perspective.”

Albert looks at Arthur and opens his mouth, and then seems to notice for the first time what Arthur is wearing. “Hang on,” he says. “Look at that suit.”

Arthur does look at the suit. It’s the same one he’d been filming in, what feels like ages ago. It’s wrinkled and bedraggled, definitely not as crisp and sharp as it had been when he’d first put it on, but it’s still a gorgeous suit.

Albert says, “Did you lot come straight from filming? You must have, because there’s no way Arthur stopped to put that suit on before boarding a transatlantic flight.”

Albert knows that Arthur doesn’t dress in full suits to hang around the house, so it’s useless to try to suggest that they were doing anything other than working.

Albert says, “You shouldn’t have dropped work to fly over here. There was no need.”

Eames looks like he’s on the brink of one of his rare furious moments, so Arthur, in an effort to defuse, says, “I was trying to find someone a tiny home with space for a home gym and a home brewery. We were looking for any excuse to get out of there.”

When he’s finished saying it, he’s suddenly appalled with himself, because maybe it crossed a line, is too flippant a way to treat this.

But Albert laughs, and Eames visibly relaxes at his father’s laughter, like that means something, something nice, and normal, and hopeful.

Arthur is relieved by all of it.

Chapter Text

Maggie refuses to leave Albert’s side, no matter what pleading they engage in.

Albert says, “She’s been with me day and night, she’s going to collapse when I get home and be absolutely useless during my recovery.”

Maggie says, “I don’t have to be useful for your recovery, Arthur and Eamesie are here now to help.”

“Arthur and Eamesie need to get back to work,” Albert says sternly.

“Work will wait,” Eames says. “We’re the stars. It waits for us.”

“And if I go back too soon,” adds Arthur, “then I’ll still have to deal with the tiny house hunt, and that’s no good.”

Maggie smiles at the pair of them, tears in her eyes, but says, “You two should really go get some rest. You’re jetlagged and dead on your feet.”

“I slept on the plane,” Eames says.

“Arthur clearly didn’t,” Maggie says shrewdly, “and Arthur just had a concussion.”

“Oh,” says Arthur, when Eames turns to peer at him, narrow-eyed, assessing. “I’m fine. That concussion was a while ago.”

“Sometimes symptoms can linger,” Eames says, with the solemn wisdom of someone who once Googled “concussion” and read the WebMD page. “You probably should go and rest.”

Arthur shakes his head. “I don’t want to go rest if—”

“You should go and rest,” Eames says, “and you should take my mother with you.”

It’s actually an ingenious solution, but then, Eames is frequently a genius. Maggie continues to protest but Eames finally says that Arthur won’t get rest unless Maggie goes with him, and Maggie’s parental instincts apparently can’t deal with this worry over Arthur on top of her worry over Albert. Arthur would almost feel guilty for doing that to her, except by the time he’s checked them into the nearest hotel—driving back to the Eameses’ Arthur deems too far in their current state—Maggie is practically swaying with exhaustion, her adrenaline finally crashing and failing her. She’s basically asleep by the time she hits the pillow, and Arthur, who could only manage a regular room at this last minute stage, collapses into the other bed and is immediately asleep himself.

Chapter Text

Their sleep schedules are basically fucked but it doesn’t matter. They go back to the hospital together to see Eames and Albert. Maggie, Arthur thinks, looks better off for the rest, and Albert tells her as much when she arrives back. Eames, throwing down the cards in his hands, comes over to Arthur and slings an arm around his shoulders and pulls him in and kisses him. Arthur feels kind of gross—there has been no opportunity for a change of clothes yet—but he’s always pleased to be pulled in and kissed by Eames.

He says to Eames, “How are you doing?” and kisses the corner of Eames’s jaw, just to remind Eames that Arthur is here and loving him and here.

“Good,” Eames says. “We’re playing Go Fish. It’s been cutthroat.”

“Eamesie cheats,” Albert says.

“I do not cheat.”

Arthur kisses Eames’s right cheekbone, smiling.

Eames says, “I met with the doctors, and they mostly seemed to be competent.”

“Eamesie,” his mother scolds. “Did you annoy the doctors?”

“Of course not!” Eames protests, indignant at the very idea. “I have been a true angel. Haven’t I, Dad?”

“Yes, it’s frankly alarming,” Albert replies.

“What did the doctors say?” Arthur asks, because Eameses sometimes need to be reminded to get back onto the relevant topic.

“Everything is better than they thought it would be, he passes all tests with flying colors, and he can come home tomorrow.”

“Good,” Arthur says. “Passing with flying colors is a good thing, right?”

“The best thing,” Eames says. “I made sure to ask the people who ran the tests if ‘passing with flying colors,’ their words, were in the fact the ‘best’ that someone could do with the tests, and they said yes.”

“Aww, Albert, you’re best,” Maggie says, smoothing some of his hair away from his face.

“I could have told you that years ago,” replies Albert.

Chapter Text

Arthur volunteers to go out to Maggie and Albert’s early, and get it ready for their return, since they left hastily. Arthur doesn’t say this out loud but he wants to make sure there is nothing for Maggie to think about other than Albert. Arthur thinks how the great luxury in his life with Eames is how they have people around them constantly thinking of them. When he had a concussion, Eames never had to think at all about where their next meal might be coming from, or what might be happening with their jobs. Arthur wants to do that for Maggie and Albert.

So he goes to their house. He does a bit of general picking-up left behind by their hurried exit: taking the trash out, giving the kitchen floor a quick sweep, things like that. He goes through their refrigerator, throws out anything that went bed, and takes stock of what they have, and then Googles heart-healthy recipes and makes a shopping list and goes to the grocery store.

He’s recognized at the grocery store: not as a celebrity, but as Arthur, Eames’s boyfriend, which is almost startling to Arthur, and then he marvels at what his life has become that he’s more used to being asked to pose for photographs and give autographs these days than he is to being genuinely and familiarly greeted.

The people who recognize him all ask about Albert, clearly concerned, and Arthur thinks how amazing it is, this outpouring of support from the community, and it’s what’s so great about Eames’s village, and it’s why Arthur wants to get married in their back garden, surrounded by these wonderful people. Every single one of them makes him promise to call them if they need anything at all.

Arthur gets back to Maggie and Albert’s and puts the groceries away and then is exhausted. He’s still vaguely jetlagged, and mostly just not on any kind of time zone at all, and he decides he might as well give in and get ready for bed.

He calls Eames from bed, once he’s curled into it and has the television on low on some random home improvement show because Arthur sometimes can’t even help it, and at this moment, he feels like he really needs the comfort of the familiar.

“Hey,” Eames answers, sounding weary in that way he’s sounded in England, weary from worry, but also growingly optimistic, which heartens Arthur.

Arthur says, “Hey. I’m at your parents’, and everything is ready for a homecoming.”

“Thanks,” Eames says.

Arthur considers, then says, because he might be tired but he needs Eames to know he’d find a way to him if he had to, “I can get back up to the hospital to stay with you if you—”

“No, no,” Eames says. “Stay where you are. Really, I’m so glad you’re there. My mum and I are just going to play a few more cutthroat games of crazy eights.”

“You’re sure?” Arthur says, just to clarify, although Eames sounds sure, not upset, comfortable.

“Yeah. I’m sure. Darling.”


“Thank you. So much. For all of this.”

“You know how much this is not a problem for me,” Arthur reminds him. He’s confident that Eames does know.

“I do know. I just…feel like expressing gratitude for everything amazing in my life. Chief of which is you.”

Arthur understands the impulse. He says, “Yeah. Me, too.”

Chapter Text

I am away for a surprise birthday weekend for my beta! I couldn't give out any advance warning because SURPRISE, so sorry to have surprised all of you as well! But I'll be back Sunday! Enjoy your weekends!

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Arthur’s mother had called him the day before, concerned about Albert, and Arthur, exhausted, had been texting her updates instead of calling back. So Arthur calls her back now.

She answers with, “Arthur. Tell me how Albert is.”

“He’s doing well,” Arthur says honestly. “He’s coming home tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s so good. I’m so relieved. What do they say? What’s the outlook?”

“Apparently good,” Arthur says. “A few lifestyle changes, but apparently it was the ‘good’ sort of heart attack. Or the ‘better.’ Or the ‘minor’ one. Or something.”

“Poor Maggie,” said his mother. “She must have been so worried. I am so glad to hear that it sounds like it’s as good as the news could be right now.”

“Yeah,” Arthur replies. “I think that’s right.”

“What can I do?” she asks. “Anything?”

“Not right now, I don’t think. Eames and I are going to stay with them for a bit, I think. I haven’t actually discussed this with Eames, but—”

“Naturally,” his mother agrees. “Yes. Of course. Eames will want to stay and help and reassure himself. Saito says not to worry about anything, that the network completely understands what’s happening. Just focus on Albert for the time being.”

It’s good advice, and Arthur knows it. He hangs up the phone and systematically updates all of their friends via text. Their friends-slash-employees, because of all their blurred lines.

And then he can’t help it. He should just watch the home improvement show, social media will be what it is, and there’s nothing he can do about it. But he can’t resist venturing into it.

The fandom knows all about Eames’s dad. There’d been no press release or anything—Arthur had thought that seemed strange, to issue a press release talking about the health of Eames’s dad—but there had been enough fans eavesdropping on that conversation.

Which is why Arthur is not at all surprised to find their social media flooded with well wishes for Eames’s dad and also the other stunning revelation: speculation that Arthur really had referred to Eames as his husband, and what did it mean.

Chapter Text

Sometimes—many times, in fact, the majority of the time—nothing goes on in the Armes fandom for days and days at a clip. Those are the times when they’re not filming, and they have nothing actively airing, and they’re not (yet) at a stage where they are relentlessly stalked by paparazzi. So fairly often Eames checks in on the fandom—it’s almost always Eames who does it—and things are calm and collected and there are a few new fics that Eames reads and tells Arthur about.

But there are other times—when they’re filming in public, when a show of theirs is on television—when their fandom moves so quickly it’s impossible to keep up with. The past couple of days have been that kind of time in the Armes fandom.

The marriage thing is everywhere. There are accusations that someone is “making up rumors” and Arthur never said the word “husband,” and then other people jump in to claim to have been there and to have heard Arthur themselves. Arthur feels like way more people claim to have been there than were actually there, so he understands why there’s a huge pocket of the fandom expressing skepticism, but he also feels bad, because the fandom is now infighting over the marriage question.

Of course, there are still some people who think the entire relationship is for show, and why they are still participating in the Armes fandom is kind of beyond Arthur. But they immediately claim that it’s probably a “fake” marriage to go along with their “fake” relationship. Some members of the fandom just ignore this in favor of debating the likelihood of a secret Armes wedding. There is a slice of the fandom population who thinks it sounds totally like them to run off and do that, because it’s “romantic.” There’s another slice of the fandom population that’s dubious because Clearly Eames loves to have a party, and what better party than a spectacle of a wedding?

A few of the fans took the allegation of a fake marriage seriously, and have dug up their marriage license, which, well, game over, thinks Arthur, when he’s traced the fandom wars that far. Of course, there are a few people who maintain that the marriage license is also fake, but then the justice of the peace who married them apparently weighs in, if the tweets are anything to go by.

I’m the justice of the peace who married them, tweets @sweetdesigns32. I promised them I wouldn’t say anything about it to protect their privacy, but I’m hoping to stop this fandom war going on.

Arthur can’t even be angry at her showing up, because he gets her impulse. It’s horrible to see how combative the fandom has made this question. And her comment itself doesn’t stop the fandom wars so much as start up another one. How do we know you’re a justice of the peace? someone demands of her. You could be anyone.

Luckily, the photo they took on their wedding day doesn’t surface, which Arthur is relieved about. He feels like he and Eames should send the justice of the peace a fruit basket or something with dealing with all of this.

At any rate, thinks Arthur with a sigh, scrolling through Twitter, he and Eames definitely need to make a statement, and also he’s definitely not going to bother Eames with this now.

He pauses on one particular tweet, that has a gif of Eames, that morning they signed autographs in the field, dipping down to kiss Arthur’s right dimple. The tweet accompanying it reads, Look at these two adorable idiots. They are definitely married, and not because of any marriage license, either. Just because LOOK AT THEM.

Arthur obeys the directive, looking back at the gif. Eames ducks in to kiss him again and again and again. It looks inevitable, inexorable, and the look on Arthur’s face as Eames does it is…the look of a person who loves and is loved. Married, Arthur thinks.

Chapter Text

Arthur thinks maybe he’ll feel uneasy sleeping at Maggie and Albert’s house without any Eames under the roof, and then he looks up at the ceiling and thinks of the fan debate and thinks, Wait, maybe I am an Eames now. And whether it’s this thought that does it or just lingering exhaustion, Arthur sleeps well that night.

He does wake up early, though, just as the sun is rising, and while it will take a while for Albert to be discharged from the hospital, Arthur figures he might as well get up and get the day started. He makes himself a pot of coffee and considers the food he bought the day before. He can probably make himself something, although it’s always nicer when Timothy is there to do that for him.

Arthur forces himself to behave not like a spoiled celebrity and fries up a couple of eggs. He eats them without really tasting them, scrolling through fandom social media again, even though he’s told himself not to.

There’s been a slight shift in perspective from the night before. Even though they have no new news to work with, people seem to be moving on. Or maybe that’s exactly why they’re moving on. Having exhausted themselves over the marriage question, finally someone says, We’ve been missing the important things. Like Eames’s father. We need to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

Arthur, finally sick of social media, checks his watch and then calls Eames, who answers immediately and brightly.

“Hello, darling!”

Arthur is pleased Eames sounds so sunny and unclouded. He suspected that getting Eames’s father out of the hospital and home would do wonders to help settle them. “Hello. How is the hospital discharging going?”

“We are making a run for it,” Eames tells him. “We are going to be hospital fugitives.”

“No, we’re not!” Arthur can hear Maggie call from the background.

“Tell me, darling,” says Eames, “if I were a fugitive, would you harbor me?”

“That probably depends. What are you a fugitive from?”

“Justice,” Eames says, sounding affronted.

“No, I know, but for what crime?”

“Would that be relevant?” Eames sounds even more offended now.

Arthur can’t help but smile as he rinses his dishes. “I think yeah, it should be relevant.”

“Unpaid parking tickets,” Eames says.

“You can’t be a fugitive for unpaid parking tickets,” Arthur tells him.

“Well, if I’d said ‘murder,’ I feel like you’d turn me in immediately, and some husband you are,” grumbles Eames.

Arthur thinks briefly of social media. He thinks more of the fact that they are here bantering, and that is such a good sign regarding Eames’s mental space that he could cry. He says, “Look, I’d probably harbor you if you were wearing sexy enough clothing.”

“If I were shirtless?” says Eames.

“Are you tattoos scary prison tattoos in this scenario?”

“It’s an AU, darling,” says Eames. And then, “Actually! I bet there is fic of this! We should ask Luisa. I bet in fic you never hesitate to harbor me.”

“Is harbor a euphemism now?” asks Arthur. “I’m confused.”

“My parents are so horrified by this conversation we’re having,” says Eames. “My mother keeps hitting me.”

Arthur laughs and says, “I am on my way to retrieve all of you Eameses. Please don’t make any dangerous escape attempts without me.”

“I’d never dream of it, darling. I will only ever make dangerous escape attempts with you by my side.”

Arthur smiles, even though it’s a ridiculous thing to smile over, and says, “I love you.”

Eames says, “I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

Arthur drives, because even in England he doesn’t trust Eames’s driving and Maggie is too distracted by fretting every time they go over a bump and Albert obviously isn’t driving himself home from the hospital.

Neither Eames nor Maggie are usually backseat drivers in Arthur’s experience but on this particular day they can’t seem to help but give him constant directions to improve his driving. Arthur bites his tongue and takes it all with a grain of salt, because he knows they’re just nervous, but when they get to the Eameses’ and Albert says, “Someone fetch Arthur a bit of whiskey, he needs it after all that pecking you two did,” Arthur might not do the best job denying it.

He lets Eames settle Maggie and Albert in, hovering a little awkwardly for a while to see if he can help, and then deciding that he really can’t and just keeps getting in their way. So he goes back to Eames’s bedroom and calls Saito, which he’s been meaning to do for literally days.

Saito answers with, “How is Eames’s father?”

“Good,” Arthur says. Then amends it to, “Well, better, I suppose. He’s just come home from the hospital. The doctors seem to think it’s the best kind of heart attack or something.”

“Yes. So your mother informed me. How are you and Eames and Eames’s mother holding up?”

“Good,” says Arthur. “I mean, I think they’re all better now that Albert is back home.”

“And you?” Saito persists, sharp as ever. “The caretaker must also take care.” Saito makes it sound like Arthur should be writing that phrase in calligraphy somewhere so he can always remember it.

Arthur says, “I’m fine. Really.”

“I’m sorry that I had the jet in California with me and it was useless for your emergency needs.”

“Don’t apologize for that,” Arthur says. “We can hardly expect to have your jet at our beck and call. Listen, about filming and stuff.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Saito assures him smoothly. “The network understands that this is not something that can be helped and is something that must be dealt with. There may be negotiations for how the schedule will work to accommodate the amount of time you need to devote to this.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “I’m not bothering Eames with any of this stuff right now—”

“Nor should you,” Saito agrees.

“—but I’m sure we’ll be willing to talk about revised schedules. In the meantime, the marriage thing—”

“Don’t worry about that, either. Don’t worry about anything but Eames and Eames’s father. Nothing else matters right now. I promise. That’s why you have me.”

Arthur supposes it is.

Chapter Text

I am away at a work conference the next couple of days. I thought I would have time to write, but alas, no.

We are reaching the part of the summer that's a mad dash until school starts, hence how scattered my availability has been as I try to squeeze everything in, oops. I'll be traveling again at the end of the next week, too!

Chapter Text

Arthur, off the phone with Saito, decides that the best thing he can do for Eames at the moment is find him a fugitive AU. Arthur doesn’t often poke through their fic, but he can do this for Eames; he doesn’t really want to farm out such a personal task to Luisa. He stays away from marriagegate going on on others of their social media channels and pokes through their fic, thinking that probably Eames would be way more efficient about this and have already found one.

There’s a knock on the door, and Arthur says, “Come in,” and it’s Eames.

Arthur lifts his eyebrows. “We’re knocking now?”

“I didn’t want to…I don’t know, it’s not ourbedroom.” Eames looks flustered, and Arthur regrets making a comment.

“I was teasing,” Arthur says. “Sorry. I was teasing.” He gets up, leaving behind the laptop, and pulls Eames into a hug. “Sorry,” he says again, reminding himself that Eames is fragile right now and Arthur need to be gentle.

Eames crushes him with the force of the hug back.

“He’s here,” Arthur says softly, “and he’s okay. He’s in the other room. He’s here.”

Eames nods against him.

Arthur kisses Eames’s head and thinks of how Eames has had a horrible few weeks and he wishes he could have saved him from them, but, at the same time, this is just life sometimes, and he’s glad he’s there for Eames to lean against walls with and take a few moments just to breathe.

Eames says eventually, “Were we really that horrible while you were driving?”

“You were just worried,” Arthur says. “I get it.”

Eames lifts his head up and gives Arthur a fond look and then kisses the tip of his nose. “So diplomatic. I love you.” He kisses the bridge of Arthur’s nose this time, then says, “But I could really do with that whiskey, if you want to join me.”

It sounds like what Eames is saying is that he doesn’t want to drink alone, so Arthur agrees.

Chapter Text

Maggie comes into the kitchen while Arthur is pouring them the whiskey. She looks pale and drawn and Arthur covers up his frown.

Maggie says, “Albert’s sleeping, and thank God you’re pouring whiskey, Arthur. You are a gift from the gods.”

“Dionysus specifically,” Eames says wearily.

“I’ve read that fic,” says Arthur lightly, because he wants to make Eames smile.

He succeeds.

Arthur kisses the left side of Eames’s roughly stubbled chin as he hands him his whiskey, then hands Maggie her glass, and then says, “Okay. I’ve made an executive decision.”

“An executive decision?” Eames asks, sipping his whiskey. “What’s that, darling?”

“All Eameses are going to bed,” Arthur announces.

Eames and Maggie both stare at him.

“What?” Maggie says.

“We’re not going to bed,” Eames says. “It’s not time for bed.”

“You two are dead on your feet,” says Arthur. “And what good are you going to do Albert when he wakes up if you’re too exhausted?”

Maggie says, “I’m fine.”

Eames says, “No, Arthur’s right, you should go to bed.”

“Eames,” says Arthur, amused.

“Good night, Mother,” Eames says breezily, kissing her cheek. “Take the whiskey to bed with you if you like.”

“Eamesie,” she protests, even as Eames nudges her out of the room.

Arthur, amused, pours his own glass of whiskey and waits.

When Eames returns he says, “You’re going to bed, too.”

“I am fine,” Eames insists.

“Do you remember when I had my concussion?” Arthur asks.

“How could I forget?” responds Eames dramatically.

“Okay, then,” Arthur says. “Then you remember how much you coddled me and never let me do anything?”

“You were sick,” says Eames. “Like my father.”

“Right. And you will drop where you stand before resting while taking care of someone you love.”

“I—” Eames begins.

“I’m here,” Arthur says. “I’m not the one sick this time. I’m here, and that means that you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help. And I’m not going to take over, I promise, but I am going to make you sleep, for just a little while, in a bed, while I watch over your dad and make sure he’s okay.”

Eames hesitates for a long moment, and then he pulls Arthur in for a hug, holding him close. Eames loves touch anyway, but Arthur makes a mental note to hug him even more often for the next few days. He clearly needs it.

Eames says, “I love you.”

Arthur says, “I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

Arthur sits in the living room, where Albert is sleeping on the recliner, and considers if he should change the television channel. It’s on golf, which Arthur would consider enough to put any person to sleep, but maybe changing it would disturb Albert. Clearly someone had considered before leaving the television on that channel.

Arthur decides against it. Instead he curls up with a copy of Architectural Digest that was on the coffee table. Arthur is pretty sure the Architectural Digest subscription is entirely so they can beam with pride and show off whenever one of Eames’s projects is featured. Arthur approves, of course.

Eames doesn’t have any projects in this issue Arthur’s grabbed, so Arthur just flips through it aimlessly, looking for something to catch his interest. Arthur generally thinks that designs by people other than Eames are mostly dull and predictable, even the ones meant to be outrageous. He reads about a home in Hong Kong where the walls are decorated entirely in neon and wonders if Mick would like that. He takes a picture of the spread on his phone and sends it to Ariadne with the message Mick?

Ariadne texts back, Only if the neon were a picture of his dick, and then How’s Eames’s dad?

Came home today. I think he’s doing well. Eames and his mom are exhausted.

Understandable, says Ariadne. Spoil them rotten and let us know what we can do.

They have the best friends, Arthur thinks. How did they get so lucky?

Then he gives up and texts Luisa. Looking for a fugitive AU. Any ideas?

Luisa doesn’t even ask why. Fugitive like the movie?

No, like on the run from the law

Coming right up! responds Luisa.

Arthur doesn’t mention the wedding thing. He doesn’t want to have to deal with it.

Chapter Text

Albert wakes up and Arthur tells him he sent Maggie and Eames off to sleep and asks if Albert needs anything.

Albert says, “You are a good lad. They were fussing.”

Arthur smiles. “They just love you. Fussing is good.”

“Is that what you said when you had a concussion and Eamesie was fussing over you?” grumbles Albert knowingly.

Arthur laughs. “Well, eventually,” he says. “It’s eventually what I said.”

Albert makes another little grumbling noise.

Arthur says, “How are you feeling?”

Albert sighs and looks up at the ceiling, and then looks at Arthur. He says slowly, “You are a good, steady sort, you know. You’re just what Eamesie needs. I’ve always approved of you. I’ve always been happy he found you.”

“Okay,” says Arthur carefully. “I’m glad, of course, but don’t—I mean, you’re going to be fine. There’s going to be a wedding here in a couple of months and you’re going to give a toast at it.”

“And that’s when I can tell everyone how wonderful you are?” Albert smiles at him. “Believe me, I’m going to. I have every intention of being at your wedding. This isn’t a good-bye speech. This is just me saying that it’s because you’re so level-headed and steady that I feel I can tell you.” He pauses, then says, “I’m scared.”

And Arthur gets it. He gets why Albert is saying this to him, and he of course gets why Albert feels this way, and he wishes he knew what to say, he wants to be able to say exactly the right thing. Unfortunately, he feels like saying exactly the right thing is more often Eames’s talent than it is Arthur’s.

Arthur says, “I know,” and then, because he doesn’t really know, “I mean, I can imagine.”

“I don’t have any intention of going anywhere,” Albert says fiercely. “But sometimes you don’t have any control over it.”

Arthur thinks of a ceiling falling on his head and thinks that, frankly, you never have any control.

Albert says, “Don’t tell them I’m scared.”

“I won’t,” says Arthur. “But I almost think it’s good that you’re scared. I wouldn’t want you to be thinking good thoughts about leaving us.”

It must be close to the right thing to say, because Albert smiles at him. And then he says, “I’m just going to reiterate that you are a good boy and I’m glad you make my son as happy as you make him. So if things are ever out of my control and I don’t make it to the wedding—”

“Albert,” says Arthur.

“—know that I would have said you’ve been a great joy to have in our family with us. We couldn’t have asked for better.”

Arthur feels worried he might cry, which doesn’t seem either level-headed or steady the way Albert was praising him, so he takes a minute to try to blink himself under control, and then he says, swallowing, “Same here.”

Chapter Text

Albert tries to explain golf to Arthur. Arthur should get golf, because real estate agents certainly play enough golf, but Arthur’s never been into the whole “doing business on the links” thing. It’s always seemed weird to him, and he was never especially athletic growing up (partly he wonders if that’s because his mother didn’t have time to ferry him to practices and stuff), and he just never learned how to blend in with the more athletic world.

Albert is patient with the golf, and Arthur at least gets the general objective, but eventually Albert says, “Okay. Tell me what you were doing before I woke up.”

Arthur holds up the Architectural Digest.

Albert says, “What were you reading about?”

“Well, mostly I was looking at the pictures,” Arthur admits. “But there was an article about architecture I was thinking of settling in and reading.”

“Every once in a while they talk about architecture in Architectural Digest,” remarks Albert.

Arthur smiles. “Almost accidentally.”

Albert laughs. And then says, sounding shrewd, “You like architecture.”

Arthur shrugs a little bit, self-conscious, then says, “Yes. I’ve always been really interested in it. The things you can do with architecture to, you know, shape buildings, and hence lives.”

“I notice how much you like it when Eames talks architecture.”

“Eames is creative,” Arthur says, “so he has ideas about what to do with architecture. Really excellent ideas. I didn’t really have ideas, so I became a real estate agent, so I could just sell architecture to other people.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” says Albert, still shrewd.

Arthur hesitates, because he doesn’t talk about this much, and it was all so long ago that it seems foolish to bring it up now as if it’s still some big thing, when it’s definitely not some big thing. But he says, “For a little while, when I was younger, I thought it would be cool to be an architect. But then, you know, it didn’t happen.” He doesn’t say, Because there was so little money. Because I needed to get my career underway sooner. Because it seemed like too huge a risk to take, too scary a gamble.

But he feels like Albert hears it all the same, because Albert says, “You could probably go back to school for it now. God knows you and Eames have enough money, and you could structure the downtime around your schooling. Don’t you two pretty much tell the network what to do at this point?”

“Well,” says Arthur, aware the tips of his ears are a bit pink, “not entirely. And I don’t know if—”

“Go back to school for what?” asks Eames, rounding the corner into the living room, and of course he would arrive for this conversation.

“Did you know Arthur wanted to be an architect?” asks Albert.

“Well, of course, yes,” Eames says. “Arthur loves architecture.”

They’ve never had an explicit conversation about Arthur wanting to be an architect, but Arthur sees now that it was probably an obvious conclusion for Eames to draw, with Eames knowing him as well as he does.

“I was telling Arthur he could go back to school for it now, if he wants,” says Albert.

“It’s not necessary,” says Arthur. “I mean, I like what we do. A lot.”

“Life is short,” proclaims Albert. “Do what you want with it. Don’t put it off.”

“You,” Eames says, wagging a finger in his father’s face. “Stop talking as if life is short. Your life is very, very long.”

Albert sighs. “Yes,” he agrees.

Eames says to Arthur, “All the same, he’s right, and if you want to go back to school, you should do it. Now should we scrounge up something healthy for dinner?”

“We could all just have whiskey,” Albert suggests hopefully.

“No,” Eames responds, and disappears into the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Because Arthur has a rule not to leave Eames unsupervised in kitchens if he can help it, he follows Eames in.

Eames is frowning at the fridge, which Arthur has stocked. “What is this?” he asks, and pulls out a bunch of spinach leaves.

“It’s spinach,” Arthur says. “It’s a vegetable. I understand why this is confusing for you.”

Eames briefly transfers his frown from the spinach to Arthur. “What are we going to do with spinach?”

“I thought we could make a salad,” Arthur says. “I looked it up and many vegetables are heart-healthy. Spinach especially. Even more than lettuce. So spinach salads are a good start. Also fish. Fish is generally heart-healthy. But I was less confident of my ability to make us fish.”

“We can go over to the pub for fish,” says Eames absently, turning the spinach leaves over in his hands.

“Not fried fish, Eames. Like tuna, and salmon.”

Eames doesn’t say anything. Eames puts the spinach back in the fridge.

Arthur studies him, and then says, “Eames,” very gently.

Eames says suddenly, his voice choked, “I think I am going to fall apart. Over spinach.”

“Yeah,” says Arthur, his heart aching so hard that he has to breathe himself through it. “That’s okay.”

Eames suddenly ducks outside, and Arthur follows, and then Eames is sobbing into his shoulder, and this was probably a very, very long time coming, thinks Arthur, Eames has been through a lot recently, and he holds him and holds him until he stops sobbing, and then he holds him some more. It’s drizzling, and they’re wet, and it doesn’t matter. He holds Eames until Eames stops trembling in his arms, and then he holds him a lot longer than that, just for good measure.

Eames breathes and breathes and then says, “They own a pub. I grew up on fish and chips. And now you’ve stocked their fridge with spinach. Because they’re old now. They’re old, and I don’t—I can’t—”

“Shh,” Arthur says, kissing every piece of him he can access, holding him as close as he can. “I know. I know.” He wants to say that it’s okay, or that it will be okay, but he can’t make the platitude come, he doesn’t know if Eames will accept it anyway. But he makes soothing noises and he holds Eames and he hopes that’s good enough.

Chapter Text

Eventually Eames says into Arthur’s neck, “Thank you. Honestly. You’ve been a rock.”

“You don’t have to thank me,” Arthur insists. “I understand your gratitude. But all I’m doing here is loving all of you, which is a pretty wonderful thing from where I’m standing.”

Eames lifts his head. “This is what it means, isn’t it? Marriage. Growing old with you. It’s not just us growing old. It’s everybody growing old.”

“Yeah.” Arthur cups his hands around Eames’s face and says, “I don’t know if this helps. But you are the best person I know at living each moment to the full. Like, until I met you, I don’t think I realized people do that as well as you do it. I know that doesn’t stop time or anything, but…I think usually what people tell you to do is live, as much as you can, without worrying, and you’re so good at that. You’ve made me so much better at that, and I’m so grateful. I love every day now, because I feel like I live every day. So I can’t stop time for you, but what I can tell you is your dad is still in there, and you have days left, and it’s good.”

Eames nods. He says suddenly, “If you want to be an architect, go and be one. Like, go back to school. Do whatever the fuck you want to do. My dad’s right about that. Life is short.”

Arthur nods in return. And then he says, “If you feel like we need to spend more time here, help out with the pub, whatever, we can talk about that.”

Eames is silent for a long time. He looks like he is considering. He says, “Can we talk about that later? I don’t think I can talk about that now. But it’s important. We should talk about it. Just…not now.”

“Yeah.” Arthur nods again. “Of course. I just wanted you to know that we can talk about it. We can always talk about everything.”

“That’s what we do, isn’t it?” Eames says, sounding a little tired but also affectionate. “Excel at communication?”

“Meaningful banter,” Arthur says. “We do meaningful banter.” He kisses Eames’s right temple.

“Our speciality,” Eames agrees.

Arthur says, “How are you? Ready to go back in? Or do you need more time?”

“We can go back in,” Eames says. “I’m better.” He pauses to kiss Arthur’s left ear. “Seriously, darling, although I know it’s not necessary, thank you.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says.

“Also.” Eames opens the door for Arthur and says, “Maybe we should fly Timothy over here. Like, that seems easier than learning how to cook healthy things for ourselves.”

“Christ, you sound like a spoiled celebrity,” says Arthur. “Also, you are writing a cookbook.”

Eames shrugs.

Chapter Text

Arthur makes them fancy spinach salads, because Arthur can manage salads. Maggie, ever lovely, praises him like he’s just discovered alchemy instead of just throwing vegetables together in a bowl.

And then, because Eames is Eames, he somehow convinces his parents that they should all be watching Gossip Girl.

“It’s the most incredible recuperation show,” Eames says. “Wouldn’t you agree, darling?”

“It’s something,” says Arthur.

“Arthur is being demure,” Eames says. “Arthur loves Gossip Girl. Arthur loves Chuck Bass.”

“His fashion sense does sort of remind me of someone,” remarks Arthur.

Eames grins at him, and it’s good to see. Arthur would make any number of silly comments about Eames’s wardrobe to keep him smiling like that.

They start Gossip Girl at the beginning, and Arthur was out of it for a lot of the first season, which he never fully appreciated until they start watching them now and very little of it looks familiar.

“You had a concussion,” Eames reminds him, when Arthur remarks that he doesn’t remember lots of those scenes.

Arthur isn’t sure he quite realized how out of it he had been. No wonder Eames had been freaking out about the whole thing.

At any rate, they watch several episodes of Gossip Girl together, until Arthur is yawning and Albert has fallen back asleep.

Eames doesn’t seem ready for bed. He took a long nap, after all, and his sleep schedule is usually a mess anyway. Plus, he’s obviously still keyed up and anxious.

Arthur has only one solution for that. “I know you’re not tired,” Arthur says, watching Eames prowl around the bedroom, “but come to bed anyway and I have a surprise for you.”

Eames engages in the requisite banter. “Is the surprise your penis, kitten?” he asks, and waggles his eyebrows.

“No,” says Arthur, and then just gives it away, because he figures Eames deserves it. “It’s fic.” He waves his tablet around.

Eames gives a dramatic gasp. “Fic!” he exclaims, and immediately joins Arthur in bed. “Darling, did you find a good fic just for me?”

Technically, Luisa found it, but Arthur decides he can take credit just this once. He says, “I found you a fugitive AU.”

Eames gives another gasp, this one more reverent in tone. “Fuck, darling,” he says. “You’re the best.”

“Uh-huh,” Arthur agrees. “Now settle down to enjoy the story of lifetime grifter Eames who is saved by kind-hearted Arthur.”

“Ha,” says Eames. “You would find one where you get to rescue me.”

“Trust me, Viscount,” Arthur says drily. “There weren’t a lot of fics where I was cast as the criminal.”

“I need to have a chat with our fandom,” grumbles Eames. And then adds, “But I can’t complain. You do rescue me fairly often. Really every day. Just by being you.”

“Same, though,” Arthur says.

Chapter Text

The house is silent when Arthur wakes the next morning. He and the rest of the Eameses are on pretty opposing sleeping schedules at the moment. But it’s okay. Arthur makes a pot of coffee and takes his mug out into the back garden, where it’s a cheerful and sunny day, and the garden is filled with birdsong. Arthur doesn’t really crave a quiet life in the country—he likes their house and its walking distance to his favorite spa and multiple restaurants and coffee shops—but he does like the novelty of having a garden with trees and flowers and birds right outside the door. He and Eames have a little courtyard but neither of them has the time or attention span to make a garden there.

Which is silly, because Eames is spending a lot of time and effort bringing nature into their house, maybe they really should just work on their little terrace area. If they did, would they use it more?

Arthur contemplates that for a little while, and then turns to the paper he’s brought outside with him. It’s a sketchpad from Eames’s room, because Eames’s room is still stocked as the room of a creative artist, complete with sketchpads and colored pencils. Arthur considers for a while. But he’s been thinking. When he was a kid, he wanted to be an architect. And he didn’t pursue that for a variety of reasons, but at the time he hadn’t thought it was because he wasn’t creative enough to pull it off. His lack of confidence in his own creativity must have come later, he thinks. And he doesn’t know why he let himself fall prey to that.

So Arthur carefully starts sketching the design of a tie.

It takes him what feels like several false starts to him, but eventually he has a design he thinks isn’t half-bad. He surveys it in the bright sunshine.

Eames comes outside squinting and says, “Darling, you look like the world’s most fuckable Monet.”

Arthur snorts. “Monet? Really?”

“What are you doing out here with sexy colored pencils?” Eames asks.

“Colored pencils aren’t sexy,” Arthur tells him.

“I’m sorry,” Eames says politely, “have you seen you holding colored pencils? Because the me seeing you holding colored pencils begs to differ with the you saying colored pencils aren’t sexy.”

“My head hurts,” says Arthur.

“Mine, too,” says Eames, and grins, and kisses the top of Arthur’s head.

Arthur says tentatively, because he knows Eames won’t pry, but he also knows Eames wants to know, “I was trying to design some ties.”

Eames beams. “Can I see?”

“Yes,” Arthur decides, and nudges the tie sketch over to Eames. “I’m not sure of the colors, but I think I like the design. Or do you think it’s too busy?”

It’s a complicated, fractal-ish thing that took Escher as its starting point, and Arthur thinks he really likes it, but he’s not sure.

Eames studies it and says, “It’s definitely not too busy. You wear much busier patterns than this and they look great. Aren’t you always saying a tie’s pattern is really a function of its interaction with your other suit choices?”

“Yes,” Arthur says, because it’s true.

“I like it, darling. It’s very you.” Eames smiles at him. “I think people will love it.”

“I hope so,” Arthur says, and looks at the design again. It’s really not half-bad. “It’s a good start anyway.”

“Indeed,” Eames agrees.

Chapter Text

It takes a couple of days of Albert being fine, getting progressively better, before Eames starts to relax a little bit. Arthur can feel him start to take deeper breaths, no longer on the edge of panic all the time. When he makes jokes, they start to seem much less forced. His laughter seems more genuine; his banter doesn’t seem stiffly automatic.

When he says, “Darling, do you have any idea what’s going on with our show?” Arthur looks at him and smiles. Because he doesn’t want Eames to be worrying about the show, but he’s pleased Eames has recovered enough to be thinking about it, to have headspace to devote to something other than his father.

Arthur says, “I’ve been taking care of it.”

“I assumed you were,” Eames says, his lips tipped up in a smile. They’re in a corner of the pub, with pints in front of them, and the relaxation had been demanded by Maggie and Albert, but now Arthur is thinking it’s a good idea. “Tell me what they’re saying.”

“It’s all fine,” Arthur assures him. “I’ve been talking to Saito, and he’s been talking to the network, and we’re good. We’re probably going to have to renegotiate the timing of the filming and stuff, though. We’re losing filming time, so we might have to make it up at the back end.”

“That’s fine,” says Eames. “What about the clients?”

“The ones we haven’t started with yet have agreed to be delayed,” Arthur says. “They’re not in any rush anyway, since they’re waiting around to be filmed for a television show in the first place. The Nileses, you know, have their design plan in place, so Paul and Ariadne and Gon have just been executing it, so they’re pretty much on schedule.” In fact, they are more on schedule than they would have been had Eames been paying attention and fiddling the whole time. Arthur gets the impression that Paul is secretly amazed by how on-time the project is.

Eames frowns briefly and says, “They can’t just execute a plan, they have to allow the plan to keep evolving,” and Arthur smiles.

“Yes,” he says. “Paul agrees that your design plans are supposed to be evolved instead of executed.”

Eames looks at Arthur and his frown fades into a small smile. “Is Paul very pleased to have the run of the project at the moment?”

“Well, I’m sure Ariadne’s giving him a run for his money. I would never say that anyone has the run of any project when Ariadne’s involved.”

Eames laughs. “Good point. Poor Gon, dealing with those two.”

“Gon loves it,” says Arthur.

“Also,” Eames says, “Gon loves science, and Paul loves science, so probably they’re all going to be science-y together.”

“They don’t love science,” Arthur says. “I mean, I’m sure they don’t dislike science, but they’re basically just fans of reality.”

Eames makes a face and waves his hand around dismissively. “What about Mick?” Eames asks. “I hope no one else is trying to execute my design plan for Mick.”

“Your all-penis-all-the-time design plan?” asks Arthur archly. “That design plan?”

Eames grins. “That design plan.”

“Gon says Mick thinks Ariadne walks on water and that she represents an excellent representation of the female gaze.”

Eames lifts his eyebrows. “Mick used the phrase ‘female gaze’?”

“No, Mick has no idea what the fuck ‘female gaze’ means. That was my embellishment.”

“I assumed. What about the Bigs?”

“They’re the biggest fuzzy point. I think you and I together could have swayed them on the cottage issue, but now that there’s a gap, I’m not sure what they’re thinking. I could get updates from Gon and Ari on the other clients, but I think Kalinda’s trying not to bother us and she’s the primary liaison between us and the Bigs at the moment. There’s a possibility they’ll ditch us for Victor.”

“Poor Victor,” says Eames, with a little smile.

Arthur takes a deep breath and says, “So there’s more.”

“More what?”

“More going on with us. Like, celebrity us.”

“Oh, Christ,” says Eames. “What mad rumors could be swirling around this time? Is one of us an alien?”

“No, there’s a pretty verifiable rumor we’re married,” says Arthur.

Chapter Text

Arthur has been avoiding their social media since his previous foray into it. He had enough going on without watching people debate the veracity of his wedding. Eames clicks on their hashtag now and Arthur looks over his shoulder and is startled to be met by the marketing photo of them, over and over and over. Eames reclining naked, Arthur in his strategic position next to him. Timing-wise, it makes sense. If Arthur stops to think about it, he realizes that marketing was scheduled to start up in earnest this week, and clearly the photo is the first step.

They’ve adding a tagline to it, across the bottom, but it just says #ComingHome followed by the date and time and channel for the premiere. Arthur feels like it’s no information at all.

“What does it say about us?” he says. “I mean, what kind of show are people going to expect from that?”

“A bloody good one,” says Eames. “I’d watch this show.”

“You’re biased.”

“Everyone!” Eames says, raising his voice, and the pub around them looks at him expectantly. No one’s been paying them much attention but Arthur is aware they’re all conscious of them. They’re the local celebrities that no one wants to make a big deal of but is very proud to have around.

Eames holds aloft his phone with the picture of them on it. It’s small, of course, not nearly big enough for an effective show-and-tell, but Eames says, “Who’s seen this ad for our new show?”

Basically everyone nods in affirmation.

One person says, “It’s all over the Internet, you know.”

“Can’t click on anything without it coming up on the side,” says another.

“It’s on a billboard in London,” says someone else.

A billboard in London. Arthur knew the network was marketing them hard but he hadn’t really braced for it.

“Excellent,” says Eames. “And would you watch a show advertised with that photograph?’

Everyone says yes, basically.

One old woman says, “I would buy pretty much any product you two were selling with that photograph.”

“Thank you,” Eames says politely, like that should just be the expected reaction of people to him. Then he lowers his phone and looks at Arthur. “See?”

“They’re all biased, too,” Arthur says drily. “We’re in your village.”

Eames shrugs and looks back at the photo, and he looks ridiculously fond of it, the way he looks at Arthur most of the time. He says, “It’s just such a stunning photo, darling. We really must hire Morgan to do our wedding photos.”

Arthur would pretty much have agreed to anything that made Eames look like that, but also he looks over Eames’s shoulder at the photo again, and it is a pretty stunning photo.

Chapter Text

Eames, as they walk back to his house, is reading Twitter out loud.

“If you had to choose,” he is saying, “I mean, if you really had to choose--that bit’s in all caps—you’d go with Arthur, right?”

Arthur sighs.

“Yes, exactly,” murmurs Eames, tapping on his phone. “You should always go with Arthur.”

“Are you replying to that tweet?”

“Darling, people are doing polls, and you are running two-to-one for hotter in that photo than me.”

“You’re the one who’s naked,” Arthur points out.

“Such is the power of your feral sexuality.” Eames holds his phone out to Arthur. He has a tweet drafted. Always go with Arthur. #cominghome #arthur4everything It’s their first tweet in a while, since the whole thing with Eames’s father, since the news of their marriage broke.

Arthur says, “Look, I’m glad you’re having fun with this, and I’m glad that the ad seems to have distracted everyone from the wedding talk, but we do have to talk about what we’re going to do about the wedding talk.”

“Yes,” Eames says. “In a second. We will absolutely do that. Can I send this tweet first?”

Arthur waves his hand. “Go for it.”

Eames sends the tweet, and looks pleased at the storm of speculation he’s about to provoke. Then he says, “By the way, this person says I should release a ‘tattoo primer.’ What do you think about that?”

“Meaning what?”

“I think they want an explanation of my tattoos. Maybe like a map with explanations. Yes, an annotated map. That would be good, right?”

“You want to make an annotated map of your tattoos?” Arthur repeated. “Why don’t you just add it to your cookbook?”

Eames gasps. “Darling, that is brilliant.” He composes another tweet and shows it to Arthur. What does everyone think of an annotated map of my tattoos being included in my upcoming cookbook?

Arthur sighs and shakes his head and says, “This cookbook is not going to have a single recipe in it and is going to sell two hundred million copies.”

Eames laughs delightedly. And then he says, “Okay, now what’s this about the wedding thing?”

“I called you my husband,” Arthur says. “In front of all the fans at the tiny house filming that day. And the fans who heard me started tweeting about it. And this started a huge debate about whether we’d been married in secret. And someone had the brilliant idea to look at Worcester’s public records, which was smart, because of course there was our marriage certificate. And then the justice of the peace who married us weighed in on the topic, I think because she thought she was helping, because naturally there was all of this debate about whether or not we’d been married for show.”

“How could we have been married for show when nobody even knew we were married?” Eames asks.

“Who even knows, Eames? That whole ‘fake relationship’ thing has never made any sense to me, anyway. Why would we go through all the trouble to pretend to be in love with each other? Pretending to be in love is so much effort without any of the bonus you get from actually being in love.”

“I imagine they think we’re doing it for the money,” says Eames. “I imagine they think the money is excellent comfort to make up for not being in love. When you think about it, it’s ridiculous we get to be in love and have money.”

Arthur sighs. “Agreed.”

“Which is why we’re giving back with our foundation,” Eames points out. “And charity generally. So basically everyone knows we’re married at this point.”

“Yeah.” Arthur sighs again. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, darling,” Eames says. “Why would you apologize? One of us was bound to slip up at some point. And, anyway, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the point of the secret wedding was so that we could get married just for us. And we did that, didn’t we? We had an absolutely picture-perfect wedding that was exactly what we wanted, and all about us, and had nothing to do with anybody else. Wasn’t that what we wanted?”

“Yes,” Arthur agrees. “It was, and I’m happy we pulled it off. I think I just thought we’d control the news a little better. Or that maybe we’d never give it away, we’d let everyone think the next wedding was the wedding. Or…I don’t know. I guess I didn’t think through what I thought. It was just a lot of stuff going on over the past week.”

“Yes,” Eames agrees drily. “To put it mildly. At any rate, here’s what I propose.” They’re at Eames’s parents’ house now, but they pause outside the door, and Eames taps away on his phone, and then shows Arthur the result. We’ve been married since May. #armes5eva

And, looking at it, Arthur can’t even think what else there would be to say. He smiles and says, “Yes. Okay. Tweet it.”

Eames does.

Chapter Text

The fall-out from Eames’s tweet is basically what Arthur expected. There is a lot of triumphant crowing and I told you sos floating around, and a ton of congratulations, and tweets with gifs of people dancing and fireworks and confetti exploding, and then the usual small number of trolls that insist it’s all for show and will clearly just continue to do so no matter what happens.

Now that it’s all out and over and done with, Arthur doesn’t know what he was worried about. Being married to Eames and having everyone know it is…lovely. Incredible. Really, really nice. It’s nice not to have a secret anymore. Arthur doesn’t generally like them to begin with. And it’s nice to not have to worry about saying the word husband anymore. Eames changes their social media profiles to say they’re married to each other, and Arthur sentimentally screenshots them and saves them furtively.

They fly home eventually. Albert and Maggie both insist upon it.

“You have your show to make,” Albert says. “Your fans are waiting for you. Plus, you’re both itching to get back to work, I can tell.”

It’s a little bit true, because Arthur knows he and Eames are both lucky enough to love what they do and to actually miss it when they’re not doing it. Eames has started looking around his parents’ house for decorating projects, which is a sure sign that his efforts need to be directed elsewhere.

So they make plans to get back and resume filming and Saito says smoothly, “Good, the network’s been wanting input to finalize your promotional schedule,” and sends across a document with such a dizzying array of appearances that Arthur immediately closes it to deal with later.

Eames takes a picture of his father, outside in the garden, surrounded by bright sunlight, giving the camera a thumbs-up sign, and, to Albert’s delight, tweets it with, Dad is doing really well! Thanks for all the good wishes! Armes is #cominghome now! and Albert loves watching it get retweeted with additional squeeing comments.

They promise, as they leave, that they’re going to plan the wedding together and have the best party.

“We have so much to celebrate,” Maggie says, and Arthur knows what she means about that.

Eames, on the airplane, curls his hand into Arthur’s and leans into him and says, “Fuck, I could sleep for a thousand years.”

“Go for it,” Arthur says. “I’ll cover for you.”

Eames chuckles. “We are going to throw a pretty fantastic wedding.”

“Of course we are. Was there any doubt?”

“I’ve had an idea about the Niles project,” muses Eames, yawning. “I need to get in touch with Gon and Ariadne and Paul. We need to get them a portmanteau name.”

“Uh-huh,” says Arthur, amused.

Eames says, “Also. About moving to England,” like they’d just been in the middle of discussing it.

“Oh,” says Arthur, surprised by the sudden change in subject.

“I’ve been thinking about it, since you brought it up, and I don’t especially want to right now. I like where we are, and I like what we’re doing, and I don’t think I’m done with it yet. But I want you to know that I appreciate so much your willingness to do this if I need to, and I won’t forget it, and if I feel differently later, if things change, I’ll let you know.”

Arthur looks at him and smiles. “Good. That’s good. That’s what I wanted.”

Eames nods and kisses the tip of Arthur’s nose and says, “In the meantime, my parents have lots more years of pub-running ahead of them.”

“Yeah,” Arthur agrees. “They definitely do.”

Chapter Text

Arthur told Luisa they were coming home because she’s their personal assistant: she needs to know such things. So when they get into their house, there’s a note from her on the otherwise clean glass board: Welcome home. Timothy left food in the fridge. Call me tomorrow when your jetlag lets you feel like working. She has signed it with a drawing that gives Arthur a second of pause.

Eames says fondly, “Aw, look, it’s a drawing of a sword and a vulva.”

Arthur looks at him.

“Those are special Luisa symbols,” explains Eames. “Those are basically Luisa’s coat of arms.”

“Coat of arms?” repeats Arthur.

“Shh, it’s a British thing, you probably don’t know about it.”

“I know what a coat of arms is,” Arthur says drily. “I’ve just never heard of a coat of arms with vulvas.”

“Probably because of sexism. There’s probably plenty of coats of arms with penises on them.”

“I don’t think there are,” says Arthur.

“Penis-like things,” Eames says. “Phallic objects. Speaking of.” Eames has his head tipped at a package on their dining room table. There are lots of things on their dining room table, because he and Eames get a lot of mail and a lot of packages and Luisa also likes to leave random selections of fan communications and gifts, too. They’ve been gone for a while, so there are piles of fabric samples and wallpaper patterns that have arrived, and little prototype pieces of furniture people are trying to get Eames to buy, and a note from Sumiko over a pile of glossy of photographs of fish.

But Eames is attacking one particular package to the detriment of all the other mail.

Arthur says, lifting up the pile of photographs, “Look. We have to pick out our fish.”

“Yes, yes,” Eames says impatiently. “And speaking of fish.” He pulls a long, skinny, off-white bone-looking thing out of the packaging.

No, no. Not just bone-looking. Definitely a bone.

“Eames,” says Arthur.

“Darling, we can give it to Mick if you like, but this belonged to an actual whale.”

“Yes, I understand how it works.”

“A dead whale, and this is the piece of him we can have live on.”

“His penis bone,” says Arthur. “His penis bone can live on in our house.”

“Yes. Isn’t that an honor? We can name it.”

“I have thus far been really proud of us not naming our penises,” remarks Arthur.

“We’re not naming our penises, we’re naming the whale’s penis. For instance. We could name it—”

“If you say ‘Moby Dick,’ you’re sleeping on the couch tonight,” says Arthur.

Eames closes his mouth.

Chapter Text

Eames puts the whale penis bone on their coffee table. Arthur stares at it, sighs, and then tells Eames to come to bed.

In the morning the whale penis bone is still on the coffee table. Arthur says, “It’s still there.”

Eames says, “Did you think it would swim away whilst we slept? It’s not attached to the whale anymore.”

“I thought I might have dreamed it up,” says Arthur.

“Are you truly distressed by it?” Eames asks. “I think it’s a conversation piece, and the proportions are right for our living room. Like, you have to have tall ceilings to make a whale penis bone work. You couldn’t stick one in an ordinary living room.”

“You’re right,” agrees Arthur sanguinely. “You couldn’t stick it in an ordinary living room. Thank God our living room is quite extraordinary.”

“We can get rid of the whale penis bone if you like,” Eames offers.

The truth is, Arthur would probably prefer not to decorate his house with penises. He’s not Mick, after all. But he can also see how utterly taken Eames is with the whale penis bone. He clearly thinks it’s whimsical and charming and wants it, and Arthur can’t bear to disappoint Eames. And he doesn’t truly hate or despise the whale penis bone. He’s just bewildered by it. But “bewildered” is sometimes a thing that happens when you’re married to Eames, thinks Arthur. “Bewildered” is the rarer flip-side of Eames’s much more common amazing designs.

And at least the whale penis bone isn’t the creepy clowns Eames tried to install in the house that time.

Arthur says, “No, let’s keep it. It’ll certainly make a conversation piece.”

Eames beams at him, and catches him up and kisses his dimples, and then says, with a seriousness that surprises Arthur, “I do know what you put up with, darling. And I thank you.”

Arthur says, matching the seriousness, “Hey. I know what you put up with, too. So thank you.”

Eames smiles at him, and then Luisa lets herself in. “Hi, guys,” she says cheerfully. “I brought pastries. I thought you might be in need of food. Oh, look, a whale penis bone.”

“Indeed,” Eames says, gesturing to it, as if it could be missed. “Do you like it?”

“Well,” remarks Luisa. “It’s not the size of the whale penis bone that matters, it’s what you do with it.”

“Wise words,” Eames says.

“We’re keeping ours on our coffee table,” Arthur says. “That’s what we’re doing with it.”

“Not a bad strategy,” says Luisa.

Chapter Text

They sit around the dining room table, which Eames clears space on by just pushing the avalanche of mail and other things to the side, causing some of it to plummet right onto the floor.

Luisa purses her lips and says, “There was, you know, organization to that.”

“Was there?” asks Eames, genuinely surprised.

“Well, I didn’t expect you to notice the organization. The organization was for Arthur.”

“Truthfully, I didn’t notice,” Arthur admits sheepishly. “But I really appreciate the effort. Ordinarily that’s totally my type of things.”

“Well, you two have had a hard time of it lately,” Luisa says. “How’s your dad?”

“He’s better,” Eames says. “He’s so much better. I mean, everything is still terrifying and the world is a fragile place. But he’s better.”

Arthur leans over to kiss behind Eames’s right ear, because Eames has had a really hard time of it lately and deserves all the kisses Arthur can give him.

“For now,” Eames says, “we have to get back to work.”

“Saito’s working on a filming schedule,” Luisa says, “and everything will just click back into place again, but we want to make sure you don’t overdo it.”

Eames shakes his head. “I want to get back to work. It’ll be good for me. I’ve been itchy.” Eames glances at Arthur. “We both have.”

Arthur nods. “I think we’re ready. And if we’re not, we’ll just reevaluate.”

“About the promotional schedule,” Luisa begins.

“Yeah,” says Arthur, “we haven’t really talked about that yet.” Arthur looks quickly at Eames. “Saito sent it, like, right before we flew home. I thought we could go over things once we caught our breath.”

Eames nods, looking unconcerned.

Arthur says to Luisa, “As for the marriage thing.”

Luisa says, “You know you two were terrible at keeping that a secret, right?”

Arthur and Eames both just blink at her.

Luisa laughs. “No, seriously, you two were constantly slipping up. When the whole thing broke, Kalinda and I spent a night going through all the footage we have of you slipping up. It is way more than I think either of you realizes.”

Arthur and Eames exchange an astonished look.

Then Eames says, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“It wasn’t any of my business,” Luisa says. “It was your business. Anyway, Kalinda was going to bring it up during editing, to see whether you wanted to leave it in or take it out.”

“Leave it in,” Eames says immediately. “I want to leave it in.” He looks at Arthur. “We might as well. Everyone already knows, so I feel like what’s the point in pretending anymore?” He looks back at Luisa. “So we’ll talk to Kalinda about this, too, but my vote is to leave every single reference in.”

Arthur, after a second, says, “Yeah. That’s my vote, too.”

Chapter Text

They curl up in bed, still yawning from jetlag and maybe a severe adrenaline crash.

“This has been a hell of a filming period,” Eames remarks. “I guess at least we’ll have a lot to talk about during the promotion.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says, “speaking of. The list is long.”

“I assumed it would be. The network is very keen.”

“And it’s good,” says Arthur. “I mean, we asked for promotional support.”

“I think it’s more accurate to say we demanded promotional support,” remarks Eames.

“Saito asked,” Arthur says. “It was a request.”

“It was a Saito request. That’s definitely a demand.”

Anyway,” says Arthur, “the point is that we can pick and choose a little bit what we want to do.”

“What’s on the list?” asks Eames. “Is it all joint?”

“It’s all joint promotion, every single piece of it. They’ve got all the big talk shows listed. I think they’re going to try to see which will be willing to have us. Is there any you’d want to avoid?”

“Hmm,” says Eames. “Not really. I’d say I’d prefer to do as much promo in New York as possible, but if we have to fly out to California for some of it, we’ll cope. Is Ellen on the list?”

“Of course,” Arthur says. “You and Ellen have a special relationship.”

“Ellen has a special relationship with both of us,” Eames says. “Anyway, we could offer to fly out and I could give her a consultation on her house, maybe. I feel like people would go mad for that.”

“Probably,” agrees Arthur. “There’s the usual magazines listed, most of them wanting to do a portfolio on our house.”

“We can just do the usual thing with the house,” Eames says. “You know how that goes. We’ve got a routine these days.”

“Also,” says Arthur. “There’s one thing listed as a possibility that I wanted to discuss with you.”

“What’s that?”

Arthur props himself up in bed so he can look down at Eames. “Do you want to do Lip Sync Battle?”

Arthur has never seen such a Christmas morning look out of Eames before. He says, “Darling.”

Chapter Text

To ease themselves back into filming, they first have a meeting without the cameras. Kalinda comes with a beautiful spreadsheet, prepared to take notes, although she asks after Eames’s father first, of course.

Eames says, “He’s much better. It was just a scare. He’s going to be fine,” and every time Eames says that, Arthur thinks he believes it just that little bit more, which is good.

Kalinda says, “How do you want to handle it on film?”

“Interviews,” Eames says immediately, because he and Arthur had discussed this already. This is just a fact of their life: that they have to discuss how and when to make every private detail about them public. Their wedding was just the beginning. From this point on, until their careers die down, Arthur thinks they have to share these pieces of themselves out, and all they can do is make sure it’s as much on their terms as they can handle. They have lives they love, and this is the one thing they have to manage about it, and Arthur’s okay with that trade-off, and Eames seems to be as well. “We’ll do joint interviews on screen about it. That’s where it’ll show up, it’ll explain the gaps when Arthur and I aren’t around for the designing and the pause in the house-hunting, and then we’re not going to talk about it again.”

“Fair enough,” Kalinda says, and makes a note. Then she says, “The wedding stuff.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “Sorry about how that all happened.”

“You know, Eames was the first one to slip up and refer you to as his husband,” Kalinda notes drily. “So you have nothing to apologize for. I’m shocked it hasn’t come out before this.”

“You’re not very good at secrets,” Julia tells them.

Eames looks comically offended. “We are very good at secrets. We surprise each other constantly.”

“I’m not saying you’re not good at surprises,” Julia says. “Surprises are different from secrets.”

“We didn’t tell you that Paul was getting you a hot air balloon ride for your birthday, now did we?” says Eames triumphantly.

“I knew it!” Julia exclaims. “I knew he’d cleared the birthday idea with you first!”

“Eames,” groans Paul, looking chagrined.

“Was that meant to be a secret?” Eames asks.

“See?” says Julia. “Bad at secrets.”

“How did you like the hot air balloon ride?” Arthur asks, deciding to refocus them.

“It was amazing,” says Julia, and beams happily at Paul, and it’s a look Arthur knows frequently shows up on his own face, and it’s good to see it on Julia’s. “And thanks for the vodka, too,” Julia adds. “I mean, I know I sent you a text about it, but thank you. It was sweet.”

“No problem,” Arthur says. “Happy birthday. Sorry we missed it.”

“We should do a birthday do-over,” Eames muses. “And all go out and celebrate.”

“Can we film that?” asks Kalinda hopefully.

“Well, that’s up to Julia,” says Eames.

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” says Julia.

Chapter Text

Ariadne and Gon give updates on where they stand on design projects. They stepped up a lot more while Eames was dealing with his father, and Arthur has never been prouder of them, or happier that they’re here for Eames. He loves how they seem to have settled into their confidence, into the way their designs play off each other’s and Eames’s input.

“There are so many penises,” Ariadne says of Mick’s house. “There are just so many penises. There are penises everywhere.”

“I think there’s not quite as many as all that,” says Gon.

“I see penises everywhere,” insists Ariadne.

“Basically Ariadne is interpreting every long cylindrical thing in Mick’s house to be a phallus,” says Gon.

“Because they all are,” Ariadne says.

“Are penises long cylinders?” Eames asks. “Is that how we would define them?”

“This is the kind of stuff I wish we had the cameras on for,” Kalinda says mournfully.

“Don’t worry,” Arthur tells her, “I bet Eames will happily muse about penis adjectives on-camera.”

“Anytime,” Eames agrees affably.

“The real issue is how much is the network going to need to blur out Mick’s house,” continues Arthur.

“Are you kidding?” Kalinda says. “They are going to love it. They’ll post the uncensored version online and people will eat it up.”

“Told you, darling,” Eames says smugly, but tempers it by kissing Arthur’s right eyebrow.

Kalinda says, “What about the status of the Niles project?”

“Have we installed the fluffy ceiling?” Eames asks. (kerlyssa)

“The what?” says Arthur.

“The fluffy ceiling,” Eames says. “We’re putting in a fluffy ceiling.”

“What’s a fluffy ceiling?” asks Arthur.

“A ceiling that’s fluffy,” says Eames.

“Eames,” says Arthur, because that’s not helpful.

“It’s cool,” Ariadne says.

“Right, but the Nileses specifically said they wanted a ceiling,” Arthur says.

“And they have one,” Eames replies calmly. “A fluffy one. Darling, that ceiling was dangerous, it had to be stopped.”

“Surely it would have been stopped by proper engineering and completed construction,” Arthur points out.

“And fluffiness,” says Eames.

Arthur decides it might not be even worth arguing, so he changes the subject. “And what about the Bigs?” he asks.

“And their tiny house,” adds Eames.

“They think your cottage is the way to go,” Kalinda says. “They’ve got Victor helping them find land. They’re going to use the land for a lot of additional outbuildings. Victor’s convinced them. He’s great. It’s opened up possibilities for the design.”

“So are we even still involved?” Arthur asks, confused.

“Oh, yes. They’re clear they want an Eames design.”

“Excellent,” Ariadne says, pleased. “Because I rock tiny houses.”

Chapter Text

Kalinda spends a little time discussing their upcoming schedule in broad strokes, not just the upcoming clients but general things about their schedule. What, for instance, will they do for the Fourth of July? Because the network would like to film some scenes.

Eames says, “Oh, no. Now we have to do something for the Fourth of July.” They go and see fireworks every year, because Eames loves fireworks and finds them very inspirational, but other than that their Fourths of July are lowkey. They have never really done the barbecue thing, and anyway Arthur’s always wondered how much Eames feels like celebrating the Fourth of July.

“We’ll have to get back to you on that,” Arthur says.

“Fair enough,” says Kalinda. “Just, if it’s going to be in public or involve the public, give me enough leeway to get the filming permissions in place and stuff.”

Arthur nods.

“Also on the calendar in July,” says Kalinda, “is Arthur’s birthday.”

Arthur is momentarily surprised. He knows of course that his birthday is coming up, but he hasn’t really been thinking about how near it actually is.

Eames says immediately, “No birthday filming. The birthday celebrations are private,” and he says it in his firm tone of voice, no teasing about it, so Arthur knows he isn’t even being double-entendre-y about the meaning of birthday celebrations there.

Kalinda says, “At all?” not accusatorily, just to clarify, and looks at Arthur.

Arthur understands Eames’s impulse. Like the off-limits bedroom, there should be certain things about their private lives that are just unfilmable, that aren’t done for performative purposes. And Arthur agrees that birthdays should be on that list.

He says to Kalinda, “Celebrations are private, but we’re happy to talk about them on film later, I think. Like we did with the river hallways.” Arthur looks to Eames for confirmation.

Eames nods. “Yes. That’s fine.”

“Okay,” says Kalinda, making a note. “I think that’s everything on the agenda, and we’ve been over your client list, so now it’s just the random odds and ends. For instance, Sumiko and the aquarium.”

Yes,” says Eames enthusiastically. “We have selected fish.”

“You’ve selected them?” Julia says. “Like how? You go to a lobster tank and point?”

“No,” says Eames. “You just tell Sumiko which types. We are very excited.”

“Very excited,” Arthur agrees drily, because he did help Eames select the fish, sprawled on the living room floor flipping through fish catalogues, while Eames ooh-ed and aah-ed and said things like, “Do you think this fish has a gregarious personality?”

“And I am going to be allowed to have seahorses,” Eames says. “I talked to Sumiko and we’ve developed this plan for the aquarium where the seahorses will be in a different tank, because they have particular needs.”

“You already have multiple tanks going on?” asks Ariadne, sounding amused.

“I thought you were starting small?” says Gon.

“This is us starting small,” says Arthur. “We haven’t torn down any walls or anything. We’re being very restrained.”

Eames nods.

“When do you think the fish will be installed?” Kalinda asks. “We’d want to film that.”

“Of course,” Eames agrees.

“We’ll check with Sumiko and keep you posted,” says Arthur.

Paul says, “On the subject of fish, I have a surprise for all of you.”

“You’re getting fish, too?” asks Eames with interest.

“I really hope that’s not the announcement,” Julia says, “because I think surprises should be more fun than ‘getting some fish.’”

“What’s more fun than fish?” asks Eames, sounding offended on the fish’s behalf.

“Lots of things,” says Julia emphatically. “Lots and lots of things are more fun than fish.”

Paul says, “Can I reveal my surprise now?”

“Not like that,” Eames says. “You’re supposed to have build-up to a surprise! Reveal it with a flourish! Create some delicious suspense!”

Paul says, “The river hallways are almost done. We should be able to have an on-camera reveal next week.”

And everyone at the table gasps.

Chapter Text

Arthur, in the middle of drafting a response to Saito about their promotional schedule, says suddenly, “Do you even like to celebrate the Fourth?”

Eames peeks his head out from underneath the coffee table, where he’s sketching some sort of new penis-patterned fabric for Mick’s house. Eames is at this point going to have an entire line of penis-patterned fabrics. “Why wouldn’t I like to celebrate the Fourth?” asks Eames. “Because I’m British?”

“It’s not really your holiday,” Arthur points out.

“Let me tell you something,” Eames says. “When I celebrate the Fourth, I just think to myself the whole time, Your loss.”

Arthur laughs. “Fair enough.”

Eames keeps himself half out from underneath the coffee table so they can talk. “What do you think we should do for the camera celebrations?”

“I was thinking something nice and worthwhile,” Arthur says. “Not just a barbecue or something. Like, something to give back to the community a little bit. I’ve got to think about it a little bit more.”

“I like that idea,” says Eames. “And then fireworks at night, of course.”

“Of course,” agrees Arthur. “As for the birthday thing.”

“Don’t worry your head about your birthday,” Eames assures him. “I’ve got it under control.”

“I wasn’t worried about it,” Arthur says honestly. “I’m looking forward to it.” Eames is amazing at birthdays; it’s why Arthur feels he should be amazing at birthdays in return. “I just want to make sure it’s okay we’re going to be interviewed about it afterwards.”

Eames nods. “Yeah, it makes sense. Your river hallway comment was a sensible one. We talk about that aspect of my birthday, just not other ones. So we’ll talk about which aspects of your birthday we want to make public. For instance, we wouldn’t want to talk about the incredible birthday blowjob I’m going to give you. Or would we?” Eames waggles his eyebrows at Arthur.

Arthur rolls his eyes. And then watches Eames sketch penises for a little while. And then says abruptly, “It’s weird. I mean, I love it. But it’s weird.”

“What’s weird, darling?” Eames asks absently. “Surely not my blowjobs. My blowjobs are incredible.”

“The way we have to have whole detailed conversations about what we are and are not making public. Like, now I feel like we’ve been doing it for long enough that we just do it, but it wasn’t always how we did things, and it’s not how other people do things.”

Eames looks up at him thoughtfully. “And does it bother you?” Eames asks.

Arthur considers the question seriously. “No. I don’t think it does. Just every once in a while it occurs to me how unusual we are, and I wonder if it should bother me more.”

Eames smiles at him. “Darling. We’re dazzlingly unusual. We should just embrace it.”

Chapter Text

In the morning, Eames practically kills Arthur by making him close his eyes to go down the river hallways and being terrible at guiding him.

Arthur says, “I walked by these hallways last night. They’re shrouded.”

“I know they’re shrouded, but I don’t want to take a risk that you see anything,” says Eames. “There must be a big grand camera reveal for Kalinda.”

“You haven’t seen the finished product yet either,” Arthur points out.

“No,” Eames agrees. “I am also going to be surprised.”

“Then why am I the only one of us who has to keep his eyes closed?”

Eames laughs, then says, “Because you look so bloody sexy doing it, kitten.”

Arthur sighs and says, “Yes, but you think I look sexy no matter what I do.”

“Because you do. Because I speak the truth. Twitter agrees. You’re still way more shaggable than I am in hashtags. The fandom doesn’t lie.”

“That’s not true,” says Arthur.

“You can open your eyes, we’re in the kitchen now. It’s not true that the fandom doesn’t lie? So many double negatives there!”

“It’s not true that I’m more shaggable than you are.”

“Darling,” Eames says fondly.

Arthur rolls his eyes and looks at Timothy, who is frying bacon and says, “Dare I ask what any of this is about?”

“No,” says Arthur.

“Weird sex games,” says Eames.

“I figured,” says Timothy.

Chapter Text

The unveiling of the river hallways is such an enormous production that Arthur feels like there ought to be a brass band set up. When he says this, Eames says, “Like when the kids enter the Willy Wonka factory?” because of course Eames has a Willy Wonka reference at the ready.

Arthur says, “I suppose.”

Eames says, “It’s true that the river hallways are almost as big a deal as Wonka opening his chocolate factory.”

“I am so glad all of this is being filmed,” says Arthur drily.

“So is Kalinda,” Eames grins.

Kalinda herself says, “Okay, meal tickets, remind us of the saga of the river hallways and why we should care.”

“We should care because they are glorious,” says Eames. “Everyone is going to want river hallways.”

“I bought Eames river hallways for his birthday,” Arthur says, to remind the viewing audience, “and now the gift has finally come to fruition.”

“Behold,” says Eames grandly, “our river hallways.” He gestures toward Paul.

Paul begins the process of gathering up the tarp he’s thrown over the river hallways. It’s a slow process.

Eames says, “Paul. This was meant to be dramatic.”

“I wasn’t going to hook up, like, a whole contraption,” Paul says, still patiently gathering tarp.

Eventually, the river hallways stand ready, in all their gleaming glory.

They have unusually wide hallways because of the unusual pedigree of their house, and the river portion hugs one side, a few feet of sinuous, undulating, woven glass. Arthur likes the effect of the woven glass, the way it makes the sand and stones and carefully placed sea glass underneath even more wavery and watery. Except there…is no water.

Eames is, for the camera’s benefit, explaining about the woven glass and its purpose, and demonstrating how it can be walked on safely, and then he turns to Arthur. “What do you think, darling?”

“I like it,” Arthur answers slowly, “but it’s not what I expected.”

“How so?”

“I thought there’d be…water,” Arthur says.

“Aha.” Eames looks like the cat who ate the canary. He says, “Watch this,” and then he walks to the end of the hallway and flips a switch on their light panel that previously had had no purpose. Eames had insisted on extra empty flips on their light switch panels, for possible future additions, and it clearly did come in handy.

As he flips the switch, water beings to flow: at first a slow trickle, and then a steady stream, so that it sounds like there’s a babbling brook in their hallway.

Arthur has to admit it’s nice. It’s even kind of lovely. He looks at the flash of the water passing underneath his feet, underneath the woven glass, and smiles.

“What about now?” Eames asks. “What do you think now?”

“River hallways,” Arthur says, shaking his head a little but he knows his dimples are in evidence. “Leave it to you to come up with this.”

“You like it?” asks Eames, ever-eager to please.

“Yes, actually,” Arthur says. “All that drama to get to the finished product was worth it. But it was your birthday present. The more important thing is if you like it.”

“I love it,” says Eames, Christmas-morning look intact, and looks down at the water rushing underneath his feet. “It’s like this beautiful piece of performance art that’s all ours. I love it.”

And Arthur looks from Eames’s contented smile directed toward the river hallway beneath his feet to Paul, calmly folding his tarp. He says, “Thank you, Paul. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Paul actually looks up and grins.

Chapter Text

Ordinarily, for a night out, they wouldn’t bother to get excessively dressed up. In fact, they are more likely to dress extremely casually for a night out, in order to minimize recognition. But this night out is for Julia’s birthday drinks, to be captured on camera, and so Arthur is spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what he should wear. He knows what to wear for ordinary filming. It would be overkill to show up for Julia’s birthday drinks in a suit.

He listens to Eames in the bedroom, chatting on Skype to his parents, as he frowns at his well-organized clothes in his closet. Eames’s father is still doing well. He is grumbling only mildly about the new diet.

Eames says, “We’re going to have Timothy make up some recipes for you. Right, darling?”

Arthur had retreated into the closet in case Eames had wanted a little bit of privacy with his parents, but upon being summoned, he comes back out into the bedroom and leans into the Skype window, waving. “Hi,” he says.

Eames’s parents wave back, and they do look hale and hearty and in good spirits.

“Timothy makes the best food,” Arthur says. It’s not really in Timothy’s job description to make extra recipes but Arthur will offer him some extra money. “Of course,” Arthur continues, “we could just ask the cookbook author in this relationship for some recipes.”

“Ha,” says Eames, “isn’t he hilarious?”

Arthur laughs and kisses the side of Eames’s head and then retreats back into the closet. He listens absently to the village gossip Eames catches up on, and then eventually Eames signs off and comes into Arthur’s closet and pulls him into a tight hug, face in his neck.

“He looked good,” Arthur says comfortingly, and traces his fingers soothingly over the back of Eames’s neck.

Eames nods against him. “He did. He really did.” Then he straightens and says curiously, “Whatever are you doing in this closet? When you spend this much time in your closet, I fear you are about to leave me to marry one of your ties or something.”

Arthur shrugs. “Probably your blowjobs are better than any tie’s blowjobs would be.”

“Probably?” says Eames, clearly delighted by Arthur, as he presses him back against a closet wall. Well, it’s really back against a pile of shirts but eventually they hit the wall, and Arthur’s not going to complain that their current position is wrinkling things.

He says, as Eames’s hands already start working on his belt buckle, “I have no idea what to wear tonight.”

“Nothing,” Eames says, and mouths over Arthur’s collarbone, then sucks a bruise onto the same spot. “You should wear absolutely nothing.”

“Not practical,” Arthur manages.

“No?” says Eames. “Let me show you how it works.”

Chapter Text

“Your closet floor,” Eames says, when they are sprawled out on it together, boneless and sated.

Well, Arthur is boneless and sated. He wants to think Eames is, too, except Eames is talking.

“Hmm?” Arthur says. “What about it?”

“It’s bare,” Eames says.

“We have hardwoods in the bedroom,” Arthur says after a moment. Because they do. “And I didn’t want a throw rug in the closet, remember? I thought that was silly?” They’d had a whole discussion about this.

“No, I mean.” Eames rolls onto his side and props himself up on his elbow and looks down at Arthur. “There’s no clothes on it.”

He’s saying it just to make Arthur laugh, and Arthur knows it, but Arthur doesn’t care: He laughs anyway. Arthur always laughs at Eames. It’s pretty much his default position, and he loves that. Arthur says, “I hang my clothes up. On hangers. Or fold them onto shelves.”

“Fascinating,” says Eames. “Tell me more of this mysterious thing you do.”

“It’s called organization,” Arthur says, into the fond kiss Eames leans over to press onto his mouth.

Eames says, “Organization. How very sexy.”

“Stop,” Arthur mumbles into the kiss. “As if you could entertain a second round right now—”

“Offended,” Eames murmurs, with a nip of teeth against Arthur’s lip. “Indignant.”

“—we don’t have time because I have to figure out what I’m wearing to Julia’s birthday drinks.”

“Wear something gorgeous, darling,” Eames says, as if that has solved all issues.

Arthur rolls his eyes. “It’s not that easy. It has to be right for the occasion. It’s difficult to dress just right for each and every occasion.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on you to be the fashionable one, isn’t there?” Eames remarks, pulling back from his kissing to prop himself up on his elbow again.

“The pressure is internal,” Arthur says honestly. “I want to be dressed properly for every occasion for my own peace of mind. What are you wearing to Julia’s birthday drinks?”

“While shopping for Mick’s house,” says Eames, “I came across a stunning penis-print shirt.”

“Fuck you,” Arthur says, laughing.

“What? You cannot deny that Julia will love it.”

“No, she definitely will, it’s perfect. That’s why I curse you.”

Eames laughs in return.

Chapter Text

Placeholder chapter! I went to a dinner party tonight and meant to post before I left and didn't. Sorry! See you tomorrow!

Chapter Text

In the end, Arthur settles for one of his pairs of well-fitting jeans (Arthur doesn’t really own any other type of clothing but “well-fitting”) and a lovely checked shirt in various shades of blue whose sleeves he rolls up, both as a concession to the wave of heavy humid weather that has descended upon them and as an indication of his casual nature.

Julia calls him on it right away. “Look at you! All dressed down! In my honor?”

“In your honor,” Arthur agrees, and kisses her cheek.

“Your makeup looks okay,” she allows grudgingly, because the network sent over a substitute makeup artist to allow Julia to fully take the night off.

“He did his best,” Arthur says gallantly, “but he was no you.”

“There’s only so much you can do to tamp down on Arthur’s feral sexuality,” Eames points out. “He tried his best to make him fit to be seen in public.”

“But even so you totally ravished him on the way, didn’t you?” says Julia.

“Still hunting for details on our sex life,” Eames says fondly, and taps the tip of Julia’s nose.

“Can you blame me?” asks Julia. “It is my birthday. All I want from my birthday is a sexy Armes tell-all.”

“The Internet is literally full of them,” Eames says. “Luisa can tell you all about them.”

“All about what?” asks Luisa, and blithely ties a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue as if it takes no effort at all, because of course Luisa can do that.

“The fic,” Eames says. “Julia is looking for some juicy fic.”

“I especially like the gender-swapped ones,” says Luisa.

Kalinda says, from where she’s cozied up next to Luisa, “Stop filming me, Dev, we’re supposed to be pretending some form of objectivity.”

“The network doesn’t want you to be friends with us?” Eames says.

“I don’t know what the fandom will think,” says Kalinda.

“We can poll them right now,” Eames says. “Take a selfie with me.”

“Eames,” Kalinda only half-protests, posing for the selfie.

Eames tweets it with, Me with our astonishing director, who puts up with us every day. Isn’t it nice to be friends with the people you work with?

“Well, I mean,” says Kalinda, reading the tweet. “Who’s going to argue with that?”

Timothy!” exclaims Julia suddenly, jumping up to greet Timothy, who has just walked out onto the terrace they’ve been given, looking a little shy. Timothy doesn’t usually come to these events, and is slightly more subdued than the rest of the crowd, Arthur thinks. Actually, it occurs to Arthur, he might get along well with Gon.

It obviously occurs to Julia, too, because she says, “Look, everyone! Timothy came to my birthday! Timothy, come sit next to Gon, Gon knows everything about everything.”

“That’s not true,” Gon protests.

“It’s kind of true,” Ariadne says, “the other day you told me three interesting facts about wolf spiders, just, like, out of the blue.”

“Those are useful things to know.”

“Why were you talking about wolf spiders?” Eames asks. “Did you see one? Are they living in my laundry? Dammit, I should clean my closet out every once in a while, shouldn’t I?”

“Yes,” Arthur says. “And not just because spiders might be living in it but because it might make your husband happy.”

Eames grins across at him, and everyone at the table coos, “Aww! Husband!” like Arthur is adorable.

And then a waiter arrives with drinks for the whole table.

Eames says, “Oh, we haven’t ordered yet.”

“Only vodka tonight, everyone,” Julia says. “Birthday girl’s orders.”

“Oh,” says Eames, tipping a knowing smile Arthur’s way, “this evening is about to get delightfully messy.”

Chapter Text

It doesn’t get as messy as all that, actually. Or, maybe Arthur doesn’t think so because that’s just a testament to how comfortable he’s become with this group of people. Even with the cameras steadily on them, they have relaxed, playful conversations, and Arthur thinks he and Eames don’t have the market cornered on banter, their friends all excel at it.

That might be why they’re friends.

“So,” remarks Julia eventually, “this totally got lost, but can we talk about Arthur’s ex-boyfriend Victor.”

“Oh, God,” Arthur says, sure the tips of his ears are red.

“I find it difficult to believe that you didn’t know that was Arthur’s ex-boyfriend, Luisa,” remarks Julia. “Surely Saito demands more thoroughness from his hired help.”

“Truthfully,” Luisa says, “I knew they knew each other. The dating detail wasn’t uncovered in my research. I just thought it would be fun for Arthur to work with an old friend from his more conventional real estate days.”

“It’s not really your fault,” Arthur says. “It was hardly a neon-lights sort of relationship.”

“Neon-lights?” echoes Eames.

“Yes,” Arthur says. “Like, I imagine all of your relationships magnificently exploded and leave epic radioactive trails behind them in the form of naked photos or Alec Hart.” There was laughter around the table. “My relationships weren’t like that.”

“Arthur’s relationships were subtle,” Julia says. “They flew under the radar.”

“Exactly,” Arthur agrees. “It wasn’t intentional or anything, it’s just—”

“It’s just that you’re sweetly protective of personal relationships for someone who lives their life on television,” Eames says, smiling at him. “It’s why your boundaries are so careful.”

“That makes sense,” says Kalinda.

“Well,” says Luisa, “in the future I would like a complete list of all the people you’ve ever had sex with.” (jujubean)

Eames laughs, and then says, “Wait, are you being serious? You know I can never tell and that makes you terrifying.”

Luisa smiles sweetly at him.

Kalinda says, “To get back on the topic of Victor, he’s sad that everything ended the way it did. I think he’d love to have dinner with you two or something.”

“He probably wants to know all about the sex club,” Julia remarks.

“Well,” Arthur says blandly, “he has to fill out the form and get approved first.”

Chapter Text

“My dream,” Eames announces drunkenly, “is to sign a breast.”

“Oh, God,” says Arthur, and immediately looks at the cameras. “Cut that. We need to cut that. Do you know how many breasts we’re going to be confronted with if that gets left in?”

“Yeah, you keep saying that and I don’t get it. Why do you want to sign a breast?” Julia asks. “Are you even interested in breasts?”

“I have, in the past, been interested in breasts,” says Eames, “but no, I am interested in no one’s breasts but Arthur’s. Obviously.”

Everyone at the table more or less mutters obviously in agreement.

Eames says, “I just think signing a breast would be amazing.”

“I think it would be hard,” says Ariadne frankly. “I mean, like.” She pokes at her breasts. “Is that a good writing surface?”

All of the women around the table poke at their breasts experimentally.

Timothy looks like he is never going out with any of them again.

“We are not always like this,” Arthur tells him.

“Can I have more vodka?” asks Timothy faintly.

A waiter appears, just as Luisa says, “Does it have to be a breast? Could it be any body part?”

“A cheek would be cool,” says Gon.

“We are Dream Bigger House Services,” Eames says. “Does that sound like dreaming bigger? A cheek?”

“If it were an ass cheek,” says Julia.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” says Eames.

“I have to protest,” Arthur says. “I don’t think that’s sanitary.”

“Can we,” asks Paul, with intense patience, “get off the subject of what Eames would and would not do with an ass?”

Eames grins.

Arthur says, “With pleasure.”

Ariadne says, “Oh! I meant to tell you! I want to a restaurant with river hallways, and someone fell in one right in front of me.” (caitalicia)

“They should have used woven glass,” Eames says. “Fuck, why doesn’t everyone consult with me before doing anything?”

Chapter Text

Eames is having fun asking Paul and Gon questions about basic science in the most serious tone of voice, and even though Paul and Gon should absolutely know they are being wound up, Arthur can hear the escalating exasperation as they respond to Eames, and can hear how tickled Eames is growing in response, as Julia and Ariadne pile on to the chaos. Kalinda and Luisa have ducked off, to either deal with the cameras or make out or assassinate someone. Who knows. Arthur finds himself walking with Timothy to the parking lot, and he says, as it occurs to him, “Oh. There was something I wanted to ask you.”

“Ask away,” says Timothy. “At least I know you’re not going to ask me if I can work more raw cake batter into my dinners.”

“Has Eames asked you that?” asks Arthur, momentarily sidetracked.

Timothy gives him a look.

“Of course Eames has asked you that,” sighs Arthur.

“It was confusing,” Timothy says. “I think he wanted me to use the cake batter as a marinade? Or something? But then how would it remain raw? Because I would cook the meat.”

“Eames would probably eat raw meat, too,” says Arthur.

“Let’s not test that theory,” says Timothy.

“Agreed,” says Arthur. “Before I ask my question, I should probably just issue a blanket apology for—”

“Okay,” Timothy says. “Stop right there.” He stops walking and looks at Arthur and says, “You know I love this job, right? I think the two of you are great. You routinely make me jealous with how kind and appreciative you are to each other, and that is so rare and so lovely to see in a relationship, and it shouldn’t be, but it’s amazing. You’re funny, generous, nice people. I’m not just saying that because you pay my salary and I’ve had a lot of vodka.” Timothy pauses. “Well, actually maybe the vodka has something to do with this.”

Arthur swallows thickly and says, “We’re so lucky to have you.”

Timothy smiles. “See? That’s what I mean. You’re just kind and appreciative people.”

“And I’m about to ask you for a favor,” Arthur says guiltily, because this feels like a set-up.

“It’s fine,” Timothy says easily. “Don’t worry about it. What is it?”

“Eames’s dad needs to follow a more heart-healthy diet, and we were wondering if you might have ideas for things that they could make that they might like. We’ll pay you for your time, of course—”

“It’s no trouble at all. Of course I’m happy to help,” Timothy says warmly. “Does his taste in flavors mimic Eames’s?”

Arthur considers. “Mostly. So it’ll probably be a challenge.”

“You don’t work for the two of you,” remarks Timothy, “without loving a challenge.”

Chapter Text

They tumble into bed together, too urgently exhausted for sex.

Arthur murmurs, “Oh, I talked to Timothy.”

“About how amazing we are?” Eames rejoins.

“No,” says Arthur.

“Whyever not?” says Eames. “You should have. You should always be talking about how amazing we are.”

“You don’t think that would sound a tad egotistical?” asks Arthur drolly.

“Fine, you should always be talking about amazing I am, at least,” Eames amends.

“I don’t tell you you’re amazing enough?” asks Arthur, deciding against teasing in favor of fondness, because it just feels like that kind of evening. He ducks forward to kiss Eames’s neck.

A chuckle rumbles through Eames’s chest. “No, you do. Really, it’s very bad for me.”

“I’m kind of okay with the you I’ve got. I’ll let you know when I have objections.”

“By ceasing to tell me how amazing I am?”

“Probably.” Arthur cuddles into Eames, breathing him in, and feeling…so devastatingly in love. He says, “I asked Timothy about coming up with some recipes for your dad.”

“Oh.” Eames sounds pleased. “What did he say?”

“He said he’d be happy to. And that he likes working for us. And that you once asked if he could use raw cake batter as a marinade for meat…?”

“Ah, yes. Well, I mean. It was just a question.”

“Don’t include that as a recipe in your cookbook,” says Arthur.


Chapter Text

The resumption of regular filming means the return of the Bigs, and of Victor. Because the network did some filming while Arthur and Eames were in England, Victor comes to Worcester, rather than Arthur and Eames going back upstate. And because their workplace is basically their house, Victor is sitting in their kitchen while Julia applies his makeup. Such is Arthur’s life at the moment. He walks in to find his husband conversing casually with one of his ex-boyfriends.

“Hello,” Eames and Victor say to him.

Arthur knew Victor would be here this morning and he thought he’d braced for it but he still feels a little wary, and he doesn’t even know why. He can’t think of a single thing Eames and Victor could say to each other that would change anything about his relationship with either one of them. Arthur supposes it’s just a general unsettledness from two different chapters of his life meeting up with each other.

“Hi,” he says pleasantly, accepting the coffee Luisa hands on him. “How are you, Victor? Good to see you again.”

“Don’t worry, darling, he was saying nothing but good things about you,” Eames assures Arthur, and kisses underneath his jaw on his way in search of the least healthy breakfast option in the house.

“Really, I was just asking after Eames’s father,” Victor defends himself.

“He was,” Julia says. “It was all totally on the up-and-up. Frankly a little disappointing, I was hoping for some sex secrets to get spilled.”

“Don’t mind Julia,” Luisa says, “she’s our resident vicarious liver.”

“Ha,” Julia says, “I’ll have you know my sex isn’t just vicarious anymore.”

“Can we get off the topic of Julia’s sex?” Arthur asks, and pretends that he isn’t also going to eat the least healthy option he can.

“So did Arthur have a sex club thing when you two were going out?” Julia asks Victor.

“I don’t approve of this subject, either,” Arthur says. “In case anyone cares.”

“No, the sex club thing is a new thing,” Victor says. “Is that going to be on the house tour later?”

“No,” Eames says, “not until your background check comes in clear, which could be some time. In the meantime, we are happy to show off our new river hallways.”

Chapter Text

Victor gets a full tour of the house (save the sex club room, because they never show the sex club room, and their bedroom, because ditto, and the fact that those are the two rooms in that category Arthur doesn’t dwell on), because frankly Eames can’t resist showing off their house, and Arthur can never deny Eames the pleasure of showing it off. Nor, Arthur admits, does he ever get tired of watching people be impressed by Eames.

The in-law suite they’re working on has made actual progress. It’s a surprisingly staid and respectable place, and Arthur knows that’s mostly out of deference to Laura, who finds Eames’s sense of adventurous design adorable but can only take it in limited doses. So the in-law suite has almost normal floors and walls and ceilings.

The indoor forest is still nothing more than a room.

“It will be an indoor forest,” Eames explains. “Someday.” As if he can will it into being just by saying it forcefully enough. And who knows? It’s Eames. He probably can. “We just haven’t had time recently to address all of the structural issues. The engineering report is madness.”

“It’s almost as if this building was built to house stores instead of forests,” remarks Arthur.

Victor laughs.

Eames grins and kisses Arthur’s chin.

In the living room, Eames shows off the wall that’s going to become an aquarium, and sings the praises of seahorses, and also Sumiko. He ends with, “Do you have any fish, Victor?”

“No,” says Victor. “I have a cat.”

“A cat,” repeats Eames thoughtfully.

“I think we should start small,” Arthur reminds Eames. “Make sure we can keep the seahorses alive.”

“Fair enough,” says Eames, and then turns to Victor, “Now you get to see the latest and greatest part of the house: our river hallways.”

The thing about the river hallways is…they’re fucking spectacular and Arthur adores them. The process of the construction may have been absurd, and there may have been a lot of times when Arthur couldn’t see the vision clearly and had to just trust Eames, but he loves the result. He finds the sound of the water soothing when he’s working in his office, when it is dim in the background, and he thought he would find it annoying, but he likes it. And he loves the way the flash of the water over the shimmering stones, underneath the undulating glass, seems to lighten up the whole hallway. He hadn’t expected that but everything about the hallway feels more expansive and inviting.

And Arthur had never worried about the expansiveness and invitingness of their hallway before and now he can’t believe he didn’t.

Victor is suitably impressed. He spends a little while standing on the woven glass, watching the water pass beneath him, and then looks up with a grin. “This makes me want to have a house with wider hallways, just so I could have space for this.”

Arthur says blandly, “Dream Bigger House Services could probably help out with that.”

Chapter Text

They set up in Arthur’s office, Arthur behind his desk, Eames in the squashy chair Arthur usually uses, and Victor on the couch that is usually Eames’s domain. Victor doesn’t sprawl on the couch the way Eames does, and it’s a little jarring to see someone sitting on the couch properly.

The cameras set up, and Kalinda says, “Okay, so the purpose of this little conversation is to catch up on the status of the Bigs.”

“Can we also debate Marvel Universe Chrises?” asks Eames.

Kalinda shrugs. “Go for it. Whatever.”

Victor says, “Evans. Is Evans the right answer?”

Arthur says, “A less controversial topic of conversation would be the—would be Big Don and Big Dan and their house hunt. How’s that going?”

“Well,” says Victor, settling easily into business, and Arthur remembers why he liked him in the first place. “Your cottage idea was a good one. It really got them to thinking: they want to go smaller, but does it have to be tiny.”

“It should also have got them to thinking about something else,” interjects Eames.

Victor looks at him. “Which is?”

“They feel overwhelmed by their obligations and hobbies. They want a tiny house because they want simplification. It’s wrong for them, of course, their lifestyle just wouldn’t fit and they’d be miserable.”

“But,” Arthur picks up the flow, “what it means is that they’re really more in need of organization than a tiny house. They would feel better if everything they’re trying to juggle had a place.”

“Which is really where I come in,” Eames finishes, “I just need them to get a place big enough that I can help with that.”

“Well,” says Victor, “we’ve found a cottage they really like. I’ve been handling the negotiations over for it, and I think we’ve got a deal. So I think they’ll be eager to show it to you for decorating ideas. And I am most eager to hear how you are going to reconcile two apparently opposing tastes.”

“The way to reconcile opposing tastes,” Eames says, “is to remember one important thing: that there is one thing on which they absolutely agree.”

“And that thing is what?” asks Victor curiously.

“They theoretically like each other. So they just need to view everything through the lens of that common point of agreement.”

Chapter Text

The Bigs arrive, are made up, and go off to do their interview. Arthur and Eames and Victor and Julia and Luisa sit in the kitchen and play games of Fuck Marry Kill, until Victor says, “So this is your life, huh?”

“Not always,” Arthur says, feeling oddly self-conscious all of a sudden. He’d relaxed, Victor fitting into the dynamic of their group easily, but now he remembers that he’s really an outsider, with an outsider’s perspective, and Arthur’s never really sure how they look to outsiders. After all, a huge number of fans think they’re fairy-tale perfect and some other number of fans thinks they must be faking everything. “To be honest, most of the time our work is just like regular real estate work. It’s just interspersed with this other stuff.”

Eames says, “Is it just like regular real estate work? I’m not even sure I know what a ‘regular’ interior designer does.”

“That’s because nothing about you would ever have been ‘regular,’” Arthur says drily, “even if you had tried to pursue the most regular career.”

“I know the television thing was a surprise for Arthur,” Victor says, looking at Eames, “but did you always want to be on TV?”

Eames smiles, reflective and fond. “No. Not really. I mean, who doesn’t dream of being rich and famous? But I had no special ambition for television. It just seemed like a lark. I thought I’d do it for a few weeks or something and then move on.”

“A few weeks,” Victor says, marveling. “Now look at you.”

“Well, you see, I met Arthur,” says Eames. “And that was the end of everything.”

“You bantered,” Victor says.

“I fell in love,” Eames corrects.

“That, too,” says Victor, and smiles at Arthur.

Arthur feels vaguely uncomfortable. He knows Victor never thought they were in love, or serious, or long-term, but he doesn’t like the fact that now Victor is clearly thinking about what’s different about Eames. He says, “Television is a weird career. We think of ourselves as working with houses first and foremost.”

“Dream Bigger?” Victor says.

“Exactly,” says Arthur.

“But we get to be television celebrities on the side,” Eames says. “And that’s amazing. I decided to make television one day on a lark, and then I met Arthur, and then I ended up here. All because I met Arthur and decided to stay put in television much longer than I thought.”

Arthur is a little surprised by this, just because Eames is, of the two of them, the one Arthur would have thought was more seduced by television, and more comfortable with it, and liked it more. They’ve never really discussed the idea that Eames had been ready to move on. It betrays a streak of pragmatism Paul might not have recognized.

“And now look,” Eames continues. “Luckiest man in the world, that’s me.”

“Aww,” Julia says. “What a romantic love story.”

“What I love about the two of you,” says Victor, “when I watch you on television, is how much you seem to appreciate each other. And that’s just so rare in this day and age. But you two look like you like each other, and you love each other, and you appreciate how rare a combination that can be sometimes, and you cherish it, and I think that’s lovely. I’m happy for you both, of course, but just, really, Arthur, don’t take it the wrong way that I’m a teensy bit jealous.” Victor smiles, wide and unblemished, and Arthur decides not to take it the wrong way, because he thinks he understands what Victor means.

Chapter Text

They film with the Bigs in the dining room, which is where they tend to go if more than three people are involved, since otherwise Arthur’s office is overwhelmed.

Big Don says, “Victor’s been helping us.”

Big Dan says, “The house has wood.”

Big Don says, “It doesn’t have enough appliances.”

Big Dan says, “We think we need double everything.”

Big Don says, “But Victor says you can work magic.”

Eames, recognizing this statement is directed at him, says gravely, “I work all kinds of magic. So much magic. Isn’t that right, darling?”

“It’s just magic one hundred percent of the time around here,” Arthur agrees drily.

Eames grins and kisses his right dimple, before looking back to the Bigs. “It’s settled. Magic will be worked. What’s the budget?”

“As much as you need,” says Big Don.

“As little as you can spend,” says Big Dan.

“Alchemy is beyond my skill level,” Eames says, “so you’re going to have to decide on an actual budget with human dollars involved. I’m not just going to run around selling my body on your behalf. Although I could make a lot of money selling my body.”

“Eames,” inserts Arthur.

“Darling, obviously I would be a very successful sex worker.”

Victor looks like this is the world’s best conversation. The Bigs look irritated. Arthur glances toward the cameras and gives up a little. “The best,” Arthur says, resigned. “The best sex worker.”

Eames says expansively, “And you would be the best pimp, darling. Wouldn’t you agree, Victor?”

“What I always said about Arthur,” Victor says, amused, “is that he would make an excellent pimp.”

“It’s a skill that comes in handy when you’re a sex club manager,” Eames adds.

Arthur looks at the Bigs and says, “Have no fear. Dream Bigger House Services will give you the house of your dreams.”

Chapter Text

“You know,” Eames says later, when everyone has left and their house is just a house again instead of a filming studio, “it’s a tragic thing.”

“Is this about me not being a pimp?” asks Arthur. He’s curled up on the couch under his feather boa blanket, with a glass of wine Eames has just handed him.

Eames cocks his head at him and says, “What? I mean, not that I don’t always find it tragic that you’re not a pimp, but what?”

“We were talking about it,” Arthur says, “when the Bigs were here, about you selling your body and me being a pimp. I thought you were returning to that topic of conversation.”

“I was not,” Eames calls from the kitchen, where he’s putting the wine away, “but now I am more than happy to return to that topic of conversation.”

“No, no,” Arthur says, as Eames settles onto the couch next to him. “We can move on.”

Arthur can feel Eames’s amusement, his smile against his skin as he nips behind Arthur’s ear. “Why were you dwelling so on that conversation? Is that a secret fantasy of yours? Pimp and prostitute?”

“No,” says Arthur.

“We can make this happen. I bet an AU already exists. We could ask Luisa to—”

“We’re not asking Luisa to find sex fics for us,” Arthur says immediately. “Can we just watch Gossip Girl now?”

“No, because first I have to tell you what’s tragic. Other than you not being a pimp.”

“Oh. That’s right. What’s tragic?”

“We have a client with a 22,000-square-foot house, and he wants one thing: penises. We have a client with a one-thousand-square-foot house, and they want all the things. It’s tragic. I could design such a great penis tiny house.”

“A tiny penis house,” Arthur echoes.

“You changed the order of the words there,” says Eames.

“Well, you’re not wrong with what you say. 22,000 square feet of penis is going to get old pretty quickly.”

“Really, darling, it’s amazing I still have any interest left in your penis.”

“Yes, well, it’s because we’re a couple that appreciates each other so well.”

“That’s what Victor thinks, at least,” says Eames.

Arthur pauses. “Right,” he agrees slowly.

Eames gives him a look. “That’s what Victor told us today. Remember?”

Arthur does remember. He just also remembers that Timothy told him the same thing, walking back from Julia’s birthday drinks.


Arthur muses on it all through Gossip Girl.

Chapter Text

The next day is an important day, because it is the first reveal of their new show.

Eames is passed out in bed next to Arthur, taking up as much of the bed as he possibly can and snoring in Arthur’s ear, when Arthur wakes up the next morning. Arthur glances at the clock, sees that they have a fair amount of time before Luisa will show up and their day will begin, and takes a second to stretch luxuriously and then admire his husband next to him. The filming of this show so far has been the very definition of a roller coaster ride, with lots of enjoyable moments of triumph and a couple of extremely notable rough patches. Arthur, however, is eminently satisfied. How can he be otherwise, he thinks, on a day like today?

Eventually Arthur sighs and decides he needs to get the day started, so that he can be showered and dressed before ceding the bathroom to Eames, except that as he goes to roll out of bed, Eames’s hand snakes out and pulls him back in.

“Good morning,” Eames says, his voice sleep-rough, as he rolls over onto Arthur and traps him underneath him.

“You were just sound asleep,” Arthur says. “You were snoring.”

“It was fake snoring,” Eames says. “I only ever fake snore. I don’t snore for real.”

Arthur lifts an eyebrow at him.

Eames grins and kisses the dubious eyebrow, and then says, “It’s a reveal day.”

“It is,” Arthur agrees.

“You love reveal days,” Eames says.

“I do,” Arthur says, knowing that he’s dimpling. But he does love reveal days. Even before he and Eames got together, they were by far his favorite part of Love It or List It, getting to see what magic Eames had wrought.

“I also love reveal days,” Eames says, “because you tend to ravish me at the end of a reveal day.”

Arthur finds Eames’s designs sexy. He can’t help it. He says, “Well,” and shrugs, because he has nothing else to say about that.

Eames says, “So, in anticipation of that, how about I ravish you now, here, at the beginning of our reveal day?” Eames kisses first one dimple, then the other.

Arthur says, “I have no objection,” and Eames laughs and ravishes him.

Chapter Text

Arthur hasn’t been back to the Nileses’ place since the ceiling collapsed on him. Nor have they really talked about it on camera. Eames is a little grim in the car on the way to the apartment and Arthur says, “Do you think we should interview about it?”

Eames says, “How you almost died?” not even bothering to pretend he doesn’t know what Arthur is talking about.

“The concussion,” Arthur says, because he tries not to cast it as almost died, because he wants to keep Eames away from the full extent of terror.

Eames is silent for a second, looking out the window as Arthur drives. Then he turns to Arthur and says, “Yes. I think we should interview about it. What do you think?”

“That’s fine with me,” Arthur agrees, because he doesn’t care one way or the other. He knows he had the concussion but it really feels like something that happened to Eames, and he wants Eames to deal with it however he needs to. They’ve never discussed Eames’s father on the show, and Arthur knows they never will—they don’t discuss their parents, through explicit agreement—but maybe Eames needs to process the concussion through the medium they are both most weirdly comfortable with.

Everyone is waiting for them at the condo building for the reveal, including a knot of enthusiastic fans. Arthur and Eames go over to do their thing for the crowd, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Ariadne says, when they get back, “Look at the two of you. You look like you barely notice how weird that is.”

Arthur glances over his shoulder at the crowd and says, “Well, we’ve had time to get used to them.”

“I know,” Ariadne says, smiling at him, “I just…” And then she barrels into him in a hug, provoking an oof out of Arthur, because he hadn’t been at all braced for that. “Sorry,” Ariadne says into her chest. “Maybe I’m a little emotional this morning.”

“Aren’t we all,” remarks Eames.

Alice Niles chirrups, “Me most of all!”

Chapter Text

The condo is magnificently transformed, which Arthur had expected, but what he hasn’t entirely braced for is how very much a perfect blend of Eames and Gon and Ariadne it is. Arthur supposes that all along he’d been expecting a very Eamesian project, as if Eames would run roughshod over Gon and Ariadne, even though that’s not at all Eames’s way and he’s very good at collaboration when he does it. Arthur knows he should have expected how openly and happily Eames would embrace the input and let Gon and Ariadne have voice in the space, but he’s still taken entirely by surprise.

Eames’s playful off-hand luxuriousness is still dominant, of course. Arthur suspects it would be difficult to tone that down. Arthur certainly feels like Eames is effortlessly dominant all the time and seems to have been that way his entire life, and that Eames has learned to manage it himself so as not to overpower everything. But there’s a reason Eames is a star designer, and it’s there in the sure-handed hallmarks of his style, his impossible creativity spilling out over the edges of scientific bounds.

But Arthur can also see the threads of Gon and Ariadne woven through. He can see Ariadne’s whimsical determination. She has a tendency toward more riotous colors than Eames has, since Eames tends to design more with pattern and shape than color, and Arthur can see it in the richer tones on the furnishings.

And Gon’s grounding pragmatism is there, too, in the solidity of the woods and metals that recur throughout the space. Alice and Rusty are saying things about the kitchen, or something, but Arthur isn’t paying attention. Arthur is wandering through the design and falling in love the way he usually does, with an undercurrent this time, though, of something that feels almost like fatherly pride and is so ridiculous of him but undeniably there.

Arthur notices the camera on him, which he knew was there but he doesn’t usually notice anymore, and he wonders what his face looks like and how much the fandom will freak out over it and gif it and debate its place in his reaction gif pantheon.

Eames says, “Darling, come and see the bedroom,” and takes his hand and tugs him in behind Alice and Rusty.

Arthur tips his head back and looks at the ceiling, which is draped in soft flowing fabrics, with feathers chasing through every so often. It’s designed to look like a sky of fabric, fluffy and inviting, the sort you might want to fall into. The sort it would be super-lovely to fall asleep to.

But Arthur knows that’s not at all why the ceiling above his head is soft.

He looks at Eames, who grins at him, and he kisses him, a little bit for the cameras, but mostly for him.

Chapter Text

Kalinda interviews the Nileses first, in their new living room. Gon and Ariadne have been commandeered by Julia for fresh makeup, although Arthur suspects it’s for some kind of gossip exchange. Arthur and Eames are allowed to stand on the other side of the apartment and watch.

The Nileses seem pleased with the apartment. There are no arguments in sight.

“God knows what being happy will do to their sex life,” Eames murmurs into Arthur’s ear.

Arthur says to Luisa, “Eames and I have to spend the next ten minutes inspecting the tile in the master bath,” and takes Eames’s hand and drags him through the master bedroom into the bathroom and shuts and locks the door.

“Darling,” Eames says, sounding delighted. “That was the most obvious excuse I’ve ever seen.”

“Was it?” Arthur asks, shoving Eames up against the door.

“Are you going to ravish me now?” Eames asks, waggling his eyebrows a little.

Arthur’s plan had been to drop to his knees immediately but, well, he can’t resist leaning forward to kiss Eames when Eames looks like that. He kisses him hard, with a lot of tongue, and Eames moans and clutches him closer and says raggedly, when Arthur lets him take a breath, “Fuck, kitten, you’re not fooling around.”

“That design,” Arthur pants, and sucks a mark into Eames’s neck.

Eames gasps and says, “Christ, Julia is going to kill you.”

“That design was so you,” Arthur says, getting his hand down Eames’s pants. “And it was also so Gon. And also so Ari. And it was like you—you listened—and you let them be—who they are—and that’s what you do--and I love you more every single fucking day—and that’s not fair—you know that, right?”

“Am I meant—to be having a conversation—right now?” Eames asks, arching into Arthur’s hand.

Arthur smiles into Eames’s neck, and then Arthur carefully withdraws his hand and steps back. Eames looks completely wrecked and rumpled against the door, and opens his eyes with effort. “Darling…?” he says.

Arthur kisses the tip of his nose. “I am going to ravish you so hard,” he murmurs. “When we get home.” And then he picks up one of Eames’s hands and drops a cufflink into it.

“Fuck,” Eames says thickly.

Chapter Text

They’re supposed to be interviewing, and usually Eames is a stellar interviewer. He is doing a terrible job of it at the moment, and Arthur is pleased, mostly because the topic of the interview is his concussion, and he’d wanted Eames out of his head a bit for that.

So, because Eames is clearly severely distracted, Arthur takes the lead on the interview. He describes the accident dispassionately and clinically, in a way that he knows Eames would never approve of. When they watch this episode, Eames will be bewildered and indignant at the way Arthur is characterizing his concussion.

“It was minor,” Arthur concludes. “And I’m all better now. It was just a bit of excitement.”

“Well, it endures in at least one thing, though,” says Kalinda, leading Arthur elegantly into what she wants him to discuss.

Arthur smiles. “It does indeed: the fluffy ceiling.”

“Yes. Talk us through the fluffy ceiling, Eames.”

“What?” Eames says.

“The fluffy ceiling, Eames,” Arthur says sweetly. “The one in the Nileses’ bedroom?” He puts the slightest emphasis on the word bedroom, wonders if he’s being cruel, and then Eames gives him a look, an eyebrow raised, his lips quirked, and his eyes hot and amused and really anything but upset about the current state of affairs, so Arthur relaxes.

Eames says, “The fluffy ceiling. Yes. Well, the Nileses had expressed a preoccupation with ceilings, and ceilings are usually an overlooked part of interior design, unjustifiably so. I mean, yes, people might be obsessed with height, or a couple of beams here and there, but it’s really mostly ignored in terms of setting a room’s mood. People seem to wish for their ceilings to fade into the background most of the time. And you might get some interesting ceiling variations, such as pressed-tin, but those always seem more like set pieces that function almost like clichés than like an actual vitally important part of what the room is communicating to you. I have, in the past, tried to think more about ceilings, so I knew that, especially in a bedroom, ceilings can become playful. And that’s what I did with the Nileses’ ceiling.”

“So it’s meant to be playful?” says Kalinda.

“Yes,” says Eames. “Design should be. Absolutely. They’ve got this ceiling that is a work of art. But not in a traditional way that instantly calls to mind frescoed palaces. They’ve got a work of art that makes you stop and stare and think, ‘Oh, it looks like an ocean,’ or, ‘It looks like a cloud-rippled sky,’ or, ‘It looks like flocks of birds in flight,’ or whatever. And it’s designed so that all of the cloth can just be unhooked easily to be washed or even replaced, so they can change the mood of it really easily, to different colors, or different patterns, and even, by utilizing different hooks in different orders, changing the swoop of it and stuff. It’s an evolving work of art just for them to have fun with it, if they desire.”

“And is it fluffy because it crashed down on Arthur?” asks Kalinda.

“If I’d designed it entirely because of Arthur’s concussion,” says Eames, “there would be no ceiling. This ceiling may look fluffy and soft but it would still hurt if it fell on you. It’s just fabric draped artfully over a regular ceiling. But I think Arthur’s concussion got me thinking about how harsh many of the things around us still are. The ceiling is soft and fluffy because I was thinking about Arthur, and how much he loves soft things, how much he likes comfortable design. And I thought: What better room to put something soft and soothing and yet also playful than the bedroom? Who doesn’t want to be playful in their bedroom?” Eames smiles silkily at the camera and, below camera view, strokes Arthur’s own cufflink across Arthur’s palm.

Chapter Text

Gon and Ariadne have had their own individual interviews, and they settle in for a big group interview with Arthur and Eames looking pleased.

Arthur says, not waiting for Kalinda to ask set-up questions, “It’s gorgeous.”

“Is it?” Gon says.

“Do you love it?” asks Ariadne. “Isn’t it just perfect?”

“It’s all three of you at once,” Arthur says honestly. “It’s wonderful.”

“Can you elaborate on that a little bit?” asks Kalinda.

“Well, I mean, it’s just such a perfect blend of their styles. I can see all three of them. This isn’t just an Eames room. It’s an Eames-Gon-Ariadne room. And don’t get me wrong, I love Eames rooms. I think I’m on record in lots of different times and places as loving Eames rooms. But I like what’s added to this room. I like the sort of pivot to something a little bit different here.”

“Do you agree, Eames?” Kalinda asks. “Is it a you room, or an everyone room?”

Eames looks around the apartment. He seems more focused in this interview; they are more removed from Arthur’s attack in the bathroom. He says thoughtfully, “I really hadn’t thought about it. I designed the spaces I thought the Nileses would like. And it was a different process for me, having other people involved, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t really think about how this room feels different as a result than other stuff I’ve designed. But I think Arthur’s right: I think it does, in all the best ways. It’s subtle, but of course Arthur would pick up on it, because Arthur is extraordinarily attuned to design. He’s a genius at it. So he’s right: it’s an everyone room. We’re working on a portmanteau for us.”

“Arigoneames?” suggests Ariadne.

“You go first?” says Eames.

“And save the best for last?” Ariadne says sweetly.

“Well played,” Eames says.

Gon says, “And I’m just…in the middle?”

“We could do Gonriadneames,” Ariadne says.

“All of these are terrible,” says Arthur. “Not everything needs to have a portmanteau name.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Eames tells the camera. “He speaks nonsense.”

Chapter Text

The Nileses seem more than pleased with their apartment. They seem ecstatic. They especially love their fluffy bedroom ceiling. They gush over Eames, who graciously keeps pointing to Gon and Ariadne’s contributions, and then they drag Paul on to take some bows. Paul is reluctant, but he does say that it was nice to work with the two new designers, who contributed a great deal to the design and also made the workplace very pleasant.

Eames says jovially, “Like it wasn’t pleasant before?”

Paul considers, then says, “There was less denial of physics in this apartment than there usually is.”

“We count that among our victories,” says Ariadne gravely.

“Cheeky,” Eames says to the camera. “She’s very cheeky and possibly about to be fired.”

“Not before the tiny house,” Ariadne replies. “Tiny houses are my specialty.”

They all say good-bye to each other standing on the street outside the condo building.

Kalinda says, “First reveal day down. How’s it feel?”

“Excellent reveal day,” Eames tells everyone. “Great job. Arthur and I are off now.”

Kalinda blinks but no one else seems to, because Arthur supposes that all of their friends are used to them making hasty sex-fueled exits.

They get the car, and Eames tries to put his hand on Arthur’s leg but Arthur slaps him away, saying, “You have to look and not touch until we get home,” so that by the time they get home Eames barely waits for them to be through the door before shoving him back up against it.

“How do you know Timothy’s not here?” Arthur mumbles into the onslaught of Eames’s urgent kisses, Eames pulling clothing off of them.

“Timothy?” Eames shouts, without pausing in kissing Arthur. “See? No response. He’s not here. We can have sex on the kitchen counter.”

“Fuck,” Arthur says, because he hates how he always ends up agreeing to that in the end.

Chapter Text

“I fucking hate kitchen counter sex,” Arthur says.

They’re not on the kitchen counter anymore. They’re on the kitchen floor. It’s not much better.

Eames chuckles. “You fucking love it. Your body doesn’t lie.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Arthur says. “When you say things like that you sound like a cheesy guy in a nightclub who would have tried to pick me up.”

“Would have tried to pick you up?” says Eames.

“Yes, no one with such terrible lines would ever have succeeded in picking me up,” says Arthur. “I would have shut that down immediately. ‘Your body doesn’t lie.’” Arthur sighs and shakes his head at the ceiling overhead (it’s got a metallic tile scattered over it every so often; Eames really has always been obsessed with interesting ceilings).

“Well, it doesn’t,” says Eames, and then yawns and sits up and says, “Should we adjourn somewhere more comfortable?”

“‘Adjourn,’” Arthur echoes. “Fuck. How did I ever sleep with you?”

Eames pulls Arthur up to sitting with him, and then kisses him, one of Eames’s devastating slow kisses, his hands cupped around the back of Arthur’s head, like he can never get enough time to kiss him, like the kiss isn’t about the destination but the journey. Arthur really doesn’t care for kitchen counter sex (he just likes sex with Eames in general), but Arthur really does adore Eames’s slow, thorough kisses. They’re a special breed, not rare but not commonplace, either, and Arthur cherishes each and every one of them.

“Darling,” Eames says, and kisses the tip of his nose, “can I just say how much of a design genius you are?”

Arthur blinks, since the last thing he had expected after that kiss was…that. “What?”

“I could sit and listen to you talk about design all day. You just get it. The way you could parse through how this design was different from all of my other designs, where Gon and Ariadne’s influence came in, it’s just…no one looks at design as closely as you do. No one that I’ve ever met.”

“That’s not true,” says Arthur, vaguely embarrassed.

Eames kisses what must be the pink tip of his right ear. “It is. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with you. The way you would look at my designs, with all of that deep, profound analysis going on in your head, and I just thought that you must know me, to know my designs as well as you did, to get them as well as you did. I design for you because I know that you’ll be so thoughtful when you view the finished product. So I just want to say: your tie designs. They’re going to be phenomenal. Because you get this.”

Chapter Text

Sorry, no chapter tonight! Enjoy your Saturday and the Armes afterglow!

Chapter Text

Their next client is a change of pace for both of them, which they chose precisely because they wanted one, because these clients are looking for a workspace. Neither Arthur nor Eames has done much with work instead of play when it comes to real estate, aside from the occasional home office requirement. In fact, Arthur’s main acquaintance with workspace-hunting was when he found them the house they currently live in, which had originally been on the market with the commercial zoning emphasized. So this is Arthur’s first real time hunting for a workspace, and he’s appreciative that Jac and Issy are willing to take the chance on him.

He says that, as they settle in to film their first consultation. “Thanks for trusting me to find you a good workspace. I know it’s not ordinarily what I’m known for.”

“You find people what they need,” Issy says bluntly. “That’s why we wanted you.”

“We’re big fans,” Jac adds.

Eames says, “Yes, exactly, me, too.”

Arthur tries to pretend his ears aren’t pink. He says, “Why don’t you tell us what you’re looking for? What do you need the workspace for?”

“I need a studio,” Issy says immediately. “I sell prototype designs for clothing and prints to fashion labels, and so I’m going to need something that can be set up with traditional sewing equipment as well as more modern stuff.”

Arthur knows absolutely nothing about sewing, despite adoring fashion. He makes a little note that maybe he should ask Giacomo for thoughts on this.

Eames says with interest, “What kind of clothing? Arthur loves clothing. I mean, I suppose all of us love clothing to varying degrees, but Arthur loves it more than most.”

Issy says, “I would love to design for Arthur. I think that would be amazing. But I don’t want to barge in on Giacomo’s territory.”

Because Arthur was just thinking of bringing Giacomo into all of this, he says, “Maybe we could work out something collaborative.” And also because he’s grown to trust Giacomo over years of Giacomo helping to craft and guide his style. Arthur’s not the type to just leap into handing over control of his clothing to just anyone.

“I have other needs for how the space should be designed but that sounds like more something we need to know for Eames,” Issy says.

“Yes,” Eames says, “and once we find you the right space, we’ll have a meeting with my team about what you’re looking for.”

“For now,” Arthur says, “it’s just important to know about how much space you need. How much space will you need, Jac?”

Jac says, “I’m a chef, so I need enough space to build a kitchen that can handle multiple types of projects for my hotel and catering contracts.”

Eames’s gaze sharpens on Jac, and Arthur knows what’s coming. “A chef? Did you know I’m writing a cookbook?”

Chapter Text

Arthur is in the process of pulling buildings to show Issy and Jac, after they’re done filming, when the e-mail comes in from Victor saying that the Bigs have bought the house and are now having it moved.

Arthur goes in search of Eames and finds him on the kitchen floor, on his back, staring up at the ceiling overhead and with a few pots and pans around him.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Arthur asks.

“Writing my cookbook,” Eames says thoughtfully.

Arthur shakes his head and doesn’t ask any more questions. He says, “The Bigs have bought the house. And now they’re moving it.”

“Moving it where?”

Arthur shrugs. “Victor’s handling it.”

“That Victor is a useful fellow,” Eames says. “Handy to have around.”

“Where’s Luisa?” Arthur asks.

“Out running errands, she said. Why? Do you need her?”

“No. I didn’t want her to hear what I’m about to say,” Arthur admits, embarrassed.

“Oooh,” says Eames, and sits up. “Is it something filthy, kitten?”

“No,” Arthur says.

“Shame,” says Eames.

“Timothy said something to me, the night of Julia’s birthday drinks, that made me think about Victor. He said about wanting to find a relationship that’s as appreciative as ours is.”

Eames lifts his eyebrows and says slowly, the delight dripping off his voice, “Darling. Are you match-making?”

“No,” Arthur denies fruitlessly. “I am emphatically not match-making.” He is definitely match-making.

“Ha!” Eames crows triumphantly, and pounces on Arthur, tugging him down to the floor with him. “You’re definitely match-making.”

“It’s catching or something,” Arthur grumbles. “Contagious.”

Eames grins and dots kisses over Arthur’s eyes, Arthur’s eyelids fluttering closed to accommodate the impulse. He says, “Are you setting our home chef up with your ex-boyfriend?”

“Is that a sketchy thing to do?” asks Arthur.

“I think it’s perfect,” says Eames.

Chapter Text

Arthur waits until they are back in the Bigs’ relocated bungalow to bring up to Victor the possibility of a double date with Timothy. He hasn’t yet asked Timothy about it because he has to see Timothy much more often and he doesn’t want to cause awkwardness if he doesn’t have to.

Of course, Arthur doesn’t do it with the aplomb that Eames might have done it with, because he doesn’t make a habit of matchmaking.

The Bigs are walking Eames and Gon and Ariadne around the bungalow (which doesn’t take long), and Gon and Ariadne are furiously scribbling down notes. Eames, naturally, is taking no notes, but he is nodding very gravely and not giving away the ridiculousness of the Bigs’ contradictory demands.

Victor says, as he and Arthur stand off to the side watching the tableau, “He’s very good at his job.”

“He is,” Arthur agrees, “yes. He’s good at…taking everyone seriously, and respecting that about them. I’ve always admired that about him.”

“You do that, too,” Victor replies. “You were very patient and big-hearted with regard to the Bigs.”

“Because I have to be,” Arthur says, “as you know. The job requires it.”

“As Eames’s job requires it of him,” Victor points out.

“Yeah, but I feel like he does it naturally,” Arthur says.

“I’m sure he’s just good at making it look effortless,” Victor says, with a smile.

Arthur has to agree that Eames is pretty good at making things look effortless.

They lapse into silence, and Arthur glances around, just to make sure they’re not being filmed. Kalinda would never ambush-film him, but Arthur still likes to be aware of his surroundings before just blurting things out. Years of living his life in front of a camera has conditioned him to it.

They’re not being filmed, which Arthur supposes means he has an opening. “Um,” he says eloquently. “So.”

Victor looks at him with curious raised eyebrows.

“I was kind of thinking,” Arthur says haltingly, “about something you said, and something that I heard someone else say that was similar.”

“What thing that I said?” asks Victor, sounding curious.

Arthur shakes his head, because he doesn’t know if Victor might find it embarrassing. “It doesn’t really matter. It’s just that it occurred to me, that two people who randomly happen to share similar views on important things might be…well-suited to each other.”

Arthur could feel the open amusement in Victor’s gaze. “Are you…setting me up with someone?”

“Maybe,” Arthur hedges, determined not to be embarrassed. “If he agrees. I haven’t talked to him yet.”

Victor smiles at him. “Well, I’m in. I’m too intrigued by that not to be.”

Chapter Text

In the car on the way to the hotel the network has procured for them while they’re filming in this little upstate town that is just a bit too far from Arthur’s mother’s to make staying with her feasible, Eames says quizzically, “You okay, darling? You look…jumpy.”

“Jumpy?” echoes Arthur.

“Vibrate-y,” Eames says.

“That didn’t actually clarify anything,” Arthur says. “In case you thought it did.”

Eames just looks at him thoughtfully.

The truth is, Arthur knows what Eames is getting at, because Arthur desperately wants to talk to Eames about the Victor and Timothy thing, but Arthur also doesn’t want to tell him in front of the driver, not because he doesn’t trust the driver but because…well, because Arthur is feeling embarrassed about how this whole match-making idea and how poorly he’s probably doing it so he just wants to limit the entire circle of people who know about it.

So Arthur settles for changing the subject to, “Tell me about the design.”

“I notice that you are changing the subject,” Eames says. “And I’m going to let you, because it was a very well-executed subject change. Like everything about you. Everything about you is well-executed.” Eames waggles his eyebrows.

“That’s such a terrible line,” Arthur tells him. “You have the worst lines.”

“I have the best lines. You love my double entendres.”

“They’re incomprehensible,” says Arthur.

“You love my incomprehensible double entendres,” says Eames.

It’s true, so all Arthur says in reply is, “Tell me about the design.”

“Oh, it’s impossible,” Eames says airily. “Talk about incomprehensible. They want completely contradictory things. We are going to completely flummox them by coming up with a design that pleases them both. Gonriadne are already sketching things out.”

“I still don’t approve of that name.”

“Darling, portmanteaus just happen,” Eames tells him seriously, “whether we approve of them or not.”

Chapter Text

Julia flags them down in the lobby of the hotel, saying, “We are going out on the town tonight.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” Eames asks.

Julia frowns at him. “Does that matter?”

“No, it doesn’t matter,” says Eames, “but I like to know how much subterfuge to prepare for in the evening ahead.”

“All the subterfuge,” says Julia.

“None of the subterfuge,” says Paul, coming up on the end of the conversation. “Absolutely no subterfuge.”

“You’re no fun,” Julia tells him.

“I am all kinds of fun,” Paul replies.

“He is, he’s, like, Arthur kinds of fun,” says Eames.

Arthur says, “I am choosing to view that as a compliment.”

Eames says, “Darling, of course it is,” and the thing is, Arthur knows he means it. “Paul,” Eames says, “we should discuss design, since that is why the network has so graciously allowed you to come along.”

“Gon’s been texting me the highlights,” Paul says.

There is a moment of silence, and then Eames says dramatically, “What. Such betrayal, Paul. I hardly expected this.”

Paul says, “Gon is totally my spy on the inside. My science spy. Feeding realistic designs to you that obey the laws of physics and then telling me all about them.”

“You are both traitors,” Eames announces.

“To what?” asks Paul, visibly amused.

“Visionary dreams,” Eames says grandly. “Arthur would never betray a visionary dream, would you, darling?”

“No, but I also am not the one asked to implement the cessation of gravity,” replies Arthur.

“Thank you, Arthur,” Paul says.

“We are up for a night on the town,” Eames says. “Count us in. What should the dress code be?”

“Sex club chic, of course,” says Julia.

“That’s all Arthur owns outside of filming anyway,” says Eames.

Chapter Text

“Night on the town!” crows Eames exuberantly as they get back to their room. “How illegally sexy shall you be, darling? What trouble shall we get into? What depravity awaits us?”

“Eames, we’re in the middle of nowhere right now,” Arthur says, because they are.

“That is insulting, darling,” Eames informs him. “I’m sure there’s plenty of amazing things to do here.”

“No, there isn’t. I know because I grew up in the middle of nowhere.”

Eames grins at him and pulls him in by his belt loops and says, “Such harsh judgment,” and kisses his left dimple.

Arthur blurts out, “I think I may have set up Victor and Timothy.”

Eames pulls back from his dimple-kiss to stare down at Arthur. “What? When?”

“At work. When you were designing with Gon and Ariadne.”

“Gonriadne,” Eames corrects distractedly. “I knew that you had something up your sleeve that you were keeping from me in the car! So? How did it go?”

“I have no idea!” Arthur says. “How am I supposed to know?”

“Well, how did Victor react? Did he seem into it?”

“He said he was…” Arthur struggles to recall the exact word. “Intrigued.”

“Intrigued is good. Intrigued is how I felt when I first met you.”

Arthur lifts his eyebrows knowingly. “Really?”

“Okay, more like ‘slammed into by a lorry’ is how I felt when I first met you. But, in retrospect, probably I was intrigued.”

“Uh-huh,” says Arthur.

“My point is, intrigued is a good thing,” Eames says. “We can work with intrigued.”

“I told him that I had to talk to Timothy first. We can’t just ambush Timothy.”

“We would never just ambush Timothy. There is a finesse to all of this.”

“I feel like I ambushed Victor. I feel like I had no finesse at all.”

Eames smiles at him. “Darling, you have finesse just by breathing.”

“You’re biased,” says Arthur, rolling his eyes.

Eames laughs, and then says, “What adjective describes how you felt when you first met me?”

Arthur considers seriously, then decides, “Bewildered.”

Eames laughs again.

Arthur grins, and then follows up with, “Enchanted.”

Eames stops laughing and kisses him.

Chapter Text

The night out on the town is them, Jupaul, Gonriadne, and Kaluisa.

At least, that is how Eames refers to everyone as he greets them.

Arthur says, “I’m not doing portmanteau names.”

“Arthur is anti-portmanteau,” Eames says.

“I’m with Arthur,” Luisa says. “‘House husbands’ is definitely your cutest couple name.”

“Not Armes?” says Eames. “For shame, Luisa, I lament your taste. And I am an interior decorator. I know taste.”

“I’m torn between ordering more drinks as a distraction and cutting you off,” says Arthur drily.

Eames laughs, then says, “Anyway, we might be about to gain a new portmanteau.”

“Ooh,” Julia says. “Gossip. You have to share, it’s required.”

“We’re going to set up Victor and Timothy,” says Eames, like it’s a simple done deal.

Arthur says, “Shh,” because he thinks it makes them sound ridiculous.

Julia shrieks at a decibel that makes Arthur wince but that Paul doesn’t even flinch at. Arthur supposes that’s what makes Paul so good for Julia.

Luisa says, “Our Timothy?”

“Is he ours?” asks Eames.

“Of course he’s ours!” says Luisa. “He’s a sweetheart!”

“So is Victor,” says Eames. “Arthur only dates sweethearts.”

“Until I dated you,” drawls Arthur.

Eames laughs and says, “Your dimples give you away, darling,” and kisses Arthur’s left dimple.

“I date sweethearts, I marry reprobates,” continues Arthur.

Eames laughs more.

Ariadne says, “What made you decide to set up Victor and Timothy?”

“Or Vimothy, as I call them,” says Julia.

“Tictor?” says Ariadne.

“VicTim,” says Paul.

There is a moment of silence.

Julia says, “Ohhhh, that was very good,” and kisses him.

“It was Arthur’s idea,” says Eames. “Quite the little matchmaker, he is.”

“I’m really not,” Arthur denies, knowing his ears are pink, “I just know that I had conversations with each of them that made me think they would…get along.”

“Just be careful with Timothy,” Luisa warns, with that edge to her voice that reminds Arthur that probably she was an assassin or something at one point.

“Of course!” Eames says, affronted. “We wouldn’t not be.”

“I know,” says Luisa. “But I’m very fond of Timothy, and if Victor breaks Timothy’s heart, then I would have to kill Victor.”

There is silence around the table.

“I’m kidding,” says Luisa.

Eames laughs weakly.

Luisa calls for more drinks.

Chapter Text

Luisa and Kalinda are all business in Saito’s private plane on the way back to Worcester.

“Upcoming filming schedule!” Kalinda says, holding it over her head.

Luisa has her color-coded spreadsheet out and is comparing it to Kalinda’s color-coded spreadsheet.

Eames murmurs in Arthur’s ear, “You look like you’re about to propose a foursome.”

“I’m not,” Arthur denies.

“A foursome with the spreadsheets,” Eames clarifies.

“I—What would that even look like? I don’t even know how that would work.”

“Sexual imagination, darling,” Eames says loftily.

Arthur rolls his eyes.

Luisa says, “You two. Stop being inappropriate for a second.”

“We’re not being inappropriate,” Arthur denies.

“Yes, you are,” says Luisa. “Eames has his inappropriate face on.”

Eames looks delighted. “Do I have an inappropriate face?”

“You do,” confirms Kalinda. “I always make sure there’s a camera on you when you get that face.”

“We need to finalize what you’re doing for the Fourth of July,” says Luisa, as if they’re not having the world’s most ridiculous conversation. “You said you wanted to do something to give back to the community, so I pulled together some local charities and—”

“—and they’re all great and we should do that,” says Kalinda, “but the network is also demanding that we get something traditional in there, too, like a parade or something—”

“A parade?” Arthur interrupts, thinking.

“Yeah,” says Kalinda.

“We don’t ordinarily go to parades, Arthur and I,” says Eames.

“A parade with floats and things?” says Arthur.

Eames turns to lift eyebrows at him.

“Yes,” Kalinda answers slowly.

“We could help,” Arthur says, the idea taking gradual shape in his head. “We could help with—”

“With the floats!” Eames exclaims. “Darling, that’s a brilliant idea!”

Arthur thinks that yes, it is. It’s right in their wheelhouse. It’s perfect.

Eames turns to Kalinda and Luisa. “We can design floats for the groups in the parade. We can help make them. We’ll donate our time.”

“And we’ll give the charities a national platform while donating money to them,” says Arthur.

“That’s not a bad idea,” muses Kalinda.

“As I’ve said,” says Eames staunchly, “it’s a brilliant idea.”

“It’s a brilliant idea,” Luisa agrees, making a notation. “I will get us some parade floats to work on.”

Chapter Text

Arthur begs Eames to bring up Victor with Timothy.

Well, “begging” is maybe a strong word, especially because Eames is all too happy to bring up Victor with Timothy.

“Darling,” he says fondly, “you’re stressing yourself out over this. You’re engaging in a little, tiny panic spiral. There’s nothing to setting people up. I do it like this.” Eames snaps his fingers. It’s not an especially good snap of his fingers. Eames frowns and says, “The point is, I do it in my sleep. Like, literally. Sometimes I have dreams about matchmaking.”

“No, you don’t,” says Arthur.

“Watch how beautifully I am going to set Timothy up with Victor,” says Eames.

When Timothy arrives and starts cooking for the day, Eames sidles into the kitchen. Arthur follows along, because he is invested in what happens here. Luisa also follows along, Arthur assumes to act as protection for Timothy.

Eames says, “So. Timothy.”

“Yes?” says Timothy, concentrating on whatever he’s sauteeing.

Timothy,” says Eames, sounding the name out in his accent.

Timothy gives him a look, and then looks beyond him to Arthur and Luisa. “Everything okay?” he asks uncertainly.

“Perfect,” says Eames, and then rocks onto his toes and back down again.

“Wow,” remarks Luisa. “You are bad at this.”

“You really are,” says Arthur. “I thought you would be better at this than I am.”

Eames scowls and says to Timothy, “So. Mate.”

Timothy has now moved beyond uncertainty to violent suspicion. “What is happening?” Timothy asks. “Are you about to ask me to jump into a volcano or something?”

“For a human sacrifice?” asks Eames. “Would you do that for us?”

“No,” says Timothy calmly, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel.

“You didn’t even contemplate it,” remarks Eames.

“I’m heartless like that,” says Timothy drily.

“In comparison to human sacrifice, what I’m about to say to you is quite appealing, really,” says Eames.

“You are really selling this,” says Luisa to him.

“Arthur wants to set you up with his ex,” says Eames.

There’s a beat of silence.

Arthur says, “Eames,” because, really, that was the most terrible way to break the news ever.

“What?” says Eames. “It’s true.”

“Arthur wants to set me up with his sex?” Timothy says. “Like, his sex club?”

“No. Not his sex. At least, not that I’m aware of.” Eames looks to Arthur for confirmation.

“Not my sex,” Arthur says firmly. “My ex.”

“As in ex-boyfriend,” Eames finishes.

Timothy looks between them. He says, “Hmm.” He leans back against the kitchen counter. Then he says, “Did Arthur date men better than Alec Hart?”

Chapter Text

While Eames is still deciding on design plans for the Bigs and Arthur is still scoping out potential workspaces for Jac and Issy, everyone flies down to Miami for Mick’s reveal.

“You should have taken VicTim along,” remarks Julia, reclining on Saito’s private plane, which Saito’s loaned for the occasion.

“They’re not VicTim yet. They haven’t even gone on a date yet,” Arthur says.

Paul, eyeing Julia, says, “I’m concerned.”

“About what?” Julia asks.

“How comfortable you look on this private jet. You’re going to get too accustomed to this lifestyle.”

Julia laughs merrily.

Ariadne says, “Victor seems like a sweetheart. Every time I send designs around, he writes back, ‘This is such a great idea!’”

“I don’t think he works with designers very often,” says Arthur.

“Or he thinks I’m awesome,” says Ariadne, grinning.

Arthur winces. “Yes, that, too, I didn’t mean to imply that—”

“Stop,” Ariadne says, still grinning. “I know what you meant. And he’s a delight.”

Victor had been very excited to take part in the design process, saying he usually vanished at that point for his clients. Arthur remembers that well about being a traditional real estate agent, that you disappeared for that part. Arthur also remembers how world-changing it had been for him getting to watch Eames work his magic up close. Victor doesn’t need to still be involved in the show—his part is over—but Arthur understands why he’s eager to watch the designs take shape. It’s a fascinating process that they were ordinarily shut out of.

And Victor is getting to watch the best designers Arthur has ever seen go through it. Arthur doesn’t blame him for being enthusiastic.

Arthur says, “Well, I’m also sure that all of your designs really are great ideas.”

Ariadne grins at him more.

Gon says, “Ari is the queen of small spaces.”

Julia says, “Hang on. Not that I don’t want to talk about Ari’s genius—because I always want to talk about Ari’s genius—but why haven’t VicTim been on a date yet?”

“Not VicTim,” Arthur says patiently. “And…I don’t know…”

“Is it because Victor’s been distracted by Ari’s genius so much?”

“No,” Arthur says slowly.

“Can I say why it is?” Luisa asks.

Julia gasps. “Does it have to do with you, Luisa? Is it some kind of dramatic love triangle?”

“I’m with Kalinda,” Luisa says.

“Love quadrangle,” Julia amends without missing a beat.

“No,” says Luisa. “It’s just that I don’t think Timothy’s sold yet.”

“You didn’t do a good job selling your ex-boyfriend?” Julia says. “For shame.”

“It’s not me!” Arthur defends himself. “It was Eames!”

Eames, who is currently holed up at the other end of the plane doing a video conference with some kind of fabric source.

“Well,” remarks Julia, “I don’t know that I would expect Eames to be good at describing your ex-boyfriend, Arthur.”

“No,” Arthur agrees. “I didn’t think he would be. I think maybe Timothy is concerned about being set up.”

“Who wouldn’t be?” says Ariadne sympathetically. “Being set up is the worst.”

“I know!” exclaims Julia. “You and Eames should go out with VicTim! That takes some of the pressure off!”

“Really?” says Arthur. “That wouldn’t just make it more awkward?”

“No, you and Eames ease situations,” Ariadne remarks. “And something about the two of you inspires other people to fall in love. I mean, look at the people all around you.”

Arthur does. Maybe Ariadne is on to something there.

Chapter Text

Miami is even hotter than it was.

“Absolutely unbearable,” Eames complains. “You really must be shirtless all the time, darling, there’s nothing else for it.”

“Eames, we’re in air conditioning,” Arthur reminds him.

“Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be shirtless,” says Eames, waggling his eyebrows at him.

They’re in the elevator, actually, and Luisa is right there next to them.

Arthur says that on her behalf. “Luisa is right there.”

“Go away so I can ravish my husband,” Eames commands.

“We’re on an elevator,” Luisa points out, sounding bored.

“Damn,” Eames says. “So we are. I just lose track of my surroundings when Arthur is near.”

“Sure you do,” Arthur says drily.

“Is he jetlagged?” Luisa asks Arthur.

“We didn’t switch time zones,” Arthur points out. “This is just him.”

“Lucky you,” says Luisa.

“Lucky me,” Arthur agrees affably.

The elevator doors slide open and they step out and Arthur says, “Oh, look, this is our room right here. We’ll freshen up and meet downstairs in twenty minutes or so?”

“Sounds good,” says Luisa.

Arthur opens their hotel room door and gestures Eames in and then presses him up against the other side of it.

Eames grins at him, wolfish and sure, as he palms Arthur’s ass and tucks him in closer against him. “Twenty minutes, huh?”

“Lucky me,” Arthur says.

Chapter Text

I had midterm grades due and so I've spent the entire day grading and just sent them off and so I must beg off tonight and leave Arthur and Eames to their sexy shenanigans from last chapter for a little while longer.

Chapter Text

“That was good,” Eames remarks, as Arthur is trying to get themselves back into some semblance of order before they go down to meet everyone.

Arthur turns to look at him, lifting an eyebrow. “That was good?”

“Gets us in the mood for Mick’s reveal. You know. Us having recently looked at penises and all.”

“So it was good?” Arthur repeats.

Eames grins at him. “Do you want a compliment?”

“I want a better adjective than ‘good,’” Arthur says.

Eames is in the process of backing him up against the bathroom counter—which isn’t really conducive to getting them downstairs—when his phone rings from the other room with a Skype call coming in. “Skype,” he says. “My parents.” He gives Arthur a swift kiss and then goes out into the room.

Eames never misses a call from his parents these days, which Arthur totally understands.

So Arthur finishes brushing his teeth and combing his hair and then wanders back out into the room. Eames is sprawled on the bed they’d just mussed up, and when Arthur walks into the room he says, “There’s Arthur! Say hello, darling!” and turns the phone on Arthur.

Arthur waves and says, “Hello. How are things?”

“Eames was just telling us you’re in Miami,” Albert says.

“Make sure you use sunscreen,” Maggie says.

“Make sure you use sunscreen all over,” Albert adds. “If you catch my meaning.”

“We catch your meaning,” Eames says.

“I’m just saying. You never know when you might be caught outside with your pants down.”

“I think Arthur would like to say that he knows exactly when that’s going to happen,” remarks Eames.

“Well, it happened to me once,” Albert says. “And I will never forget it.”

“This sounds like a delightful story,” Eames says. “Arthur and I are so devastated to have to run off to work and miss it.”

Albert and Maggie both laugh.

Arthur, finished tying his tie, leans into the phone’s visible frame and says, “E-mail it to us so we can read it later.”

Albert and Maggie beam at him.

“Love you both,” Eames says fondly, before ringing off. Then he looks at Arthur. “Love you, too.”

“They look well,” Arthur says. “And I love you back.”

Chapter Text

Eames does a final walk-through of Mick’s enormous mansion, Ariadne and Gon trailing behind him. Arthur sits on the sidelines with Julia and Luisa, while Kalinda scurries about organizing camera angles.

Arthur says, “Where’s Paul?”

“By the pool,” Julia replies. “He says he is going to enjoy not having to work for the next few hours.”

Remembering what the Eameses said, Arthur says, “I hope he wears sunscreen.”

“Oh, yeah,” Julia says. “All over. You never know when you might be caught outside with your pants down.”

Arthur stares at her.

Luisa just says, matter-of-factly, “Excellent life advice.”

Arthur says dazedly, “What the fuck. Is this some kind of epidemic I don’t know about? I’m never caught outside with my pants down!”

Julia looks at him sadly. “Oh, dear, now you’ve jinxed yourself.”

“Yeah,” Luisa agrees wisely, “your pants are definitely going to disappear now the next time you go out in public.”

“That is not a thing that happens,” Arthur says.

“Eames doesn’t make your pants disappear?” says Julia.

“No,” Arthur says. “He wishes.”

“That’s for the Hogwarts AU,” Luisa says.

“Exactly,” agrees Arthur.

Julia laughs.

Eames and Ariadne and Gon and Kalinda and Dev and Tavi arrive back from their quick double-check of the house.

“How’s it look?” Arthur asks. “Every penis in place?”

“Now I’m worried there’s not enough penises,” Eames says.

“There are more than enough penises,” Ariadne says. “Trust me.”

Chapter Text

In truth, there are not as many penises as Arthur had feared. When Eames talked design for Mick’s place, it always sounded like there were going to be penises galore. There definitely are phallic figures worked through the design but they’re the sort of phallic figures that give you plausible deniability. Like, maybe they aren’t all huge penises. But they work on your subconscious, and while Arthur would never want his house designed like this, he admires the effect.

And Mick…cries. He stands in his foyer—which is only somewhat over-the-top instead of absurdly over-the-top, thanks to the design magic of Eames and Gon and Ariadne—and he cries.

It’s not like criers are unheard of in Eames’s line of business. In fact, they are fairly common. So, even though Arthur doesn’t think Eames expected Mick to cry, he reacts with total unconcerned aplomb.

Mick says, “Sorry. I didn’t think I would cry.”

Eames says graciously, “Sometimes, when people are confronted by beauty, they cannot predict how they will react.”

There is a pause while Mick sobs noisily.

Gon says, “These are good tears, right?”

Mick says, “They are such good tears. I am amazed by my beautiful house.”

“You’ve only seen the foyer,” Ariadne points out.

“Shh,” Eames says. “Let’s give him time to really take in the whole thing. He really wants to make sure that he gets to fully appreciate the phallic nature of the columns we’ve installed.”

They all appreciate the phallic nature of the columns together, while Mick continues to cry.

Eventually he says, “Okay. I think I am ready to see the next room.”

The foyer leads into a magnificently grand room that had been just the living room to the previous occupant, but Eames and Gon and Ariadne have reworked the flow and taken down a few walls and now it’s basically an all-purpose room, completely with a massive dining table made of a slab of limestone that Eames personally picked. Arthur didn’t go along on that buying trip but he was subject to Eames’s endless texts of different pieces of limestone, fretting over which one he should go with. Part of Arthur had assumed that those kinds of texts would diminish now that Eames had co-designers, but a larger part of Arthur was really relieved that he was still the first person Eames thought to text when he wanted an opinion.

Mick goes over to the dining table and says, “No stripper pole!” and for a second Arthur worries maybe he’s about to get upset over there being no stripper pole, but instead he says, “It looks amazing without a stripper pole,” and starts crying again.

Arthur suspects this is going to be a long filming day.

Chapter Text

Mick has his very own whale penis bone in a place of honor on his coffee table.

Of course, Mick doesn’t immediately know it’s a whale penis bone because nobody immediately identifies whale penis bones except for Eames. And probably people who study whale penises, whoever those people might be.

So Eames has to tell him, as they stand in the living part of the great room. “That’s a whale penis bone.”

Mick looks at it and blanches a little. “Huh.”

Eames notices the reaction. “Don’t you like it?”

“It’s just…size comparisons…” says Mick.

Eames looks back at the whale penis bone, looking thoughtful. “Huh. I never thought about that before.”

“I don’t think anybody is going to be wishing anyone else was the size of a whale penis,” Ariadne remarks. “I mean, that thing is basically bigger than me. It’s not going in my body.”

“What a classy show we’re filming here,” Arthur murmurs.

Eames looks at him, grinning, and then says, “There are much better-sized penises in your bedroom.”

“Oh, good,” says Mick. “Probably we should go check those out.”

The better-sized penises in Mick’s bedroom are actually more tasteful than Arthur assumed when he was hearing about the house. The whole house is actually more tasteful than Arthur assumed from the descriptions he was getting. The better-sized penises are basically illuminated penises. That is the best way Arthur can describe them. Penises of various animals have been drawn with beautiful embellishments, in a series of actual framed works of art on one of the walls by the hot tub. The colors are rich and magnificent and Arthur hates that he’s drawn over to them because he knows Eames is going to suggest they put penis drawings on their walls. But he also has to admit that these penis drawings are unexpectedly gorgeous. Leave it to Eames’s design team to find gorgeous pornography.

Mick is once again being very emotional over his bedroom. He says, “This is a room where a lot of sex will happen.” And then he says, “What do you think, Arthur?”

Arthur, in his contemplation of the penis drawings, is startled. “What?”

“You’re the expert when it comes to sex design,” says Mick.

Behind Mick’s back, Ariadne grins at him. Eames looks very serious and nods in grave agreement.

Arthur says, “I’m really not…” but Mick looks so hopeful to get a seal of approval from a bona fide sex club expert that Arthur gives up. Really, it’s alarming to Arthur how often it’s easier to pretend to be a sex club expert, how much happier it seems to make people than not being one. “Yup,” he says confidently. “Lots of sex will be going on in this room.”

Chapter Text

Kalinda interviews them in Mick’s backyard, by the water. It’s godawful hot, even though they’re in the shade, so humid that Arthur can feel his shirt sticking to him and the only breath of air is when Eames shifts next to him. Julia frowned at their makeup, then shrugged and walked away, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Arthur. He feels a little wilted but he suspects that they look hot, in the figurative sense, with a sheen of sweat on them and their hair curling a little with dampness and Eames’s shirt clinging to him. He’s unbuttoned more buttons than necessary, letting tattoos peek out on display, and Arthur supposes it’s a wonder the shirt is still on Eames at all.

Kalinda prompts, “So. How’d that go?”

“Better than I expected,” Arthur admits.

“Darling!” exclaims Eames, and throws an arm over his shoulders like it isn’t way too fucking hot to be touching each other. “You doubted me?”

“No. Not exactly. I doubted that anything in there would be to my taste.”

“But you found it all oddly arousing?” Eames guesses knowingly.

“No,” Arthur denies.

“The illuminated penises in the bedroom were the best bit, weren’t they?” Eames looks at the camera. “Illuminated as in the medieval-text meaning of the word, not in the glowing-with-light meaning of the word. The penises weren’t glowing with light. Although I guess they could. I mean, penis lamps could be a thing. I could put out a line of penis lamps.”

“But what about vagina lamps?” asks Arthur. “I mean, I think the world gets enough of penises. The world basically gets penises constantly shoved down its throat. In, like, not a sexy way.” Eames looks amused, and Arthur moves on, figuring that it’s not even obvious that the tips of his ears are pink because they’re sunburned anyway. “I just mean that I’m going to stick up for the vaginas of the world right now and request vagina lamps.”

“Vagina lamps,” Eames echoes, smiling. “I like that. Everyone can pick the anatomical display they would most desire.”

“Exactly,” says Arthur. “Equal opportunity.”

“Back to Mick’s house,” prompts Kalinda helpfully.

“Ah, yes. And Arthur being surprised I found such gorgeous pornography,” says Eames.

“Not really,” Arthur denies. “Your designs are always gorgeous pornography as far as I’m concerned.”

“Okay,” says Eames. “That’s enough filming for today, cameras off.”

Chapter Text

They get home and there’s stuff they should be doing—designing for the Bigs, hunting for Jac and Issy, figuring out parade floats—but instead Arthur says, “Oh, Julia and Luisa had an idea.”

“That sounds like a promising combination of people to have an idea,” remarks Eames.

“About Victor and Timothy.”

“VicTim?” says Eames.

“We’re not calling them that.”

“Yes, we are,” says Eames. “The fandom has spoken.”

This gives Arthur pause. “What fandom? Did you ask our fandom about them?”

Eames laughs. “No, darling, their fandom. VicTim’s fandom.”

“Who is VicTim’s fandom?”

“Us! We’re the ones rooting for them to get together. And VicTim has won out. There was a fandom vote. Sorry, darling.”

Arthur sighs. “Anyway. Their idea.”

Eames grins. “Yes, darling?”

“That we should do a double date. That it would be less pressure for Timothy.”

“Hmm,” Eames muses. “That’s actually quite a good idea. We should propose that. I think Timothy would like that.”

“Me, too,” says Arthur. “And I don’t think it would be too awkward. Everyone seems to think we inspire people to fall in love.”

Eames grins and says, “I think they’re right. I think we do.”

Arthur shakes his head but he can’t deny that his dimples are evident; he knows they are.

Eames proves it by kissing his right one and says, “Hey, do you want to go have spreadsheet sex with me?”

Arthur considers. “I don’t know. What is that?”

Eames laughs. “I’m going to take you to bed and say spreadsheet dirty talk to you.”

“I don’t know what that sounds like.”

“Let me hide my column in your—”

“Oh, my God,” says Arthur, “I will have sex with you only if you promise not to do spreadsheet dirty talk at me.”

“What if I just show you a beautiful spreadsheet? Would that get you in the mood?”

“Yes,” Arthur decides. “Spreadsheet porn. Give me your sexiest spreadsheet.”

Eames gives him his Christmas-morning look, and Arthur loves him so much he can’t stand it.

Chapter Text

Sometimes they get important news when the cameras aren’t around filming, and then they have to act, recreate a pivotal moment later. Eames relishes this sort of thing, acts the fuck out of whatever’s happened, and seems to think at those moments that he missed his calling and would have been an Oscar-winning actor if he’d set his mind to it. Mostly Arthur just rolls his eyes in reaction to Eames’s extravagance, so, actually, it’s pretty hard to spot when they’re acting, it looks a lot like a normal scene. At least, their fandom has never yet been able to spot the acting, as far as Arthur has seen.

At any rate, their last day of regular filming before the Fourth of July holiday is not a day when they have to re-film the highlight of the day. It starts out as a regular scheduled day. Arthur and Eames have a meeting for the cameras about the search for Jac and Issy.

“I’ve been looking for a while,” Arthur says, “and granted, searching for office space isn’t my forte.”

“Darling, everything is your forte,” Eames says loyally, “I’m sure you’re doing a great job.”

“I want to think outside the box.”

Eames looks impossibly fond in that way he has sometimes. “You always do.”

“I—” Arthur pauses in the middle of the point he was just about to make. “Do I?”

Eames still looks impossibly fond, now with a healthy side of amused. “Yes. You definitely always do. Now what outside-the-box thinking do you have for me this time?”

Arthur contemplates the view of him that Eames has. He’s gotten better at recognizing himself through Eames’s eyes, but every once in a while it strikes him again. He says finally, “I’m thinking of basically starting them over, from scratch almost.”

“Repurposing?” Eames suggests.

“Sort of,” Arthur says.

“Found a strip of abandoned stores you want to turn into something else?”

“No, that was a You thing,” Arthur smiles. “Only you would have been seduced by this.”

“I was seduced by you,” Eames rejoins. “This was secondary.”

“Okay,” says Arthur, and he knows it’s pointless to pretend he’s not charmed, because he’s basically always charmed by Eames and he knows his dimples are showing. “Let’s give the lines a rest.”

“Because you’re a sure thing?” says Eames, looking like he knows exactly how charmed he is.

There was a time, Arthur knows, when Eames wasn’t sure how much he charmed Arthur. Arthur is really happy that these days Eames never doubts it.

So Arthur doesn’t really respond because no response is really necessary. What Arthur says is, “I’m thinking about a warehouse. Like, an old, abandoned one.”

“I’m listening,” says Eames, sounding intrigued.

“They can be had for cheap, which helps with the budget, and we can completely customize it. A blank slate sounds like a good idea. But at the same time it already has character and history. It’s better than building from the ground up.” Arthur slides across the specs and photos of the warehouse he’s chosen. It’s large, and solidly built, and is just in need of some vision: in short, a perfect project for Eames.

Eames surveys the information, looking thoughtful, and then nods. “I like it. I think it’s a good idea. I think it could work.”

“I’m going to show them some other possibilities, of course,” says Arthur. “I might turn out to be incredibly far off. But I have a good feeling about this one. I think this will appeal to Jac and Issy.”

“I think you’re right.” Eames smiles. “Is this going to be an easy one for us?”

“Fuck, don’t jinx it,” says Arthur.

Chapter Text

They settle in to do general life updates. Arthur likes to do general life updates. It’s just him and Eames bantering about what’s going on. It’s what they do anyway.

Actually, the whole show is basically what they’d be doing anyway, which is why it’s such an easy show for them to make.

So they sit in Arthur’s office and Kalinda asks about Eames’s dad (“Doing so well,” Eames answers with a broad smile) and the cookbook.

“The cookbook?” echoes Eames.

“Yes,” responds Arthur drily. “That you’re writing.”

“Oh! Right! Sorry, when you just brought up cookbook like that I thought you meant…” Eames trails off.

“What could she have meant when she brought up a cookbook other than your cookbook?” asks Arthur.

“That I was, like, cooking or something,” says Eames.

“Which would obviously be ridiculous,” says Arthur.

“Obviously. When have you ever seen me use a cookbook?”

“Never,” Arthur agrees. “I never have.” Then he looks at the camera. “He’s writing one.”

“That’s different, though,” says Eames.

“How is that different?”

“Writing a cookbook is different from using a cookbook.”


“Using a cookbook implies that I’m cooking.”

“And writing one does not?”

“Darling, the cookbook is going to be an Eamesian take on what a cookbook is. It’s not just going to be a cookbook. That’s not what anyone would hire me for, just, like, a traditional thing.”

Arthur says, “No, good point. You’re right.” He looks back at the camera. “Never say we are not cognizant of our own brand.”

Eames chuckles. “Anyway, have no fear about the cookbook, it is chugging right along.”

“He hasn’t written a word of it.”

“When is it due?” asks Kalinda.

“What an excellent question,” says Eames vaguely.

Arthur shakes his head.

“And what about your ties?” asks Kalinda.

Arthur knew this was coming, because it’s on the list of approved topics, Kalinda doesn’t ambush them. He takes a deep breath and says carefully, “Coming along.” And they are. He has a whole little portfolio now that he works on diligently. At first he worked on them furtively, dreading Eames teasing him about them, or asking to see them, or something. But he should have known by now that Eames knows him well, and Eames never teases, and never tries to intrude. And so now Arthur works on them openly, while they’re watching Gossip Girl at night, and shows them to Eames without thinking about it. He respects Eames’s design opinions tremendously—obviously—and Eames is good at being supportive and careful about suggestions and Arthur appreciates and loves him more for this.

For saying, “They’re brilliant. I love them. I would wear all of them, and I barely ever wear ties.”

Arthur knows the tips of his ears are pink, because how could they not be?

“I can’t wait for the world to see them,” Eames says, and grins at the camera.

Chapter Text

So the day is going well, which should be the cue that all hell is about to break loose. Which it does at the design meeting for the Bigs.

Arthur sits in on the design meetings most of the time because he’s interested in design and the office space hunt is under control so he has time.

Also, it allows him to catch up with Gon and Ariadne. Arthur has discovered, over the course of making this show, that it’s hardest for him to keep up with Gon and Ariadne. He spends a lot of time with Luisa out of necessity, and Julia is the personality type that will just leap in, you can never lose track of Julia in a room. But Ariadne is a little more inclined to hang back and observe with amusement, and Gon is much more naturally introverted, and Arthur gets that, as the one in the relationship who is often quieter in social situations, and he wants to make an effort to catch up with them.

So, while Eames is pursing his lips at the portfolios Gon and Ariadne pushed across to him and making little hmm noises, Arthur says, “So what’s up with you?”

“We’re having a fight about the color blue,” Ariadne says brightly.

“The color blue?” echoes Arthur.

“You know, there are so many different shades of blue and we’re having a fight about which shade to paint the bathroom. It’s an interior designer fight. It’s vicious.”

“I suppose it would be,” Arthur realizes. Eames knows Arthur’s tastes and designs to suit them and therefore for the most part he and Eames don’t argue about design, whale penis bone aside. It must be tougher when both people in the relationship have strong design opinions.

“Arthur likes blue,” Eames inserts absently. “I have lots of blue paint samples in my office and I’ve thought a great deal about blue, if you’d like me to weigh in eventually. What’s this with the yard?” He leans forward, sliding a sketch to the center of the dining room table they’re seated around.

“Oh,” Gon says, “that’s the front landscaping. Because the house got moved, it’s surrounded by basically a swampy morass of weeds.”

“Yes,” Eames says. “I know. So I thought we were designing something to fix that.”

“You’re doing landscape design now?” Arthur says.

“Not really,” Eames says. “I just wanted to have these really curvy paths leading from the house to the front drive and then branching off from that toward the outbuildings. It was supposed to look like the curves of a rose.” Eames gestures in the air as he says this, in a manner that Arthur supposes he thinks conveys curves of a rose.

Arthur says, amused, “Okay.”

“Except this--” Eames points—“is not the curves of a rose.”

“No,” Ariadne says. “The homeowners’ association wouldn’t let us—”

“Hang on, hang on, hang on, back up, what?” says Eames, leaning across the table. “The homeowners’ association?”

“Yes,” says Ariadne simply, unimpressed with Eames’s outrage.

“The homeowners’ association said what?” asks Eames, clearly realizing he never allowed Ariadne to finish.

“The homeowners’ association said that only straight walkways are allowed, not curved ones.”

There is a moment of utter silence, during which Arthur, watching Eames, can see the fury building within him. Few things make Eames more furious than beauty being interfered with.

Eames says, “What?”

“It’s the rule,” Ariadne says.

“Do they know who I am?” Eames demands.

“That was a bit Marie Antoinette of you,” Arthur points out gently.

“No, I don’t mean celebrity-wise, I mean, like, talent-wise.”

“Oh, is that better?” asks Arthur, a little confused by the distinction.

“I mean, I’m telling them I want to give them one of the most beautiful homes they will ever see, and they’re saying no?”

There’s a beat of reaction time.

Then Ariadne says, “Yes. That accurately sums up the situation.”

“Who’s the head of this HOA?” fumes Eames.

Chapter Text

The head of the HOA is a woman named Mabel Stritcher.

“Mabel Stritcher,” Eames announces, rolling the name around in his mouth, as he pokes at his tablet.

They’re theoretically watching Gossip Girl after dinner, but Arthur is working on a tie sketch and Eames is apparently plotting Mabel-Stritcher-cide.

“This is what she looks like!” Eames announces. “This!” He holds the tablet up.

Mabel Stritcher is apparently a little old lady with tight gray curls and a walking cane, wearing a brightly flowered blouse and fuchsia pants.

Arthur says, “I see.”

Eames says, “This is my nemesis, who I must fight to the death.”

“Not the literal death,” Arthur says. “Not a literal fight, either.”

“Darling, all of beauty hangs in the balance. Everything sublime, and poetic, and breathtaking, and heart-stopping.”

“Really?” Arthur says. “Everything of that nature?”


“If you don’t defeat Mable Stritcher, beauty itself will die?”

“This woman is dictating front walks! Isn’t this the land of free expression? You are the worst American. You should be horrified by this.”

Arthur sighs and selects a new colored pencil for his sketch and says, “I am horrified by it. HOAs are the worst. They are often used as a means to police new people coming into the neighborhood and anything that doesn’t fit the oppressive ideals of those already in power who use it as a gatekeeping mechanism to erect barriers to entry to anyone not exactly like them, to try to define what people’s ‘families’ and ‘homes’ should look like, when that’s a very personal question that everyone should get to define for themselves and no one culture of ‘taste’ should dominate all else because that’s just another way to create otherness and keep those with less power as voiceless as possible, depriving them of their ability to express their own visions of home and beauty.”

Eames doesn’t say anything, and Arthur glances at him.

“So you see? I am also horrified. You’re right, all beauty hangs in the balance of your fight with Mabel Stritcher.”

Darling,” says Eames, and tackles him back onto the couch.

Chapter Text

The fight with Mabel Stritcher has to wait, though, as does the office space for Jac and Issy and the aquarium with Sumiko and even the double date with Victor and Timothy. Because the Fourth of July is imminent, and Arthur is loath to admit that maybe they bit off more than they can chew with the floats but he also isn’t willing to go back on their promise to do the floats, because every single charity and organization they work with is so excited to have Arthur and Eames helping with their floats.

Eames pulls a couple of all-nighters designing parade floats, which makes Arthur feel even worse about the plan, but when Arthur says that Eames says, eyes lit up with delight, “Darling, don’t feel bad for even a second, I loved it, I want to design more parade floats, I think we should go to Mardi Gras.”

Arthur looks at him and says, “Oh, no, have I created a monster?”

Eames grins and backs him up against their kitchen counter and waggles his eyebrows at him. “A parade float monster?”

“Exactly. What will you be willing to do to get some beads flung at you?”

“Darling, all I have to do is stand next to you. You will attract all of the beads with your feral sexuality.”

“That’s not how the beads thing works. They don’t just migrate over to the hottest person.”

“Well, they should. The city of New Orleans should fix that immediately.”

“The beads are thrown and you have to catch them.”

Eames kisses him, grinning, and murmurs, “Can we go to Mardi Gras, kitten? Come home laden with beads? I’ll decorate all over the house with them? Make you beautiful things with them?”

Arthur lets Eames talk, murmuring adorable nothings at him, and concentrates on deepening the kiss, hoping to knock Eames’s focus off enough that he actually stops talking.

And then Luisa says, “Oh, sorry, should I block off some E&A time for you, or is this not going to take long?”

“Ha,” Eames says, dotting one last kiss onto Arthur’s mouth, “so offensive.”

“Sorry,” Luisa says, cheerfully putting their dry cleaning down on the table. “Didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s fine,” Arthur says, because Luisa had been expected and he should have remembered that.

Luisa says, “Ready for a day of building parade floats?”

“So ready,” Arthur agrees.

Chapter Text

Arthur has a better time than he could ever have imagined building the parade floats. He was never dreading the situation—he would never have suggested it in that case—but he’s unprepared for how delightful everything about it is. Eames has designs for the floats, and they pay attention to the designs for rough inspiration, but there’s a lot of amending on the fly, and room for individual flourishes, and it’s so different from the process of designing a house to be a home, which is such a huge deal that Arthur usually stays out of it for the most part, interfering as little as possible with Eames’s flow.

Parade floats, though, are lower stakes, and a carnival atmosphere pervades the warehouse where the network has set everybody up. Arthur and Eames wander from float to float, pitching in and giving suggestions, and they do it on equal footing, and it’s great. Arthur never feels excluded from Eames’s design process—he knows Eames pays attention to him and values his opinion—but this is different. The various groups are pretty much left to their own devices in between visits from Arthur and Eames, and so the floats take shape organically.

Arthur knows the network requested that people not ask for photos and autographs during the filming, but he kind of hates that restriction. He gets that it’s about saving the network’s money so that, when the cameras are around, it’s just productive filming, but once they reach the end of the day, Arthur says they’ll do autographs and pictures, and then they are absolutely besieged.

And it’s a little overwhelming, but it’s mostly nice. They pose for pictures and sign whatever people hand out to them. Nobody asks Eames to sign a breast but he seems to handle his disappointment just fine. Many people want to be in pictures with Arthur and Eames, standing in between them, but many other people also just ask them to pose together, and Eames engages in increasingly silly poses, planting elaborate kisses on Arthur. Arthur’s sure he must look ridiculous in these pictures but most of them make it onto social media and he doesn’t look bad at all. Eames retweets a ton of them with silly heart-eyes and 100 emojis.

“You look like you’re hearts-eyeing yourself,” Arthur points out to him.

Eames scoffs. “Everybody knows I’m hearts-eyeing you. You’re the only one I hearts-eye. You, and beautifully made vintage sofas.”

Arthur shakes his head and opens them a bottle of wine and pours it out into Thermoses so no one will accuse them of violating the open container law, and then he and Eames make their way to the park, where Eames spreads out one of his ridiculous fabric samples that he thinks qualifies as picnic blankets. This one is a paisley in vivid jewel tones edged on one side with gold fringe. If people weren’t going to recognize them already, they are definitely getting second glances because of their blanket. They have the night off from being filmed, because the network decided that footage of them watching fireworks wasn’t necessary given all the parade footage it got, so they could have been very low-key. The blanket makes them much less so.

But they’re home, in Worcester, and while Arthur’s never really thought about it, people in Worcester almost never bother them. It’s a little like being in Eames’s village. Arthur suspects they’re pleased to have them as local celebrities and leave them alone as much as possible. So while he’s pretty sure people are taking furtive photos and videos of them—and social media confirms it later—no one bothers them, and they sit and drink from Thermoses of wine and play gin rummy to pass the time until the symphony starts up.

When the symphony starts they put the cards away. It’s a hot and sticky night, the air hanging very still around them, perfect for watching fireworks but not terribly conducive to cuddling. But they lean up against each other anyway, and Arthur closes his eyes, letting the symphony play, letting this moment just linger, imprinted on his memory.

“You make me happy,” he murmurs, during a pause between songs. “I keep forgetting to tell you that.”

“Darling.” He feels the kiss Eames brushes over his hair. “You tell me every day. Many times a day.”

“Do I? I want to be sure I do.” He wants Eames to be clear on this. To never doubt.

“You do,” Eames assures him. “You do. I hear you loud and clear these days.”

They sit like that, watching the sky over their heads light up with fireworks.

Chapter Text

Eames might be worried about Mabel Stritcher but Arthur is entirely worried about Jac and Issy, and the fact that finding office space isn’t really his specialty, so he doesn’t have as much lined up as he might ordinarily.

Normally, before a day of house-hunting, Arthur doesn’t do much stage-setting. He’s found that people are often bad about knowing what they want. What they tell you they want isn’t nearly as helpful as their actual reactions to the houses they get shown. So Arthur usually lines up possibilities and then chooses them based on the different reactions he gets as the day wears on, winnowing and narrowing until he knows exactly what’s needed. He finds it to be a rewarding process, and he actually likes to start with a complete disaster to lead off. He learns more from the reaction to the first disaster than almost anything else.

So he’s not concerned when the first thing he shows Jac and Issy earns a lot of wrinkle-nosed disappointment on their part. He knows it’s a fairly bland already existing space in a fairly bland part of town. But he wants to know their reaction.

“It’s in the right area,” Arthur notes. “And has the right permits already in place, obviously, to be used for commercial space.”

“I could make it better than this,” Eames notes, as they look at the beigeness of it all. “I mean, I would definitely make it better than this.”

“Yeah, but…it would have to be completely redone,” Issy points out.

“Not just decorated,” adds Jac, “like completely redesigned.”

“I’m up for the challenge if you like the space.”

“I think I hate the street,” Issy says.

“It just…doesn’t feel right,” Jac agrees.

“It’s too…impersonal, and industrial-y. Not in the good way. We’re not looking to run those kinds of businesses.”

“Yes,” Arthur agrees, because he thought this was the case. “I thought it felt off. But I wanted to see what you thought of this option. Some people might not care as much about the street.”

“But the street’s so important!” Issy protests.

“Information I needed to know,” Arthur says. “So, where we’re going next…keep an open mind.”

Chapter Text

It’s not usually how he likes to start off a house tour. Nor does he usually skip right away to the place he thinks is perfect. Arthur long ago learned that showing people the perfect place too early usually raises their bar too high, so that they then reject their perfect place. But some people will recognize their perfect place instead of readjusting their expectations. And Arthur suspects Jac and Issy are it. And Arthur, well, by this point in his realty career, he’s learned to trust his instincts.

So he and Eames and Jac and Issy and their camera crew get arranged in front of the boarded-up brick warehouse, and when Kalinda says, “We’re rolling,” Arthur gestures up and down the street, letting Dev and Tavi get the shots, and says, “So. Hear me out.”

He knows the street doesn’t look like the best, but Jac and Issy look willing to hear him out. Eames looks amused and indulgent, probably because he knows Arthur’s play here.

Arthur says, “The street’s a little bare. But it’s up-and-coming. The land and building is cheap because of that, but there are all sorts of incentives in place to lure diverse businesses into the neighborhood. And I think you’d like the businesses coming in here. Not industrial-y. More personal-dream start-up type places. Some handbag designers, some jewelry-makers, a self-publishing outfit, a couple of app dreamers.”

Jac and Issy exchange a look.

“That already sounds promising,” Jac says cautiously.

“I do like the way this street feels way more than the other one already,” Issy says.

“Good,” Arthur says. “Now what about the building itself?”

They all turn to regard the boarded-up building together.

“Would we call that a building?” asks Jac mildly.

Arthur laughs. “Okay, you have a point.”

“But it’s better on the inside?” guesses Issy.

“No,” Eames says. “It actually isn’t. At all. Which is what makes it better.”

Chapter Text

The warehouse is basically vast dusty space, filled with random detritus that will have to be cleared away, but Arthur’s hoping Jac and Issy have imagination enough to see beyond the mess. They both work in creative industries, so he feels like they have a good shot.

“It’s big,” Jac says, sounding cautiously positive about it.

“Big. Vast,” Eames says. “There’s so much space in here. So much space to put anything and everything. So, just like the first place we saw, it needs to be completely redesigned but it’s such a blank slate that it’s almost like building from scratch. Which is a good thing.”

“Because we could make it anything we want,” Jac ventures.

“How much will that cost?” Issy asks. “I know that Arthur said the building is cheap but this is…I mean it would have to be completely redone. What are we even going to do with the second floor? In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not really stairs people.” Issy gestures from her mechanized scooter to Jac’s manual wheelchair. “Having an elevator in the building would be…complex, and expensive, and concerning, because if the electricity goes out or whatever—”

“Of course,” Eames agrees. “I was actually thinking about adding a ramp. We have the space for it, and we can go over how it can be configured to be best for you. The space underneath the ramp can be storage or something like that, so if we end up adding on to the building to make the space, we’ll be gaining lots of square footage beyond just the ramp.”

“That could work,” Jac says, “but I can’t have the second floor. I’ve got height issues.”

“Then Issy has the second floor.” Eames looks at Issy.

“If she wants it,” Arthur says. “I mean, this doesn’t have to be the place. If two floors don’t work for you, we’ll move on.”

“No, I like the two-floor idea,” Jac says. “That way we’re both here but we have ample separation for all the different things we’ll have to be doing. And this footprint is big enough, we’d have so much space to work with.”

“Plus,” Arthur says carefully, because he doesn’t want to unduly sway them just to prove he was right, but he really does think this building is perfect, “I like this lot because it’s big enough to allow us room to put in truck delivery points on the building for you.”

“That’s another plus,” Jac says.

“See, Jac is going and falling in love with this building,” Issy says good-naturedly, “but I still need to know about the cost.”

“You’ve got Arthur negotiating for you,” Eames says with a smile. “He’ll make the deal you need.”

Chapter Text

Timothy is putting the finishing touches on something in an enormous pot on their stove when they wander in from filming.

Eames says, “Oooh, what concoction are you creating for us?”

“It’s going to be gazpacho, eventually. Needs to let the flavors meld.”

“Soup!” Eames proclaims grandly, peering into the pot. “Do you know what I say about soup?”

“I do not,” Timothy says, sounding amused.

“It’s salad in a pan,” says Eames. (this should be credited to someone – who gave me this line?)

“It’s…Okay,” says Timothy.

“I mean, that is entirely vegetables that you’re making. What is it made of?”

“Tomatoes,” says Timothy.

“Tomatoes!” exclaims Eames, triumphant. “See? I told you! Salad.”

“It’s not salad,” Arthur says patiently.

“It’s composed of vegetables,” Eames replies.

“Yeah, but that’s not the definition of salad,” Luisa says. “You could have fruit salad, after all.”

Eames looks struck by this. “Oh. Good point. I must consider this. Hmm.”

“If you’re going to consider this for the rest of the night,” Luisa says, amused, “does that mean I’m good to go?”

“Yes,” Arthur says, smiling at her. “You should go, too, Timothy. I’m sure we can handle the rest of the gazpacho.”

“It involves an immersion blender.”

Arthur pauses, considering. “Well, I’m sure we can put it in the fridge and the immersion blender thing can happen tomorrow.”

Timothy and Eames both laugh.

Timothy says, “I’ll just finish it up, it’s no trouble, I swear. Anyway, I wanted to ask the two of you about the…blind date thing.”

“Listen,” Arthur says, “please don’t be stressed out about the blind date thing. I didn’t mean to—you shouldn’t feel like you have to—”

“No. It’s a good idea. I appreciate you thinking of me. I want to do it. I’ll go out with him.”

Eames suggests, “Double-dating with Arthur and me? To take the pressure off?”

“Yes, please,” Timothy says in relief.

Chapter Text

They’re about to start that night’s Gossip Girl but Eames says, as they settle on the couch together, “So. Let’s take stock of our day.”

“Mmm,” Arthur agrees, curled up right against Eames. He could be designing ties but it feels like a lazier evening than that. It was, after all, a busy day. He says that to Eames. “Busy day.”

“Busy, very successful day. One of our easier and more successful house hunts, I thought.”

“Not a house hunt,” Arthur points out.

“Right. Office-space hunt.”

“It was our first office-space hunt,” says Arthur.

Eames laughs. “Well, it turns out maybe we’re good at it.”

“Maybe,” Arthur allows. “Or maybe Jac and Issy are just really good clients.”

“Clients who actually know what they want? And understand what they want? Perish the thought!”

“I mean, to be fair to them, it is hard, right? The biggest house-hunting challenge I ever had in my life, after all, was you.” Arthur pokes a fond finger into Eames’s ribcage.

Eames laughs again. “That’s not fair. I was addle-minded with adoration of you that had no outlet.”

“Okay,” Arthur says, “I’ll accept that as an excuse.”

“It’s a pretty fucking solid excuse,” Eames says, and presses a kiss into Arthur’s hair, and then leaves his lips there fondly, breathing Arthur in.

Chapter Text

Eames says of Mabel Stritcher, “I have a plan.”

They’re sitting in the dining room for filming, them and their entire team, and naturally everyone leans forward to hear what Eames’s plan is.

“It’s an entire well-organized strategic offensive,” Eames continues, clearly relishing the audience (as if he doesn’t almost always have an adoring audience hanging on his every word; apparently it never gets old for him). “It involves charts and spreadsheets and things. You’d be so proud of me. Luisa’s been helping me.”

This is news to Arthur. He looks at Luisa. “Have you?”

Luisa says, “I’ve been helping with something, I wouldn’t say it was a ‘well-organized strategic offensive.’”

“Hush,” Eames says.

“Okay,” Ariadne says. “So tell us what the first move is. I hope one of us has to go undercover and wear a disguise. I want to be a flight attendant, if we’re picking costumes.”

“It’s not going to involve costumes,” Eames says.

“Oh!” Julia exclaims. “Paul and I can be Sonny and Cher!”

Paul says, “Sounds good.”

Eames says, “No costumes.”

Julia says disapprovingly, “I don’t know who this Mabel Stritcher is, but I can’t believe she wouldn’t want us to dress up in costumes.”

“She doesn’t approve of curved walkways,” Eames says.

“The woman is a barbarian,” says Paul drily.

Exactly,” agrees Eames fervently. “So. Here’s the plan. Luisa. The battle map, if you would.”

Arthur lifts his eyebrow as Luisa gets up from the table. “The battle map?”

“Behold!” proclaims Eames with a ridiculous flourish, and gestures to where Luisa has returned to the dining room, holding what looks like a rolled-up piece of parchment.

“When did the two of you do this?” asks Arthur, amazed and astonished, as Luisa commandeers Paul into holding the other side of the parchment for her and they unroll it.

“You’ve been negotiating over Jac and Issy’s warehouse,” Eames explains.

“Long enough for you to make a parchment?” says Arthur, because the negotiations haven’t been all that involved.

The parchment, now that it’s been revealed, reads across the top in a hand-letting that is dripping with Gothic flourishes: MABEL STRITCHER WAR. Arthur knows the hand-letting was Eames’s; it’s got Eames’s artist’s flair all over it.

Underneath MABEL STRITCHER WAR is one word, also in dramatic Gothic lettering: Charm.

And that’s it. Nothing else is on the parchment.

“That’s it?” Julia says.

“I thought there’d be more to the plan,” remarks Ariadne.

“What more to the plan is needed, other than my devastating charm?” asks Eames.

“You can see now why I wouldn’t exactly call this well-organized or strategic,” remarks Luisa.

Chapter Text

Eames brings Arthur along with him for his meeting with Mabel Stritcher. Arthur thinks this is because it’s good television to have them together as much as possible, since he has very little to do with the decorating side of things. This is a job for Eames and team from hereon out, now that he (and Victor) have closed the deal.

Eames gasps when Arthur mentions that, though. They’re in the car driving to Mabel Stritcher’s house, and it’s a reprieve from the cameras on them. Arthur only allows the cameras to film them driving in certain limited circumstances.

Eames says, “Darling! Of course not! You are vitally important to my strategy.”

“I am?” Arthur lifts an eyebrow briefly in Eames’s direction, without really taking his eyes off the road, because he tries to practice the very best driving habits in front of Eames, who needs them reinforced at every opportunity.

“Of course. Darling. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror?”

“Yes. Frequently.”

“Right. So you are well aware of your devastating dimples, of your deep dark hypnotic eyes, of your—”

“I am just going to proclaim right now that I am not fucking Mabel Stritcher, if that’s where you think this is going.”

Eames starts laughing. “Darling. She’s 87 years old.”

“What, you think no eighty-seven-year-olds have sex? I’ve heard they’re the worst.”

“What exactly is your level of acquaintance with eighty-seven-year-olds?” asks Eames, sounding amused.

“Well,” Arthur allows, “virtually none,” because it’s no use lying about this, Eames already knows this.

“Do you think we’ll still be fucking like bunnies when we’re 87?” asks Eames.

“I like to think we don’t fuck like bunnies now,” remarks Arthur.

Eames laughs again. “You know what I mean. I want to keep our fun, laughing sex life for as long as we can. I want us to eventually die, simultaneously, mid-coitus, at the age of 104.” (isidore13, Corinnetags, amyisnotdead)

“Oh, Christ,” says Arthur.

“What? Don’t you think that would be a lovely way to go?”

“Our obituaries would be like, ‘Former flash-in-the-pan reality stars Arthur and Eames found dead and naked together.’”

“Everyone would be dead jealous of us,” Eames says staunchly.

Arthur chuckles and shakes his head and concentrates on the road. Then he says, “The dying simultaneously thing, though. At 104. I can get behind that.”

Eames’s voice is warm when he says, “We’ll call it a plan.”

Chapter Text

Mabel Stritcher’s house isn’t horrible-looking. It’s a bit nondescript, maybe, but it’s neat and tidy with well-tended flowerpots. Eames frowns at a little garden gnome, and frowns again at the flag by the front door, which is of a watering can pouring out a rainbow.

“Stop frowning so much,” Arthur murmurs at him. He’s mic-ed up, so it’s not like it won’t be recorded, but still no need for Mabel to hear it.

“I can’t help it. Everything’s so straight.”

“She has a rainbow watering can. Maybe she’s exhibiting gay pride.”

Eames gives him a suitably skeptical look.

And then the door opens.

Mabel Stritcher looks exactly like a sweet little old lady. She’s wearing a shirt that’s all blue and green with swirls of glitter. Frankly Arthur thinks that based on clothes choices Eames and Mabel Stritcher should get along. But Eames is too busy frowning at how much chintz Mabel’s house is draped in. Eames is a huge fan of chintz but only if Eames has chosen the chintz. Otherwise he finds chintz to be an abomination.

“You must be the two young men on television,” Mabel says to them.

Considering that she expected them and they’re sitting on chintz couches in her chintz living room with cameras all around them, it’s a safe bet.

Eames says, “Yes. That’s us.”

Mabel peers at him. “You have an accent.”

“I’m from England,” says Eames.

“You’re very difficult to understand,” Mabel sniffs.

“And that’s why I’ve brought Arthur along. He’s my translator.”

“Hi,” Arthur says, and smiles, unsure what else to do. Mabel has put a delicate china tea set in front of them so Arthur picks up his teacup and sips at it.

Eames gives him a thunderous look until he puts the teacup down, like maybe the tea might be poisoned or something, and then gives Arthur a go-ahead hand motion.

Arthur supposes this means everything about this is now up to him. He gives Eames a little frown but says to Mabel, “So, we’ve got a landscape plan to—”

“Do the curved walkways,” Mabel says. “Yes, I know. I’ve seen them. I’ve rejected them.” She sips her tea.

Arthur pauses to consider what he should say next, then says, “Well, but maybe you could…not reject them?” It’s a feeble argument but he doesn’t know what else to say.

“Curved walkways are not allowed. Only straight.”

“But why?” asks Eames, the question exploding out of him like he couldn’t stand to keep it in any longer. “The curved walkways in our design are so lovely--”

“Everyone will want them,” Mabel cuts him off sharply.


“So I’m not having everyone in the neighborhood redo their yards for that. Sure, it seems innocent enough, but who knows what happens next. If we let people have curved walkways, we’re two steps away from anarchy.” Mabel Stritcher calmly sips her tea.

Eames says icily, “What’s wrong with a little anarchy now and then?”

It marks the end of their interview with Mabel Stritcher.

Chapter Text

“The charm offensive didn’t work?” Luisa says when she hears of their day afterward. “I am shocked.”

“Me, too,” says Eames. “When has our charm ever failed?”

It is true that Eames is more charming than anyone has a right to be, and Arthur knows he depends on that charm in many circumstances.

Arthur says, “In Eames’s defense, I think Mabel Stritcher was uncharmable.”

“Well, she doesn’t like curved walkways,” says Timothy, from where he’s checking on something baking in the oven. “That probably indicates lack of charmability.”

Exactly,” agrees Eames.

Dev is moving into position over Timothy’s shoulder so he can get what Timothy has in the oven.

Timothy, who consented to this brief bit of filming, says, “It’s baked macaroni and cheese.”

“What?” says Eames. “In that case, why are we waiting for it to finish cooking? Let’s just eat it now.”

Timothy ignores him with the alacrity with which he always ignores Eames’s ridiculous comments.

Luisa says, “So what’s the new plan on Mabel Stritcher?”

Arthur appreciates that Luisa has now been working for them long enough to know that the plan isn’t going to be just keep the straight walkways.

“If charm isn’t going to work, we’re taking the opposite route,” Eames says.

“The no-charm route?” says Luisa.

“Exactly,” says Eames, looking devious.

Eames doesn’t often look devious. Arthur lifts his eyebrows at him. “What exactly is the ‘no-charm route’?”

“It’s going to involve garden gnomes,” Eames says.

“Am I going to be pressed into service having tea with a poor little old lady?”

“She is none of those adjectives,” Eames announces.

“She is in fact all of those adjectives,” Arthur points out.

“Not metaphorically,” Eames insists.

“Okay, do I have to have tea with her?”




“Any kind of beverage? Or food?”

“No, darling, the no-charm plan actually calls for no further interaction with Mabel Stritcher.”


“That we initiate,” says Eames sweetly.

Chapter Text

Luisa has a spreadsheet of their to-do list, both filming and personal, and Arthur loves this spreadsheet, he really does, but it’s also intimidating as fuck. There is just so much to do, and Arthur’s spent the past couple of months looking at it through his fingers, too terrified to look more closely. It’s not the usual way he achieves tasks, but it’s been a weird period of time.

Now, though, now, for the first time, the spreadsheet seems doable. Arthur feels like they have more stuff crossed off than looming over them. It’s a good way to feel.

He goes in search of Eames, spreadsheet called up on his tablet, to share the good news, and finds him sprawled in the middle of the empty room that he has planned for a forest, staring up at the blank ceiling.

“What are you doing?” Arthur asks.

“I am contemplating the fact that this room is inside, in a house, with a ceiling and a floor and walls.”

“Oh,” says Arthur. “Okay.” Eames has done weirder things.

“It is a task Paul set me. Paul says I must remember we live inside. I think Paul is dubious of my ability to turn this room into a forest.”

“It’s like Paul’s never even met you,” remarks Arthur.

“Indeed,” says Eames reflectively.

Arthur settles on the floor next to Eames, looking up at the ceiling with him.

Eames turns his head to look at him and smiles a fond, crinkly-eyed smile and says, “Hello, darling.”

“Hi. I want to show you something. Not my penis. Yet.”

“Well, that sounds promising.”

Arthur holds up the tablet in his hand so Eames can see the screen.

Eames says, “Oh, I see. Are we going to have some more spreadsheet sex?”

“That’s our life spreadsheet.”

“I know. I look at it every so often, too.”

“Look how much we’ve accomplished.”

Eames gives him another warm look. “Darling, we always accomplish much. We’re incredible, you and I.”

Arthur says, “We have two clients left. And a few more weeks of filming. And then a little bit of promo. And then we’re getting married.”

“We’re already married,” Eames says.

“You know what I mean.”

Eames draws a fingertip along Arthur’s right eyebrow. “I do.”

“You know.” Arthur puts the tablet down so he can roll his way over to straddle Eames.

“Hmm?” Eames lifts an eyebrow at him.

“I totally believe that by this time next year this room will be a beautiful indoor forest.”

“Do you?”

“Yes. I’ve watched you work too much magic to ever doubt you.”

“When this is an indoor forest,” says Eames.


“I’m going to fuck you against every tree.”

Arthur smiles around the kiss he gives him. “Good.”

Chapter Text

Arthur gets them an incredible deal on the warehouse. Eames is delighted. It leaves him a sizeable budget for the things that he wants to do, and naturally all of the things Eames wants to do defy all laws of physics.

Arthur tags along when Gon and Ariadne go to look at the space for the first time. They’re planning to meet Jac and Issy there but they get there first to give Gon and Ariadne time to crawl all over the place and get inspiration.

They stand in the weed-strewn cracking asphalt of the dubious parking lot first, staring up at the building. It doesn’t look like much of anything at all. It’s an overcast day, thick with the threat of thunder in the distance, and Arthur’s hot in his well-tailored suit, humidity sneaking in between all of his layers.

Ariadne remarks, “Well. You weren’t kidding when you said it was a blank slate.”

Eames says, practically bouncing with his joyful enthusiasm, “It’s amazing, right? It’s going to be amazing.”

Arthur knows this is Eames’s favorite type of project, this blank-slate ground-up sort of thing, this complete reimagining. It’s how they ended up in a house that used to be a row of shops.

“There’s going to be so much maths,” Eames says, as he leads all of them inside, Dev and Tavi running a little bit to keep up with them. “Gon, you’re going to love this place. You and Paul will have to do so many calculations. You’ll be in heaven. You’ll be orgasmic.”

“I…am worried what you think my sex life is like,” remarks Gon. “Actually, I’m worried about what your sex life is like.”

Arthur, caught off-guard, can’t help that he laughs. Gon’s humor is like that, bone-dry, and for some reason it frequently takes Arthur by surprise when it suddenly reveals itself.

Ariadne grins at him, a look that says isn’t he great?. Arthur gets that look, he wears it himself a lot.

“My sex life is fine,” Eames says. “Don’t worry about my sex life. Worry about this wonderful warehouse space!” He flings his arms open with magnificent drama.

Ariadne says again, “Yup. Talk about blank slate.”

Right?” says Eames enthusiastically. “We’re going to need a ramp to go up to the second floor, at the proper angle and stuff, that’s where the maths is going to come in. And then the rest of the design is going to be driven by their needs for their businesses. It’s different, designing for a business. A new challenge.”

“It’s like being on Next Big Thing again,” remarks Ariadne. “A new challenge every week.”

Eames laughs.

Chapter Text

Jac and Issy arrive and are introduced to Ariadne and Gon, and then they spend a very long period of time talking about the project. Eames takes to sketching plans in the dust along the walls and floor. It makes Arthur think that he is going to sterilize him in a scalding shower before letting him touch him.

Jac and Issy look like they don’t quite know what to make of Eames, but that’s not unusual for someone encountering Eames’s bursting creativity for the first time. Arthur remembers, in the very early days of Eames in his life, waking at two a.m. to find him sprawled under the buffet Arthur kept in his dining room in those days. Arthur had been alarmed; now he would be alarmed if Eames wasn’t in the weirdest possible position in the middle of the night.

Gon asks practical questions and Jac and Issy look a little relieved to be asked something like “What materials do you prefer?” instead of Eames saying something like, “Why don’t we figure out how to make the sky the floor?” But Arthur isn’t fooled for a second by Eames’s extravagant questions. Eames is good with people and has already met Jac and Issy several times. He’s comfortable he knows them well enough to be off on flights of fancy. This meeting is really for the benefit of Gon and Ariadne, and they spend it getting to know Jac and Issy.

Arthur spends the time wandering around the perimeter of the warehouse watching and listening and trying to determine how he can get Issy alone to ask her what he’s been musing about. He doesn’t really want it on camera, either, which is another difficulty, because Kalinda always keeps close tabs on him in case he’s about to break into reaction gifs or something. He could just ask her not to film but that would attract attention and he doesn’t want that.

Finally, Kalinda calls Eames and Gon and Ariadne over for a group interview about the design plan, which gives Arthur his opening.

He walks over to Jac and Issy, and he’s greeted with enthusiasm, and Jac saying, “Let’s Snapchat. Do you Snapchat?”

“Um,” says Arthur, because he doesn’t really. His social media is limited to Twitter and Tumblr. Eames has an Instagram that he uses for designs and that Arthur will sometimes post to occasionally, but neither one of them has ever seen a purpose for getting Snapchat.

“Let’s do a selfie for Snapchat,” says Jac.

Arthur obediently poses for a selfie with Jac and Issy, and then turns to Issy. “I was hoping to talk to you.”

Issy looks surprised. “Oh?”

Arthur glances toward Eames to make sure that he’s still being interviewed by Kalinda, and Jac immediately pounces.

“Is this a secret?” she says.

“Well,” says Arthur. “Kind of. I’ve been asked to design a line of ties.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea,” says Jac.

“You wear great ties,” agrees Issy.

Arthur says, “Thank you. I’ve got a few designs and I think I’m happy with them but I was wondering if you might take a look at them and see what you think.”

Issy tips her head. “What about Giacomo?”

Arthur shrugs, pretending to be casual, but he knows Giacomo too well, and he’s not sure if he can trust Giacomo’s assessment. Giacomo is fond of him; Giacomo will think everything he does is brilliant. It’s the same reason Arthur can’t really ask Eames for an unbiased assessment of his ties.

Issy says, “Hmm. I see. Well, I’m happy to take a look at them, absolutely.”

“Thanks,” Arthur says, relieved.

Jac says, “Hey, what do you think?” and shows her phone to Arthur. She’s added flower crowns to their selfie.

“Well, Eames is going to love that,” remarks Arthur.

Chapter Text

Arthur emerges from the bathroom ready for bed to find Eames sprawled on the bed, completely naked.

Arthur lifts his eyebrows. When he went into the bathroom to get ready for bed, Eames had been in the dining room, crawling around among fabric samples on the floor and cursing geometry. (Arthur hadn’t inquired further into the cursing of geometry; sometimes Eames just did that). Arthur had assumed he was going to have one of his late designing nights. He was still planning whatever horrible thing he had in store for Mabel Stritcher, and there was still Jac and Issy’s warehouse to overhaul.

“Darling kitten,” Eames purrs at him from the bed.

Arthur knows this is meant to be seductive—and it is—but it’s also amusing. Actually, those things are often one and the same for him when it comes to Eames. Before meeting Eames, Arthur had never been seduced through laughter before, and he frequently wonders why more people don’t try it, because it’s devastating. If he had to write a relationship self-help book (and, given the breadth and direction of their current projects, that seems not outside the realm of possibility), his number one piece of advice would be to laugh with each other, because it’s the sexiest thing in the world.

So Arthur knows he is being seduced but he still says, “What’s all this?” because he wants to play along a bit.

Eames spread-eagles onto the bed. Arthur admires the view. “I am naked,” Eames points out.

“I can see that.”

“Naked and raring to go,” Eames continues.

“I can also see that,” says Arthur, amused. “I thought you were going to work until the wee hours of the morning.”

“I got too turned on by the thought of converting some of Issy’s fabrics into custom wallpaper and had to come find you.”

“Better you get turned on by that than by the thought of Mabel Stritcher,” remarks Arthur.

Eames laughs and says, “Come over here, you minx, so I can give you a pre-birthday fuck.”

“Oh, is that what this is?” asks Arthur. He knows, of course, that tomorrow is his birthday, but he doesn’t like to assume that Eames is going to make a fuss (even though Eames always makes a fuss).

“Of course it is.”

“For my birthday,” says Arthur, giving in and crawling onto Eames, “you get to fuck me?”


“That sounds like a gift for you, not for me.”

Eames laughs again and says, “Let’s see what you think once I’m done.”

Chapter Text

Arthur, fucked out of his mind, sleeps like the dead and wakes late on his birthday. Sunlight is forcefully finding its way around the draperies in their bedroom, glinting off the specks of silver in their ceiling. Eames is nowhere to be seen, and the house sounds unusually quiet to him beyond their bedroom. Ordinarily there is Timothy cooking in the kitchen down the hallway, chatting with Luisa, but also ordinarily Arthur is out of bed at this time. Because it’s his birthday, they’ve arranged a day off from everything and everyone. There is no one in their house right now who isn’t them, and Arthur loves their entourage but he is relishing this day ahead of them of just them. It feels, oddly, like the very early days of their relationship, when they would just spend days wrapped in each other, and Arthur would watch Eames while he talked and marvel at the fact of him.

Arthur looks around their bedroom, and wishes for Eames, so he calls for him. “Eames?”

“Out here, darling!” Eames calls back.

Arthur frowns. He wants to order him back to the bedroom, because it’s his birthday and he wants a nice long lie-in, but he also doesn’t want to be bossy just because it’s his birthday. He snags one of Eames’s shirts where it’s lying discarded on the bedroom floor—of course—and pulls it on as he trails down the river hallway. The water is on, gurgling its way over the sand and seaweed display, and Arthur takes a moment to smile at it through the woven glass.

He reaches the dining room and pauses, because the dining room is…impeccable. It’s all cleaned up. The night before it had been, as usual, covered in Eames’s designing detritus, spilling off the table onto the floor, and now it’s pristine. The floor has…nothing on it. Not a thing. Arthur spends a moment admiring the gleam of the marble and the way the plush Moroccan rug they chose for under the table spills over it. These are sights he seldom gets to see unassailed. He looks at their dining room table, which is massive because the dining room space is massive, and in the middle of it is the most enormous bouquet he’s ever seen, of bougainvillea. It makes him think of the house in St. Thomas, where bougainvillea climbs over every outside wall, creeps onto the terrace, and he smiles at it and calls, “Eames?”

Eames appears from the kitchen, smiling genially. He’s dressed beautifully, in a pair of perfectly tailored fawn-colored pants and a deep blue shirt that Arthur bought him the year before. It features a peacock motif, which Arthur thought very suitable for Eames. Eames loves it but wears it only for special occasions. He is wearing it well at the moment, sleeves casually rolled up to display his forearms. He looks good enough to eat.

“Hello,” he says.

Arthur tears his eyes away from Eames to indicate the bouquet on the dining room table. And the state of the dining room itself. “What’s all this?”

Eames grins and steps into his space and tugs him closer using the collar on his shirt. “Happy birthday, husband,” he says before kissing him, and then he murmurs against his lips, “I like your shirt.”

“I like your shirt,” Arthur says into the kisses. “Did you really clean the dining room for me?”

“I did.”


“When you were sleeping. You slept through it all.”

“Oh, so that’s why the thorough fuck last night happened. What a devious plan.”

Eames laughs. “The thorough fuck happened because I felt like thoroughly fucking. Can’t that be a thing? Don’t kill all our romance.” He kisses behind Arthur’s right ear. “But yes, its excellent side effect was you were dead to the world.”

“Well, I love it. We have a beautiful dining room, and the bouquet is gorgeous.”

“Sorry we weren’t able to get away, but I thought bringing a little bit of St. Thomas to you would work.”

“It absolutely works,” Arthur agrees fervently.

“Now,” says Eames. “Do you want some breakfast?”

Chapter Text

Arthur takes a picture of their kitchen with his cell phone, not to tweet—today is just for them—but for posterity.

“If I don’t take a picture,” he tells Eames, “I don’t know that I will believe that this actually happened.”

Eames laughs and says, “Sit, sit, enjoy.”

It’s a full English, only with American bacon instead of English, and Eames has very clearly cooked it, everything’s fresh, and yet their kitchen is not a mess.

“Where are all the pots and pans you use for moral support while you cook?” Arthur asks.

“I put them all away,” Eames says. “They were out, and they encouraged me through my task, and then I put them all back, and then I cleaned all the pots and pans I used.”

“Eames,” Arthur says. “You didn’t have to do all of this.”

“Of course I had to do all of this,” Eames says. “It’s your birthday. It’s the most important day of the year, because it’s the anniversary of the day the world got you. And the world got you, and then I got you, and really it should be a national holiday.”

“Eames,” Arthur says again, which is thoroughly inadequate, so he kisses him instead.

He would just clamber right onto Eames’s lap except that Eames says, “Don’t you want to eat my beautiful breakfast that I made for you?”

“I do,” Arthur says, torn.

Eames notices that he’s torn and laughs. “Eat. Plenty of time for sex later. The day is young.” He ducks forward to kiss Arthur’s right dimple.

Arthur says, “Sex on the kitchen counter later?”

Eames shakes his head. “Now, now. This is your day. No sex on the kitchen counters. We will keep the kitchen counters pristine and sex-less.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Arthur says, “but that is one of the hottest things I’ve ever heard you say to me.”

“I know,” says Eames simply.

Chapter Text

Arthur’s mother calls just as they’re finishing up breakfast. He takes the call as Eames clears their plates and waves him away when he tries to help.

“I’m sure you two are having a self-indulgent day,” his mother says, “I just wanted to wish you a quick happy birthday.”

“Thank you,” Arthur says. “We’re just taking it easy. No big plans.”

“Good,” his mother says. “You need to take it easy. You two never sit still.”

“Hi, Laura,” Eames calls from the sink, where he’s rinsing the dishes to stick them in the dishwasher.

“Eames says hi,” Arthur says.

“Hi back. How are the two of you? How’s Eames’s father?”

“Good, good,” Arthur says. “Everyone’s good and everything’s going well. Busy, but well. We are getting more wedding planning done. Slowly.”

“Don’t worry about any of that,” his mother says. “Especially not today. It’s just a party. It’ll all come together. Hang on, Saito wants to talk to you.”

Eames slides a mug of coffee in front of Arthur. Arthur had been so preoccupied by the novelty of Eames’s breakfast that he had forgotten coffee. He’s astonished to realize it now and gives Eames a grateful smile as he waits for the phone to be passed to Saito.

“Arthur,” Saito’s voice says. “Happiest of birthdays to you.”

“Thank you,” Arthur says.

“Your mother says I am not to bother you with work today.”

Arthur takes a moment to reflect on the fact that his mother tells Saito what to do and Saito listens. Arthur and Eames have always barely felt comfortable telling Saito what to do, and Saito works for them.

He says, “It’s okay if you want to—”

“No, no,” Saito cuts him off. “It’s your day off. Enjoy it. Tell Eames that I say hello. We can talk business later. And, once again, birthday felicitations.”

Arthur says good-bye to his mother and then turn to Eames, who is sitting next to him calmly sipping his coffee. He says, “Saito wished me birthday felicitations.”

“Of course he did,” says Eames equably. “Do you want to see the living room?”

Chapter Text

Arthur doesn’t know what he expected of the living room but when he crosses the threshold he stops short. The room is dim, because Eames has all of the curtains drawn, but it’s getting a bit of ambient light from the kitchen, and it looks as if it’s been…covered in something.

Eames is picking his way past him to dramatically open the curtains, and light floods into the space, and Eames says, “Ta-da!”

The room is in fact covered. Eames has draped every inch of it with a profusion of soft fabrics, all of Arthur’s favorite fluffy things that he likes to curl up into. Eames decorates with soft fabrics anyway because he knows Arthur loves them, but this is above and beyond. They cover the floor; all of the furniture is misshapen lumps under cascades of fur and fleece and feathers.

Arthur says, “Eames,” and then shakes his head because he doesn’t know what else to say. It’s like Eames has made them a nest, or a den, or a burrow, or something like that, and the two of them can just settle in and hide in there all day.

Eames says, “Do you like it?”

Arthur says, “Of course I like it. I love it.”

“I wasn’t sure what to… I wanted to make you happy, and I know how much you love—”

“Eames.” Arthur cuts him off to cup his face between his hands and kiss him. “You make me happy every single day. Every single day. I love everything about you and everything about this life we have.”

Eames smiles at him, and kisses the bridge of his nose, and allows, “Alright. I just wanted to make you extra happy today. By giving you everything for you to cuddle into.”

“This must have been so much work,” Arthur marvels. He can’t imagine. Eames must have worked through the night to get everything done, not to mention the planning of getting all the fabrics in the first place, and hiding them from Arthur.

“It was,” Eames agrees gravely. “I’m a martyr.”

“How can I ever make it up to you?” deadpans Arthur.

“I’m sure you’ll find a way,” Eames replies. “I have faith in you.”

Chapter Text

In the end, they don’t have sex on all of Eames’s soft, cuddly fabrics because Arthur doesn’t want to ruin them, and Eames says, “It’s fine, we’ll save the sex for later, I had other plans. And I knew you wouldn’t want to have sex on the furs. Even though I can hardly imagine anything more decadent.”

“We’ll tackle that fantasy later,” says Arthur drily. “What did you have in mind for the rest of the day today?”

Gossip Girl?” Eames suggests.

Arthur hates to admit it but he does enjoy Gossip Girl, and they’re getting close to the end now, so he agrees that they should spend the day snuggling in softness and plowing through Gossip Girl.

The house is fully stocked with unhealthy snacks.

Arthur says, “Did you go to the grocery store?”

Eames nods.


“Darling, there are twenty-four-hour grocery stores, you know.”

Arthur can’t believe how much went on while he was sleeping. “Do you always do so much when I’m asleep?” he asks.

Eames laughs and says, “What’s the American expression? I shall take the Fifth?”

“Well, nobody in America says ‘shall,’ but close enough.”

Eames’s parents call just as they’re settling in together with all of their unhealthy snacks, and they spend a little while catching up with them and making sure his dad is still doing well (he is), and then they sit and finish Gossip Girl.

And when it’s done Arthur says, “No, wait, Dan really fucking was Gossip Girl? What the actual fuck?”

“That was…” Eames considers. “Well.”

“Fucking Dan,” Arthur reiterates, “was fucking Gossip Girl.”

“See, if Dan was actually fucking Gossip Girl, that would have been more interesting,” Eames muses.

“No. No. The only way to ruin Gossip Girl more than having her be Dan Humphrey would have been to have her fuck Dan Humphrey. I know this is a you-and-me day,” Arthur begins.

Eames looks amused. “Go ahead and tweet.”

The tweet reads, Dan is Gossip Girl?!?!?!!?! #gossipgirl #spoilers

Eames says, “Hmm. That wasn’t quite how I expected the show to go.”

“Seriously,” sighs Arthur.

Eames looks across at him. “The day is still young-ish. Any thoughts on what to do?”

Arthur glances toward the window, where the sun has lessened slightly, drifting into a gloriously long summer dusk.

He says, “Should we see if we can go out?”

Chapter Text

They make a deal that, if it gets to be too much, they’ll go back home, but it’s a beautiful day and they have free time and Arthur misses the places they used to haunt. Eames keeps his beautiful outfit on, because Arthur can’t bear to have him take it off, but Arthur dresses down and musses up his hair and then throws a baseball cap over it.

Eames pulls out a fedora.

“Where the fuck did you get that?” asks Arthur.

“I have been saving it for a rainy day,” Eames says innocently. “I thought it could be part of my disguise.”

“Put it back,” Arthur commands.

Eames grins at him. “What if I wear a top hat to go out?”

“You think you wearing a top hat will attract less attention?”

“No, but I think I’d look good.”

“You would look good. We’ll save it for the bedroom.”

“When we’re enacting my sex-with-furs fantasy?” asks Eames hopefully.

“Sex with furs or sex on furs?” inquires Arthur. “Because I feel like those are two very different things.”

Eames laughs, and they head out together. They start the day at the coffee shop where they used to be regulars when their schedules were less chaotic and also they weren’t celebrities. The baristas have all changed out and nobody recognizes them, but that’s a good thing.

They go for a walk with their iced coffees through the park, stopping to visit Turtle Boy (horchatita), who is Eames’s great love and, according to Eames, the entire reason they live in Worcester. Then, as the day tips toward dinnertime and they get hungry, they go to Arthur’s favorite Vietnamese place. They’ve been doing more take-out these days, so they’re greeted warmly by the owners, who have missed them, and given a table in a quiet, dim corner that’s mostly candlelight, so they won’t be bothered.

Not that anyone’s bothered them all day. It’s been a magic day, and Arthur tucks into his pho with pure pleasure, relishing the familiar comfort of it. Eames is telling a story about popcorn that he had heard in a podcast he’d listened to overnight.

“How many podcasts did you listen to last night?” Arthur asks, because surely it’s a huge amount.

Eames smiles and takes another bite of bánh cuốn.

Arthur says, “Thank you. For my very lovely day.”

“You talk as if it’s over,” remarks Eames. “It’s definitely not over.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on the upcoming sex part of the evening,” Arthur replies.

Eames waggles his eyebrows at him.

Arthur says, “Thank you, then, for my very lovely life.”

Eames smiles. “Thank you for mine.”

Chapter Text

When they get home, there’s a sleekly wrapped box on the kitchen island, where there had not been one when they left.

“Where did that come from?”

“Oh,” says Eames negligibly. “The birthday gift fairies must have stopped by.”

“Did you know I’d want to go out today?” Arthur asks curiously, because that is a stunning ability to predict Arthur’s desires.

“No. That just worked out dramatically. I’ve had this bought for you for ages, but I had Luisa keeping it because I didn’t want you to stumble upon it accidentally. It’s difficult to hide things from you.”

“This house is so enormous,” Arthur comments. “You shouldn’t have a problem. You should just stick it with the creepy clowns in the gallery. I’d never look there.”

“Indeed, darling, but I didn’t want to taint your gift with creepy clowns.”

“I appreciate that,” Arthur says, pulling the gift over to him.

It’s a beautiful box of ebony wood with silver accents, on one of which is engraved an elaborate “A” that is clearly of Eames’s own design, because the embellishment feels unique to Arthur. Curious, Arthur undoes the clasps and opens it, and inside, ranged elegantly along the dark blue velvet, are art supplies: colored pencils and wells of watercolors and bits of charcoal and an array of paintbrushes. There is a sketchbook, with high-quality heavy cream vellum pages, on the cover of which is scratched in gold Dream Bigger.

Eames says, “You told that story to my father, about having wanted to be an architect, and I suspect you don’t really want to go back to school but I also suspect you miss that moment of feeling like you were confident in your creativity, like you never doubted what you could do. And I think, with the tie thing, that you’re cautiously getting yourself back to that place. Sometimes I catch you working on the ties, and you have this little smile of concentration on your face, and it’s cute, it’s different from your usual frown of concentration. So I thought you might like room to explore that side of yourself more, think about that side of yourself more. You let me use the entire house to be an artist. You should get a taste of being an artist, too.”

Arthur says, “Eames, that’s…” It’s the sort of typical Eames present: giving him something he didn’t even realize how badly he wanted.

“Come here,” Eames says. “Let me show you…” He takes Arthur’s hand, tugging him down to the other side of the house, to their warren of rooms that are sex dungeons and indoor forests and in-law apartments.

“What are we…” Arthur asks, bewildered, as Eames leads the way. “Where are we going?”

“We have a house full of rooms. So many rooms we keep coming up with the most ridiculous things to do with them. So I thought: What if we use one of them for something useful for a change?”

They have reached a doorway, to one of the rooms Arthur assumed would be absorbed by the in-law suite. Eames opens it to reveal a mostly empty room, a decent size without being huge. It’s one of their street-facing rooms, and the bottoms of the tall windows have been hung with screening to keep prying eyes out, but the tops of the windows have been left bare and Arthur knows the room will be brilliantly bright when the sun is out.

The only things in the room are an easel and a drafting table.

Eames says, “This room is for you. I decorated sparsely, as you can see, because it’s all you. Something in this house that’s all you.”

“Everything in this house is all me,” Arthur protests, because he doesn’t want Eames to feel otherwise.

“Everything in this house is all us,” Eames corrects gently. “You filtered through me. And you’ve rather given me the public rooms for my domain. So here is your domain. You can use it for art if you want, or not at all, but I wanted to give you a room for you, now that your office has been coopted for so many show things.”

It wasn’t that Arthur didn’t know that Eames would know how much Arthur needs space and how much space he’s been conceding; it’s just that he didn’t think it would manifest itself in this gift.

Arthur says, solemnly, because he feels reverent about this gift, “Thank you.”

Eames smiles at him. “My absolute pleasure, darling.”

Chapter Text

“You might think the night is over,” Eames announces expansively. They’re walking to their bedroom together, down their river hallway, and Eames has an arm slung comfortably over Arthur’s shoulders, keeping him tucked up close against him, and Arthur is so warm and cozy and happy that he doesn’t want this day to ever end, so he’s okay with their night not being over.

And anyway: “I’d never dream of such a thing,” Arthur says, turning to press a kiss haphazardly along the curve of Eames’s jaw, rough with stubble that he rasps his tongue over briefly.

“Mmm,” Eames agrees, leaning into the kiss but still a little aloof, as he keeps their forward momentum going, “and you might think I’m going to take you into our bedroom and ravish you.”

“But you’re not?” Arthur guesses.

“I’m not.”

“Are you going to ravish me in your office instead?”

Eames laughs. “I have one last gift for you.”

“Yes,” replies Arthur gravely. “Your dick. So I assumed.”

Eames laughs again. “Eventually, kitten. One more gift before that.”

“Eames,” Arthur protests a little. “You know you didn’t have to—”

Eames pauses just outside their bedroom door, and takes both of Arthur’s hands in his, and says solemnly, “Darling. I didn’t do any of today because I thought I had to.”

“I know,” Arthur admits, a catch in his throat, because most of the time he can be light and teasing about Eames but always underneath it is his knowledge that Eames loves him so much and it’s the most wonderful way to be loved.

“You’re…” Eames looks as if he isn’t sure what to say, then decides on the simplicity of, “I love you very much, darling.”

“I love you, too.” Arthur leans forward to kiss Eames’s cheek, letting his lips linger there for a tender moment. “You make me very happy.”

“You make me happy, too,” says Eames.

Arthur leans away. “Show me this gift that isn’t your dick.”

Eames laughs.

Chapter Text

The gift is Eames running a bath, apparently.

Arthur lifts an eyebrow as Eames tests the temperature of the water, frowning like it’s a chemical experiment he’s performing. They have a spaceship shower because Eames like shower sex but they have neither of them really been bath people.

He says, “Are we taking a bath?”

“Yes. Because…”

“Because?” asks Arthur, turning to watch Eames walk over to his vanity, pulling open a drawer.

“Because,” finishes Eames, and flourishes something at him.

Arthur leans closer to get a better look and then starts laughing. Because it’s a bath bomb in the shape of a little sheep. “Really?” he says. “Did you have this specially made?”

“Indeed I did not. There’s a possibility you have a devoted fan at LUSH. This is called a Baa Bar.”

“Of course it is,” says Arthur, amused. He reaches for the little sheep, and Eames hands it to him obediently.

“Baa,” Eames says.

Arthur grins. “Right back at you.”

“How romantic of you.”

“Should we sacrifice the little sheep for the good cause of our bath?”

“Yes,” says Eames. “You can do the honor. It’s your birthday.”

“Let’s do it together,” Arthur suggests.

And together they hold hands out over the bathtub and let the little sheep fall in.

Chapter Text

Arthur doesn’t know why they don’t have baths together constantly. It’s warm and relaxing and Arthur, curled close to Eames, feels drowsy and impossibly content.

“We should take baths together all the time,” he says, studying Eames’s familiar profile with an aching affection.

“Mmm,” Eames agrees, rubbing his hand distractingly up Arthur’s thigh. “Not exactly efficient, kitten.”

“Since when do you care about efficiency?” Arthur asks. “Where is my Eames, what have you done with him?”

Eames chuckles and sips some water off Arthur’s collarbone. “You care about efficiency. You find it very sexy.” Eames is floating his way more directly over Arthur, nibbling at his throat.

“Oh, do I?” says Arthur.

“Mm-hmm,” says Eames, sounding smug. “I have it on very good authority.”

“Whose authority would that be? Considering that you’re the expert on me.”

“I’m the expert on you?” says Eames, nipping at Arthur’s lips now.

“You know you are,” says Arthur.

“Uh-huh. Then I suppose I have it on my own authority.”

“You’re pretty good at seducing me.”

Eames laughs, sounding delighted and charmed, and Arthur loves that kind of laugh, interspersed with quick sipping kisses, kisses that are going to go somewhere but aren’t worried about how long it takes to get there. “‘Pretty good’? Am I? Darling, that’s the most wonderfully Arthurian compliment ever.”

“Well, if I said you were devastating at seducing me, you’d get smug.”

“Am I not smug already?”

“Hey.” Arthur suddenly puts a hand on Eames’s chest, pressing a little to put a bit of distance between them, just enough to slow the approach of their destination.

Eames looks perplexed. “Yes?”

“Nothing about this house is useless.”

Eames still looks perplexed. “What?”

“You said that you are always preoccupied with useless designs, but you’re not. Nothing about this house is useless. Everything about it is gorgeous, and perfect. Like the river hallways. Those fucking river hallways that drove me to distraction but I love them so much. I love this house. I love everything about it. And I never think that it’s useless. It’s not. At all.”

Eames doesn’t look perplexed anymore. Eames looks like he wants to eat Arthur alive.

And he basically does.

Chapter Text

Arthur wakes the morning after his birthday to Eames passed out next to him, taking up most of the bed as usual, snoring heavily into his pillow. Arthur looks at him and smiles with soppy fondness, a habit he’s really never fallen out of, no matter how many times he wakes up to this view.

He glances at the clock and sighs before rolling out of bed. His birthday is over, which means today is an ordinary work day for them: fighting with HOAs, going through designs with Jac and Issy. The show itself is winding down, allowing Arthur more time to worry about their wedding. He’s got an appointment with Giacomo coming up at the end of the week that he’s looking forward to.

In the meantime, though, he focuses on showering. He takes his time about it, which he doesn’t always do, but he figures he can let the glow of the birthday wear off slowly. He takes his time over an outfit, too, listening to Eames snore. They’re not filming until the afternoon, so Eames has time to sleep away.

When Arthur emerges from his closet, though, Eames rolls over and glances at him, rubbing at his eyes. “You’re up,” he says.

“I am. You don’t have to be, though. You’ve got time to sleep.”

Eames yawns and closes his eyes again, clearly taking Arthur at his word.

Arthur smiles and pauses by the bed and kisses Eames’s cheek. “Thank you for my very happy birthday,” he whispers.

“Anytime, darling,” Eames slurs out.

Arthur leaves Eames in their bed and heads toward the kitchen, turning on the water in the river hallway as he goes.

Luisa and Timothy are in the kitchen, reading the newspaper together over mugs of coffee. The kitchen smells absolutely delicious.

“Are you baking?” Arthur asks Timothy, because he ordinarily makes some variation of eggs for breakfast.

“It’s a special birthday treat,” Timothy says. “It’s an oven-baked apple pancake.”

Arthur knows his ears are pink. “You really didn’t have to.”

“It’s your birthday,” Timothy says. “You should have a special treat.”

“I bet he had enough special treats yesterday,” says Luisa. “And yes, I wanted that to sound as filthy as it did.”

“Luisa,” says Arthur, “you fit in so nicely here.”

Luisa grins.

Chapter Text

Gon and Ariadne arrive for a design meeting.

Ariadne asks, as they wait for Kalinda to get Dev and Tavi set up, “How was your birthday?”

“Lovely,” Arthur says, and smiles at Eames.

Eames smiles back, then says, “My gift to Arthur was more river hallways.”

“Really?” says Gon.

Eames laughs. “Don’t sound so alarmed. And no. Not really.”

“I was alarmed on Paul’s behalf,” Gon replies.

“You and Paul have quite the alliance going on,” remarks Eames.

“We call it the Science Alliance,” says Gon without missing a beat.

“Actually that’s a good name,” Eames muses.

“Isn’t it?” says Ariadne. “I told them they should get t-shirts.”

“That reminds me,” Kalinda says. “Not to interrupt, but I think I came up with a solution to your portmanteau problem.”

“Portmanteau problem?” echoes Arthur.

“Yeah, the whole Gonriadneames problem.”

Arthur winces. “That’s…yeah, that’s definitely a problem.”

Kalinda grins. “Anyway, I have a solution.” She gestures grandly in the air as she pronounces, “GAE. Get it? G-A-E.” (hurry_sundown, worstmailmanever)

There’s a beat of silence, and then Eames says, “Kalinda, you are a genius.”

Chapter Text

Once the cameras are set up, Eames says, “I am happily calling this inaugural meaning of GAE to order.”

“Oh, God,” says Arthur.

Eames looks at the camera. “GAE is our new portmanteau.”

“Go, Team GAE!” Ariadne says, raising her fist into the air.

“We need to get special handshakes,” says Eames.

“Actually.” Ariadne looks at Arthur. “Do you feel left out?”

“Oh, no!” Eames says, stricken. “Darling! It’s true! You’re not part of GAE!”

“I don’t feel left out,” says Arthur drily.

“We can add an ‘a’ in there,” Eames suggests. “We can be GAAE.” He says it with an odd glottal stop in the middle of the word.

“That’s okay,” Arthur says.

“GAAE,” Eames tries again.

“You sound like you’re trying to cough up a hairball,” says Arthur.

“Maybe Arthur’s A can just be silent,” Ariadne proposes.

“It’s apt,” Gon says, “because Arthur is often the overlooked vital support, quieter but no less important for it.”

“Aww,” says Ariadne.

Arthur ducks his blushing head.

Eames says, “Gon. So poetic. I love it. That perfectly describes our Arthur. Quiet, but vital.” Eames kisses the shell of Arthur’s right ear. “From now on, when we say ‘GAE,’ a silent extra ‘a’ is implied: GAAE.”

Arthur blushes through Eames shifting to kiss his right dimple.

Chapter Text

They start with Jac and Issy’s design, which is going beautifully according to plan. Gon has mathematical calculations to make sure they get the pitch of the ramp right for Issy. He shows them to Eames. Eames says, “Hmm,” as he looks them over.

Arthur remarks, “This is why you never became an architect.”

“Among many other reasons,” says Eames. “But yes.”

Gon, however, is in his element. He has several very practical proposals for the equipment each of their businesses will require, and how they can most effectively share the space.

Eames nods and says the plans look like they make sense, which they do.

Ariadne adds, “But, as I keep reminding Gon, you have to add that touch of whimsy.”

“Like a really good coat rack,” Gon says.

Arthur smiles at the memory.

Ariadne says, “Jac and Issy are clearly people with a streak of whimsy. I looked up Issy’s designs and they’re amazing. I want to make sure we incorporate them in some way.”

“Agreed,” Eames says. “Ahead of you. I’d really like some of her fabrics to inspire wallpaper. Can you look into how long that’s going to take? And if it’s too long, can you tell them we’re very important people and need it very quickly?”

“And pay them more money?”

“Yes. Pay them more money,” Eames agrees. “Speaking of whimsy. Issy’s multicolored hair. What do we think of it?”

“It’s cute,” says Ariadne.

Arthur looks closely at Eames, because he is speaking in that concentratedly casual way that puts Arthur’s antennae up. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” Eames says with exaggerated innocence. “I was thinking I might give it a try.”

“Multicolored hair?”

“Yes. What do you think?”

Arthur tips his head, considering. “Hmm,” he says, because he doesn’t want to say, It would probably be hot, because he doesn’t want to admit out loud on camera that everything Eames does is hot.

Eames grins, and Arthur knows he’s thinking that Arthur basically does that all the time already.

Chapter Text

The meeting moves on to The Mabel Stritcher Plan.

Eames says, “So is everything in place?”

“Well, not in place,” Gon replies. “Not yet. But ordered.”

“Yes,” Eames says. “That’s what I meant. When do we expect delivery?”

“Shortly. Tomorrow or the day after.”

“What’s this?” Arthur asks. “What’s been ordered?”

“Shh.” Eames glances meaningfully toward the camera. “I want it to be a surprise.”

“Kalinda can edit it out later.”