ciircee: (bought the airline)
[personal profile] ciircee
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3



It was strange, having something with Eames, but even stranger still was how very normal it all was. After inception, after that night, after that next day and the one after, things went back to normal. Arthur came back to the apartment in California after some jobs, saw Dom and the kids, saw Eames when he was in town. After other jobs he dropped in on other people he knew in other places and sometimes saw Eames if he was around. He worked, he went back to his own places, he went on vacation to places where he was pretty sure nobody had a price on his head.

The only thing that had really changed was that Eames was there more, planned on and deliberately there more, on more of his jobs, at some of his vacation destinations, in so many of his places. And when he wasn't there, he was somehow still present. More present. Sometimes Eames stole things and left them for Arthur to find: pieces of art or forged documents or weapons, tangible things that Arthur could put his hands on. They lingered on intangibly in his mind and Arthur found himself leaving bits of himself around for Eames. He pulled strings for Eames even in jobs they didn't share or he upgraded Eames' rental cars into low-slung, high powered sports cars. Sometimes he sent Eames a bottle of wine and two glasses.

Perhaps the biggest change, that still seemed so very strangely normal, was that they had sex. A lot. There had been entire days together where they'd barely managed to get out of whichever bed they had found themselves in. Arthur, after nearly nine months, was still sort of drunk on all of the sex.

He was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something to go wrong, for himself or for Eames to remember that they were a terrible idea and an even worse reality. He was sure from the cagey way Eames watched him at times that Eames was waiting too.

It—whatever they were or weren't calling what they had together—didn't interfere with working together the way Arthur had once thought it might, even as wary as they both were. It didn't make it any easier, either. It did, however, mean procuring one less emergency-exit-strategy vehicle when necessary. Whether or not it sometimes had a hand in making it necessary was occasionally a relevant, hotly debated point of concern.

Arthur tipped a look at where Eames sat in the passenger seat, watching the Italian countryside rolling by. They'd given up arguing and had lapsed into an accepting silence miles and miles ago. "Thanks for the assist back there."

"You do so hate being shot at," Eames said, and Arthur could see the slight smile on his face from the corner of his eye. He opened his mouth to say something, possibly to remind Eames that when they were together for too long he did stupid things and took stupid chances, when Eames suddenly straightened out of his slouch. "What's that, then?" Arthur knew Eames wasn't talking to him, something confirmed when he said, "Take a right, when you're able, Arthur."

"Hm? Sure." They were safe, well away from Turkey, and Eames hadn't reached for the gun in the glove compartment yet so Arthur didn't mind indulging him, following his on-the-fly directions until they stopped in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything but a derelict church. There was no rectory house, no graveyard, just the exposed-stone building with moss heavy on the roof and panes of intact stained glass here and there in the windows. "Eames?"

Eames was already out of the car, pulling at the solid doors with their wrought iron handles. "I've seen your builds, Arthur," he called, shouldering his way into the church. "I know how much you like buildings and this one you will love." His voice echoed just slightly, round and rich

Arthur followed him in, unable to help himself because Eames was right—he did love buildings, not just the sleek and modern but this, too, this church with the high ceilings and vaulted arches and the iron staircase that spiraled tightly up to a wide, open choir loft. "She is lovely in her bones," Arthur said softly, looking around. There were holes in the ceiling and the stone floor was damp, the woodwork warped in places where the weather had crept in. The facings on the bricks was chipped off, rubbed away, the curtains of the confessional torn to mildewed rags. But it was a beautiful space.

Eames was smiling at him, happy and surprised. "I'd put up paintings in the main here," he said. "Wild abstracts done in oils. Big, bold things in fussy ornate frames that think they can contain it all. I'd put a kitchen in the sacristy, the dining in the apse. Would have to have the bath in the baptismal—where I would do absolutely horrible things to you—and I think I'd like to have in that towel bar, as well. The pretentious one that can kill a man. Should there be two? One just for towels and one for self defense? Something to think on." His smile deepened and Arthur felt his own form in response. "A fireplace in the confessional, maybe, put 'round with great deep chairs and a monster of a sofa, yeah? A place to stretch out." He was back to looking around the forgotten church around them, so incomprehensibly Eames in his views.

It was something that Eames did, on occasion. Like looking at people and figuring out how they worked, sometimes Eames looked at a place and thought of how it could be worked, forged into something other than just what it was. Arthur, in the abandoned little church and listening to Eames' well-meaning plans to defile it, could have said something about Eames and his irreverence or about himself and his not-so-very-religious Jewish upbringing but he was charmed. He felt his heartbeat go soft in his chest for a moment as he watched Eames dream a little, wide-awake and unashamed.

"And I'd have a bed in the loft. The light would be lovely, all burnished up gold with dust motes in the slants." Eames finished peacefully, contentment in his tone. Then he asked, "What about you, Arthur? I know you've got some little bit of imagination to you. Come along, what would you have?"

You, in the tall grass and wind poppies, stretched out naked under me in the sunshine, with a breeze that smells like pink heather and wild rosemary. I'd have you, Arthur thought as he looked at him making love to me outside before doing it again in the bedroom loft. He didn't say it, though. Eames didn't mean anything in his dreamy planning and Arthur wasn't sure if he did himself. He shook his head slightly and crossed the floor to Eames. He pushed his hands into his pockets before leaning into him, ghosting a kiss over his mouth as the first flakes of a Tuscan snow began to drift down around them. "C'mon," he said as he stepped back. "It's cold in here."

"Wait," Eames caught his arm, catching him back. "One more," he said and Arthur went willing into the kiss, stayed despite the sigh of the wind as the kiss slid deeper and deeper, delicate and true. This was why people dreamed, natural or Somnacin induced, he knew this was why.

I couldn't dream this, he thought, eyes fluttering open as the kiss ended and Eames' eyes met his, holding him, holding on to him. He kissed him again, helplessly. Nobody could dream this.


He almost wondered if that was why the disaster of himself and Eames being himself-and-Eames had yet to materialize. Maybe it never would, not to the extent that he had always feared. Maybe it had never been a real thing at all. Maybe…

"I've been cock-blocking myself for years," Arthur mused into his beer.

Dom nearly spit his own beer across the table. "Jesus, Arthur."

"You and Mal once had sex in the kitchen while I was in the dining room," Arthur reminded him archly. "Where, I remind you, I was setting the table for lunch."

"Oh, yeah," Dom grinned for a moment, for a moment he was the carefree guy he'd been years ago, before it faded into something softer, older, sadder, wiser. "I don't want to say that you grew up but..."

"Please don't."

"You grew up, Arthur. Both of you did. You can handle things now. It's the difference between the Danielson job and incepting Fischer."

It was too simple to be true. Arthur gave him a dark look and then shrugged. "Maybe." Maybe he over thought things. Maybe he was too worried with pulling in all the details to make a bigger picture, maybe it was like having too many bits of information and not knowing which were useful and which weren't. Maybe— "Cobb!" he jolted as his chair tipped precariously.

Dom huffed out a laugh as Arthur settled his chair back down on all four legs. "Which job is he on, anyhow?"

"Eames?" Arthur blinked. "The Wisniewski-Rey out in Syria but he'll be home in a few days. They're making the grab late tonight." He frowned at Dom, who was smiling warmly at him. "What?" Dom kept smiling at him. "Seriously, what?"

Dom didn't say and Arthur got distracted by the kids until it was that golden time of night, tuck-in time, story time, and the whole world was mid-summer dusk with the sky stained watermelon pink in the place where the sun had gone. He left to let Dom wallow in his children and his home and the minutiae of his everyday life.

He figured it out, though, when he got back to his apartment and found Eames in it, halfway to sleeping. "Hey," he said, shutting the door softly behind him. Eames smiled at him from the couch, drowsy and sweet. "You're home early," said Arthur and then stopped.

Because that was it.

"We had the opportunity for the grab and we took it."

Home. He'd said 'home' and he'd said it twice and he'd said it without a thought.

Worse yet, Arthur realized, he didn't particularly mean this apartment, the one that had Eames installed next door. He didn't care for the apartment in Venice Beach any more than he did for the twenties house in East Sheen or the flat in Paris, or the sprawl of his place outside of Rio, or his bungalow in Singapore.

"Not the sort of mischief you'd get up to, taking an early drop," Eames was saying, still sleepy and smiling quietly, unconscionably honest. "But I did want to get home to you."

To you and that was what Arthur had meant when he'd said 'home'. He'd meant Eames was going to be with him, he was going to be with Eames, and that was home. It was horrible and wonderful. It was a riot inside of him.

It must have showed.

"Arthur? Are you angry?" Eames looked bewildered. "Because if you are I would like to take this time to say that I stole something for you: a very ugly painting of some sordid-looking geezer who will creep you out in the middle of the night when you're up to have a piss."

Eames knew Arthur had secret love for the strangest things, things that were 'very un-Arthur' as Mal had once said. Things like portraits that made his skin crawl. Just like Arthur knew Eames delighted in theft for the sheer joy of getting away with something. Just like he knew that Eames would bring him military secrets from any country he was in any time he could get them, as a souvenir. He knew. And Arthur had gone and bought the church in Maremma simply because Eames had dreamt there and kissed him in the midst of it. He hadn't told him about that yet. He hadn't because—

"Fuck me," Arthur sighed.

"I'm a bit tired," said Eames. "Can we have a lie down first?"

Arthur shook his head and finally left the door. He stood over Eames for a second before he gave up and straddled his lap, sinking down against him. "Do you remember the first time we slept at your place?" he asked as Eames' arms came up around him.

Eames' hands wandered over his back, gentle and sure, touching for the sake of touching. "I'd ask which you meant but I don't really need the specifics as it was just next door. We'd gone a few rounds here and couldn't be arsed to change your sheets. I didn't want to sleep in the mess so we changed venues."

"Do you remember that night we were so drunk that we couldn't remember having sex?

"Vaguely," Eames said and Arthur could hear the smile in his voice. He pinched him and Eames pinched back. It was more like a tickle. "I remember waking up sore and filthy and you were in the bathtub and there was a chandelier in the bed." He yawned, head turned to the side, jaw cracking before he looked back. "Was there something you were after with this? In particular?"

Arthur felt like he was lost, like he was found. He could live like this, he thought, with Eames this close to him, with Eames right there, with their arms around each other. He could live in moments like the one building itself around them. He could love Eames. He could love him so much. "I bought your church," he said. "I was going to give it to you for your birthday."

"My birthday is seven months on so if you're thinking it counts as an early present, you're wrong. I'll be expecting something on the day itself."

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Arthur demanded, drawing back to look at Eames' face. And he might have been cursing but his arms were around Eames' neck and his knees were firmly planted on either side of Eames' hips and he might have been glaring but he'd been more annoyed by Eames in the past for ruining lesser moments.

Eames cupped his face. "There you are," he murmured, "I've found you." Arthur felt his glower deepen, his irritation ratchet up. Eames smiled. "My Arthur," he said authoritatively, "is a grumpy bastard who wishes he didn't like me as much as he does. So he makes cranky faces at me and that's when he's most lovely. You're more beautiful than you have a right to be, Arthur." There was a catch to his voice, like a secret. "I don't know how you're even possible."

Inside his chest, Arthur's heart did something that was almost skipping a beat, almost falling, almost twisting, almost bursting, almost stopping, almost racing, almost helpless, almost overflowing, almost a little bit of everything but mostly it was. It was…

Home.

Love.

Eames.

Yes, he thought and Arthur closed his eyes and leaned into the touch of Eames on his skin. Inarticulate, inelegant, as off-balance and real as a totem, he thought, this.

He kissed the heel of Eames' hand and then the inside of his wrist before opening his eyes. Eames was watching him with dark eyes. He met him halfway when he leaned into a proper kiss. It was languid with a blurry edge of tenderness, the sort of kiss that Arthur had tried not to give out too often because he had never known what it meant and he had never known what he'd wanted Eames to think it meant.

Now he knew. Now he couldn't stop. He melted into it with a sigh. When Eames pulled back, Arthur followed, chasing his mouth into another kiss.

When Eames finally managed to break away by turning his head, Arthur nestled his face against Eames' neck, nosing into the soft space behind his ear, smudging the corner of his jaw with kisses soft as a whisper. "I was serious about that lie down," Eames said breathlessly.

Arthur bit him. "Why are you such a douche?"

"Hours and hours of wakefulness combined with air travel," Eames said. "What's your excuse?"

Shifting his weight, Arthur sat up and considered him. "I'm in love with you," he said finally.

"You win."

Arthur leaned back, gaining perspective. "Seriously?" he asked. "That's it? That's all you're going to say to that?"

Eames surged to his feet, hands hard on Arthur's ass to support his weight. "I can't believe I am this tired and still I must take you to bed."

"Put me down," Arthur said even as he wrapped his arms and legs around Eames, taking on some of his own weight as Eames staggered. "We're practically the same size, jackass. And I didn't say anything about having sex with you!" Not that he'd say no, not now, not anymore.

Nuzzling at his cheek, Eames braced him against the doorjamb for a minute, catching his breath. "You were pouting. You'd gone and made your romantic declaration and when I didn't swoon you pouted."

Arthur deliberately dropped his full weight against Eames' chest, sending them crashing into the room and onto the bed. "Fuck you," he pleasantly.

Eames rolled them over, holding him down. "I've already said I'm tired," he said plaintively. But Arthur could see the filthy, dark promises he knew so well. He could see contentment, warmth, and the way Eames genuinely liked him. He could see feelings he couldn't name and one that he could but wouldn't because it was Eames' job to name that one, to tell him that one.

Mostly, though, what he could see was a bone-deep exhaustion clouding over all the other things. Arthur slid his hands into short strands of Eames' hair and brought their foreheads together. "I know. Go to sleep."

"I love you, all right?" Eames said, his eyes searching and serious. "This is terrible timing, for which I will blame you later, but I love you. I just need a few hours of sleep and then we can be ridiculous about it."

Arthur hummed quietly. "Go ahead and sleep." He brushed a kiss over his mouth. "I'll be here when you wake up."

"I really want to be ridiculous with you," Eames said, eyes already closing. "Just a few hours, I promise."

"It doesn't matter how long," Arthur admitted softly, easing them to their sides, shifting them up the bed. "Take all night. I'll be here." He took a breath, a chance. "Forever."

The look in Eames' eyes broke his heart, but beautifully. "Forever?"

"Yes." He looked away and then reached over Eames, pulling at the edge of his quilt. It was too much work to wrestle a sleep-heavy Eames under the sheets, something he'd known for years and years.

"Did you just say 'forever'?"

"Yes." He managed to drag the quilt over Eames' bulk, smiling hopelessly at the way Eames snuggled himself into it.

"Are you really Arthur? Oh, shit, am I still in bloody Syria? Did you actually say—"

"Shut up and go to sleep." Arthur groped behind him and pulled the other half of the quilt over himself, their edges overlapping. "You're ruining it."

Eames touched his cheek, eyes nearly closed. "Will you say it again?"

"Forever."


Arthur woke up alone, the blankets beside him cool but for the warmth of the sunlight puddled on them. He'd fallen asleep with Eames on top of the blankets and had, apparently, sleep cleanly through until morning. Yawning he rolled out of bed, idly scratching at his stomach as he went in search of Eames, breakfast, or coffee.

He found none of those things and mumbled to himself under his breath as he put the kettle on. As he measured coffee grounds into the press pot he thought about how un-awkward he felt, the lack of remorse, the absence of delayed mortification. He thought about the night before, the things he'd said, and felt perfectly content. There was no need to rethink things, to go over them and look for mistakes, missteps. There was nothing he'd change.

The kettle whistled and he whisked it off the burner and poured. He sat down and put his chin on his arms as he watched the coffee steep. He'd told Eames that he loved him and Eames had said the same and the world had changed overnight but in the most unnoticeable way possible. He smiled.

"Watching it won't make it ready any sooner," Eames said from the kitchen door.

Arthur didn't startle. He always knew when Eames walked in to a room. The air changed, charged, settled on his skin like a lover's touch. It had always, always been that way with himself and Eames. "You never know," he said, eyes unblinking on the coffee. He did blink when Eames' hands settled on his shoulders, Eames himself a solid warmth at his back. "Yes?"

"I was expecting you to be in knots," Eames confessed. "Thought for sure I'd have to shag you half stupid to get you this loose."

Deciding the coffee was done, Arthur shrugged him off. "Nope."

Eames gave him a friendly leer, leaning against the center island. "I wouldn't have minded, just so you're aware."

Arthur drank coffee and made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat. He lowered the cup and half-asked, "You were up early."

"Internal clock is cocked up. I've no idea what time it is inside." He seemed to be carefully considering his next words before just dropping them. "Yesterday you said forever to me, Arthur. I thought we might actually talk about that."

There was no panicking sense of having to avoid it, of worrying about what would come after. Arthur smiled slowly around his mug. "I also said that I'm in love with you. Are you asking for a planning session here?"

Eames made a mild face. "I suppose so, yes. What does this mean? Shared homes? Joint checking accounts? Christmas letters to family? Is this a to do with jewelry? Because if that's the case then you should know that I just so happen to like shiny things and I'd never deny you the chance to accessorize."

"You thought about rings?" Arthur stared at him, hearing his coffee cup thunk down on the table.

"There's that condescension I love so well," Eames said fondly. "And yes, I did think about rings. If it's something that you want, it's something that I'm all right with having."

"I have to suck your dick right now," Arthur said with complete sincerity. "Right here."

"We eat here!" Eames balked. "And I'm being serious for once. What—" he fidgeted in tiny ways, honest ways, ways Arthur had learned in all the moments of being at Eames' side, on his point, at his back. "What do you want? What do you want me to give you?"

Just you, Arthur thought. And then he said so. "Honestly? Just this." He made a circling gesture to take in them, the apartment, the world. "We do what we do now only now we both know. Maybe we consolidate some stuff—why keep both of these apartments or separate places in Brazil?—and maybe when you go on a job and I'm not busy, I go with you. You come with me when I'm in something, at least until you get a good offer of your own. We quit waiting for one of us to do something wrong, for things to get fucked up. We don't leave." He poured himself more coffee. "There can be rings. There can be telling people. That's not something that matters to me. The other stuff does."

Eames was silent, still fidgeting. Arthur waited. "All right then, that's doable," he said at last. "All of it." He looked up, eyes so deadly serious that Arthur had to set his coffee down and push it away. "There's a make-or-break for me, though. One thing."

"One thing," Arthur repeated. I don't care what it is, he thought it's one thing. "Enlighten me." I'll do it.

"This." Eames said and then hesitated before pulling something out of his pocket. It looked like a wad of fabric.

Arthur looked at him as he reached for it, slow and cautious waiting for something to happen. Nothing did and so he took it—broadcloth cotton, black, with lemons. Arthur stood to shake it out and then stared. "It's an apron," he said looking back at Eames.

The smile on Eames' face was everywhere, his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, and so wide and bright it almost hurt. "It certainly is. I have decided that if we're going to be together, forever, there has to be an apron. The matching oven mitts and kitchen towels and tea cosy are up for spirited debate but the apron is a must."

"It's a cocktail apron."

Patterned with bright, fat lemons.

"Very good, Arthur," Eames was smiling, shining, and Arthur couldn't look away. "I spent some time thinking about how we might set up together when we could, between working as you've said, and I thought: if the two of us are really going to be actually and truly domestic together there should be a moment when the roast is cooking and the wine is breathing and there is an apron being worn. And then the door opens and a dulcet voice is calling out 'darling, I'm home' and—"

"I am not wearing an apron for you to perv on," Arthur said flatly. He couldn't keep his lips from twitching, though, knew his dimples were starting to emerge. He didn't care. "No."

"Of course not! I'll be wearing it and you'll come in and call me darling and loosen your tie and I'll tear off my clothes—excepting the apron of course—and we'll burn up dinner and possibly burn the whole house down while we go at it like animals. That's the only way this will work."

Arthur stood up, chair clattering over. This was ridiculous. "This is so stupid," he choked out, planting his hands on the table. "It's so stupid and fuck I am so turned on right now."

"Me too," Eames breathed. "The vulgar things I am going to do to you, I swear…" He stopped and planted his own hands on the table. "But this is my sticking point, Arthur, these stupid bits, this ridiculous side to you that likes hideous things and watches your coffee brew and reads the newspaper all out of order and tells me that you love me at the worst possible time—"

"There are worse times," Arthur interjected, fighting a smile and his hard on and the overwhelming idea that Eames was going to throw that in his face for years and years to come.

"—that's my sticking point," Eames narrowed his eyes, focused. "And I'm not going to let you sway me with your pretty dimples or your gorgeous erection or your supernatural abilities at nasty sexual acts or anything else. The apron or nothing, do you hear me?"

"You're insane," Arthur informed him. "Grab your apron, darling, and I'll stick your point in the bedroom."

"But there isn't any roast!" Eames mock protested, grinning wildly at him and tying the apron around his waist. He looked ludicrous.

Arthur thought fuck the bedroom and took him down hard on the kitchen floor. "I agreed to the apron, not the roast," he said, biting at a nipple through his shirt. "Take this off and I might be willing to negotiate."

"My god, this is a brilliant plan," Eames said, dragging off his shirt and reaching for Arthur's. "We're brilliant together."

"We are good at what we do."

This will work, he thought.


Whenever possible, Arthur flew out of the largest airport available. He told Dom, and anybody else who asked, that it made it easier to use his frequent flier miles. He didn't say, but was sure they knew, that it was also easier to use fake documents and hide extra bags.

Plus, there was a good chance of losing your tail if you were being chased. Arthur had seen enough chases in his life to recognize one in progress. "Excuse me, Cui," he said in Mandarin, bowing slightly to the architect he was with. "There's something I have to do." He turned left and then looked back. "You might want to get yourself out of here," he added.

She grinned at him and flashed him the okay sign.

Duty to his team done, he started down the concourse, slipping his carry-on bag off his shoulder.

Eames darted past him, breathing hard and murmuring, "Please do excuse me."

"You are excused," Arthur said before swinging his bag out wide and hitting the obviously hired-gun who was chasing Eames square in the groin. "Not you," he said to man as he began to drop. He slipped a needle out of his pocket, flicked off the cap and jabbed it in the man's thigh. "Sweet dreams, asshole." It took less than a second but Arthur made a mental note to collect the CCTV footage as soon as possible.

People were starting to look but not enough that anybody was really noticing or taking note. Arthur took his time walking away, resettling his bag on his shoulder, and ducking into a men's room blocked by a cleaning cart. "The PASIV device," he said informatively "can, in an emergency situation, be used in place of a tactical defensive weapon as well as a strategic insertion device."

"That wasn't in any of the booklets I was given when I signed on," Eames said, coming out of a stall and washing his hands. "Hello, Arthur," he said, shaking the water off and grabbing a paper towel. "Thanks very much for the timely intervention."

Arthur checked his pockets and then opened his bag. "I didn't buy you much time; I only took out the closest guy. I used the green stuff Yusuf sent, so who knows what's going to happen when he comes up from it." He found a syringe and held it up. The amber liquid was a bit cloudy and had the faintest of rose tints to it. "I have no clue what this is, either." He handed it to Eames. "Don't stab yourself. Rumor has it that Ariadne still can't do a build without a penis somewhere in it thanks to an accident with Yusuf's work."

"She's always been pervy," Eames said. "So's Yusuf." His hands settled on Arthur's hips and tugged him closer. "Did you and Cui find a better extractor for the Seung job?"

"Mm," Arthur hummed, half agreement and half simple pleasure. "Maybe Lysson. We're going to have a look at him now. I have twenty minutes to catch my flight out." He slid his hands up Eames' arms and onto his chest, curling his fingers in the lapels of his linen jacket. "So I—"

"IN THERE!"

"Private moment, you knobs!" Eames cursed, his hands dropping so that he could grab the first man in to the bathroom. He used the man's momentum to slam him headfirst into the door of a bathroom stall.

Arthur grabbed the next through the door and kicked his knee into bending the wrong way. He muffled the screams with his hand before giving up and wadding his pocket square into the man's open mouth. "Son of a bitch," he muttered "that was brand new. Eames?"

"Busy," Eames replied, flipping a third man over his back and onto the row of sinks. Several of the automatic faucets activated, the spray bouncing off of him before Eames injected him with Yusuf's cocktail. The man twitched and then went unconscious. "Now, what was it you wanted?"

"Just a sec," Arthur told him, catching the fourth guy in a choke hold. "Down!" He grunted as the gun came up. Eames dodged the first bullet and Arthur gave up enough control of the hold to grab the gun hand, aim it down, and fire the rest of the shots harmlessly into the grubby, industrial tile. "At least it was silenced," he said as Eames punched the man in the face. Arthur dropped him.

"Small favors," Eames said as he went riffling through the pockets of the men they'd downed. "Ah, here we are! Phones!" He flipped them on and then off as Arthur watched. "Clean. Arthur, do you want a burner?" He offered them up with one hand, already back to looting.

Arthur held out a hand. "He shot at you," he said. He frowned as he tucked the phone into his pocket. "In the airport."

"Legitimate legal tender! Couldn't use any yuan for the duty free, could you?" Eames asked as he continued to gleefully scavenge the fallen. "Credit card, identification, useless, useless, ah, massage coupon—now that's nice! I'm keeping that."

"Eames," Arthur narrowed his eyes. "They were willing to shoot at you in a large, international airport full of people. What did you do?"

He watched Eames finish up and heave a regretful sigh. "I was hoping for a few sets of keys. You know how I like keys."

Arthur did know but he didn't rise to it, merely kept his eyes pinned to Eames. "Who did you piss off, Eames?"

"Nobody you need worry about. Don't fret, Arthur. I'm not a child; I can avoid assassins on my own perfectly well."

"You should avoid having to avoid assassins to begin with. I hate it when you get shot," Arthur reminded him. "Do you remember what happened the last time you got shot?"

Eames put his hands on his hips. "Who could forget? You worried yourself sick for a day, fretted after me for a week, and spent two weeks being very angry with me," he recited. "Then you spent three days being flat out mean, the end of the last day you spent over an hour in riding my ass about the stupidity of getting shot. Directly on from that there were four straight days of you riding the rest of me in the most inventive positions possible. I wouldn't mind doing that last bit again," he finished with a thoughtful look.

He was impossible, infuriating, essential "Don't" please, just don't "count on it happening again if you do something dumb."

"I won't," Eames said and Arthur knew that he'd heard what he hadn't said. "I know better, don't I? I know how you work." Eames was good at that. "Speaking of work: have we got time for a quickie in here?"

"You're disgusting," Arthur told him, dusting his mouth with a too-brief kiss. "And regretfully, no. I have a plane to catch and you have a job to do."

Eames tapped the platinum band wrapped around Arthur's finger. "Didn't we agree when we got these that sex in airport toilets was part of the deal?"

"Only when time permits. Which it doesn't."

"Spoilsport." Eames drew him in flush against him, half hard and all eyes and hands. "Give us a proper kiss, yeah?"

Arthur kissed him deeply, his mouth slow and attentive. "I don't know why I put up with you," he said against Eames' wet lips as he batted a sly hand away from the button on his trousers.

"For the same reasons I put up with you," Eames said cheerfully, giving Arthur's zipper a friendly pat goodbye. "Against all better judgment, you love me."

And it was so very true, the truest thing Arthur knew, an emotional totem he'd never have chosen for himself but that worked anyway. He could recount his steps, each and every one.

"Yeah," he agreed even as he took a step back. There wasn't time and they were both working. There would be time later, plenty of it. "I'll see you at home," he said. "For now…" He tugged Eames close to kiss him fast and dirty, because he wanted to and because he could. He nipped his lower lip teasingly before shoving him back and briskly straightening out his waistcoat. "I believe I have some business to attend to."

Eames shrugged his own jacket back into line. "As it's not me you're attending, I believe I'll take my leave of you."

They left the men's room at each other's sides and split up at the junction between terminals five and six. "Eames…" Sometimes he couldn't wait to get away from him, sometimes he could hardly take leaving him. "Good luck."

"To you as well," Eames returned. Arthur nodded and turned, walking away. "Oh, and darling?" Eames' voice stopped him. "Do have a roast on when I get home, won't you?"

He smiled and flipped Eames off without looking behind him, like blowing him a kiss. "Go to work, Mister Eames."
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Circe

November 2012

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