croik: (Arthur's tripping)
[personal profile] croik
Fandom: Inception
Title: All You Think About Is Elephants. It's Pathetic.
Words: 5,400 (With sequels on the way)
Rating: NC-17
Pairings: Arthur/Eames, eventual Arthur/Robert and Eames/Robert
Warnings: This part, just graphic bottom!Eames sex. Eventual dub/non-con, underage sex (in dream), group sex, threats of suicide, and other triggering content.
Disclaimer: These characters and setting do not belong to me and are being used without permission but for no profit.
Summary: Of all the things Arthur thought might tear him and Eames apart, he never expected it to be Robert Fischer. Canonverse AU that takes place mid-movie.
Notes: C&C Welcome and appreciated. If someone's willing to help beta future parts for me I'd really appreciate it!

I was going to wait to post this, but seeing as this is the first time I've been around for Yaoi Day in years, I couldn't not post something. Happy 801 everyone! :D






Paris. Not Arthur's favorite city, but it had its charms--not that he would have the chance to enjoy them anytime soon. The job was everything and they hadn't even really begun yet. Ariadne was talented, but she would take time to properly train, and of course there was research to conduct, plans to work and rework, in all likelihood people to pay off, all culminating in the impossible task itself. As soon as Cobb returned with the rest of their team, they would begin changing the world. Arthur had never backed down from a challenge but even he had enough sense to be intimidated.

Arthur had just finished replenishing the PASIV's supply of compound when he heard footsteps echoing through the workshop. The tread of Cobb's cheap flats were easy to make out but there was a second pair, a sharp clap of fresh soles that belonged to someone else. He smiled, but was careful to smooth the expression away as he stretched to his feet and turned. It was all part of the game, after all, greeting Eames in the proper way--if he was too eager, too pleased, it would set the tone for the rest of their time together, and the last thing he needed on a job as serious as inception was complicating things between them.

Cobb stepped into view, and with him came Saito, dressed only slightly less impeccably than the last time they had met. Arthur blinked at them in barely-contained confusion. "Mr. Saito," he greeted, and moved automatically to shake Saito's hand. "I wasn't expecting you in the field."

"There's been a slight change of plans," said Cobb, in his usual "I'm not happy about this but don't say anything" tone. "Mr. Saito's going to be joining us on the job."

Arthur nodded and pulled out chairs for them. "At least we know you're an experienced dreamer," he said, playing along. "That makes things easier. Coffee?"

Saito unbuttoned his jacket and sat down. "Yes, please."

"I don't suppose you know how to forge as well?" Arthur joked as he hunted for mugs that weren't used. "I thought that was the whole point of going to Mombasa."

"Eames is already on his way to Sydney," said Cobb. "He's getting himself into Fischer Morrow to study up on the mark and work on our game plan."

Arthur had two mugs tucked into his arm and his hand on a third when Cobb's words halted him. "Fischer Morrow," he echoed. Despite the feeling of cold gnawing at his fingertips he snatched up the last mug. "So, our mystery mark is..."

"Yes. It's Robert Fischer."

Arthur had to remind himself to breathe.

An hour later Cobb and Arthur were back in Arthur's hotel room. "I know having the client along is never a good idea, but he insisted," Cobb said as he draped his jacket over the back of a chair. "Our chemist knows what he's doing--he said he had a few things to take care of and then Saito will fly him in on Thursday. He's sending ahead a list of supplies he wants us to find for him. Not the sort of things he can take on a plane, even a private one."

"Uh huh." Arthur didn't stop moving. He stripped out of his sweater-vest and slacks, ignoring Cobb in the room, and pulled on a T-shirt.

Cobb watched awkwardly. "Uhh...Eames is going to be in Sydney for a few days, at least," he went on. "That should give us plenty of time to work with Ariadne, test her out. How's she been doing, by the way?"

"Fine." Arthur went into the bathroom and turned on the water. The cold splashing his face helped, but not enough.

"I'll take over her training, since I assume you'll be busy with research..." Cobb leaned forward to try and see him through the partially open door. "We'll have to be thorough, considering... Are you all right?"

Arthur looked into the mirror. His face was deeply lined and it took a deep breath to arrange his features back into calm. "Maybe I should go to Australia," he said, trying to sound perfectly casual.

"What? Why?"

Arthur toweled his face and leaned out of the bathroom. "This is a sensitive job," he reasoned. "And a man like Robert Fischer is going to have a complicated background. I might need to get my information on site."

Cobb frowned at him. "You haven't needed to before. I'd rather keep you here with me." He ran a hand through his hair. "Between Saito and Ariadne I'm going to have my hands full."

"But what about Eames?" Arthur persisted. "He shouldn't be in there alone. You know how he can get about his marks."

"Eames is the most professional criminal I've ever met," Cobb said, waving Arthur's concerns aside. "You don't have to worry about that. I know the two of you don't always get along--"

Arthur rolled his eyes and ducked back into the bathroom, closing the door.

"--but he and I have already talked it over and I trust him on this. It's not like you to be so--"

"Boundaries, Cobb," Arthur called through the door. "Please don't talk to me while I'm pissing." He clanged the toilet seat up.

He heard Cobb sigh, and then the slither of his suit jacket off the back of the chair. "I'm going back to my room. Call me in the morning when you're ready to go in, all right?"

Arthur waited until he heard the door close before taking care of business. He brushed and flossed and finally tossed himself on the bed, exhausted, not a chance in hell of sleeping. "Should have walked away," he grumbled into his pillow. "God damn it, Cobb."

He thought back to the last time he had seen Eames, almost eight months ago in Sardinia: a quick job he had agreed to on short notice, just the two of them hitting over some tourist, the kind of thing they did a half dozen times a year when they were younger. They weren't together for even a full twenty-four hours; a few hours spent planning as they lounged on the beach, sketching blueprints in the sand; the job rushed in a matter of minutes, practically out in the open as they cornered their mark in a darkened gazebo; their victory sex, the best kind, pounding and moaning with the balcony door open for all to hear. Arthur's favorite, unassailable alibi.

But Arthur had fucked it up. After coming for the third time he had draped himself over Eames' chest, exhausted and goose bumped, overcome with post-coital affection for his part-time lover. He had kissed him, and smiled at Eames' happy murmur rumbling their lips, and thought, Let's do this forever. You and me, Eames, let's rule the fucking world. Let's do this for real.

And Eames, with all his cleverness and perception, had heard him. When Arthur awoke in the early morning Eames had gone, having left only a scribble on the bedside notepad that read Until next time, with a stupid smilie face. It meant, No thanks.

Arthur dragged himself to the edge of the bed and fished his phone out of his discarded clothing. He knew he was about to do the last thing he should, but he thumbed through his contacts and dialed Eames anyway. It wasn't until after the fourth ring that Arthur realized it would be in the realm of four in the morning in Sydney.

Eames answered, his voice rough. "Who is this?"

"It's me." Arthur leaned back into the headboard. "I'm checking up on you," he said matter-of-factly.

It took Eames a moment to process, but once he had, he groaned. "Oh, is that so. How considerate of you."

"So? What's your status?"

Eames grumbled, and Arthur could hear blankets being rustled about. "My 'status' is asleep. I only got in three hours ago, you know. Customs was brutal--I'll be walking crooked for days."

"Charming." Arthur rubbed his mouth. It was a mistake to have called, but Eames would think him crazy if he hung up with nothing more, so he said, "I assume Cobb's filled you in on the job. I told him he was crazy but he's set on it. You really think it's possible?"

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't," Eames replied. "And if anyone can pull it off, it's Cobb. I thought you knew that better than anyone."

"Yes, but this is..." Arthur trailed off uncertainly. He wanted to tell Eames the truth--someone had to know the secret boiling in his gut, and only Eames wouldn't toss him off the job, only Eames might understand enough to offer advice instead of irritation or scorn. "I've never done a job like this before," he said, working himself up to it.

"None of us have. Isn't that the point?" Eames smothered a yawn. "But I wouldn't worry. Have you seen the mark? Pretty rich kid like that will roll right over, believe me."

Arthur's hand clenched against his thigh. "Yeah," he said, and he chuckled. "Your favorite type, right?"

"Mm, as you well know."

He couldn't say it. "Just be careful. He's not a 'kid' and he's high profile, even for you."

"Yes, yes," Eames muttered. "Now don't call me again--I'm in first thing in the morning and I can't have anything break my cover." He snorted. "Like you said, real careful."

"I know." Arthur ran his hand through his hair. "Good luck."

Eames mumbled something unintelligible, maybe half asleep already, and they both hung up.

Arthur stared down at his phone, disappointed in himself. He was preparing for the most important and challenging job of his--and his friend's--life and he was withholding information that could change everything. Someone had to know, and that someone was Eames, but instead of doing the smart thing and calling him back he did an image search for Robert Fischer.

Every picture was the same: whether part of a magazine interview or a paparazzi's candid shot, Robert Fischer was always poised, well-dressed, and vaguely irritated. He was bearing the weight of a world that was beneath his notice, so far removed from what he had once been, when he and Arthur were bony-kneed teenagers crowding each other on the corner of Olivia Platt's $10,000 love seat.

Because the truth was, Arthur had never done a job on a mark he'd known, let alone one he had slept with. He had never tried to steal secrets from a man that had leaned into him when he laughed, tangling long fingers in his hair. He had never set out to remake a billionaire that had, for one strange night in New York, elevated him to a status approaching "prince." Eames was the one who got close to marks. Eames could have offered the empathy and then the sense-talking that Arthur was eager for. But Eames was already in Sydney, only a few hours away from infiltrating the world's richest corporation, and it had to wait.

"It can wait," Arthur told himself, willing it to be true. And when he couldn't sleep, he took pills.

*


Eames arrived in Paris on a 5:00 am flight four days later. He sank into the passenger seat of Arthur's rented car, yawning and squirming, but when Arthur asked him how he was, he didn't complain. In fact, he smiled, slow and secretive, his eyes gleaming. He was in one of his moods and Arthur felt heat spread through his stomach.

Arthur had taken the liberty of reserving Eames a room at the hotel, and as soon as he let them in Eames dropped his suitcase by the wall and headed for the bed. "I'm sure you're all meeting bright and early, but give me a few hours, won't you?" he said, stepping out of his shoes and socks. "I'll catch a cab when I'm a bit more presentable." He tossed his jacket over a chair and then thumped onto the mattress.

Arthur closed the door and followed him to the bed. Eames was stretched out on his back, unbuckling his belt. There was a tension in his hands that Arthur recognized. With a quiet snort he pushed Eames knees apart and reached down to palm him roughly through his slacks.

Eames sucked in a sharp breath. His cock twitched beneath Arthur's hand, swelled into it, already half-hard and eager. His smirk said you got me and when Arthur pressed in, kneading the heel of his palm into his balls, his eyelids fluttered and he arched shamelessly into it.

"Or I could just debrief you now," Arthur suggested with a smirk of his own.

Eames chuckled breathlessly. "Should have known there was no way you wouldn't notice."

Arthur kicked his shoes off and climbed on top of him. "You were trying to hide it? I thought we were past that point."

As soon as Eames could reach, his hands were all over Arthur--they stroked up the insides of his thighs, parting them wide, then slid back to grope the taut muscles of his ass before snaking down to his knees again. And he kept doing it, in one long, circular massage, rocking them oh so gently together.

"We are," he said simply.

Arthur leaned down for a kiss. Their lips touched and Eames' hands tightened, his fingertips pawing eagerly at his ass as if trying to draw him open even through his pants. It put a pulse into Arthur's groin that left him gasping. He kissed Eames hungrily, sucking at his lips, his tongue, overwhelmed with relief that finally, Eames was there. After days of tedious maze designs, hacking into every account and record Fischer owned, and avoiding all suggestions from Cobb that he be the subject during their dream sessions, he was thrilled to have a body to writhe against, to alleviate all that frustration and uncertainty. He needed distraction and he needed Eames to know it, and judging by the way Eames shivered beneath his heavy mouth, he did.

Arthur sat up and began unbuttoning Eames' shirt. "So how long have you been holding on to this?" he asked, grinding back against Eames' crotch. "Were you trying to join the mile high club?"

Eames grinned lazily up at Arthur as he went back to stroking his thighs. "I was dreaming on the plane," he admitted with due embarrassment. "Naturally, believe it or not. I can't stop thinking about it."

Arthur finished with the buttons and laid Eames' shirt open. He didn't bother to try and remove it: all he wanted was toned muscle beneath his fingers. "Oh? I didn't know you still did. What of?"

Eames slipped his fingertips under Arthur's shirt, teasing him with his nails. "I'm not sure you want to know," he said coyly.

Arthur stopped--he knew. It wasn't the first time Eames had smirked up at him with that mischief and he was well aware of what it meant. He stripped out of his shirt and tossed it aside. "It was Fischer, huh?" he teased. "I knew you wouldn't be able to help yourself."

Eames laughed--was he blushing? "Like you said: those pretty rich boys."

Arthur stared down at him, an indescribable feeling welling in his chest. His lips moved without him. "Tell me about him," he said, leaning down to kiss the side of Eames' neck. "Is he really that pretty in person?"

"Breathtaking." Eames tipped his head back, and sighed happily as Arthur trailed kisses down to his collar. "You've never seen a man with cheekbones like that."

Arthur scooted back, their thighs rubbing as he smeared his groping lips down Eames' chest and stomach. "Thought you'd be more taken by his eyes," he said as he unzipped Eames' fly. He pressed a hard, gnawing kiss to the soft flesh below his belly button.

Eames groaned and bucked against him. "Oh, yes," he murmured, helping Arthur shove his pants off. "Those baby blues. They're like lethal weapons."

Arthur climbed off the bed long enough to toss both their pants aside, but he was quickly back, urging Eames' thighs apart. "Keep talking," he said. He felt almost dizzy as he bent down, using his tongue to trace out the shape of Eames' cock through his boxers. It was warm and heavy against his mouth, as hard as Arthur could ever remember, almost intimidatingly so. "Seems like this 'boy' really got you going."

"You have no idea." Eames' voice rumbled between tiny gasps of pleasure as Arthur sucked at him through the fabric. "He's was such an insufferable little prick when I first saw him. All that money--ahh, that's good--that money does something to a person, you know?"

Arthur grumbled and tugged Eames' waistband down--not enough to uncover anything, just to hint that he might. "I know."

Eames threaded his fingers through Arthur's hair as if to say, Present company excepted. "Most of the time he looks like he could drop dead from the incompetence around him," he went on. "Spoiled asshole. But when he wants something, and he turns those eyes on you..." He let out a quiet moan and tugged at Arthur's hair. "It's like he knows exactly what he's doing to you. Like he fucking owns you."

Arthur remembered. He had been fifteen--he hadn't stood a chance. "So?" He backed off and dug into Eames' suitcase; he knew just which pocket to search for the condoms and lube. "Did you fuck him?"

"Of course not," Eames said sharply, offended. "We shook hands, once. Never even had a full conversation." He struggled out of his boxers and gave his cock a long, luxurious stroke. "I'm a little hurt you even asked--you know I'd never."

"You'd never, huh. But you have no trouble fantasizing." Arthur's skin crawled but he kept it hidden as he returned. "Were you dreaming about being bent over his fabulously expensive furniture?" he taunted. His underwear joined Eames' on the floor and he climbed onto the bed. "Or on your back on a conference room table?"

Eames laughed. "And why is it that you immediately imagine me his bottom?"

Arthur bent down, lapping up the beads of moisture from Eames' swollen head. "Because I already know he's a top," he said without thinking.

Eames lifted an eyebrow, and Arthur quickly sealed his lips over Eames' cock for a slow, suckling distraction. It seemed to work at first--Eames' breath caught, and he pressed up insistently against Arthur's mouth--but as soon as Arthur pulled back, he said, "And you know that how?"

"Rich kid intuition." Arthur ripped open the condom wrapper. "I'd bet my boots on it."

"Oh?" Eames smiled, and again something mischievous crept into his expression. His tongue slithered along his bottom lip. "I bet he's no more of a top than you are," he said.

His tone was full of challenge, but more surprising to Arthur were the subtle gestures of welcome that came with it. Eames was as relaxed on the mattress as he had been all along, but when their eyes locked he squirmed just so, his thighs parting minutely, his hips angling, his entire body opening to him. He wanted it--wanted Arthur, with a hunger that Arthur hadn't realized they'd been missing until then, and it wasn't just adrenaline or alcohol propelling it.

It was fucking Robert Fischer.

Without a word Arthur smoothed the latex over himself, and then slicked two fingers with the lubricant. He gave Eames' hole only a brief rub of warning before sinking both fingers in to the knuckle.

"Ahh--easy, easy." Eames groaned and tensed, but it didn't take long for him to adjust to the intrusion; his warm muscles yielded beneath the slow thrusts of Arthur's fingers. As Arthur spread the lube inside him he drew his knees in higher, almost lifting his feet off the bed.

"Maybe you should turn over," Arthur suggested, pulling back until just his fingertips were embedded, and then screwing in tight again. It was exhilarating and infuriating to see Eames writhe beneath the simple movements of only two fingers. "Then you can pretend I'm him."

Eames laughed. "Careful, Arthur," he teased gruffly. His eyes were half-lidded and downright smug. "You're starting to sound jealous."

Arthur added a third finger and fucked him hard, plying and stretching, though not nearly as fast or as deep as he knew Eames wanted. "Jealous?" he repeated over Eames' frustrated murmurs. "Why would I be?" He crooked his fingers so that just the tips brushed barely up against Eames' prostate. "I don't even like you."

Eames set both palms against the headboard and pushed, trying to draw Arthur deeper. There was sweat on his forehead, and when Arthur withdrew his fingers again he groaned, his humor gone. "All right," he huffed. "You win, just--come on."

Arthur took more time than was necessary in slicking the lube over his erection--whatever his conscious misgivings, his body was more than ready and it was a struggle not to let Eames see it. "What was that?" he asked, fitting his hands under Eames' knees. "Did I hear the magic word?"

Eames growled, his lips pulling back in a sneer that was almost feral, but when Arthur didn't move any closer even it fell away. He hooked his hands under his thighs and drew them even wider, feet off the bed, completely open and vulnerable. "Fuck, please," he groaned. "Please just get on with it!"

Arthur wished he could have stayed in that instant for hours: Eames was spread open, begging for him, all sweating muscle and panting breath. Every petty concern melted from his brain and he felt godlike. He rubbed his head up against Eames' ass, wanting to draw out that fiery euphoria, but when Eames whimpered--fucking whimpered, for God's sake--he lost control and thrust the full length of his cock into him.

Eames' head fell back, his raw voice relieved and pleading and unlike anything Arthur had ever heard come out of him. After years of rutting under hotel sheets, Arthur had thought they'd done it all, but when Eames clenched around his cock, when Eames' thighs quivered against his ribs, he couldn't contain a surprised moan. He wanted it. He was just as heated as his begging partner, and before he knew it he was rocking into Eames' hips, no buildup, just hard and fast and entirely removed from any notion of jealousy.

"Yes," Eames hissed. "Please, yes." He shuddered, the muscles along his abdomen flexing beautifully as he did his best to arch into Arthur's thrusts. He was limber, and adaptive, and he gasped with even slight variations in Arthur's rhythm as if thrumming with over-sensitivity. Every breath sounded like another strained please and it whipped Arthur on, until the bed creaked and their slick skin clapped loudly through the room.

Arthur shoved Eames' knees higher and found just the right angle--Eames cried out again, and the sound of it rippled down to Arthur's already throbbing cock. "You like that?" Arthur taunted. His brow knit with concentration as he pumped into Eames again, the same way. "Right there?"

Eames gasped. His body drew taut and still, as if slipping would mean Arthur never finding that perfect rhythm again. It made every thrust tighter and hotter and blissful. "Yes, God yes," he moaned, taking it, helplessly enraptured. "Don't fucking stop."

His hand snaked between his thighs, but Arthur saw immediately, and he snatched it by the wrist. "No--no touching," he said. "You're gonna come just from this."

He snapped his hips to make his point, and Eames' look of exasperation breaking down with pleasure almost made him come on the spot. But then Eames twisted his wrist, turning enough so he could grip Arthur back. He pulled hard, and Arthur had to brace his knees to keep from being yanked over; it drew them together tighter still, almost crushing, and Arthur moaned through his teeth as his balls throbbed between their bodies.

"Then fuck me," Eames growled.

Arthur drew back, and then with a deep breath pounded into him. His muscles ached, and pressure seethed in his belly, but he couldn't stop, couldn't hold back. Still clutching Eames--Eames clutching him--he rocked them together, faster, his entire world sharpening into one desperate piston and five sweaty fingers. Eames was loud and helpless beneath him, and he was in control, and he was on fire, and he loved every moment, every breath, every inch of his Eames with an intimacy approaching panic.

Eames stuttered and jerked, and constricted around Arthur to strangling as his climax wracked him. He was beautiful: his face was flushed, eyes closed, plush lips curled in a strange, incredulous grin, weak and charmed and gasping. Arthur didn't want it to end. He was shaking, but he thrust with all the strength he had left, punishing Eames' already overworked nerves until Eames was whimpering with delight. Only then, when Eames was fucked apart and moaning his name, Arthur, oh Arthur, did he bury himself deep and come.

And it was fucking perfect.

Arthur spasmed in and against Eames for what felt like full minutes, and as soon as he was spent, utterly, he pulled out and they collapsed in a tangle. He had never felt so exhausted and so full of energy at the same time; he was tingling and he wanted to be inside Eames all over again. He kissed Eames' chest, smearing come against their bellies as he sucked his way up Eames' throat.

We're perfect together, he thought, shivering when a graze of his teeth made Eames chuckle. I think I fucking love you.

Arthur stopped. Eames' lips were parted, waiting, but as hot breath panted against his cheek a horrible, sick feeling came over him. He couldn't make the same mistake as last time.

"Well?" Arthur gnawed his kisses instead at Eames' prickly jaw, letting the heat ease out of them. "Think Robert Fisher could fuck you like that?"

Eames sank into the bed with a weary laugh. "I confess, I wouldn't discourage him from trying," he said. He turned his head, trying to catch Arthur's lips. "That was incredible."

Arthur wasn't ready. He fit himself to Eames side and tucked under his chin. They were both still out of breath, shifting each other with each gulping inhale. He closed his eyes and told himself, sternly, that it was enough. He didn't want anything more, not from Eames. He was happy. Fatigue crept over him, warm and inviting, and he relaxed beneath the comforting weight of Eames' sturdy arm.

And then he woke up.

He was alone in bed. He was still sweaty and sore but there was no warm body beneath him, no bristled chin, no quiet breath. When he tried to think back, the memory was so unexpectedly heated and perfect that he doubted it had happened at all.

Arthur rolled onto his stomach. He was exhausted and furious with himself--the best sex he'd had in months and he'd dreamed it up out of jealousy. It was pathetic, and his stomach ached as he growled curses into his pillow.

"You all right?"

Arthur's head snapped up, and a quick scan of the room revealed Eames seated at the table in only his boxers. He had his papers strewn in front of him, and he was watching Arthur with amusement.

"Uh..." Arthur blinked stupidly, and looked around the room again. "Did that really happen?" he blurted out. Eames only laughed and went back to his work.

Arthur climbed out of bed and stretched. His muscles were comfortably overworked, and he felt foolish twice over for having doubted, which stole some of the triumph he should have been basking in. But when he padded closer Eames opened one arm, welcoming him close, and it made up for it.

"Hard at work already," Arthur said. His eyes narrowed on the glossy photos of Robert Fischer on the table.

Eames hummed distractedly. "I just want to be prepared for when we go in. We're going to have to plan quickly, so that we're ready when Fischer Sr. moves on. The sooner we hit him after that, the better, I think."

Hit him. Arthur leaned in, settling his weight against Eames' thigh. He watched Eames as best he could from the angle: the smile curling his lips, the eager gleam in his eyes. When Eames fingered the corner of a photo with one hand, he fingered the line of Arthur's hip with the other. It had been a long time since Arthur had seen him so absorbed in a job.

"You said you'd never," Arthur said, watching him closely. "Why not?"

"Hm?" Eames pulled everything back into one file. "What, you mean, sleep with a mark? Don't be ridiculous. Getting involved means letting your guard down; it's the easiest way to get caught."

"What if the mark was someone you were already involved with?" Arthur asked. "Before the job. Would you still do it?"

Eames craned his head back, trying to see Arthur better. "What are you talking about?"

Arthur was a good liar, but he knew he was no match for Eames. The truth was already on his tongue. All he had to do was say it--say it, and accept Eames' rebuke, and move on with the job. There was no reason not to.

"Cobb says what we're doing could change a person forever," he said, trying to sound completely impartial. "Inception, that is. Could you do that to someone you knew? Just...remake them, like that?"

Eames stared back at him, searching, and at last his lip quirked. Arthur managed not to wince as he waited for the inevitable.

"Arthur," Eames said. "I would never perform an inception on you."

Arthur's expression was stone, allowing for only a dull, creeping tension to seep through him. "Why not?"

"Because we're...you know, we're friends." Eames let out a breathy chuckle. "I give a shit about you."

"And you don't give a shit about Robert Fischer," Arthur supposed. "Didn't seem that way when you were describing him last night."

"What is this about?" Eames asked irritably. He urged Arthur back, and though he was trying to look rightfully cross, there was something in his eyes resembling guilt. "You know, when I accused you of being jealous I didn't actually think--"

"I'm only worried about the job," Arthur interrupted. He turned to lean back against the table. "Fischer is the mark--what we're doing to him isn't just illegal, it's horrific, and you like him." When Eames stuttered and tried to interject, Arthur talked over him. "I saw it a mile away even without the boner you tried to hide from me. We can't have you losing objectivity on a job like this, not when you're going to be forging on top of everything else."

Eames held his hand up. "No one is losing objectivity," he said. "Nothing happened between Fischer and I, and nothing will. He's just...different." He sagged in his chair with an annoyed sigh. "He struck a chord in me, I suppose. But that has nothing to do with the job, and I'm the last person you need to have this conversation with, believe me."

Arthur swallowed hard, and as they stared each other down, he steeled his nerves. I don't have to tell him, he told himself. It doesn't matter anyway--I can do this, because I don't give a shit about Fischer.

"I know," he said. He took in a deep breath and smiled. "Sorry. Cobb's just got me so riled up about this job. It's his whole life on the line, after all."

"I can imagine." Eames pushed his chair back and stood, pressing up against Arthur's still naked body. "But it's going to be fine," he murmured into Arthur's cheek. "Stop worrying so much."

Eames kissed him, slowly and passionately, as if finally claiming his prize denied at the end of their love-making. Something was different in him. As he wrapped Arthur up in his arms his embrace was almost too tender, his focus too complete. For a few brief moments as they twistedly together in the hotel room it felt as if he wanted something more from Arthur after all, and it was...terrifying. Eames had never wanted anything from Arthur before. It didn't make sense. It couldn't be trusted.

They had sex again, right on the table, before Arthur went back to his room to shower and change. By the time they were both walking into the workshop they acted as if nothing had happened.


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