Arthur is on edge for days after the incident, constantly afraid Eames is going to pop out of his shower with a machine gun or something. It doesn't help that they've got a job coming up, and a bloody complicated one too. He can't afford to be this jumpy.
Luckily, Eames seems to be acting exactly the same, save for a faint patina of reserve that coats all of his actions. Arthur supposes he should be grateful, but he almost wishes Eames would yell at him and call him a wanker in his ridiculous accent, or laugh it off like it was nothing. The reserve seems almost like pity, and that, more than anything else, he can't stand.
Arthur doesn't let his feelings show though. Regardless of the things that go on in his dreams, he's a professional. He's cordial and polite to Eames, like any business associate would be. Even if he can't quite meet his eyes.
He manipulates circumstances so he's never alone with Eames, always finding a reason to leave or call over someone else. One can't keep that up for very long without being conspicuous as hell though, and he's pretty sure the rest of the team notices. He's also pretty sure they're getting really annoyed with him.
His suspicions are confirmed one night when Yusuf asks him to grab a bottle of Windex from the supply room. Arthur shrugs and nods, assuming he needs it for some kind of crazy experiment. Hopefully nothing he'll be drinking in the future. He walks into the room, and is searching for the Windex bottle when he hears someone come in behind him. He turns around to see Eames, looking rather guilty. "Sorry love. Ariadne said she needed the pine sol."
They both wince as the sound of the lock engaging cuts through the silence.
Arthur rubs the bridge of his nose and thinks about how he's going to kill Yusuf and Ariadne. And Cobb too; he probably came up with this.
"So," says Eames.
"So," replies Arthur.
"We should, uh, talk. About stuff"
"Talking about stuff is, um, good."
"It is, isn't it?"
Eames explodes. "Oh bloody hell! Are we, or aren't we going to address the fact that you apparently have regular fantasies in which a projection of myself has his bloody way with you on bloody satin sheets?"
Arthur blinks. "Seeing as you've brought it up."
Eames makes an exasperated noise. "Really Arthur, it's actually quite flattering. And I'm not against to the idea." He grins and moves closer, so that his mouth is inches from Arthur's ear. "We could start where we stopped last time."
Arthur leans towards him. He wants it so badly. This is not at all what he expected from Eames. At the very least, he expected violent opposition.
And Eames wouldn't be opposed to this at all, Arthur realizes. That was the problem. He'd sleep with anyone if he thought it would be fun, and bounce right back from it the next day.
But Arthur's not like that. Because this isn't about the sex for him, and he can see where this path would lead. Eames off flirting with the next pretty thing he saw, and Arthur left behind, lonely again.
Arthur has to stop this, or he knows it will end with that, and he has to stop it now, or he won't be able to.
So he clenches his fists until the knuckles burn white. "Thanks, but no thanks. It was just a dream," he says, closing his eyes. "and I'd rather it stayed that way."
A long silence. A swallow. "All right then." The other man says, his voice steady and even.
Arthur doesn't watch Eames's face. He doesn't want to see Eames looking relieved because the burden of Arthur's feelings are out of the way, or angry because Arthur's pants are off limits.
He turns around instead and stands in rigid silence, intent on the wall.
Twenty minutes later Ariadne opens the door and he walks quickly out without a backwards glance.
Time passes. He tries to act normally around the other man but Eames won't quite meet his eyes. When Arthur lies alone at night, unable to sleep, he reflects that even so, it's probably for the best.
Arthur sits on his hotel bed and watches Eames pace back and forth in front of him. He doesn't ask the other man what he's doing in his room, how he found the hotel, or how he knew the room number.
Eames abruptly stops pacing and whips his head around to face Arthur. "Right. Look, I know you don't want to see me but-" he stops and makes an inarticulate noise of frustration, waving his hands. "You aren't eating or sleeping. You just stare into space like a damn puppet all day. Arthur," he asks, "what the hell is wrong?" His brow is creasing and Arthur has to look away. "I'm worried about you."
Arthur chokes a bit, because of all the things he doesn't want to hear, that's up there. "I'm fine. Paranoia doesn't suit you."
Eames doesn't rise to the bait. "Really," he says, and Arthur can hear the doubt in his voice.
Arthur looks up, forces himself to meet the other man's eyes. "Really," he says.
Eames is quiet for a moment. He suddenly sits down on the bed next to Arthur and he's close, too close. Arthur can feel his breath on his skin and his eyes are over bright with some emotion Arthur can't identify. "That," Eames hisses, "is not fucking good enough. You are going to tell me what's wrong right now- or I will go into your mind and find out."
This, Arthur can handle. He's used to Eames's old antagonism; his reply comes easily. "That's an empty threat. My security's better. You won't find anything."
Eames's eyes smolder. "I'll keep going down levels until I do. And when I end up in limbo, I'll have endless time for it."
Arthur blanches and doesn't say anything, because that isn't fair and Eames knows it, even if he doesn't realize the depths of Arthur's feelings for him.
Eames presses on through Arthur's indecision. "Please, darling," he whispers.
It's the term of endearment that breaks him. Dropping his eyes to the floor, Arthur starts talking, and can't seem to stop. "You… I want- fuck, I need…"
Eames blinks. His brow furrows, and Arthur can almost see the cogs turning; the light bulb going on. "But you said…"
Arthur laughs, knowing the sound is broken and pathetic as it leaves his mouth. "Self-preservation." He glares up at Eames, daring him to interrupt. "Not everyone just wants a quick fuck to tide them over until something better comes along."
There's a long stretch of agonized silence. It's Eames who breaks it.
"Oh Arthur," he says. His voice is cracked, and the words sound like they are painful to him.
Arthur begins to scoot away.
And suddenly Eames is grabbing him, shoving him back onto the bed, rolling on top of him with an inarticulate snarl. Arthur stares up at him, reminded of the hotel room dream. Except this time Eames's eyes aren't seductive, or teasing, or sly.
They look like they're boiling over with rage.
Arthur flinches from the gaze. "I'm sorry-"
His words are swallowed when Eames swoops down to cover his mouth with his own, and he's kissing him, violently kissing him.
"Arthur," he growls between kisses. "You are-" he bites Arthur's lip, "a bloody idiot." He pulls his head back and glares down at him. "How could you think-"
Arthur's head feels fuzzy, but damn it, he's still going to argue this. "You'd leave, I know you-"
Eames cuts him off again, kissing his neck so ardently Arthur kind of forgets how to talk, instead breaking down into quiet whimpers.
"I am not going anywhere," he hisses against Arthur's sweaty skin, nuzzling his jawbone.
"Liar," Arthur whispers.
Eames pulls back, raising an eyebrow. "Oh pet," he says, "I'm going to prove you wrong."
And because even though Arthur knows the smart thing to do would be to stand up and leave, to not let Eames and his incredibly agile hands go any further, there's still some part of him that can't resist the challenge.
"I'll believe it when I see it," he says.
Without further ado, Eames yanks at Arthur's shirt, and Arthur winces at the sound of the fabric tearing as it falls away from his chest. It was one of his favorites. There's an intensity to Eames now that isn't normal, Arthur realizes. He usually acts like the world is all a private joke to him. Not so now. For once, Eames seems deathly serious.
It's just his luck that the thing Eames is serious about is sucking Arthur's skin until he's biting back screams. There are going to be bruises later, he's sure.
After the shredded shirt drops to the ground, Eames attacks the buttons of Arthur's pants, and pushes the fabric down so it pools around his ankles. His underwear follow; Arthur dimly notices his own traitorous hands are helping.
Then Eames slips a hand between Arthur's legs and Arthur stifles a yelp.
He's always prided himself on his control. He can be composed and calm when facing trained gunmen, fucking gigantic avalanches, or any other kind of mortal peril a mark can dream up. But apparently all it takes to unravel that concentration is the teasing strokes of Eames's fingers and the light touch of his tongue.
Eames smiles at him. Snaking his head down across Arthur's bare chest, he plants kisses as he goes. He pauses at Arthur's nipples, nibbling and sucking on the left one as his hands move down to stroke Arthur's inner thighs, which tremble at the fleeting touches.
Arthur pulls at Eames's shirt and pants, but Eames bats his hands away and he settles for twining them through Eames's hair instead. By now Arthur's nipples are hard, and Eames abandons them, moving downward until he's settled between Arthur's legs.
When Arthur realizes what Eames is planning, he tries to sit up. "God Eames no, you don't have to- I'm not some pity case-"
Eames cuts him off with an expertly placed swipe of his tongue from the base to the tip of Arthur's half-hard cock. Arthur shudders.
"No, darling, Eames says. "I don't have to. I want to." He swirls his tongue around the tip for emphasis. "Surely you don't mind?"
Arthur doesn't mind but he still can't quite believe that this whole train wreck isn't due to Eames's warped sense of pity. He opens his mouth to object.
Then Eames begins to suck, and his mouth is hot and wet and oh fuck.
Arthur's powers of speech are sufficiently terminated; his only response is a rather flustered whimper. His toes curl and his hands twist into the sheets; he clings to them like a drowning man to a lifesaver. The room dissolves, leaving only the here and the now, the trembling of his limbs, the sheen of sweat on his skin, the all consuming suction of Eames's mouth.
His breath is coming in short whines now, and god be damned whether Eames is going to leave later, for now he's here and that's all that matters. And if this is going to be the only time, he might as well enjoy it. "Eames?"
Eames looks up from between his thighs, releasing Arthur's aching cock.
The sight of him, wet lipped and fully dressed, makes Arthur want to come on the spot. "F-fuck me."
Tilting his head in consideration, Eames licks slowly down Arthur's length, then laves the head with the tip of his tongue. Arthur whimpers again. "If I do, darling, do you promise to trust me to stay?"
The man is a manipulative cheating bastard, Arthur thinks sourly, but any protest dies when Eames licks him again. He writhes against the sheets, desperate. "Fuck, fine, just-" is all he manages before Eames reaches up to kiss him.
It takes much longer than Arthur would like for Eames to get up, find the lube, and pull his pants off. It gives Arthur time to think about what the hell he's doing. And what Eames is doing. It occurs to him that Eames is a forger, and by extent a master of manipulation. What if everything Eames has said and done since he entered the room has been a exploitation of Arthur's rather obvious feelings?
"You think too much."
Arthur looks up in surprise as Eames returns to the bed, wearing nothing but a half-buttoned maroon shirt, the bottle of lube held in his hand like a promise.
Arthur doesn't know what to say to that. He glares and jerks his chin at Eames's shirt. "I refuse to let you debauch me in that thing."
Eames makes an exasperated noise then yanks it off and flings it across the room. Arthur almost protests; even that polyester monstrosity deserves to be folded properly- but then Eames is back on the bed with him, fully naked this time, and the proper care of clothing seems to matter much less. The forger's eyes soften as he unscrews the bottle of lube. "Believe me or not Arthur, I swear I've wanted to do this for ages. I still can't quite believe you're letting me."
The depth of the statement is lost on Arthur when Eames slips a lubricated finger inside him.
"Well, you're very-ahh persuasive." Arthur manages to bite out.
"I was on the debate team in high school." Eames says with a grin. He crooks his finger and Arthur jerks, squirming back against it.
"I- think this might go against debating rules."
Eames chuckles and adds another finger. "I don't recall there being anything in the rule book against fucking your opponent as a rhetorical strategy."
The fingers slide out, and are quickly replaced by something else. Arthur groans as Eames pushes in.
"You like that?" Eames asks, punctuating the question with an undulation of his hips.
"Hngh," is all Arthur manages in way of a reply.
Eames thrusts again, slowly and indolently, listening to Arthur's whimpers like they're fine music. He traces a finger down Arthur's chest. "You are so fucking beautiful right now."
"Gnnh- for fuck's sake, shut up and move," he pants, too far gone to care that he's begging. He feels like he's drowning in sheer need, desperate for more of the exquisite sensation Eames's touch provides him.
"Whatever you ask, darling."
And then Eames is thrusting faster, and canting his hips at just the right angle. Arthur squirms and arches his back, meeting each thrust with one of his own. He realizes he's speaking- desperate pleading, a cacophony of more and please, and Eames.
Arthur knows he's teetering on the edge, about to collapse. He lets out a cry. "I'm-"
Eames tenses, just as Arthur feels himself giving in. "Scream for me," he murmurs in Arthur's ear.
Arthur complies, a wordless sob tearing itself from him as he shudders through the climax in Eames's arms.
"You ruined my shirt." Arthur says, in what he hopes is a vaguely accusatory tone. Somehow he can't be too angry about it even though it was Armani, and new.
Eames smiles and puts an arm around him. "A necessary sacrifice, love. I'll buy you a new one in the morning."
They lie together, sweaty limbs entwined. Arthur takes the time to try figuring out what the hell just happened. He tenses when Eames rolls away from him, but instead of leaving, the other man rips the alarm clock cord from the wall and flips back towards Arthur.
"You'll stay, then?" Arthur says, gesturing at the bed, even though it isn't really what he's asking about. He's glad his voice doesn't quiver and betray how much is riding on the answer.
Eames holds his gaze, grinning. "I'm much to tired to leave now." He moves closer, one hand absentmindedly stroking Arthur's hair.
Arthur lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He's still wary, still cautious. But beneath it all there's a seed of hope planted, and he isn't going to force it away. Still…
Eames chuckles and draws Arthur into an embrace. "You said," he whispers, "I would leave when something better came along." Arthur closes his eyes, lulled by the feel of Eames's warm skin against his own. Eames's next words are soft, so soft he almost misses them.
"Arthur, how could I ever find someone better than you?"
A/N: And there's a second part! Yay! I cannot thank you guys enough for reading this and liking it, I'm still kind of shocked that anyone at all, let alone dozens of people, liked this enough to care to leave a review. I've never gotten more than a handful of reviews before and now this... obviously I should write more smutty slash, hehe. I hope this second part doesn't let you guys down, and once again, thank you all soooooo much. And apologies for the time between updates, shit happens, you know?