Eames dreams in color. It's not that one expects him to dream in black and white but there is always a theme. One color always pops, pervades, takes over the landscape and the people, brushes into the little places so you may not notice it at first. The flowers turn out a shade different or the clothes you're wearing trend to another side to fix to the color he dreams. It never lacks in flash and even if you can't feel it or see it, the color effects how the dream flows.

It always flows just right with Eames, through reds and silvers and blues and glittering gold. His colors match his smile, that coy look and every present wit. No matter the architect's design each time Eames dreams it extend into a creation of himself, however subtly that may be.

Despite himself, Arthur finds it entrancing.


The first time is blue on a boat filled with royal-looking mosaics. Even in this first dream it doesn't come as a surprise. Eames' personality has a blue quality, something deep but enticing.

"Can't say I've ever done an extraction dream on a boat before," Eames remarks trailing a finger along the sideboard.

"That's what you get when you're extracting maritime coordinates and water routes." Cobb shrugs with a tumbler in his hand.

Eames laughs. "Well, whatever the man with the checkbook wants, eh?"

"And who's the chosen one for this dream, the wife?" Arthur asks.

Arthur can feel the forger's eyes on him from across the room like targeting sights as he smiles.

"Oh no," Eames waves a hand at Arthur, "You don't tell your wife about work. When you're the captain the only one you can talk to is your second."

Arthur whistles. "That's perfect, Eames."

"Compliments will get you everywhere." He smirks.

Arthur can't decide at first if he likes or hates Eames.

What he does know is the ocean is blue, the sky is blue, and so are the trimmings all over the boat. With Eames dreaming and shifting into an honest looking Lieutenant in a navy uniform, the setting feels like it should be poetic and not criminal.

Eames calls him darling the first day and Arthur knows then it's all going to be a maze with the man.


"Why do you always work with Cobb?"

"I don't always."

"Stickler for the word use, aren't you?"

Arthur rolls his eyes and writes another note on the board in front of him. Eames drums his fingers quickly on the white board making Arthur turn. He raises his eyebrows once in an imploring way. Arthur shrugs.

"He's the best."

"Ah, yes, but he's not on the legal side of most dream ventures."

Arthur tilts his head slightly at Eames. "Neither are you."

"Oh, but you see," Eames raises a finger in an academic fashion, "I can easily explain why you work with me."

"And why is that?"

"My irresistible charm."

Arthur blinks at Eames. "Of course, that must be the reason."

Eames touches the knot of Arthur's tie and smirks. "I'm also the best."

"That would be a better reason."

"That doesn't mean it's your reason though." Eames nudges Arthur's shoulder with his. "Just an added bonus."

Arthur huffs and tries to concentrate on the board despite the distracting contact of their shoulders.

In the dream they race through floors of an office building, twelve top to bottom with more safes than planned fitted into walls. Their mark is less trusting than expected but no one shoots at them so at least Arthur doesn't have that to worry about. The desks bend into different shapes as Cobb presses deeper, starting out square then forming into horse shoes and pretzels. The glass turns opaque with a shinny, metal quality and the hallways bend around into circles the longer the dream lasts.

Safe number two, floor ten yields most excellent results for their extraction which surprises them all as surely it was going to be on twelve.

"Remind me to build something with less floors next time," Antonia says as they run down the flights, Cobb in the lead.

"With the amount of safes in his head it worked," Cobb says, throwing her an encouraging smile.

"Yes, but at the cost of the elevators!" Antonia groans, kicking off her shoes in remarkably graceful fashion given the speed at which they are all moving.

"You said something about eighteen at the start," Eames complains. "It's a wonder we've not died and woken up already."

"Eighteen is a good number. Architecturally if you're going for height but still want – "

"More moving less lecture!" Arthur shouts.

"Oh, you could use a bit of creative learning, Arthur," Eames says with a smile then sighs heavily. "Let's get a hand here, shall we?" Suddenly the stairs become a slide under their feet, all four of them careening down together.

Arthur can't help but notice, at least a little, that for an office building which one would expect to be bland gray the dream feels silver instead, metal glinting like something more.


It isn't really until after their third extraction working together, however, that Arthur consciously notices the colors.

This dream flows in a pattern of green, fields turning into forests, followed by lush beds of pachysandra then clover then canopies of vines. Their mark, Cassandra, lies in the grass in a sea green dress, curling her toes through the clover. She talks to Cobb like two strangers who aren't such strangers because it's summer and the day is beautiful.

Eames looks like a young boy with innocent eyes lying on the woman's other side, a friend who makes the scene all the safer for Cassandra to talk to Cobb about the package she tied up tight. With her friend Oscar beside her what is there to worry about?

Arthur hides among the trees, disguised by vines, keeping an eye on those of the subconscious lazing about in the sun or curled up in trees. It's almost like a fairytale and when they wake up with the information securely in Cobb's grasp, Arthur realizes his tie was green.

"You know you always dream a color," he says to Eames as they pack up.

Jamila swiftly takes Cassandra away to wake up in a taxi as though she'd just nodded off for a minute. Cobb is rushing out the door with Dorothy to meet the client, leaving the two of them to clear the flat.

"So, I've been told," Eames replies as he closes the silver case, "lovely of you to notice, Arthur."

He picks up the case as soon as Eames' hands leave it. "Ever been a problem?"

"Not yet," Eames shrugs once and smiles, "helps not to be the architect."

"Do you do it on purpose?"

Eames cocks his head, eyes searching Arthur's face. "Sometimes yes, sometimes no."

Arthur only nods in response. Eames turns to the table to pick up his coat then looks back at Arthur over his shoulder.

"Shall I dream a color for you next time?"


Despite all their criminal activity there are areas of dream work which are in fact legal. Eames has the skill to fade into someone new and some psychology must go deeper than couch talk and pills despite what the medical establishment says.

"Cobb may be forced underground but you're not," Eames says. "I need a point man for a removal."

"Someone to shoot you when you become the right threat?"

"Do try not to be too excited."

The dream turns out yellow.

Their client is a man who suffers from horrific nightmares every night. The recurring trauma leaves him sleep deprived and increasingly ill. Psychologists haven't satisfied his unruly mind thus far. Removal may be a dramatic step, effectively killing a part of one's subconscious, but who wants to pay a psychologist for years?

"Close family and whatever past essential friends and relations I could find. The irritant should be among them."

Eames stares at the pile of folders in Arthur's hands. He reaches out and grasps the pile, finger tips touching Arthur's, then looks up.

"How many people are in this pile?"


"And how many are already dead to hinder my work?"


Eames groans and pulls the files away from Arthur. "Ask me why I took this job because I'm not so certain I know."

"Get to work," Arthur says.

The dream starts out as a box room with yellow walls, faint outlines of two doors side by side along one wall. In the center stands a table with two chairs on either side. Their client, David, sits in one chair facing away from Arthur and Eames, each standing in front of a door.

Removal is different from extraction. There is no formal architect, only a base dream set by the dreamer to be solely populated by the mark's subconscious at a deep emotional layer. While it's not strictly illegal it is discouraged due to the level of danger to the subconscious. A wrong decision by the dreamer can lead to an essential memory being destroyed or even damage to every day brain function.

"So," Eames says brightly, "who first to trigger some potentially life threatening feelings and memories?"

Arthur gives him a look and cocks his gun.

"Quite right, mother it is," Eames says.

Eames walks toward the table slowly turning at the last possible second to sit down in the chair across from David. He smiles with pale pink lips and brushes a hand through strawberry blond hair.


He looks up. "You're dead."


David sniffs, eyes moving up and down leisurely. "You always loved polka dots."

Figures begin to appear around the room as if pulled from the walls, children; each one has David's face. There is a boy, five or six, running with a yellow kite flying above him. He fades into the wall to be replaced by a smaller boy doing somersaults. Closer to the table a ten year old David laughs and claps his hands. Out of the wall David walks, fourteen; he holds a picture in his hands. On the floor far away David appears playing with blocks, a carefully made sandwich untouched beside him. All of them are like yellow shadows, almost see through.

"I liked the red polka dot dress more than the yellow," David says, still looking at the woman across from him with a sort of blissful sadness.

"Yellow in summer, red in spring," Eames says.

David laughs, "Yes." He reaches out to touch his mother's hands but Eames pulls away.

Eames stands up and walks behind David back to Arthur. Arthur glances at him.

"Now if only he dreamed like this every night." Eames waves a hand. "Quite peaceful in fact."

"Just bring out the big guns, Eames. We know it's the father. You read the file."

Eames sighs and turns to Arthur. "I do hate crew cuts."

Arthur holds his gun at the ready as Eames walks forward again, turning just at the corner to sit down at the table, a taller man with gray hair and dark blue eyes. David stiffens at once and cracks appear in the walls.

"God damn, what do you want?" David gasps.

His father stares hard at him and clasps his hands together on the table, voice eerily calm. "Did I raise you to speak like that? Makes you sound like some common redneck."

David grips the edges of the table and does not respond. Out of the walls begin to pour faces, eyes with looks of surprise, betrayal, pain. A child runs through screaming with a torn sleeve. Another falls out of the wall with reaching arms to melt into the floor.

"Your mother would not speak to you if she could see what trash you've become. I ought to turn you into the same so you can see for yourself," Eames goads.

Faces explode so quickly it's hard to discern separate bodies. Screams begin to fill the space so loud Arthur sees Eames appear through his forgery for a split second, eyes scrunched in pain, but he snaps back at once.

Eames stands up, looming over David seated. "Still a failure I see, can't keep it together!" he shouts.

David jumps back out of the chair and the room starts to darken. More figures rush in, crying eyes, sudden spurts of red. A teenager bangs against the wall so they can hear the crack of skull. Another sits on the floor tearing some papers apart in a frenzy. Then suddenly another face appears standing among all the memories of David, a face that matches the one Eames wears.

Arthur's cue.

"David!" he shouts.

David turns at Arthur's voice as though he didn't know the other man was there. Arthur steps forward and pulls David behind him in a protective fashion. Then he raises his gun at Eames and nods. David's father smiles.

Arthur shoots him in the chest and he's gone, the dream figure behind him shattering into pieces at the same time. The room suddenly clears of anything but the two real people, quiet and calm. Success.

When Arthur wakes up he ushers their client out, bottle of water and Arthur's card in his hand. "The nightmares should stop now."

Arthur closes the door and walks back over to the two chairs beside the bed, Eames still seated in the left chair rubbing his eyes. Arthur stands at his feet. Eames sighs quietly, a small sound of pain.

"Yellow?" Arthur says.

Eames breathes in slowly and drops his hand. "I hear in the psychological profession yellow leads to depression."

Arthur purses his lips. "You just made that up."

Eames stands up so he's only a few inches from Arthur. "Perhaps." He touches Arthur's cheek with a coy smile. "Must keep you guessing."


"Ah, Arthur." Arthur turns at the sound of his name to see Eames enter the room. "And here I was thinking it'd been far too long since I'd seen someone with such a serious face."

Arthur raises an eyebrow to which Eames only laughs. Cobb comes in from the back then followed by their chemist, Jessica, and architect, Talbot.

"Okay," Cobb sits down at the table and the others follow suit. "Talbot has most of the dream designed and Jessica has made a compound for us."

"Little touch to bring out the shine," she says with a wink.

"The shine?" Arthur furrows his brow at her.

"Yes, Arthur," Eames says, "some of us like our dreams to have some life in them." He taps his pen on the arm of Arthur's chair with a smirk.

Arthur sighs and glares once.

"We're going two levels," Cobb continues, ignoring the banter, "Talbot will be the dreamer for the first and Eames you're second."

"What?" Arthur snaps in surprise.

Cobb sighs. "I need you with me."

Eames taps Arthur's forehead this time with his finger, "Let us creative types control the surroundings. If we let you dream the whole place would come out with pinstripes and Escher stairs."

"You like Escher stairs."

"Ah, yes, who doesn't?"

Jessica clears her throat and Talbot slides a paper across the table to Eames.

"Level two," Talbot says.

"Private residence." He waves the paper at Arthur. "Looks like you and Talbot have been quite busy researching your little hearts out."

"We all have our gifts." Arthur takes the paper from Eames.

Cobb shakes his head at them.

"Would you all like to go on for a trial run?" Jessica asks.

When Arthur looks around he's standing at the foot of a flight of stairs. Everything is made of dark wood with a sort of library feel to it. However, as Jessica said, it has the sense of being alive with the glint of sun even touching the corners. It feels protective and secure which would be just how they'd want their mark to feel.

"Perhaps it would be a fine dream for you, Arthur." Eames appears at Arthur's back and he turns his head.

"Let me guess, pinstripes?" Arthur asks, pointing at the striped wallpaper.

"Plenty of dull brown."

"I'm sure you can handle it."

Eames laughs. "I would rather add a splash of blue here and there but who am I to contradict your excellent work with Talbot?"

"Or mess up the house so they know it's wrong?"

Eames curves around Arthur to stand on the first stair. "Even brown can have its charms I suppose." He touches both hands to the edges of Arthur's tan vest. "As do you, darling."

Then Eames turns and walks up the stairs. Arthur feels himself shiver.


"A little too flashy, Dom?" Arthur snaps at Cobb.

Cobb slides up against the wall beside Arthur, taking two shots as he goes, and spares Arthur a glare.

"I told you he'd been trained. This was bound to happen!"

"If you're trying to make this hard please keep talking," Cobb snaps.

"It was Mal, wasn't it?" Arthur asks.

Cobb breathes in sharply and snaps off a round. He doesn't look at Arthur. Arthur clenches his teeth but keeps back everything he wants to say, reaching around Cobb to shoot at the five guards as Cobb reloads.

"I've got it under control," Cobb says quietly.

"I'm sure."

"Boys," Eames suddenly appears at Arthur's right where he hadn't been before making them both jump, "I believe I have an exit for you."

They turn to see a red door cracked open where Eames holds the edge.

"Added some stairs?" Cobb asks as he stands.

Eames smirks. "I have my little touches."

Arthur slides against the edge of the wall, Cobb out of his way, taking out two guards before he turns back. "Well?"

"Go on then," Eames says, shoving Cobb through, "You've got the financial plan from the safe, don't you?"

"Just one more thing," Cobb points quickly to his head then takes off down the stairs.

"We've got two minutes!" Eames shouts down after him then he turns back to Arthur. "Arthur and I will keep them off."

"I trust you didn't give yourself away?" Arthur crouches down to peer around the corner again.

Eames scoffs. "I wouldn't be the best at what I do if I did that, now would I?"

Eames crouches down behind Arthur, taking the gun which is stuck in the back of Arthur's pants. A hail of bullet fire lands above their heads forcing both men to momentarily shield their eyes.

"I see the carpet matches the wallpaper," Arthur remarks, head back up.

"And the door," Eames adds close to Arthur's ear, a hand on his back. "You need some color in your life, my dear, with all that black you wear."

"I wear color." Arthur shoots another black suited guard.

Eames laughs quietly. "Gray is hardly a color."

"I do – "

"Down!" Eames shouts before Arthur can finish, pushing him down, and shooting someone above him.

Arthur keeps his head down, Eames firing two more shots above him, until Eames gently touches his hair. He turns his head and looks up at the other.

"Can't have you out of the game just yet," Eames says.

"Thank you," Arthur replies and sits up again.

The hallway is clear except for the bodies of those they shot. Behind him, Eames stands up and opens the door. Then he turns back and holds out a hand for Arthur.

"Shall we assist Mr. Cobb?"

Arthur takes his hand and Eames pulls him up. When he stands their chests are almost touching. Eames does not let go of his hand until Arthur does first.


The scene laid possesses opulence and style, gold trim on the walls with chandeliers throughout the ballroom, two bars, and tables three deep on each side. Couples dance to fashionable music, smiling, laughing, and looking every bit the part of party goers to an heiress's event.

Arthur and Cobb walk through the scene in immaculate tuxes until they stop in front of the lady herself, Dame Jacqueline von Blanquet.

"Dame Blanquet," Cobb says.

She turns and smiles. "Ah, we have an appointment, don't we?"

Cobb nods slowly. The Dame's eyes shift briefly to Arthur then back to Cobb where they stay.

"Well then, shall we?"

They both move to follow when the Dame stops and holds up a hand. She points at Arthur and wags her finger then turns it back to Cobb.

"No, no, just you."

Arthur raises an eyebrow at Cobb then steps back once and sits down at the nearest table. Cobb nods at him then turns back to the Dame and offers his arm which she takes. Arthur tracks them with his eyes as they walk across the room and to the doors at the right. It would take him less than twenty seconds to reach the doors from this point.

Just as the far doors close behind Cobb and the Dame a young blond woman in a tight red dress appears before Arthur and holds out her hand. Arthur looks up and she smiles, wiggling her fingers. Arthur cocks his head since the subconscious does not often interact so directly unless you engage first.

"Fancy a turn about the floor?" she asks.

Arthur breathes out slowly but takes her hand and stands up. She puts her free hand on his waist, forcing his onto her shoulder, then steers them onto the dance floor. Arthur is confused for one minute then the turn of phrase clicks.

"Eames…" Arthur says low.

"Didn't like my dress?" Eames asks with a smile, back to himself again in a classic tux.

"What are you doing?"

Eames twirls them around to the moderate tune and quirks his lips. "And how else was I to get you to dance with me?"

"We're here to work," Arthur hisses, glancing at the door Cobb went through.

"And now we're blending in, my dear, relax."

When Arthur only glares, Eames dips him. "It's up to Cobb now." He pulls them back up. "We have only to wait for results or be mauled by the dancers."

Arthur can't stop a smile and a furtive glance at the people moving around them. Arthur notices all the women's jewelry is gold, watches and cuff links too; funny how environment can even control the subconscious' appearance to the smallest detail. When Arthur's eyes shift back to Eames he is smiling.

The room shakes and the gold plated chandeliers rattle, the lights changing color from soft white to blue. They sway even as the shaking stops. Eames grips Arthur's waist a little tighter to him and turns them to the speed of the music toward the door.

"We may be running out of time."

"Reaction of the subconscious to Cobb?" Arthur muses. "That was quick."

Eames mock huffs. "And I was so enjoying our dance."

"Better than I thought you'd be," Arthur mutters.

Eames' eyes widen slightly, turning them left. "Is that a compliment or an insult? Never mind, I'll take it as the former."

"I won't correct you."

"You just like to press my buttons, Arthur."

Arthur makes a face. "I think that's the other way around."

Eames grins, leaning a bit closer. "You caught me." Arthur opens his mouth but Eames stops him with a laugh. "Yes, yes, I know. Don't even say it." He suddenly dips Arthur again, forehead touching Arthur's briefly. "I caught you."

When Eames pulls them up again Arthur's face is flushed but he has no retort. Eames only looks at him, face a little too close, and ghosts his thumb along Arthur's wrist as he holds his hand.

Suddenly the room creaks and the high ceiling becomes three feet closer to their heads. Both glance up then over at the door. Several pairs of eyes turn to them. No one moves in total rejection yet, however.

"Did you like the gold?" Eames asks, still guiding them gracefully across the floor.

Arthur laughs once. "Very classy."

"Only the best for you, Arthur," Eames replies looking right into Arthur's eyes.

They both still for a moment locked in place. Eames' eyes flick to Arthur's lips then he leans in. The music slows, the people going blurry, golden light blocking out other visual stimuli. Arthur can't quite tell if it's just his heightened pulse or Eames' dreaming. Now all Arthur can see is dark eyes and he gasps,


Eames halts so their lips are touching at the barest of points, no pressure but burning sensation where their skin connects. It seems like even more of a dream now with him as the mark, Eames extracting his secrets through solid arms and hot skin alone. Arthur does not move away. When Eames speaks Arthur can feel his lips move.

"So, stop me," he says.

Then the room tilts sharply down behind Arthur, everything snapping into perfect focus to be sent sliding, people vanishing, and Edith Piaf begins to sing. Arthur starts to fall with Eames crushed against him in dream gravity. Arthur plants his hand on a sliding table to his right and swings the two of them around to the left, going with the motion of the room, so Eames can reach out and clamp his hand down onto the fixed bar, anchoring them. The doors open to their right and Cobb slides in, holding onto one door as it swings.

"Got it?" Arthur shouts over the sound of crashing tables and glass, grabbing onto the bar beside Eames.

"Yeah, but the subconscious is trying to reject the dream."

"Oh my," Eames says, "I just hadn't noticed!"

"Any longer and she's going to realize."

"I think the incline might do that," Eames remarks deadpan.

"Maybe you weren't paying enough attention to keep the dream stable," Arthur hisses.

Eames looks sidelong at him. "Worth it," He whispers.

"I heard the song," Cobb says.

Arthur nods at him. "We've got about 30 seconds."

"Shall we?" Eames asks, looking at both in turn.

Cobb nods and all three let go of their hand holds, tumbling down the incline of the floor toward the far wall below.


Arthur can tell he's dreaming almost immediately. It's not that the dreamer lacks skill in creating a believable world but that Arthur is meant to know he's dreaming. Arthur reaches into his vest pocket for his die to be sure. He rolls it in his hand, five, not right, a definite dream.

The scene around him is outdoors, a long paved road lined by tall oak trees. The leaves are orange, yellow, and brown giving the feeling of the height of fall. If Arthur tries to look much further than the trees the world becomes indiscernible like the dreamer hasn't decided what to put there yet.

"So, what would you like?" Eames steps up beside him, staring down the road.

"You didn't do much to start with."

"I did say I'd let you choose."

"Did you?"

"Had to start somewhere." Eames turns his head toward Arthur. "Don't you like the fall?"

"I do." Arthur looks at him. "Can't think how you would know that."

"Most people do," Eames touches Arthur's temple briefly, "but I have my ways."

Arthur looks down at their feet then up again at the trees. There is a slight breeze blowing pleasant cool air around them. Everything makes for a perfect day, sunny, yet cool, leaves falling, no one else around. Arthur's subconscious seems to be very quiet, accepting.

"Is this a date?" Arthur asks.

Flowers appear in the grass beyond the trees, marigolds and day lilies with tiny butter cups scattered in between.

"Now, I didn't say that," Eames replies, his arm touching Arthur's.

"You didn't not say that."

They look at each other. Eames just purses his lips once with a tiny shrug of his shoulder and says nothing. The sun light dims to make the day turn into early evening. Fireflies can just barely be seen out in the grass, a summer contrast to the fall atmosphere but Arthur doesn't argue.

"You didn't knock me out to get me here, did you?" Arthur asks, peering out of the corner of his eye at the man leaning against him.

Eames laughs and glances at him. "I asked and you said yes."

Arthur raises his eyebrows in surprise, turning to look at the man full on. He can't remember any of before right now but the calm with which Eames speaks inspires no suspicion. Eames stares over at the trees as Arthur watches him, both still standing where they started. Finally, Eames looks at him again.

"Arthur, you spend far too much time tightly wound in those suits of yours shooting at many an individual's subconscious." Eames stands up straight putting space between them again. "I felt you could use some time to relax for once."

Arthur swallows not knowing what to say.

Eames just smiles with grace and all that charm. "No need to thank me, darling, I can see it in your face."


Then inception happens three levels down in freezing white though Arthur doesn't see it. In the end, despite his reservations at the start, everyone makes it out with their minds intact, more or less.

When Arthur opens his eyes, discreetly glancing to where Eames sits, and sees Eames looking back at him the first thing Arthur thinks of is blowing their cover to take two steps across the isle and kiss him.


"So!" Dorothy waves her hands around them "Just your basic hotel, nothing all that fancy."

"Why is it always hotels?" Eames says as he walks up and down the hall. "Always stealing secrets from rich men living their lives through hotels."

"Jealous?" Dorothy asks over her shoulder.

Arthur can't stop a snort. Eames rotates slowly and walks back to them, hands behind his back.

"I wouldn't say jealous, more bored with the décor."

"Find a new job then," Arthur says.

"Not bored with the money just yet." Eames straightens Arthur's tie unnecessarily as he walks leisurely by.

Arthur stops himself from smiling and looks back to Dorothy. "So, we get him in the lobby and then lead him up to the third floor for the meeting."

"I've designed the room with a wall safe so his mind should automatically -" Dorothy starts then vanishes mid sentence.

Eames turns around at the far end of the hall at the sudden silence. Arthur puts up his hands in confusion.

"Where'd she go? We still have 20 minutes at least."

"More like 30 in fact." Eames walks back down to stand next to Arthur. "Saito may have pulled her out or Amelia."

"This is why we all should have gone in together," Arthur complains, "no one needing Dorothy to complain about the design and then yanking her out because they'd be here."

"Relax, Arthur, we'll be out in 30 minutes and you can grace them all with your penetrating glare then."

"Unless they kick us out."

"Would you rather I shot you?"

Arthur rolls his eyes with a sigh then crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back against the wall.

Eames mirrors him against the opposite wall. They stand in silence for a minute or two, eyes wandering around the hallway.

"We could take a look around?" Eames suggests.

"What's the point?" Arthur holds up a hand. "Dorothy's not here."

"Well, we can't just stand here for half an hour."

Arthur shrugs. "It's your dream."

"If it was all my dream there would be far more pleasant engagements to be had."


Eames smiles. "Not the one I was thinking but good try Arthur."


"Now, you see, I'd be sure to dream something to include you too, Arthur. What sort of host would I be if I didn't?"

"Is that your English charm?"

"Ever present."

They stare at each other, arms crossed, Eames with one leg bent, foot pressed against the wall. It should feel awkward, too personal, this lingering stare but they passed that point many dreams back. It's been a long time coming and it's a wonder Eames hasn't pressed it sooner. Maybe that's a sign that this is right.

Both move at the same time, pushing off the wall to meet some where just off the middle. Eames' hands touch Arthur's head while Arthur grasps Eames arms and their lips connect with bruising force and a flash of color he can't name. All he can think is 'yes' and for once he's not tense, worried, waiting for the next step, waiting for the next bullet or problem or job. Now he's right here in the moment thinking only of Eames, feeling only his lips, tasting something he can't even name. He's just right here and uncontrolled and its colorful bliss.

There's force in Eames' kiss, his tongue on Arthur's teeth, his hands digging into hair, musing it out of place. It feels like a chant of 'more more more.' Then Eames wins the weight class game and pushes Arthur back against the wall. He plants his hands on the wall on either side of Arthur's head like the quarterback in high school with Arthur in the part of head cheerleader. It makes Arthur laugh into the kiss and he can feel the vibration through Eames under his finger tips. He wants to feel more, everything, yes, now, and he pulls at Eames' shirt to get under to hot skin. Eames gasps at Arthur's hands on his stomach so Arthur can feel him shiver.

"Too long waiting for that," Eames gasps again, lips barely able to leave Arthur's.

"Hrmmuhmm," Arthur replies.

Eames pulls back a little. "We should be awake for this."

"If you're saying stop I may have to get forceful."

Arthur can physically see Eames's eyes dilate. "Don't tease."

"Taste of your own medicine."

Eames kisses him again and pulls at Arthur's tie so he can get his hand underneath to touch Arthur's neck.

"We're in a hotel," Arthur says, fingers digging into Eames' skin. "Twenty minutes left."

Eames takes a sharp breath in. Then Arthur pushes and walks Eames backward until he hits a door. Arthur pushes down the handle, perfectly unlocked, and Eames shoves backward into the door pulling Arthur with him.

When Arthur opens his eyes he can hear Eames one chair away gasping along with him. He blinks once at the harsh light of the city loft then looks in front of him. He can see Dorothy, Amelia and Saito arguing by the windows, Dorothy's hands wildly gesticulating while Saito stands by stoically in front of her and Amelia tries to calm the other woman.

Then Eames touches his hand. Arthur turns and for once it looks like Eames has nothing to say. He only looks at Arthur with eyes that can't decide what to feel. Arthur gets up swiftly and stands over Eames. Eames glances up silently and waits. Arthur leans down, touches Eames's cheek and kisses him.

Arthur says, "we're awake now."

Eames laughs and the sound, his face, every bit of him, is every color there is, every shade of real life.