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Turning Into Dust

He sees he what he sees. He's never wanted more than the opportunity to show someone. But he still sees what he sees. His chest feels tight yet loose at the same time. His heart throbbed almost ached at the idea of sharing something so intimate with someone else, to let them in, a peek into his world.

And why has he? He looks over to the man whom he doesn't even know his first name. The younger man is looking around curiously and Eames is content with just watching him, letting the other man absorb the world Eames has created. Sunlight streams through the thick wood, water drips off branches and leaves, snow is melting, puddling on the grass that's trying to show itself. Eames sees this but he wants to know what the Corporal sees.

The Corporal takes a couple hesitant steps forward, heavy, visible breathes expelling out in front of him in the chilly air, treading on the lightly snow covered earth and reaches out his hand to touch the trunk of a nearby tree. The bark is hard and brittle and the Corporal cocks his head a little to it curiously.

"How did we get here?" he seems to ask no one in particular, his eyes on the tree.

Eames joins him on the other side of the tree, wrapping his had around the trunk, it rough under his fingers, flashing the younger man a smile.

"I'd explain it to you but it would take too long," he winks. And he wants to ask him so badly if he sees color in his world or if everything is just black, white and gray but he's almost too afraid to find out. He selfishly just wants to enjoy this with him.

"We're dreaming?" the young Corporal with his hands still on the trunk of the tree cranes his neck upwards to the impossibly tall trees that obscure the sun. Sunlight bathes his form as he smiles and closes his eyes, inhales deeply.

Eames answers him by moving his hands from around the trunk of the tree and placing them around the other man's waist and kisses him deeply. The Corporal stiffens a little as his hands loosen from around the trunk and he feels him tremble in his arms. Snow falls through early morning branches, slips through pine needles, plops to the crystalline snow already on earth, water trickles, runs down to meet the stream, the air is completely still and the Corporal's warm mouth is exploring his like melting snow.

They're walking hand in hand in a snow encrusted field, still as a first breath and Eames hasn't worked up the courage to ask him what he sees. The other man is radiant-morning sun in his dark hair, flushed cheeks and softening his normally rigid and set features. There's a boyish charm and feeling to his light steps as they make tracks in the light snow and Eames doesn't want to ruin the moment.

Snow falls lightly from the sky and both men crane their necks up to watch and taste it. They crest a hill and suddenly they are looking at a cemetery, dark figures gathered around a casket and snow is falling more rapidly, obscuring the world before them. They walk hand in hand, a little more slowly and the Corporal's eyes are getting wider and wider, breath getting more and more labored as they approach the obvious funeral going on. When they are just upon the figures gathered around the casket, it being lowered into the earth, they pause. Eames can't tell if there are tears in the other man's eyes or if it's just snow but Eames hasn't dreamt this. Somehow the other man is manipulating the dream, his thoughts filtering through.

The casket dips lower and lower into the earth and the Corporal turns to him. He can barely see his face now; the snow is flying more wildley.

"I did this," and Eames can barely hear his words.

Eames approaches him, wants to take him in his arms and comfort him since he's obviously struggling or mourning or both. He doesn't understand but he wants to. He reaches out a hand to the other man but the Corporal withdraws, takes a couple steps further back, craning his face up to the endlessly falling snow that blurs them both into white oblivion.

The earth is downy and soft yet cold and wet all around him. His eyelids flutter open and are full of gray clouds that are rolling lazily past him as snow gently falls. Snow collects on his eyelids and everywhere, burying him slowly. He looks to his side and sees that the Corporal is lying closely next to him in the snow, arms outstretched a little, eyelids half lidded and a faraway look on his face as he watches pine trees sway. Eames doesn't know what he just saw but he knows it's troubling the other man so he gets up from their sanctuary of ice and gets the other man to his feet as well and they walk hand in hand away from this part of his world.

Eames wants to show him and because he doesn't know where to start he starts at the beginning. He leads him through the forest, his backyard when he was growing up, to his small country home. It's the same as he always remembered only blanketed with soft white and still Eames can't ask him.

The Corporal's eyes are wide with curiosity as they tread lightly over the white earth. There's a pain in Eames' chest as he leads the other man up the small walk to the paint chipped front door-old worn wood, hinges that threaten to fall off at any moment. It pains him greatly like he's carrying around more weight inside him to take him back to his childhood home, the house that was a lie. But he also feels flutters of newness like his body is very much awake yet he knows he's asleep in a chair in the training facility building with the Corporal by his side, them hand in hand. The house is just as his step father, his uncle left it-barren, full of empty dreams and broken promises. It surprises Eames that the house is empty-not how he wanted it to be but try as he might he can't will the house to be full-to be full of people he thought that loved him and the ones that truly did were either killed or taken from him without his choice.

Eames feels weak in the knees and struggles for breath. He hadn't expected this. He thought it would be so easy to manipulate the dream, having no real experience being the dreamer but as his eyes wander over faded, peeling wallpaper, buckling, water stained wood floors and cracked ceilings he realizes it's not a dream, it's a memory. He cannot control or change the past.

He faintly realizes he's paused, standing in the middle of the empty living room right where the coffee table used to be. The Corporal is still holding his hand and when he realizes that Eames has stopped he pauses too and shoots the other man a curious look over his shoulder, eyebrow cocked. There must be something showing on Eames' face because as the Corporal takes him in his own face softens and he approaches his space at once, searching his eyes.

"This is my home," Eames closes his eyes when he says it because everything has become difficult, even the words and he's still having trouble breathing.

"But it isn't anymore," the Corporal's voice is excruciatingly gentle and he feels a squeeze at his hand. Eames begrudgingly opens his eyes and the Corporal is smiling beautifully, eyes shining and Eames feels like he can breathe. He feels that the Corporal's emotion, his attention and dare he say his love is giving him air, breathing life into him. He feels he's returning the smile and he squeezes back-something real and palpable despite him knowing it's a dream.

And then the Corporal is leading Eames around his old childhood home and Eames lets him. They pass from room to room. The Corporal touches the walls faintly like he wants to understand and Eames finds it touching, touching that the Corporal is accepting it all even if Eames isn't.

He's lead into the basement, his uncle's secret place, the place where Eames' life as a lie started and Eames is resistant but he feels the Corporal's strength flood into him as he takes his hand and leads him down the concrete steps.

"This is where it started," Eames breathes smelling the familiar musty smells, his uncle's tobacco and aftershave, his mum's antique things now long gone. He remembered he wanted to show the Corporal the beginning and in a lot of ways it all started here. But not anymore.

Eames tugs at the younger man's hand. "Let's go."

The Corporal is looking around like he doesn't want to leave, like he's content with staying and Eames isn't sure why but he knows what happens next and they can't be inside the place when it happens.

They just make it back outside and even though Eames can't see color he senses that the sky has changed. He guesses its dusk but he's not certain. The snow is also gone. The grass has shown itself. Its summer he knows because again this is all a memory.

The flames and smoke rise out of the house slowly and Eames doesn't remember if it happened that way or not. The two men stand with clasped hands and watch as the house is consumed with dark heavy smoke and rising flames and despite the heartache Eames is glad it's gone, his home and what it stood for. The Corporal was right it- it isn't his home anymore. He wanted a house by the rolling ocean, someplace completely different than his small country home.

Ash falls from the sky like little paper shards but it's all wrong. Snow is falling steadily again and Eames looks to the other man because he isn't dreaming this but now he's not sure anymore. The memory fades, blurs and the Corporal's constant presence gives him the push he needs. The snow and ash morph into white feathers. Eames cranes his head upwards and laughs and laughs because his mum told him to never forget to keep dreaming and Eames was worried he did. He turns to the man next to him and he's smiling too, feathers dancing and gliding off his young face. The other man has helped him to remember to keep dreaming.

They watch as his former home is consumed by flames-breaking windows, charring walls, wood spitting and crackling. The feathers, pure as the snow itself and dawn's earliest light covers everything, obscuring the scene and themselves. He can barely see the Corporal as the feathers are falling faster and faster-a world of white.

"I did this," Eames says after a time and just like when the Corporal was confessing his sin around the cemetery with the coffin being lowered into the ground he can barely hear his own voice.

He thinks the Corporal is looking at him but he can't be sure, he can barely see his hand in front of his face, the feathers clinging to every surface.

"I know," he thinks he hears the Corporal say and Eames reaches for him desperately but the world is being consumed by fire, ash and feathers-black, white and gray, all that Eames has ever known and he can't find the Corporal in all of it. They're burning too he knows, the flames and smoke have somehow impossibly found them in his dream and they are dwindling, becoming a part of it all.

"What do you see?" again he can barely hear it as the fire and feathers are drowning out all sounds.

His heart is on fire too at the Corporal's question and he swears just for the briefest of seconds he can see something beautiful dance in front of his vision, like a swirl and maybe its color or maybe it isn't and he almost doesn't care. There isn't anybody else now. He only wants this man, the man he barely knows and can't see clearly because he's asked him the question, the most important question.

"You, darling. I only see you." It was true and wasn't at the same time and his heart is bursting, being consumed by the flames, the ash and smoke. If he could construct a dream, a world strictly based off this perfect creature, the Corporal, than he would. He would live and dream only for him.

His limbs are disappearing and still he reaches for the Corporal, him feeling so close. He's becoming nothing but he feels he's gained everything just by him asking Eames what he sees. Their fingertips brush through the billowing smoke and swirling debris. He feels his body consumed by heat and he isn't sure if it's from the fire or his burning desires. His body is broken apart, whisked away with the feathers and wind, both of them carried away like dust.

His eyes open to blazing sun and white heat soaking in through his clothes and there are things clinging to him-dust, ash, feathers, bits of his old home, all rolled together into one making an impossible combination. The Corporal is in the mixture too-his smell, taste and feel. Eames closes his eyes and breathes it in. He feels grass and dying leaves underneath him. He flexes his muscles and tries out his limbs. He thought he had dissolved into nothing from the fire, thought they were dead. He thought they would have woken up…

He feels disorientated and his lack of experience being the dreamer grips him and holds him fast. He thought for sure that if you die in the dream that you wake up. But maybe they didn't die? Were they still dreaming? He turns his head to either side feebly, grass tickling his face but he doesn't see the Corporal. Eames gets up on shaky knees, dusts himself off and takes in his surroundings. It's a park and there's a playground a short distance away. He can hear old, rusted metal swings sway in the gentle breeze and distant children's laughter. Grass and leaves become sand as he approaches the jungle gym. He spies a figure sitting alone on a park bench, too far away to make out their face but the silhouette is unmistakable. It's the Corporal. Somewhere there's wind chimes knocking in the gentle breeze, leaves blow past him and catch on the cuffs of his trousers but his eyes are transfixed on the Corporal's form.

He makes his way over to him, sand sinking beneath him, filling his shoes and he dodges children. The Corporal's gaze never wavers or leaves the playground; his eyes are big and transfixed, not acknowledging Eames' presence. Eames turns and follows the Corporal's eyes to where he thinks the younger man is looking. There is a man maybe in his forties with light, close cropped hair, clean shaven face, broad shoulders and crooked, tobacco stained teeth flashing in the sun. The resemblance is a little daunting like he's looking at an older version of himself or a relative. Eames again has a feeling things are getting out of control like the dream is slipping away from him just like the sand. The man the Corporal is watching is helping a young boy of maybe eight work some monkey bars. Both of them are laughing without a care in the world like it's all just them. Eames eyes them curiously trying to understand why the Corporal can't stop watching them. As Eames continues to watch the boy he can't help but see the similarities-the dark hair, the flash of dimples, the large, dark exotic looking eyes. It' the Corporal and his father he surmises.

Eames suddenly feels like he's watching something very private which he is and he averts his eyes. He puts a reassuring hand on the Corporal's shoulder, the real Corporal, anchoring him.

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bit bigger, darling," the pet name just rolls off his tongue and he's reminded of Rup and the affections he would bathe Eames in. The Corporal's eyes are still on the scene, barely blinking.

"You mustn't be afraid to keep dreaming," Eames urges even more gently, almost a whisper. It's a warning and a plea. As much as he wanted to know this man and wanted to show him, rolling around in memories seemed to be detrimental to them both. They should create new memories. He applies more pressure on the Corporal's shoulder and finally he turns and gives him his full attention like he just noticed he was standing there. He blinks at him-autumn sun in his hair, his big dark eyes like reflective pools. Eames sticks his hand out to the younger man and the Corporal eyes it after a time like he's still moving in slow motion or underwater. The Corporal takes Eames' hand-his touch light and soft. The walk hand in hand out of the park. The Corporal's eyes never leave the scene of him as a younger boy and his father as he holds him up and he works the monkey bars, a constant loop being played over and over.

The world spins and shifts under their feet like they're walking on a moving record player and just like the frames of a film reel things flicker rapidly in front of them, dissolving and changing.

He sees what he sees and because he wants to start somewhere new he sees the ocean, someplace he's always dreamt of living if he was given a choice. But he's not given a choice in a lot of areas in his life. They walk the beach, crystal sand stretching out for miles, waves lapping at their shoes and he senses the Corporal relax, his muscles unclenching. Eames almost sees him smile as the Corporal closes his eyes and inhales deeply. The air is saturated with salt and burning leaves and when the wind ruffles through their hair he can taste salt on his lips and can feel it on his face. They chase the tide for a while and the Corporal is smiling. Eames returns the smile and gets the sense that the Corporal is at home. They walk the long beach until Eames can spy a cliff in the distance and the Corporal stops. He sees it too. A house appears at the top of the cliff like a shimmering mirage and Eames can feel the Corporal stiffen next to him.

Beach becomes dying grass and leaves again which becomes a well maintained front walkway with perfect brick under their feet in a blink of an eye. Eames is staring up at a huge house of immaculate construction- all brick and white gleaming wood, everything polished and pristine. The elegant front door of the house swings open and again Eames can feel the Corporal stiffen.

They move through the house but it's not the same as Eames' house. The Corporal has an odd expression on his face somewhere between fascination, fear, respect and doubt and Eames knows that this is the Corporal's house or at least used to be. Eames is angry yet intrigued and he shares some of the Corporal's fear and fascination. This doesn't feel like a dream. It feels like another memory as they move from room to room. Everything is sparkling clean, almost suffocatingly so as if the very air has been scrubbed and polished. He peers at the Corporal closely like he just now noticed something and something clicks. He notices the precise, clean shaven haircut, his perfect shave, and his impeccably pressed clothes. The Corporal came from a home of perfection it seemed. A figure cuts across the hall, too quick to really comprehend cutting off Eames' thoughts and startling him. Eames gets a strange feeling and that runaway train, out of control feeling grips him.

The house grows very still and dark like all sound is sucked out. Heavy, saturated clouds cut rapidly across the sparkling clean windows and Eames feels a chill down his spine. He looks to his side for the Corporal but he's gone and fear is added to the chill he feels. He begins searching the dark clean rooms stupidly in a blind panic. They aren't alone in the house now and this isn't like revisiting Eames' childhood home at all. This is like a nightmare. He'd shout out the Corporal's name but he doesn't know it and why doesn't he? He feels slow and stupid as he stumbles into immaculate rooms with nothing in them and there are so many rooms but the Corporal is nowhere to be found.

Lighting cuts across the windows lighting up stark clean rooms and thunder booms a heartbeat later startling Eames and his heart pounds at even a more ferocious speed. He stupidly calls out: "Corporal" to no avail and he pops his head into another room when lightning flashes against the window and he sees a familiar silhouette outside. It's the Corporal. Eames rushes out of the room, flies down the stairs and rips open the front door not bothering to try to find the other back exit to the house. He feels the dark figure at his back, lingering in the hall as he exits the house and he shudders. Raindrops fall and collect on his every surface chilling him to the very core. His feet squish on grass and he nearly slips as he hurriedly runs around the house. He comes to a skittering stop when he sees the Corporal on the opposite side of him looking drowned from rain as he watches a scene unfold around the perimeter of an in ground swimming pool that's collecting rain. Eames blinks rapidly, rain getting in his eyes and he can't quite comprehend what he and the Corporal are seeing.

A boy of maybe ten or eleven who looks petulant and defiant is arguing with the dark figure who turns out to be a woman maybe in her forties. The dress she is wearing is starchy looking and faded around her frail form like it's been worn and washed many times. The woman's boney hands too are cracked, worn, raw and almost bleeding from being washed too many times but that's not the most frightening thing about her. The woman's eyes are dark and vacant like a doll's, sunken and too big for her thin face and her mannerisms are stiff and robotic like. The Corporal's face is vacant too; his eyes blank and not moving, a deep set frown on his pale face. He looks washed out and miserable but also like he's serving a penance. Eames wants to go to him, take him in his arms to end this but the scene, the heated argument going on with the young boy and the woman is in between the Corporal and Eames and Eames feels stuck.

"So you won't forget to keep dreaming." And he hadn't but the Corporal has and the memories needed to stop for both their sakes. Eames peers at the young boy doused in rain with his hurt and angry eyes and Eames again notices some similarities-the same dark, exotic looking eyes as the woman, the dark hair, the cheekbones. This was the Corporal as a young boy, older than the version of himself at the park. The woman was also his mum. But this scene, this memory is very different from that memory with his father at the park. The young Corporal and his mum are arguing. The woman is almost crying and when the argument reaches a fever pitch Eames can pick up on the younger Corporal's practically screamed words above the rain: "I'm right here! You never see me do you?"

The words stun Eames a little, stirring in his chest and he can only blink. The words anger him, enrage him but also sadden him. In some ways he felt the very opposite of the Corporal-people saw Eames too much and wanted too much from him but Eames was the one that had the problem seeing.

Everything slows down to the point where Eames almost thinks it freezes all together but he can still move and he can see the Corporal, the older version, blinking from across the other end of the pool. The young Corporal has invaded his mum's space and has shoved her and Eames can feel his eyes go impossibly wide as time slows to a lurch as the woman is propelled backwards, slips and falls head first into the pool. Water seems to explode around her frail, worn form. Eames hears a sickening crack and the pool seems to change colors but what those are Eames doesn't know. He sees what he sees and it looks like the unmistakable form of blood skimming the surface of the rain ridden pool. The older Corporal is closing his eyes and the younger stands stock still as his mum's broken form sinks lower and lower into the pool, her watery grave. The younger Corporal screams things, screams at his mum to swim, to get out, to do something. Then he just screams and it's like the lightning has hit Eames, jolting him it frightens him so much and still he feels like he can't do anything but pathetically watch like he feels like this needs to happen and whether that's for the Corporal or himself he isn't sure.

He read someone's theory on dreams once and how they thought it purges you of plaguing thoughts as you sleep even of ones you didn't know you had. Maybe this was the way for the Corporal to purge these nightmares, these plaguing memories weighing deeply on his soul. Time speeds up and seems to go back to normal. Dark, heavy clouds roll steadily past in the dark sky. The woman's body floats to the surface of the blood ridden pool lazily drifting around face down, rain hitting her bloated body and the young Corporal laughs. It's the scariest thing that's happened in this memory yet Eames thinks .The laugh starts small but then grows bigger and bigger until his laugh is of a mad man, racking his body leaving him crying and breathless and still the older Corporal's eyes are closed to all of this like he's seen enough. Eames has too. But the dream or memory, it's getting harder to keep track, shifts again and suddenly they're plunged deeper into darkness. Its night now and millions of stars are out, dusting the sky with their brilliance.

The younger Corporal is gone and it's just the two of them by the tepid dark pool with the body of the Corporal's mum still floating. Eames goes to the Corporal at once but the Corporal's eyes snap open and are transfixed on the dark moon hanging low in the sky and he moves away from him. Eames trains his eyes to the dark sky and the moon is strange like something he's never seen before. It looks dark like a new moon but it isn't…

The Corporal shies away from Eames' touch and stumbles hurriedly away, back inside and Eames is dumbfounded with his behavior. Was this another memory or just his overall reaction to the previous ones? Eames numbly follows after him into the house but he doesn't know where he's gone and he's almost worried the Corporal's mum will return with her frail yet bloated form dripping pool water and blood, hair plastered to her face smelling of chlorine and death. Eames shudders and runs around the huge house like a labyrinth shouting out: "Corporal, where are you?"

He hears sniffling as he ascends the stairs and follows the sound to a bathroom. The bathroom is bathed in darkness save for a little moonlight shining in through the blinds. The Corporal is sitting on the tile floor with his knees drawn up tightly to his chest like he's trying to cave in on himself, sniffling into his sleeves. Eames crouches down to his level until he's on his knees and tries to soothe the Corporal. The Corporal's eyes are trained to the solitary window, barely blinking and muttering to himself.

"What's that, love?" Eames leans in closer to try to catch what the Corporal is saying under his breath.

"528 days…"

"528 days for what?"

Eames doesn't know how much time they have left in his dream and he'd be kidding himself if he thought they would spend so much time reliving memories and not good ones at that. But they got to be fanciful and free at the beach for a little while at least.

"Until it happens…but it's happening now…"the Corporal's eyes are dark and shiny, his body trembling and all Eames can think to do is take him in his arms thinking they didn't have much more time in the dream.

The Corporal mutters more things and is crying and Eames soothes him.

"Darling, listen to me. This is very important. What do you see?"

The Corporal stiffens in his arms and thankfully his crying momentarily stops. The Corporal turns his eyes to Eames' direction and there's confusion yet warmth there.

"I see you," he smiles. Eames returns the smile and kisses him getting momentarily distracted.

When they break away and Eames regains enough composure he tries again: "No, darling. What I mean is…do you…do you see color?" his voice is weak and strained in the dark bathroom with the cold tile and the strange moon filtering in through the blinds. The Corporal regards him with a furrowed brow seeming to think about his answer. "Of course I do," and there's something in the Corporal's eyes. Eames knows that look; he's dealt with it too many times before. Eames was a liar and cheat, a criminal and thief, a killer and a conman and he knew when people were lying or hiding something. The question he's about to ask the Corporal is stopped short however as his eyes open to the familiar high ceiling and beams of the training facility. Eames blinks a few times feeling stunned but also a little depressed and exhilarated like he just got off a roller coaster and the adrenaline rush hadn't worn off. His hand is still enclosing the Corporal's. He hears the Corporal make a gagging sound and as Eames is removing the IV from his arm he hears the Corporal vomiting.

Eames is on him at once as the Corporal deposits all the contents of his stomach. He soothes him much like when they were in the dream or memory and eventually the Corporal stops and regards him-all flushed face, glassy eyes and stained uniform.

"That was…such a rush," the Corporal says deliriously and Eames just nods and caresses his cheek. The Corporal still seems a little drunk or maybe still sick. Eames makes sure to clean everything, the dream sharing device included, not leaving behind any evidence they were there.

"Let's get you cleaned up," he hoists the young Corporal up and helps him as they leave the training facility behind, back in the cool, fall, night air. The Corporal lolls his head back looking up to the dark sky absent of the strange moon and smiles. Eames lives for that smile, the flash of dimples and white even teeth. He lives for this man. Despite the disturbing images and memories he just shared with him he would go anywhere this man went and he was sure they would be laughing about the shared dream tomorrow but right now he needed to make sure the Corporal got cleaned up and put to bed.

The Corporal clings to him as they make it to Eames' temporary dorm. He may have to share with other officers in the future but he's given his own very small one for the time being. Once they get inside he maneuvers the Corporal over to the tiny washroom. He runs some water, wets a towel and wipes off his sick ridden face.

"Take your uniform off. I'll get the stain out," Eames tries to hide the slight blush on his cheeks as he deposits some soap on a damp washcloth, eyes trained to the sink. He hears cloth rustling, boots thunking to the floor and a stained uniform is handed to him a short time later. He tries to respect the Corporal's privacy, conserve his modesty but it's hard to avert his eyes when the Corporal is standing next to him with only his white undershirt, boxers and dog tags on. Eames mumbles something to him, maybe a thank you and tries to keep his focus on scrubbing at the spot where he got sick on his uniform but it's hard. It's hard when all he can think about is what the Corporal looks like without the rest of his clothes on and the dream they just shared-so powerful and impressionable.

Eames hands a swaying Corporal a toothbrush and some paste. He hadn't gotten a chance to even open his set yet since he just arrived, giving the Corporal something to do. The Corporal crowds his space, brushing his teeth feebly and watches Eames as Eames scrubs away at the spot. His plan backfires on him though as the Corporal is even closer to him now and Eames can feel the heat coming off of him, the scent of his aftershave and toothpaste mingled with the sour smells of vomit. He also smells a little like this place-the dry, desert heat and burning autumn leaves. Eames doesn't realize he's stopped scrubbing until the Corporal eyes him. His big exotic looking eyes give him a look and there's amusement and an: "I caught you staring" look.

Eames goes back to his work maybe too quickly and blushes. When they finish he offers to hang up his uniform to dry and he knows he's trying to buy more time, to keep the Corporal here and it's selfish but they shared an experience and Eames wants to talk about it if the Corporal is willing and able. Eames hangs the Corporal's uniform over a chair and when he turns around the Corporal is on him, all warm limbs and sloppy mouth as he fumbles with Eames' lips for a kiss. Eames accepts the sloppy kiss and breaks away, taking a couple steps back.

"I think you should sit down. I think you're still a little drunk," but Eames' voice is betraying him, cracking with emotion and his heart is beating fiercely from the Corporal's unexpected touch. The Corporal just shoots him a devious, defiant look and strips off his t-shirt quickly, throwing it to the floor making Eames swallow hard. The Corporal stumbles towards him and dares him with his eyes to argue. Eames backs away a little and the situation feels like it's getting a little out of control again just like with parts of the dream. Eames has rarely if ever backed away from an opportunity but the Corporal is still a little drunk and was just sick. It wasn't good timing and he would feel guilty taking advantage…

But oh, the Corporal looks very good with his shirt off-all pale skin and hard muscle underneath. His skin looks soft and it's pure, not a blemish or marking, the very opposite of Eames. Eames finds that he likes this about the Corporal-how his hair and eyes are dark where his are light, how the Corporal's skin doesn't have any tattoos or history like he's an empty canvas. The Corporal is a whip of a thing but Eames knew not to underestimate him as he was learning slowly that the Corporal was someone to not quickly assume. As if to prove the point the Corporal keeps approaching closer and Eames keeps taking steps backwards away from him like they're doing a secret dance. He can't keep his eyes off his exposed skin and devilish smile, distracting him and the Corporal backs him into a wall. Eames hits it with a thud and the Corporal advances on him at once, taking Eames' moment of distraction and crowds his space, his arms on either side of his Eames' head. Eames is trapped. He can feel the Corporal's hot breath on his face and everything seems to slow down like they're back in the dream. But this isn't a dream this time. This is very real.

The Corporal seems to take enjoyment from their faces and their bodies so close together yet still not touching like a tease. Eames swallows hard and he knows he could easily break away, that the "prison" that the Corporal has put Eames in is not steadfast. He could easily push aside the Corporal's arms or duck under them and if Eames knows that then the Corporal knows this too. But Eames wants to be trapped against the wall with the Corporal's immaculate skin around him just like the Corporal's house, pressed very close to him.

"Kiss me," the Corporal breathes, pushing air on Eames' face and Eames has never in his life denied anyone a kiss before and he doesn't plan on starting now. All his prior thoughts about not wanting to take advantage of the Corporal come rushing back at him but the Corporal is looking at him so eagerly, so expectantly that Eames cannot say no. The Corporal obviously wants this and Eames will give it to him because Eames wants it too. The Corporal had said the very important words, awakening Eames and the least Eames could do was pleasure him if that's what he wanted.

Eames closes the very short distance between them capturing his lips and it's a different kiss then when the Corporal grabbed at him outside the bar. The kiss is soft and gentle with longing laced underneath. The Corporal's tongue slides in to meet his and its warm and inviting and Eames wraps a hand around the Corporal's neck working his fingers in his cropped locks and the Corporal's hands are all over Eames' hips and back and Eames can't remember anything anymore.

They break away from the kiss to breathe, both sucking in air and the Corporal is playing with the zipper of Eames' uniform, eyes to the floor, a blush on his sweet face and oh Eames doesn't know how far this will go but he'll oblige the Corporal. He lets the Corporal unzip his jacket of his uniform, tipping over Eames' hat as well, tossing them both towards the door-the only exit. The Corporal works his hands very slowly over Eames' chest. He can feel the intense heat of the Corporal's fingers through the thin fabric of his undershirt making him shiver. The Corporal works his way upwards and rests his hands on Eames' pecs and Eames can sense the Corporal smiling, liking what he was feeling. The Corporal moves slowly upwards again to his dog tags, slipping them from underneath his shirt and pulling at them, bringing Eames down to his level which is not a lot as they are about the same height, maybe only an inch difference. The Corporal tugs Eames down for a kiss and it's needy and hot this time and Eames grabs at the Corporal's hips crushing them both together leaving them breathless. It's a fierce struggle against the wall as hands and knees are everywhere but eventually the Corporal gets Eames' shirt off. The Corporal's dark eyes go a little wide softening into warmth as he takes in Eames' prison ink. Eames dusts his fingers over the Corporal's neck, the touching moving to kisses as the Corporal explores Eames' bare chest, running his fingers over his tattoos.

Feeling the Corporal bare-chested pressed against him is getting to be too much and he's growing hard. He sucks at the sensitive area on the Corporal's neck and the Corporal is making delicious sounds like little gasps and mews of pleasure. The Corporal's talented fingers trail down to Eames' navel and try inching lower and Eames is maneuvering them towards the bed, not able to handle the Corporal's teasing and touches any longer.

Eames hovers over a flushed Corporal who looks a bit dazed yet eager and Eames' asks him if it's ok with his eyes. The Corporal responds by spreading his legs a little wider and tugging at Eames' belt loop, bringing him down into a kiss. Eames explores the intimate crevices of the Corporal's mouth as the Corporal's fingers are exploring Eames' backside, trying to bring him down lower. Eames obliges and explores the Corporal's pale skin. He sucks at his delicate collarbones kissing down to chest until he gets to his navel. He circles it with his tongue slowly and the Corporal goes rigid and squirms underneath him moaning. Eames' erection is pressed tightly against his pants and the Corporal thrusting up to meet his slow sweep of his tongue is not helping. He feels dizzy when he lets up, running his rough thumbs over the Corporal's ribcage. The Corporal has worked his hands around Eames' front and is unbuckling his belt. His dark eyes are half lidded, his lips swollen from kisses yet his eyes look shiny and eager. Eames presses in closer, sweeping his tongue over the side of the Corporal's neck and lets the Corporal work his belt off, Eames' cock throbbing at the close proximity of his fingers. The Corporal fumbles with his button and zipper and Eames helps him work his pants down and off. The Corporal is on him immediately, touching his cock through his boxers and Eames is done for.

He pries his body away from the Corporal's, shimmies off his boxers and undresses the Corporal the rest of the way slowly, kissing the revealed skin. The Corporal's cock is hard and leaking. It's significantly darker than the rest of his skin and Eames wonders what color it looks like. Maybe red? Slightly purple or different shades of flesh tone? Eames hovers over the Corporal on the bed again and runs his fingers over his glistening cock, the Corporal doing the same to him. He lies on top of the Corporal, feeling the air is knocked out of him and devours his mouth. They're pelvis to pelvis, their erections gliding off each other and they're both grunting and moaning into each other's mouths. Eames shifts a bit and balances the Corporal's legs on top of each of Eames' shoulders, elevating the Corporal slightly off the bed. Eames presses his face in closer so he has good access to the Corporal's cock and hole. He wets a finger in his mouth and explores the Corporal's hole, the tight ring of muscle, circling it. The Corporal shakes at his touch, clutching the side of the bed, his breathing hard. Eames experiments and pushes in his finger a little liking how the Corporal's heat envelops him. The Corporal hisses out in pain, his head thrown to one side, eyes closed but he moans and wriggles a little like he wants more. Eames pushes his finger in up to the knuckle and the Corporal struggles for breath like a drowning man. Eames fucks him with his finger slowly, gently and the Corporal is sweating, fisting the sheets, swearing but moaning and after a while he moves with him.

Eames presses his face in closer and laps at his entrance with his tongue as he moves his finger in an out of the Corporal, the Corporal thrusting his hips up to meet him. The Corporal swears loudly, his body shuddering as he feels Eames' tongue try to enter him at the same time as his finger and the Corporal's cock is leaking pre come on Eames, dribbling down his thighs, getting everywhere. Eames removes his finger, his mouth greedy and he circles the Corporal's hole with his tongue first and the Corporal is becoming undone, a mass of goo in Eames' hands. Eames circles his thumbs over the Corporal's sharp hip bones while he pushes his tongue inside the Corporal's slippery heat, his own pre come leaking all over. The Corporal fists Eames' hair, shuddering. Eames pushes inside him slowly, hitting nerves and clusters of muscle. He fucks him with his tongue, starting slowly at first but the Corporal barks out to go faster so he moves in and out of his heat quicker. The Corporal moves with him, fucking back on his tongue and the Corporal is confusing Eames for God as he's constantly saying: "Sergeant" and "Oh God" the two phrases running together becoming one. When Eames' tongue gets tired he goes back to his fingers, entering him with two. The Corporal is getting good and stretched, his inside already slicked up from Eames' tongue and Eames can barely take anymore as he's biting back his own needs, his cock ready to explode at any moment and aching horrible. The Corporal is asking for more, is body wrecked and fucked open, his chest moving fast, his dog tags tinkering and Eames wants to give him more, wants to give him everything. He removes his fingers from deep inside him and envelops him, fisting the Corporal's cock. The Corporal shoots him a look and Eames knows that look almost as well as when people are trying to bluff him. It's a look of want, of approval and need and Eames doesn't need to ask twice. He places the Corporal's legs back down on the bed and hovers over him once more. The Corporal hooks his ankles around Eames' back and Eames feels lightheaded.

He circles the Corporal's hole slowly with his cock and enters him after a few slow sweeps. He lowers himself slowly feeling every inch as the Corporal's tight heat envelops him. Eames closes his eyes because it's marvelous and he hasn't even done anything yet. The Corporal is tight and slicked up, slippery and hot around his cock. Eames pushes in until he's full to the hilt and the only sound in the room is the two men gasping for breath and panting. Eames rests his sweaty face in the crook of the Corporal's neck and after he lets himself and the Corporal get used to how he feels inside he lets up from the Corporal's neck so he can see the Corporal's eyes and chances moving. Their faces are close together and their eyes never break as he moves. He fists the Corporal's cock and the Corporal's eyelids flutter, his eyes seeming to roll back in his head.

"Oh fuck. Yes. More," the Corporal breathes as Eames moves in and out of his heat, the Corporal thrusting his hips up to meet him. They find a rhythm quickly and Eames isn't going to last. He was ready to go even before he entered him and now he'll come quickly with the Corporal all around him, moving in and out of his slippery hole. A few strokes in and he feels he's getting close. He fists the Corporal's cock quicker and the Corporal gasps out, almost a quick cry. Eames enters him and the Corporal thrusts up to meet him and Eames is going over the edge. He grips the Corporal's hips and comes, fucking the Corporal through his release, filling up the Corporal with his come until it's dribbling out of his hole and the Corporal is right behind, coming in Eames' fingers as he fists him and Eames' body is spasming, tremors and jerks from the powerful release racking his body, the lower half of his body feeling like jello.

He rests his face in the crook of the Corporal's neck again and the Corporal puts his arms around him, stroking his back. He lies on top of him, still inside him, the Corporal's ankles still around his back as he tries to regain his balance and breath back, feeling the Corporal's heart beat fast against him. They detangle after they both feel like they can breathe again, the Corporal snuggled against his chest and Eames feels like this night has been one of the best of his life. He smiles and the Corporal turns his face to him. Eames catches him in a kiss. His first night in American and he had met someone, someone special. They had shared the dream together-the first dream where Eames was the dreamer, the Corporal had asked him what he saw and they just had mind blowing sex. He would never forget this night. The search for his father could wait. Nothing else mattered right now then the man lying next to him. Eames rests his eyes for what he thinks is a moment, his head sinking into his pillow that feels like feathers are stuffed inside. He hears the Corporal mutter: "528 days…" as he's presumably drifted off already. Eames smiles again and follows him into sleeo. He knows what he'll be dreaming about.

He awakens to bright light hitting his eyes making his face twitch. For a moment he thinks he's back in the dream or memory and is lying in the grass with dying leaves all around, a playground just in sight. He rubs at his eyes but keeps them closed. He rolls over on his side feeling the soft bed underneath him remembering the events of the night before. He reaches out a hand to the other side of the bed pleased with himself that it's not a dream. His hand only feels cold sheets. Eames cracks an eye open and blinks stupidly at the empty space on the bed next to him, his mind slowly coming out of sleep. His hand seems to recoil from the cold sheets. The Corporal has been gone for hours, presumably slipped away in the middle of the night and Eames closes his eyes because it must be a dream. It must…

He opens his eyes again a short time later and accesses the situation. The Corporal's clothes are gone and he doesn't see any kind of note left for him. It's so early but Eames needs to get up but his body feels heavy, his heart too but somewhere deep down he reasons there must be an explanation for him leaving, slipping out like he was embarrassed. They shared something too close and intimate for him to act so coldly. He had said the right words, had asked him the important question. This couldn't be the last time they meet; he has to know the Corporal really didn't want to see him anymore so as he showers and dresses he devises a plan.

A week goes by and Eames settles in though he only has one thing on his mind. Him and his boys set up the huge dream sharing machine which takes time. They go over all the information and showcase various things to the officers at Fort Irwin. Regrettably Eames does not see the Corporal anywhere.

"I went over his file and information and I think he would be good for the job."

Lt. Alexander eyes Eames over his own paperwork from his position behind his huge desk. He takes off his glasses and nods after a time, digesting his words.

They were in Lt. Alexander's office. Eames made a point to come see him right after breakfast and made sure to look into one Corporal Arthur Marek in his free time as well. Eames thought he looked like an Arthur and the thought made him smile yet pained his heart at the way he left him cold that morning. Eames was to assemble a team and normally the Lieutenant would oversee who would be working under him but Eames didn't think it would hurt if he dropped the Corporal's name, requesting him specifically.

"I actually met him. Nice chap, good head on his shoulders and a real leader. Very admirable that he made Corporal at such a young age."

He himself made Sergeant at a very young age too but he leaves that bit of information out. Lt. Alexander nods again and Eames sees the spark of acknowledgment in the Lieutenant's eyes. Eames knows how to work people, knows how to work the angles having pulled cons on people for the majority of his life. He'd lie and pull a job on Lt. Alexander if it meant he could see the Corporal just one more time. Fort Irwin was a large base and Eames was going to be busy with the dream sharing training program for a while. Who knew if and when they would see each other again.

"We need officers of the highest caliber for this mission. We need the best to represent not only yourself but Fort Irwin as a whole in the best light possible."

Lt. Alexander rubs at his jaw and meets Eames' eyes for one of the first times since he arrived in his office that morning.

"You're right. I'll have it arranged that Corporal Marek be brought in on this. I'll see you back here at oh nine hundred. You're dismissed."

Eames salutes, biting his tongue to hide his smile and pure glee. The Corporal may be avoiding him or too busy with work but Eames needed to see him again, to be around the man that had asked him the most important question. Eames picks at his uniform once he's outside. Some white feathers from his down pillow have escaped out and had gotten on his clothes when he laid them out that morning. He picks a small feather off and it's small and frail, white and delicate just like the Corporal. He pockets it because he thinks it looks like a smaller version of his feather and old habits die hard.

They assemble back in Lt. Alexander's office a little later and the Corporal's the last to arrive. The Corporal's eyes sweep the office but he doesn't look at Eames directly or linger on him like he' trying to avoid him all together. This should sting but heat ignites through Eames' body at seeing the Corporal again. Lt. Alexander introduces them and Eames almost rolls his eyes. They know each other very intimately already. They shake hands and the Corporal's face is as hard as stone, his very light face looking even lighter like he's gone pale.

"Corporal, good to see you again."

The Corporal only nods curtly and Eames can't help his stomach sink a little at seeing the Corporal so tight and pinched, so closed off. He knew they were working, were under the microscope and critical eye but he could at least give him the courtesy of being cordial. Eames feels himself smirking anyway, his body vibrating and humming from the Corporal's touch and the prospect of them working together closely on the project. He can't keep his eyes off the Corporal as Lt. Alexander is debriefing them, bringing the Corporal up to speed on everything. Eames can't help but remember the dream they shared, the night they spent together and the way the Corporal left. He's bound and determined to put the pieces back together. Just like uncovering the mystery of his father's whereabouts he needed to figure the Corporal out.

After they're dismissed Eames requests to see the Corporal privately in his office. He really didn't have much work to go over with the Corporal but he needs to confront him, air the dirty laundry with him if they're going to be working with each other intimately over the next couple months and really he just wants to be in his company.

Eames props his feet on his desk when they're alone in his office and the Corporal's taken a seat and still the Corporal hasn't uttered a word to him. He thought having a drink would lighten the mood, going back to how they first met and pours them scotch from his secret stash in his desk drawer and still the Corporal's face is ashy and sullen like he's biting something back. Eames hands the Corporal a glass and the Corporal downs his in one shot even before Eames can take a drink. Eames hides his smile behind his glass, cocking an eyebrow and takes a small sip of his own.

He discusses work with the Corporal and the Corporal looks surprised like Eames had ulterior motives for the private conference which he did. The Corporal doesn't smile, doesn't show Eames any warmth, emotion or any kind of affection like the whole night they shared didn't happen. Eames stares at him, trying to figure him out, like he's playing his game of guessing people's life stories in public places. But the Corporal isn't cut and dry as the memories he shared with Eames have proven. The Corporal doesn't mention anything about them or that night at all and it gets to Eames because the Corporal looks like he wants to say something but he won't. Eames pours them another drink and he feels he has the courage to ask him as the good scotch is working in his system.

"Why did you leave?"

He pours himself a glass after he refills the Corporal's and hides the bottle of scotch back in his drawer. He meets the Corporal's eyes and Eames can tell his cheeks are flushed. He can't see color but he trained himself to notice the change in people's faces and eyes, to watch for the signs of someone looking embarrassed. Eames feels something stir in his chest at finally seeing emotion on the Corporal's face, something other than stern disapproval stony mpassiveness.

"Sergeant, I want to make something clear since we're obviously speaking freely now. This relationship is going to be strictly professional and in regards to what happened on the 21st..."

Eames laughs because the Corporal sounds ridiculous. Professional? They were anything but professional that night. It was the Corporal's birthday and Eames wanted to show him a good time, the night slipping away from them but then after they shared the dream the Corporal was the one that wanted to show him a good time.

Eames hides his smile behind his glass as he takes a long drink.

"You like spouting orders like a good soldier, you've been trained well. I don't give two shits about protocol and we're talking off the record. I want to know why you left since you were the one that wanted it in the first place."

The Corporal's face burns deeper and Eames thinks the reaction is curious like the Corporal regrets his decision.

"I am not having this discussion with you. I will only respond to you professionally. It was a mistake, it won't happen again."

There's something in the Corporal's voice and mannerisms like he's making it up as he goes along and there's slight anger and fear in his voice. It makes Eames' heart skip a beat uncomfortably. Could it be possible that the Corporal just doesn't remember? Eames doesn't want to believe it but he feels himself getting angry too. He decides to test his theory.

"You're angry because you don't remember."

The Corporal clenches his jaw and averts his eyes and it's all the submission that Eames needs. He knows those looks when people are trying to play along or hide something. The Corporal doesn't remember. Eames feels like he's falling down a dark well, suspended in motion like his body won't allow him to fall. And he's angry and he's hurt.

"You make these little delicious noises when you come." He says it without thinking maybe reliving the moment or maybe lashing out or both. He's not sure anymore.

"Sergeant, if there's nothing else you wish to speak to me about regarding the dream sharing..."

Eames removes his feet from his desk and eyes the Corporal curiously. He believes it but doesn't believe it at the same time that the Corporal would forget their night so easily so Eames decides to torture himself a little more.

"528 days. Does that mean anything to you? You kept muttering it in your sleep," he hides his broken, fake smile behind his glass. He waits on bated breath in hopes that maybe miraculously the Corporal does remember, it all a cruel joke.

The Corporal's mouth is a thin, hard set line but there's a flicker of something in his eyes like Eames struck a nerve and Eames takes that as a small victory. Maybe he can help him remember…

"I have no idea. Anything else you needed?"

Eames reaches into his pocket and draws out the tiny down feather from his pillow. He deposits the feather into the Corporal's hand quickly and again Eames holds his breath and feels like everything rides on the Corporal's reaction. The Corporal regards the feather with revulsion and anger and rounds on Eames.

"Is this a joke?"

And it's hard for Eames to hide the hurt this time because he thought for sure the Corporal would remember his memory and the white feathers that rained from the sky. The Corporal's reactions are true, like he really has no idea what Eames is talking about, almost looking offended. Eames can only stare at him stupidly in defeat. And then the Corporal turns on his heel sharply and leaves, not waiting to be dismissed. Eames is left alone in his office, the heat of the Corporal still strongly in the room like it's radiating in the air. Eames drinks the rest of the scotch straight from the bottle, not bothering to pour another glass and tries not to think about the Corporal's reactions to everything he was trying to remind him of. He thinks faintly that maybe it was a mistake to request the Corporal for this mission as now the Corporal clearly hates him but it's too late now. If he requests someone else the Corporal will surely get in trouble and he doesn't want that. He knows what he wants and he sees what he sees and he figures its a long road ahead of him to be able to get it.

This story has a companion piece called "Black Moon" that runs parallel to this story but from Arthur's POV. Both stories can be read alone but encouraged to be read together as it will make more sense later. The stories will interweave and lock together.