A long time ago, Arthur mentioned that he loved doughnuts. He laid on top on the scratchy sheets in their seedy motel room outside of Atlantic City, pillowed his head on Eames' stomach, and talked for hours about his adoration for the pastry. His mother would wake up early every Sunday and make dough before starting on sausage and bacon and eggs and hash browns. By the time the whole family had found their way into the kitchen and bickered their way through breakfast, a batch of fresh doughnuts would be coming out of the oil. Arthur's favorite weekends had always been the ones when she dipped them in powdered sugar because they were his father's favorite and he would laugh and get white speckles in his impressive moustache instead of glaring impressively at his children.
Arthur spent hours telling Eames about his favorite holidays and the doughnuts his mother made to go with them. On the first day of school, there were always sweet apple fritters drizzled with honey. On Arthur's birthday the icing was chocolate and spiked with the warmth of cinnamon. At thanksgiving she slaved over pumpkin doughnuts fried around a gooey cream cheese center. "Nobody likes pie more than I do, but if there ain't one friend thing at every meal, you're doing something wrong" she would say, sneaking Arthur the first curlicue of test batter from the oil. At Christmas, the doughnuts were filled with raspberry preserves from his aunt's field. On St. Patrick's day, the batter tasted faintly of rich, dark lager - something Arthur would be surprised to realize when he sipped his first genuinely Irish beer after a Job in Dublin - and the food coloring she used stained his mother's fingers for days.
When Arthur finally fell asleep mumbling about the time he nearly died choking on a hot beignet on Fat Tuesday, Eames traced patterns into Arthur's skin with the rough pads of his fingers and wondered if Arthur realizes he only loves doughnuts because he loves his mother. They don't see each other again for three years.
The woman at the bakery near Eames' flat learns to recognize him by how his Italian loafers squeak against the cheap linoleum flooring. At the start she asks him what he would prefer, but he would usually spend so much time trying to decide that the line would get five deep before he made a choice. Eventually, she begins to recommend things for him and after a year he starts to recommend things as well. The pumpkin spice dough she experiments with was such a hit with her regulars that she began to take phone orders. He suggests raspberries for the holiday season, instead of cranberries, and gives her a case of preserves to use because they were out of season.
Eames walks in one day with a large suitcase rolling behind him, a small bag over his shoulder, and a thick parka in his arms despite the September heat. There is a Job in Russia that he's been asked to forge for. A Job that Arthur has asked him to forge for. He asks for two apple fritters and places them in an airtight plastic canister that he produces from the small bag. When the woman asks where he is going on vacation, Eames only smiles and reassures her that he will be back soon enough.
The private jet that has been sent for him allows Eames to skirt gently around customs and his foodstuffs thankfully are not confiscated. He sets the canister in a seat all it's own and spends the next six hours pouring over the thick envelope of information he has to memorize. Eames shows off his newest fake passport and slips into the frigid air of Moscow. The warehouse is an hour drive from the airport. Eames hunches over his steering wheel and smokes through fourteen cigarettes to calm his nerves. Londoners do not drive in the snow. He tried to explain it when Arthur said that there would be a car under false name waiting for him in the parking structure, but the line had died in the middle of his tirade. There was a reason the Tube's passenger count nearly doubled in winter.
He lets himself in by entering the pass code on the small silver keypad instead of pressing the round buzzer, like the Extractor they were working with had told him to. Eames feels something stir in his gut when the door clicks open for their old address in New York. The familiar warmth of being near Arthur curls back to life.
"How'd you get in here?" A man demands in poorly pronounced English, shoving Eames up against the wall the moment the door clicks shut. Eames gets rid of him with one well placed elbow and pushes his way into the main room. Arthur looks up and beckons him over to the work desk he and two other men are leaning over. He stands to the side as Arthur bickers with them in Russian and waits for Arthur to win. He does, and their Extractor and Architect slink away to lick their wounds.
"Brought you something, first day on the job and all" Eames says, pulling the canister from his bag. Arthur looks at it and for a moment Eames thinks he sees his lips twitch. But it must be his imagination for Arthur takes the canister and stalks away without a single word. Besides, Arthur doesn't show emotion while he is working, anyway. It's the reason Eames thought Arthur despised him for the first seven months they knew each other.
Eames sits in his designated corner and watches recordings from their cameras to get down how the mark's favorite professor gestures from behind the podium, the way he shakes out his handkerchief before mopping his wide forehead on the bus. He falls asleep, PASIV balanced on his lap, and runs through a full day with the professor before Arthur shows up and silently puts a bullet through his head. Eames stares at Arthur's body elegantly folded into the other corner of the couch and waits for him to wake. He knows that Arthur is down there running over every detail of Eames' constructed office - the spot from which they will steal the locked briefcase from their mark - and fretting over every carefully strewn paper and discarded take away box.
"Come with me," Arthur demands the second his eyes open. He pulls the needle gently from his arm and stands, waiting for Eames though his whole body is a coil of tension. Eames hurries to click off the television screen and follow. Arthur leads him up two flights of stairs and slams the door behind them once they reach the small office that has obviously been functioning as Arthur's bedroom. He presses against Arthur in an instant, breathing in the sharp tang of soap and the salty musk of a day's worth of worried sweat. Arthur twists in his arms and kisses him hard. Eames chases the taste of the apple fritter into Arthur's mouth, pressing his tongue in after the last traces of the honey glaze.
Before this, it wasn't safe for them to be on the same continent, unintentionally employed by competing technology companies to pull mirror jobs. Arthur hired by one side, Eames coerced into it by somebody he owed a debt on the other. If they had even been in the same country and walked away without the rival's plans, the both of them would have been silenced. Thankfully, the head of the firm Arthur had been working for had a massive stroke. The rival offered his playboy son a generous sum to consolidate. Two days after the telegram firing him had come, Eames was on his way to Russia.
Eames reacquaints himself with the gentle motion of Arthur taking his cock all the way down his throat. He stretches himself while Arthur watches with that burning look in his eyes that has never left his dreams. He watches Arthur's face as he sinks in until his hips are flush against Eames's ass and then pushes , re-memorizes the way that tiny muscle in his jaw throbs as he tries to hold still. Eames feels the rush of warm breath through his hair when he whispers for his darling to just let go already. He pushes back against each thrust of Arthur's hips and arches his back when the pressure is finally too much and he comes, Arthur's name falling fast from his mouth, over and over, like a chant, as it always has.
After this job, they'll go back to their boarded up house in Connecticut and Eames will wash the kitchen till his fingers bleed and buy Arthur a brand new cast iron Dutch Oven. Arthur will decided everything is disgustingly outdated and they'll gut the place - even the warm wood paneling in the study that he had once loved so much. Eames will buy a massive bed that only fits through the door because Arthur has taken off all the frames with a crowbar. They'll install a fireplace so Arthur will stop complaining about the freezing winters, but he'll still make up fictional drafts through the window frames so that he can sip his hot chocolate tucked firmly into Eames' side instead of in his own chair.
They have thirteen days and one stolen patent between them and being done with this. Eames smiles, broad and lazy, as Arthur holds a chunk of fritter up to his lips. Eames sucks his fingers into his mouth, cleaning them of the sugary grit from the dried glaze, and thanks whatever powers that be for finally sending him home.