AN/ Having seen the film nearly four times now, I thought I should actually write up some of the plot bunnies it invoked, especially around everyone's favourite Point Man and Forger. =] I wasn't actually aware this pairing was as massive as it is, especially how it seems tied with Arthur/Ariadne on , but jeez... the Livejournal kink meme? Made my inner slash monster obese from the fic consumed. :-) So here is my humble attempt...

Pairing; Eames/Arthur


Hopeless Romantic

Five times Eames did something romantic, and one time Arthur did the same


1
Coffee and a Kiss

It is something which now happens every morning, usually without fail – a small show from the Forger that he can actually be prompt and reliable. It really isn't anything in the grand scheme of things, and trying to explain its significance to an outside party just wouldn't be possible. It isn't based on something explainable; it's formed on foundations of familiarity and tradition. It doesn't mean anything to anyone else, but it means something to him, means something to Eames, and Arthur supposes that if it were not to happen, he would miss it. For some curious, silly reason.

Quite a lot of what he would miss about Eames were he not in the Point Man's life is filed under 'Unexplainable'. Like the giddy feeling of being out of control; the sensation of falling hard – like a real-world kick – except he knows someone will always be there to catch him.

Every morning when they're on an extraction job, having set up the PASIV and other items of need like chairs and desks in a small warehouse somewhere (Eames is very good with finding out of the way places through his contacts, it turns out, usually ex-poker buddies who owe him a monetary favour that he'll pass off if they find him a place), when Arthur is seated at his desk – a pot of pencil and pens already ordered neatly next to the laptop currently on standby – pouring over details and the minutiae of the mission, Eames breezes over with a smile, wearing one of those t-shirts that defies all fashion sense despite Arthur's best efforts (It's duck egg blue today, with a floral pattern if he didn't think it could get much worse), and a hearty "Good morning, darling!".

The whole thing seems now a theatrical routine that both parties have the script to, and although often much of this is add-libbed – Eames throwing in a pet name or two, or taking the opportunity to tease the Point Man, with Arthur countering every comment with a professionalism that doesn't belie the humour in his expression – mostly they stick to their lines. So every morning, Arthur won't look up even though he's stopped taking in the words he's been reading at Eames' arrival, and will reply for the befit of the others around them (even though as an audience, they're quite savvy to how this show works now); "Don't call me that, Mr Eames".

A reply devoid of any real malice, almost playful in its informality, and then – usually right on top of one of his very important pieces of paper that litter the desk; and he knows he'll gripe to the man later about the circular stain he's left – Eames will place a cup of coffee. Arthur's first of the day, because since this started he's never made his first cup of the day. The honour falls solely onto Eames.

The smell hits him first, ribbons of steam that arabesque from the cup carrying the preserved aroma that comes from consideration when roasting the espresso beans. Arthur looks over then – almost as though judging the finished piece, with Eames standing back looking hopeful – and peers at it, making the forger wait, enjoying a little too much the feeling of power and control he gets from this; taking in the dark brown of the coffee and the faint lighter areas on top which have swirled around the outer rim in a vague attempt at structure.

And then the tasting, and Arthur will pick it up slowly by the handle, touching the cup faintly with the pads of his fingertips first to test whether its too hot to pick up – because Eames always pre-heats the cup, yet the temperature has never been high enough to burn him – and raises the edge to his lips. Just one sip, as he savours this cup above all others he will consume today, and then lowers again, Eames still waiting. The Forger wont be tapping his foot like he usually does when he's impatient, but Arthur will be able to hear him fidgeting behind him.

The Point Man pauses, before shaking his head like in disappointment, and every time he does this, even though they both know it's a game, when he turns to face Eames, there is always a slight worry in the man's expression, as though this time he might have done it wrong – overheated the beans causing a bitter charcoal taste, or some other sin unforgivable.

"Thank you for the coffee, Mr Eames" He finally replies, always saying these words in the clinical clipped tones he can always manage to fake, knowing that everyone can hear him to some degree; Ariadne in the corner constructing labyrinths, Yusuf going over his compounds and sedatives again. And then, for Eames' ears only, he murmurs "A triumph as always, Mr Eames"

Eames grins his usual cock-sure smile, like he never doubted it, and moves in closer, leaning down over the Point Man's shoulder with his usual disregard for personal space to give Arthur a small peck on the cheek that is unnoticeable from most angles; appearing as though the Forger is simply whispering a joke in Arthur's ear. The kiss is a taster, to last him through the day until the night when it is just the two of them again; no more spectators, no audience, back at the small flat they're sharing (and that has at least raised some suspicions from their colleagues; not able to imagine the two trapped in the same room together for too long, never mind being 'room-mates' (that's not quite the term Arthur would use for what they are, but he allows the pretence to continue just to see how long it'll take for them to figure it out)).

And although Arthur knows that Eames is completely incapable of making that the one and only example of physical contact today, he accepts it, and his hand moves out to brush against Eames' while his lips are upon his cheek, holding in his natural inclination to make the kiss last longer; something which he has learned is becoming harder and harder the more kisses he receives.

"Only the best for you, dear" Eames gives his reply as the final line of the performance, and Arthur smiles wider at that – sometimes the others will notice this transaction with its edges and tints of something non-platonic, and sometimes they miss it due to its' fleetingness, and the fact that they are unable to understand the hidden messages that pass between the two in some form of code compromised of smiles and winks and skin contact. And when the two part, an imperceptible nod of the head from Eames coupled with the re-emergence of his usual arrogant expression that he wears when he's been teasing Arthur (the one the team are privy to, not the look he has only for the Point Man; something which again is filed under 'indescribable' and is something that never fails to make Arthur feel just a little bit breathless), the show has ended, and the day must begin.

There is always the promise of an encore when night returns.


2
Dancing

After a long extraction, the four of them split up again, saying their goodbyes at the warehouse (returned once again to its empty state) or at the airport when they're boarding different flights. Safety purposes of course, and it has been established as fact that it is far easier to find a group of people together then it is to search out one. It's a non-contact rule of Dom's designing (although yet another rule Dom broke when he set up building a home and family with Mal, but not something anyone could begrudge him – Dom was with Mal long before Eames, Yusuf and Ariadne arrived on the scene) that usually lasts a couple of months of lying low, or a shorter time span if they get called together again for another job.

Over the last few years however, since the Fischer inception and Cobb returning to his family a free man, Eames has begun to break that rule. Rules have rarely held much importance in his eyes, and this one especially so, and personally he's quite proud he wasn't breaking it sooner. He keeps to the basics of course, he's not an idiot and of course he doesn't want to get either him or any of the team in danger, but after a few weeks (if he's desperate) or even a month if he can manage to hold on or has some prior commitment which keeps him grounded, he seeks out Arthur.

The Point Man has always been very good at keeping hidden – a talent which comes from being in the business so long – and Eames usually is faced with the challenges of dead-ends and lost paper trails when it comes to finding out where he is, but in the end he manages. It is a fact eternally amusing to him that a man who on the outside appears so stuffy and conservative, with his suits and demeanour giving the impression of a city boy naturally drawn to the high-rise buildings and office blocks of a place like New York or Tokyo (but Eames as a Forger – someone whose job it is to understand the innermost workings of human nature – has learnt that preconceptions about people are rarely right when it comes to the quiet ones), returns every time to one of the romance countries; France, Italy or Spain – France being one of the more popular.

Eames personally has been hiding out in the country of his childhood and initial adult life before he got started out on the criminal route – one of the few places, strangely, where he doesn't have a warrant out for his arrest –, renting a small cottage from a friend in one of the home counties around London, usually Kent or Hertfordshire. But at a certain point after he's taken all the necessary precautions, fake passport, papers forged and in order, he makes the journey from the cottage to Heathrow, cursing the traffic on the motorways all the way, but consoling himself that he'll be the air soon. On his way to Arthur.

Boarding and going through customs is little bother, and within two hours he's landed at Charles-De-Gaulle airport just outside Paris; speaking like a native as he goes through security, smiling at the ladies – a little bit of flirting never goes amiss – as they welcome him to the country and bid him farewell with a heartfelt "Bonne journée".

He checks into a hotel for one night, assuming that if Arthur's found a place, he wont be staying in the room, but having a back up just in case. It's Paris, the Point Man's favourite city, and he's spent enough time here to have already seen the usual night-time tourist traps of the illuminated Eiffel Tower and the lit up road leading to the Arc de Triomphe, therefore will be avoiding them this time (Arthur's all for the simpler pleasures, not gaudy light shows), so Eames knows where he'll be around this hour; about nine o'clock though he hasn't altered his watch to account for the time zone change. While full of many surprises, the Point Man be predictable when he wants to be, and consequently twenty minutes later, the Forger finds himself entering the Duc des Lombards club. Arthur keeps a discount entry card for this place in his wallet, and Eames can assume he's a regular visitor from how the card is worn and dog-eared on one edge.

Eames' eyes flick through the low lighted ambience, the stage where a band has set up, surveying the tables around the corner of the room; the middle cleared for dancing couples.

Arthur is there, just like he has guessed, and as he makes his way over to the small table, he 'borrows' a bottle of Bordeaux from a passing waiter's tray and seats himself opposite the Point Man in the chair that is already placed there.

To his credit, Arthur doesn't appear surprised at his presence.

"Am I that predicable?" he gives Eames a small smile and it's as though they've just picked up the conversation where they left off; words coming flowing and natural in the comfortable surroundings, music from the band making up the background noise.

"Terribly darling" Eames uses the corkscrew already on the table to remove the cork that stoppers the bottle, and Arthur raises an eyebrow at the sight of the wine before calling over the waiter – thankfully not the one Eames took the bottle from; that would have been just a little bit awkward – and asks in impeccable French for another glass. Eames isn't the only one with language skills, although admittedly he does have a wider range then Arthur.

The man is back soon, and Eames is placed in charge of pouring as they talk.

"When did you arrive?"

"Not long ago. Took a plane from Heathrow, dreadful traffic, you would have hated it, Artie. Yet I survived the journey intact, never fear."

Arthur looks tempted to admonish the Forger for using the hated pet name of 'Artie', but lets it slide with a faux-glare that can't disguise how much the name amuses him "You have a place to stay?"

"Is that one of your not-so-subtle offers?"

Arthur's lips quirk in a smile "Perhaps"

"Why?" Eames asks, taking a gulp of the wine (and in France, he knows he's just committed some sort of obscenity, but really he can experience the flavour of the Bordeaux just as well in one gulp than he can taking dainty little sips) "Is there enough room where you are for a bother like me to camp on the sofa?"

Arthur's look turns affectionate, and Eames recalls how much he missed the Point Man's quick little emotions, the ones he allows himself to show when it's just the two of them and rarely when there are others around. Eames has long gotten used to the fact, not taking it to mean that Arthur is embarrassed by him, just uncomfortable with other people sharing in his private moments, as though it will detract them in some way. Only people he knows it seems, as Arthur is perfectly content with showing affection around perfect strangers, assuming that they wont remember him and he in turn wont recall them.

"There is always enough room for you" he says quietly, and then gives another one of those smirks "There is a nice double bed, but if you really want to sleep on the couch then..."

"I think, considering all the things a man can get up to in a bed," Arthur blushes faintly in the light "I'll take that if it's being offered"

They talk for a long while, about anything and everything they've been up to or are planning (and now the two are together, the plan's seem to incorporate the others presence naturally) while the wine steadily moves its watermark down the green-glass bottle. And then at some point, the band starts on a slow number, the singer launching into something blues about falling in love and wanting it to last, the notes fixing into place flawlessly.

Eames stands up then, hearing the music and coming to another one of his compulsive decisions. Arthur frowns in confusion, but the Forger holds out his hand, making the point perfectly clear.

"May I have this dance?" he asks, and the smile on his face is different then before, not caught in a joke, but adoring, wanting to show Arthur just how much he loves him in the long-forgotten medium of slow dance in a club in Paris. And the Point Man doesn't hesitate to take his hand.

They move into the centre of the room, wine forgotten and half drunk on the small table – and nobody looks or minds that they are the only two men dancing together on a dance floor populated solely by men and women couples, and their first step prompts another pair of men to pluck up to the courage to join the gathering –, and as the music plays on, they sway to the notes. There's really nothing complex about this, just rocking from side to side, holding your partner to you while not standing on the their feet, but it just means Eames gets to take in everything else; the closeness of the other man, the way Eames is trying to hold him gently in his arms like he'll break if he squeezes any tighter. The way their breathing becomes synchronised, in time with the music, and how beautiful Arthur looks in the light with his expression contented and eyes half-closed, leaning his head against Eames' shoulder.

For a while, they have this moment , the rest of the club's occupants fading away around them until it is only Eames and Arthur, dancing to their own music, their own rhythm. No one looking at them, they aren't living in anyone's reality other than their own. And this is real, isn't a dream, and that knowledge that this is a raw untouched experience, makes it all the more beautiful.

And for a short space of indefinite time, it is as though they can have this forever.


3
Love Letters

As obvious as Eames usually is, he actually makes a point of not distracting Arthur that much during work. He flirts, evidently, and it is considered a point to him in their unspoken competition when he gets Arthur to blush and look away embarrassed, like he'll lose a little bit of that suited control he possesses if he reacts any more.

The others probably know something is going on. They can't be that dense, and adding together the private jokes the two share, the pet names, the way they act like an old married couple sometimes (and whenever Yusuf complains about that, Eames' heart feels somehow lighter with the idea; the mental image in his head of being with Arthur always, having this for the rest of his life) it's really quite obvious, but he doesn't think that for all their suspicions they know how deep this affection goes.

Eames of course, flirts with everyone so they were never really surprised when he started turning some of that attention with Arthur – beginning with nicknames like "darling" or "dear" and moving on from there – and Arthur in response can be the deadpan snarker when he wants, rising to the challenge Eames' teasing presents him with reactionary comments that draw him out of his shell in a way other stimuli rarely manages. They've all been through a lot together, their team of four (five when Cobb gets involved, being the family man now means he's mostly retired from the business) and when you've died alongside someone it has a way of bringing you all closer together, knowing what they're like when under pressure. And in all these missions the team has seen Arthur calm and controlled through explosions and sudden problems of the 'extra bad' variety and even though being hurt (and even when it's a gunshot wound in play, there is rarely a grimace of pain that hasn't pushed its way through emotional barriers first to be shown).

But with Eames, there is always a spark of something in his eyes; the smile he doesn't show on his face reflected in his eyes. Like he enjoys the teasing and pet names despite how much he denies it.

The Point Man knows that Ariadne has her own views on why he secretly gets on so well with the Forger; which might have something to do with the fact that when she offered that the two of them have dinner together after the Fischer case and in light of that quick kiss that they'd shared on the second level, the clean-cut extractor suddenly became a little bit awkward, and, while maintaining his usual politeness as he told her that he liked her but this probably wouldn't work between them, when she queried why, it was much harder to get a straight answer out of him – the whole conversation leaving her with the definite conclusion that it wasn't so much that she wasn't his type but she wasn't his gender. But thankfully she's kept them to herself.

But just because Eames keeps vocal bothering of his boyfriend to a minimum – and by minimum , he still takes the opportunity to stay something inappropriate when it presents itself –, doesn't mean he can't do it in other ways. Not when they're really busy of course, and Eames despite everything Arthur says about him not focusing on the job can buckle down when he needs to. Extraction isn't the sort of job you can go through when your mind is partly on other things, but when it's a little quiet, extraction in the planning, rather then executing stages, he likes to spice up the atmosphere by interrupting Arthur. And over the time they've worked together, he has mastered a number of ways of doing this.

The most fun way is definitely by text. Mostly because there is no chance anyone else can see, but more due to the fact that it is his chosen method of communication to pass on suggestions unsuitable for work and for general observation. Email is too open, and Arthur can easily shut down his in-box and delete the messages before reading them, but texting has the wonderful advantage of being comprised of short messages that Arthur will have to read at some point.

At first, when Eames first pulls out his phone and keys in an initial comment with a smirk, the Point Man will think it's a message from one of their contacts about a mark, and he'll open it up only to read the lewd suggestion within; usually involving Eames, Arthur and very few clothes. Sometimes handcuffs and some food-related addition, but only if Eames is really bored. And if Arthur ignores him, then well, Eames will just send more, the vibrating phone in the Point Man's trouser pocket signalling things increasingly unsuitable. And it's a source of great personal achievement (especially if Eames has nothing else to be getting on with) to get Arthur frustrated and horny; the man giving him venomous glares across the warehouse and sometimes replying with an irate 'Stop it!'.

Yet Arthur is the sort of person who never turns his phone off, just in case he gets an important message, meaning he has to read through every one of Eames' comments of what exactly the Forger would like to be doing to him right this moment, in graphic language that leaves no room for ambiguity, lingering on the more interesting details – Arthur's imagined reactions to what Eames will be doing usually –, while trying to disguise how turned on he's getting.

And more than once, when they stop for lunch, Arthur has actually physically growled and dragged Eames out of the building, with low, hissing comments that turn into heated kisses once they're out of eye-shot, and no-one asks where they go when they return a while later, Arthur looking a little bedraggled, straightening his tie and smoothing crumples in his shirt, Eames having the expression of looking damn pleased with himself plastered all over his face.

Sometimes though, Eames gives little messages that don't focus solely on sex. On the smaller things; like sending him an email with no subject heading with little remarks like 'You know how cute you look when you frown like that, darling? E x', or post-it notes on the inside of the the coffee cup that only Arthur is allowed to use that say 'I love you' or 'Nice suit today'. Messages that make Arthur smile, really smile, the affection breaking out out as though he can't help himself. He will look at them for as while, as though assuring himself someone has really cared enough to send words like that, leaving him with no doubt that the words are meant.

He keeps every single one – not the texts of course, if someone saw them... – but the post-it notes on this desk, small declarations of love in the guise of scribbled writing, and the silly little emails that mean nothing at all to anyone but him, and even the scraps of paper that find their way into his files; little pieces of copied out poetry that Eames never owns up to. He never throws them away, and they all are stored away, the papers and post-it notes into his wallet where he can pull them out if he's feeling down to restore a smile to his face.

And after reading the little messages that are made up of so little but mean so much, he always has a special glow in his eyes when he turns to look back at Eames; a response made up of a smile and an expression of complete love and affection that doesn't need writing down to translate.


4
Candlelit Dinner

Arthur has had an awful day. They are rare, and he is aware that other people's versions of an awful day are understandably quite different to his definition. They have jobs with simple easily-understood roles, like secretary or cashier or fireman, unlike Arthur, who has a job in itself trying to explain in few words that he makes a living by projecting himself into people's dreams to steal their secrets. Most people, from what he's gathered from once living that life, constitute a bad day as a series of bad luck, which is really what his day has been, except it's genuinely more mundane things. Missed the bus, got up late, got a parking ticket because you didn't, forgot to do something so are in the bad books with your boss/significant other. Those sort of things. And they are the sort of things he can manage. Arthur can deal with missing transport, rarely wakes up late with the person-sized alarm clock of another man next to him, and generally has quite a good memory so doesn't forget things.

Except today he screwed up. Didn't do his job completely right, didn't stay on the ball, and what was meant to be a run-of-the-mill extraction turned out a little less simple. He was the Point Man, it was his job, his responsibility to check every avenue of data so they were prepared for going in. It should have shown up on the research, but there was nothing, nothing, in any document or detail he could find to suggest that the mark had militarised his subconscious. The mark was a banker, for Christ's sake, too low down the chain of management to be of much importance, but high enough to be privy to the information they needed, and they'd all thought this would be easy, that extracting the data wouldn't be hard. It was not exactly cheap to get the training needed to build up the defences the mind used against people like Arthur, and if he had had it done, it should have shown up something; a statement or business transaction or something.

But because there was no data, and no forewarning, things went wrong quickly when confronted with the attacking figures of a triggered subconscious. And there was a point in the mission where they'd lost track of Dom and Yusuf, and Arthur already had a bullet in his leg that hurt like hell. And despite the gunfire around them, Eames refused to leave Arthur behind. Point blank refused. Arthur was getting irritated, telling him to get out, to go help Dom, with Eames countering his arguments, saying that Dom would be fine, that the kick was coming soon anyway. They were arguing about it, Arthur not understanding why Eames didn't just leave – it was a dream, he would be fine – and then the bullet through his head took the choice out of both their hands.

That was something that made Arthur feel sick to the core; seeing Eames dead. Of course, it had happened before, and as an effective kick out of the subconscious no doubt it would happen again, but there was something fundamentally sickening about seeing the man you love dead, even if it wasn't real. And when Arthur managed to convince himself it was his fault, the whole experience was even worse. It was so hard to focus and concentrate on the job with Eames expelled from the dream. There was a part of his mind worrying over whether he was alright – even though it was a dream, of course he was – and then the inevitable reality-doubt that came from spending too much time in a dream, and Arthur had had to bring his die out of his pocket and roll it before he could breathe again.

By the time he got to Dom and covered his back from gunfire while he extracted the document from the bank vault they were after, he had been shot again – in the arm – and he lied through his teeth when Dom asked him if he was ok to go on, because despite how much it hurt, he had had worse. This was his damn fault so he was going to finish this.

And then the kick turned up by way of a sudden shot through his heart, and he awakes with a jolt with the needle still in his vein joined to the PASIV, and Eames leaning over him. They're still in the taxi they've commandeered for the operation, and Arthur groans and rubs his heart, the pain in his arm and leg thankfully gone, taking in the driver of the vehicle ( an old friend of Cobb's who has been out of the business for a while, but willing to help out once in a while, having been driving the taxi round while they do the extracting) and Dom, Yusuf and the mark; all still under.

The Forger looks over him worriedly, but Arthur's too wound up to care, and he only breaths a sigh of relief when Dom and Yusuf return with the information. No thanks to Arthur. But it ends fine, the four of them leaving quietly from the taxi as Cobb's friend – who had originally masqueraded as the taxi driver who picked the mark up – takes him to his destination. With any luck, the incident will be passed off by the mark as just having fallen asleep in the back of the taxi.

And as everyone else celebrates back at the warehouse they're set up in, Arthur stalks back to his desk; going through papers, intel, trying to find something, anything that could have warned him about the dream security, something he's missed. And then Eames comes over with a grin plastered across his face that Arthur isn't in the mood of sharing, and upon one of his auspicious comments, Arthur finally snaps at him. The result of pent up frustrations; angry that the Forger had stayed behind to help Arthur when it was the Point Man who had got them into this, angry he'd failed, angry he'd had to see Eames die again and feel that little bit of agony in his heart before he'd pulled his totem out of his pocket and let it fall to check it was a dream.

And he doesn't stay to see the hurt look on Eames' face – and as soon as the Point Man finishes berating him with irascible words, he regrets everything he's said; it's not Eames' fault and he has no reason to blame the Forger other than for the fact he didn't want to leave Arthur being the loyal partner he is. Arthur hates himself a little in that moment, and rather than having to face the others looks of pity or Eames' expression, leaves the building without looking back.

He stays outside for a long time, walking in any direction just to calm himself down, following the road thoughtlessly, mulling over the day in his head; his mistakes, Eames. And then it starts raining, a heavy downpour let lose from dark storm clouds, and of course Arthur would have left his coat at the warehouse, draped over his chair, the pockets of which also hold his wallet so he can't even get a taxi or a bus back to his flat.

He ends up walking, and by the time he gets home there is water in his shoes and it's late. He is tired and thoroughly in an awful mood, and he doesn't want to face Eames knowing he behaved like that to him earlier on. The front door is unlocked – a helpful fact, because his keys are in his coat as well, and he isn't sure whether there is still a spare under the mat after he gave Eames a key to let himself in – and upon walking inside, he feels the warm air of a heated home welcome him.

He removes his shoes, and then socks for good measure as they really are soaking, hearing music from the living room; Glenn Miller or Frank Sinatra he thinks. There is a smell coming from the kitchen – something mouthwatering and delicious that makes Arthur's stomach give a grumble to remind him how long it's been since lunchtime – before a smiling head pops out from the doorway, having heard the front door open.

"Arthur!" It's Eames, and his expression is smiling and contented, not the irritated or apologetic one Arthur hadn't wanted to come home to. The Forger leaves the kitchen, closing the door so Arthur can't see what's cooking inside, and wraps the Point Man in a hug. And Arthur will never admit it, but just that one touch calms any temper that may have been building "Good Lord, darling, you're soaked through. It really is getting wet out there, you should have worn a coat"

It's the sort of comment that before Arthur would have responded to with a snap , but instead he just looks at Eames, confused "What is this?" He gestures to the kitchen, where he knows something is cooking inside. If Eames' old poker buddies could see the Forger now. Eames the domesticated. It's something Arthur never thought he'd see.

There is that smirk in the man's eyes, one that's hiding a secret that will come out sooner or later, but he doesn't divulge anything "Go and get out of those wet clothes, pet, and then come back down. You'll find out then"

Arthur is too tired to argue, and he hasn't even commented on the 'pet' nickname. He does as he is told, coming downstairs ten minutes later in a dry change of clothes. He's got a clean shirt on and a dry pair of trousers complete with socks that don't make a squidgy water-filled noise when he takes a step, and even that has made him feel a lot better, out of the rain and at home for the day. Back to the flat he shares with Eames. 'With Eames' being the part of that sentence he most enjoys.

The man himself is waiting for him when he comes down, dressed in – good lord, is that an attempt at smart-casual dress? – what looks like a suit, except with the usual Eames additions; a strange shirt that today is taking the lilac colour, and no jacket.

"Just in time" he beams like it's Christmas, and leads Arthur into the living room with an eager motion. It always makes Arthur smile when Eames is excitable like this. A dining table has been set up in the centre of the room, moved from its usual place in the corner of the small kitchen where it's pushed up against the wall and used as an extension to the work-surface – the reason they usually have their dinner in front of the TV. Candles are placed at the centre of the table, silver curving holders that Arthur hasn't seen before, the wicks already lit . Cutlery and plates are set up ready for two people. A spaghetti carbonara is steaming on the plate, having just been served – and Eames knows that this is Arthur's favourite food .

Arthur looks around at the Forger, frowning slightly. Eames has never done anything like this for him, and he's obviously planned it by all the detail and effort that has been put in.

"What?" Eames tries to look innocent, failing miserably "A man can't spoil his boyfriend once in a while?"

"I've been so horrible to you, why would you..." Arthur starts, but Eames shushes him with a finger to his lips.

"Forget about that. Work stays at work, remember? And right now, there is a plate of bloody good pasta – if I say so myself – getting cold. And we wouldn't want that would we?"

And Arthur kisses Eames on the cheek and smiles as he sits down. Wondering what he possibly could have done to deserve getting a man like this in his life.


5
Movies

Eames likes going to the cinema. There's something about the way people of all ages can come together to enjoy a creation that someone has put their time and effort into that makes him feel that maybe the human race has some redeeming features after all. He gets to see the bad all the time, people's weakness that he can exploit, and he's no angel either; extraction isn't exactly a legal line of work, not to mention his sideline in thievery, which is definitely morally ambiguous.

Of course, modern life has sullied this experience of sitting down for a period of time to watch a fictional life slightly, and although Eames is rarely called the traditionalist (not when Arthur, in his suits and impeccably good manners pulled right out of the nineteenth century is around), he prefers the times when you went to the local cinema to see a new movie, not when you went online to stream or download it illegally. He's done it, of course he has, and sometimes it's the only way to keep up with the newer films when he's moving around – places like Mombasa really aren't up-to-date with the new movies out of Hollywood – , but he always regrets it afterwards, like he's spoiled the magic a little bit by resorting to such unrefined layman's methods. And even in the cinema, things are changing. Older patrons glare distrustfully at teenagers sitting close, whether they've done anything or not, and at the showing of something animated or rated lower down the scale than a 'grown-up' movie, he gets a few strange looks when he seats himself in audience predominately made up of distracted mothers and children under the age of six.

But regardless, he always has a place in his heart for going out to watch a film, making a night of it, indulging himself with the free time he possesses – investing himself in the emotions of the characters, the twists in the storyline (and yes, he's comfortable enough to enjoy a good old rom-com, especially when he can make fun of the predictabilities afterwards) , – and it gladdens him that this is one of the things he can enjoy this with Arthur. It was one of the ways they first got together; Eames doing some quiet digging and finding out that the Point Man was a big Star Trek fan (and personally Eames quite liked most of them, apart from Nemesis with that creepy bald Romulan. He could give that one a miss), and then surreptitiously enquiring whether Arthur would come and see the new film with him; fabricating some lie about having a spare ticket, not wanting to waste it and wondering if Arthur would mind. Surprisingly it had worked.

Time had moved on since that first time, and some things had obviously changed – most notably the fact that they were now a proper couple, moving in together and everything in a comfortable natural progression that made Eames glad that he'd chosen monogamy, especially when it meant that he could have Arthur exclusively to himself– but it was still something they liked to do together. Something 'coupley', something normal, outside the world of dreams and extraction they worked in.

Let someone else create the fantasies for a change.

And this weekend was no different; a new film having been released at the cinema closest to where they were working – a big blockbuster Hollywood film that Eames had seen advertised, most likely full of plot holes and predictable lines that seemed the staple of big-budget small-script action movies ("You have to go on without me!" and "It's quiet... too quiet" being Eames' personal favourites when it came to cliché exchanges).

Eames is well aware that he is setting himself up to be disappointed, but if anything he can always rip the films to pieces afterwards, going on one of his rants during which Arthur just smiles at him like it's all so funny. And after bothering the man about going to see it, the Point Man finally caves in (although Eames knew he loved their film trips as much as he did).

Once reaching the cinema – having dragged Arthur away from his desk and making their excuses to a bemused Ariadne and Yusuf (who probably have never seen Arthur leave his desk earlier than six o'clock) – , Eames follows a carefully preserved tradition when it comes to these sorts of days, and buys a large popcorn (sweet being the preferred choice) and a large fizzy drink from the kiosk (there is usually a small disagreement here, never serious and always in jest, between whether they get coke (Eames' choice) or lemonade (Arthur's), but this time Eames wins).

After that's done, they make their way to the correct screen – and Eames holds Arthur's hand all the way there because right now he couldn't really give a damn who sees and comments under their breath– and seat themselves right at the back so they can get the best view of the whole screen. And even after they sit down, Arthur squeezes his fingers gently and Eames decides that he really doesn't have to let go just yet, even when the lights go down and the adverts start up.

Half an hour in the movie, it turns out Eames' gut instinct was right, and the film is just as awful as he had imagined. The sort of plot that takes the familiar over-used route using the A-Z of foreseeable steps, overcompensating with heaps of CGI to try and make up for the weakness of the story.

Having figured out who was going to die, whether the good or bad guys were going to win (that one really didn't need much thought) and who was going to get with the hot girl – who had absolutely no right to look like she'd just left a fashion shoot while being surrounded by alien carnage – by the hour mark, he turns his head to face Arthur.

"Have you guessed the ending yet?"

Arthur sighs. "Humans are going to win, there's probably going to be a big speech on unity and staying true to yourselves, the main guy's going to get the girl and her boyfriend at the moment is either going to die, turn out to be a jerk and then die, or heroically sacrifice himself so she can be with the main guy, and then die."

"I think you've just ruined the ending for me, darling"

Arthur looks bored and doesn't even grace Eames with a response to that "How long more?"

"Run time is two hours, I think?"

"For this idiocy!" A women in front shushes them and Arthur quiets down.

"Well," Eames whispers, a smirk forming on his face "There is another well founded cinema tradition when things like this happen"

"Oh?" Arthur sounds interested, a glint in his eye that suggests he has some idea of what Eames is thinking of. "What did you have in mind?"

Eames wastes little time in lowering his lips to Arthur's, tasting the flavour of sweet popcorn in the kiss, considering that as it's dark and he's not enjoying the film, he might as well enjoy make-out time with his boyfriend like he's a teenager again. Which is a much more enjoyable preoccupation. It's one of the things in life he doesn't engage in often enough, and he wouldn't rather do it with anybody else then the Point Man next to him.

Arthur seems to catch his drift and the kiss deepens, and after a while Eames stops noticing the film in the background, focusing on Arthur and nothing else as he feels fingers twist in his hair and pull him closer.

They never do find out what happens at the end, and Eames is pretty sure they got some strange looks when they came out of the cinema with lips slightly redder than normal. But having spent the last hour exclusively snogging the hell out of the very attractive Point Man, Eames considers it money and time well spent.


+1
Chivalry

"No way," Eames shook his head, eyes dead set on Arthur. "No way in hell"

The Point Man gives an aggrieved noise at the back of his throat, and if the situation wasn't so appropriate, Eames would note that there is something really attractive about the man when his outward appearance is scruffier then Eames knows Arthur would like. His sleeves have been unclasped and rolled up to a point over his elbow and his collar is undone, the dirt from the floor having clung to dirty the white of his shirt. And he's holding a gun, slotting another round into the bottom with a click. Just to back up how serious this was. "It has to be done, Eames, it's the only way"

"Don't be stupid, there's always other ways, always" Eames growls, but then a gunshot flicks the side of window they're crouched behind and he's distracted. Without flinching Arthur raises himself into the line of sight to fire back, each shot aimed and the trigger pulled with an comfortable surety. Eames doesn't know whether it's having any effect on the men surrounding the warehouse, but at least they're trying.

"You've got to get the others out, give them the kick to wake up." Arthur slides down again, his back to the wall "They don't know there's anything wrong. Ariadne's still thinking up new tricks with architecture to try out in there."

"So, why don't you come with me?" Eames can be damn stubborn when he wants to, and now seems to be one of those times.

"Eames, there's too many of them to just escape from. If I draw them away..."

"Why does it bloody have to be you?" Eames snaps, and it's hurting him how callously Arthur is weighing up their chances and deciding that it's better if he was the one getting shot at. Never mind the danger, never mind the risk he's taking. "Why can't I do it?"

Even in this situation, somehow Arthur manages a wry smile "Mr Eames, you have a bullet in your shoulder. Shooting with the other arm isn't going to be that effective, no matter how great your prowess with a gun..."

"Dammit Arthur this is not a joke!" He's getting angry now, irritated by the fact he's allowed himself to be shot, to be so careless to let this happen; ignoring the pain throbbing in his shoulder as though it'll make it go away. But Arthur's right, he is a better choice to lead them away, and that's what Eames is so scared of. "This isn't the dream world! You die here, you aren't going to wake up!"

"Eames" Arthur's voice is insistent and he turns face to face with him, a hand cupping the side of his face gently. His thin face has a gentle expression, needing his partner to understand. They've been together for years, of course Eames is going to understand his reasoning. It doesn't mean he has to like it. "Eames, listen to me. I know this isn't ideal, I know this is dangerous. But the others are relying on us" He pauses, smiles "And I wont die, you know why?"

"Why?" Eames responds in a whisper. All he's focused on his the man in front of him, who he suddenly might lose. After everything they've been through, it might end now.

"Because I've got you to live for" Arthur leans forward, touching his forehead against Eames'. A bullet glances off the windowpane again, yet Eames blanks it in favour of taking in Arthur for a fragile moment; the blue slate of his eyes, the faint smell of that aftershave that Eames brought him for their anniversary. "And we have so much more ahead that I'm not going to miss for anything, got it?"

Eames nods, hating himself that he wants to be so selfish, wants Arthur to stay safe, out of danger. But it's not fair because Arthur will be thinking the same thoughts, wanting Eames out of the line of fire. And unfortunately the Point Man has a better argument. Just like he always does.

The Forger switches his gun to the other hand, wondering how many bullets they both have left. Arthur clutches his gun tighter in his grip.

"When this is over," Eames whispers, "I'm going to marry you, darling. I don't know why I waited to ask you"

"Bit of a funny time to ask" Arthur chides, yet there is surprise in his tone, like he never expected Eames to ask. "Timing was always your strong point"

"Do I get an answer?" Eames flashes a confident grin that is completely false, hoping with his whole heart that it's the reply he wants.

"Someone needs to keep an eye on you, I suppose" Arthur jokes, "I would never miss an opportunity to see you in a real suit. I want the photo so we can show Phil and James when they're all grown." The idea that Arthur is imagining, of showing the god-children wedding pictures with Eames still teasing and Arthur still giving as good as he gets, garners a reaction from Eames that he can't put into words, and as a response – a culmination of fear and blinding total affection, knowing that even though it's ridiculous to think that they could have this forever, especially in their line of work, it's all he's ever wanted and now it might be taken away from him – Eames pulls the Point Man into a searing kiss.

Hoping it's not their last, promising himself that if they both get out of this, he'll give Arthur a million more of these over the decades they'll have together. They'll grow old together, with rings on their fingers, and Eames doesn't care that it's soppy and girly, it's what he wants, everything he wants embodied in one man. And Arthur presses hard into the kiss, replying his affirmative to the proposal ,making promises in his desperate motions that both know this time he might not be able to keep.

When they pull apart, it's not out of choice, but necessity. But if Eames could have what he wanted, he would have Arthur away from here, far away from men with guns hired by rival extractors. Safe.

But he can't always have what he wants.

"Be back in a minute," Arthur smiles at him, eyes looking over every feature of Eames' face as though trying to memorise it; scanning features he has seen a hundred times over, keeping each one reverently held in his mind. His hand closes around the Forger's for a few precious seconds, and then Arthur smirks as he clicks the safety off his gun "darling"

The significance of the name is not lost on Eames; it's his word for Arthur, and its meaning and definition has progressed, evolved from being used to mock, to irritate, to being used affectionately, a special phrase specifically for the Point Man. And Eames knows Arthur will do everything he can to stay alive just so he can hear Eames call him that damn pet name one last time.

Arthur moves away then, shouting with words the Forger can't make out, drawing the gunfire as he runs to the other side of the building. He's got their attention now, and Eames grips his gun as he makes tracks in the opposite direction to the others still dreaming, connected up to the PASIV and unaware of the danger outside.

And as he hurries over, he hopes to God that he'll have the chance to call Arthur 'darling' again.

They're going to get married, he thinks fiercely. And Eames is going to wear a suit and Arthur will look beautiful as he always does. And they'll grow old together, regardless of everything. They will, because Arthur said they would.

And Arthur never lies. Not to him.


...Any spelling/grammar mistakes I've made, please feel free to point them out =]