Title: Talk Turkey To Me
Disclaimer: I own nothing, save for Eames's arsenal of ill-advised endearments. There were only so many times I could type 'love' and 'darling' before wanting to shoot myself.
Summary: "That mouth is going to get you in a world of trouble, Mr. Eames."
Written for - yup - Thanksgiving last year.
Talk Turkey to Me
. . .
This one time, they were running a simulation or some similar bollocks and Eames somehow ended up with his hand down Arthur's trousers.
As far as dream weirdness went, this was fairly pedestrian, idling somewhere between showing up for work naked and lying on the beach while blonde Swedish fraternal twins rubbed baby oil all over your abs, and yet also managed to amalgamate the essence of both scenarios into one unsettling portrait of sexual harassment.
–or would, if Arthur wasn't flicking him those dark, come-hither looks from beneath his lashes, and while Eames was starting to develop some worrying suspicions about his colleagues' subconscious frameworks, he liked his hand where it was.
Then, the real Arthur walked in.
"Care to explain?" he asked, lifting an eyebrow.
Eames was contemplating whether complementing Arthur on the state of his endowment or inviting him to join the party would elicit the optimally amusing response, when some kind of bull-headed monstrosity crashed through the wall behind him, roaring bloody murder. The dream collapsed all around them, and they woke up to Cobb and his frowniest expression ever.
"We need to reassess," he said, voice tense.
"My fault," Ariadne gasped, waving her hand. "My roommate was teaching me to knit last night." She shivered. "God, all those balls of yarn."
"That would explain why I was feeling oddly mythical," Yusuf said, rubbing his chest. "Gored to death before breakfast—do we have any more wine?"
Eames turned to Arthur. "There's your answer. Pederasty was a well-known ancient Greek tradition."
In response, Arthur said, "And corrupting the youths got you death by hemlock," giving him a now-familiar expression that made Eames begin to appreciate classical philosophy in a way that had nothing to do with Socratic dialectic.
Regardless, nothing would have happened if not for Ariadne's midterms meltdown. Probably.
"Come on, darling," Eames said. He opened his arms expansively. "I'm only in Paris for three days. It'll be like a team-bonding activity. Helps raise unity and morale."
"It's twenty pages long and worth half of my grade," Ariadne protested, eyes huge. They should have started tracking her caffeine intake hours ago. "Plus Dom told me Professor Miles doesn't curve his exams, and I really need to do well on this one because he said something about my research methods being dissatisfactory earlier in the term."
Privately, Eames felt deeply for her, concluding that whoever invented the concept of the Graduate Seminar needed to be dragged out into the street and shot. This didn't stop him from saying, "Cobb is just trying to spook you into falling in line. He can't be around to coerce his snotrags into following in his squarish footsteps, so he's taking it out on you."
"Dom doesn't use me as a substitute for his children," Ariadne babbled, faltering into distress. Eames knew that fanning her insecurities was a good way to get what he wanted, so he tamped down his admittedly feeble sense of ethical responsibility and swept her into a shoulder hold.
"Where's your sense of fun?" he said seriously, and added, "Listen, I'll get Yusuf to choose the venue—he knows the Parisian scene like a lover's body," recalling that starry night in the Amsterdam bar when Yusuf had gotten kind of depressed and revealed to Eames his misguided youth's adventure in supplying various French establishments with "the best shit" [sic].
"But the research methods..."
"Get Arthur to help you with that."
"Fine, Ariadne snapped. "But only if you can persuade Arthur to come along." She narrowed her lovely eyes. "And don't invite Dom."
Persuading Arthur turned out to be cakewalk once the whole Yusuf's Recommendation deal was brought up. "Sure, but don't invite Dom," was his only condition, which proved that the planets must be in cosmic alignment this week because Eames had been previously convinced that Hell would freeze over before he, Arthur, and Ariadne managed to collectively agree on something.
He had initial concerns when they pulled up in front of the Lindbergh, which evaporated when Yusuf said, "Park here," and led them around the hotel and down a suitably shady alley. A flood of glamazons flocked to Yusuf's side the moment the bouncer buzzed them in, and whisked him away into the smoky darkness, saturated with heat and motion.
The vibe made Eames miss Tokyo, but Tokyo was Saito's town, and he wasn't sure if he had gotten over that entire Hold This Grenade While I Blow This Place to Kingdom Come debacle.
"This is all very intimidating," said Ariadne. But in fact she did not appear intimidated whatsoever, striding into the throbbing fray with a swaying rhythm that showed off her body-hugging dress, skintight to the point where it looked like she had been poured into the thing.
She looked absolutely bloody gorgeous, nothing like the prim androgyne that Eames always associated with Renaissance paintings of nuns and holy virgins. This was what those birds would look like if you pulled them out of their gothic abbeys and squeezed their bodacious bods into slinky club wear before sending them tottering off to ball men like glittery whores on acid.
Arthur, for his part, was wearing some nice trousers. Arthur always wore nice trousers, but the pair he had on tonight made his usual wardrobe look like street urchin chic. They told a sweet anecdote about dropped keys and retrieval efforts that entailed bending over.
"Not bad, huh?" Eames said, sliding into the booth next to Arthur. He paused to smile at the drink fairy that had materialized to take their order.
Arthur smirked, flashing teeth white as well-intentioned lies. "I especially liked the part where you invoked a nonexistent Electra Complex to get Ariadne to go along with this."
The drink fairy giggled and dematerialized with a firm click of stilettos. Eames cocked his eyebrow at Arthur. "Are we still on that Greek theme, or is this your idea of flirtation?"
Eames's usual romantic strategy was to saunter through life with a roguish sneer that had been around so long it was like a mask eaten ineluctably into his face. This had worked out remarkably well thus far, so he had no reason to doubt its efficacy now. In the dark, he could just make out the movement of Arthur's long lashes, fluttering shut.
"That mouth is going to get you in a world of trouble, Mr. Eames."
"Hasn't so far."
"Then you've been very lucky so far."
"Are you going to help me get lucky tonight, sweetheart?"
Arthur kissed him then. The skin of his jaw felt soft, smooth and expensive. He started slow, handling Eames like an enemy and an old friend, and Eames took a few seconds to admire the cleverness of it all before kissing Arthur back, hauling him in by the collars. He slid his hand around to that tender spot at the back of Arthur's head, hidden under his hair, thumb stroking the juncture of ear and skull, lazily memorizing bone structure. Their breaths sparred.
"Join me in the VIP lounge?"
Arthur laughed against his stubbles, throaty and low. "Really, Mr. Eames? I think we're a little too old for undignified quickies in the men's room."
"A dignified quickie's still an option, then?"
"Quick doesn't sound very appealing." Arthur leaned back and straightened up in his seat, suddenly distant and tight-mouthed. It was Eames's turn to smirk.
"Some other time, then."
When he looked down, there were glasses on the table. He picked up his martini—Plymouth gin, absinthe rinse, brandied cherries—and took a quick glance around the room. Up by the catwalk, Yusuf was slouched in his seat, calmly sipping a drink while a dancer leaned over him, one large brown areola lingering centimetres from his liquor-damp lips. At the bar, Ariadne was in medias an intense conversation with an attractive person of indeterminate gender. It seemed to be going well—they were trading tequila shots and licking salt and lime off of each other's milky wrists.
He could feel Arthur's eyes on him all evening.
Not a month later, Cobb managed to book them such an unspeakably disastrous job that the rest of the team made a gentlemen's pact to stop speaking to him for the foreseeable future. Eames took this lull in action as his cue to rain-check himself to Dubai.
Unfortunately, breathtaking coastlines and impossible architecture seemed to have lost their charms at some point between his last visit and the present, and even though Eames ran into an actual pair of blonde Swedish fraternal twins in Mamzar, his libido was a little anorexic these days—except when it came to thoughts of nice trousers.
After a week, he gave up and flew back to Paris, only to find that the Yank half of the team was scuttling off to partake in some cultish nonsense called "Thanksgiving". He had never seen Cobb get this excited about—anything.
"Come off it," Eames said. "If you colonists are going to slack off, have the balls to do so without citing an alibi more holed than a beehive."
"I only wish we were making it up," Ariadne said. "We don't just have Thanksgiving dinner at our house, we have an actual Thanksgiving ball, where my father parades various Senators' and Congressmen's sons before me while my mother makes unsubtle hints about grandchildren."
She threw her hands up in some wordless attempt to convey all the inarticulable horror of so much quality family time, which made Eames suspect that she harbored some deeply repressed childhood rage. "And then there's all the tofu. I mean, have you ever seen a purple turkey?"
"Phillipa mentioned something about going vegan the last time I was home," Cobb mused. "Do you think your mother would let me have the recipe?"
"I have lost all will to live," Ariadne declared.
Eames leaned into her ear and whispered, "Think of it this way, you'll be on the plane together for eight hours. My advice: get him pissed and pull a mile high club. AirFrance makes a surprisingly decent Bloody Mary."
Ariadne rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I love how we pasteurize our history of blemishes like smallpox blankets and genocidal expansions for an excuse to stuff our faces." She turned to Eames. "How come you never have to do family visits?"
Eames had spent a large part of his childhood and subsequent adolescence making a competitive sport out of giving his father apoplexies. He had not been welcome in his ancestral home since his sixteenth birthday, when Mr. Eames Sr. had discovered his son's aspirations of becoming the next Frank Abagnale.
Yusuf was not utilizing this opportunity to visit his family either. Possibly they didn't exist. Instead, he was going to Rio. Eames loathed him gently, and pondered the relative merits of a trip to Monaco. Surely five years was long enough for Interpol to have forgiven a person for a minor offense such as forging the entire royal family.
Then he found out Arthur was staying in Paris.
"I was thinking of making Thanksgiving dinner on my own," he explained over the phone. Eames examined his voice for a trace of humor, and was mildly alarmed to find there wasn't any.
"Were you?" he said wryly. "And who's on the guest list?"
"Just me for now. There's room for one more, I suppose."
Eames couldn't feign disinterest. He tried anyway. "Cutting it a bit close, darling. What if I had already made prior arrangements?"
Arthur snorted, and hung up.
Eames exited the elevator at 5:35 pm. Under his arm was a dignified bottle of Bordeaux, with an honest-to-God silk bow tied around the neck. He had offered to contribute something more substantial to the meal, but then Arthur had said, "Not unless you can find some pumpkin pie", which sounded like something out of Harry Potter—too silly to be real.
Arthur opened the door on the third ring. He was, by his militant standards and no else's, underdressed—Oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his sharp wrist bones, and those slacks that he probably slept in, accessorized with a furrow-browed expression. On another person's face, it might come off as endearingly irritated, but Eames recognized this as the tip of a solid iceberg of rage, erratic sine spikes signaling catastrophic subterranean tectonic activity.
"You're late," Arthur said flatly.
Eames blinked. "Did we have a time?"
Arthur clicked his tongue impatiently. "Come in."
The flat, like its tenant, was clean-cut and modern, all black wood and gleaming glass. Stark and monochrome, subtly edgy—roomy in the vertical sense, which meant he probably paid bitching heating bills in the winter. As Eames strolled down the narrow hallway, past rows of black and white photos of cityscapes and classic cars, an obese feline silhouette sashayed past his legs.
"Hey, isn't that…?"
"Yusuf asked me to cat-sit Stevens."
"Don't even ask," Arthur said darkly.
Eames tossed his jacket over the back of the leather sofa and followed him into the kitchen. He paused at the entrance, frowned. "Do I smell something burning?"
"The first batch of marinade didn't come out well," Arthur said, projecting an air of nonchalance. He was about at good at it as an elephant was good at pirouetting through a needle's eye. His hair was doing a weird thing where it seemed to stick up on one side and lie flat on the other, something only seen on the plumage of certain exotic birds.
"What's all this?" Eames asked. He swept his hand vaguely over the kitchen island which, among other things, supported a minor mountain of produce, a tottering column of books, and various pots and pans containing what appeared to be alternative life forms.
"Dinner," Arthur replied. "Or it will be. Have you ever made candied yams?"
"Are you out of your mind?"
"Time to learn," Arthur said, "Here," grabbing a book at random to shove into Eames's hand. "Sink or swim, Eames."
Eames knew better than to argue with this disheveled, crazy-eyed holiday cheer, so he quietly collected his materials and went into a corner to spend some quality time with Talk Turkey to Me. The kitchen was on the tiny side, and it was a tight squeeze between him and the counter. His hips pressed up against Arthur's arse as he passed, but Arthur did not even look up. He picked up a large pan housing what was either a smallish piglet or—
"Is that the turkey?" Eames said, awed.
"Yes," said Arthur. He stared at it for a full minute.
Suspicions flooded Eames's mind. "Haven't you ever worked with a turkey before?"
Arthur waved the basting brush dismissively. "Of course, but this is a French-domesticated turkey. That right there should tell you something."
"It tells me you're a barking lunatic. A turkey's a turkey." He peered into the pan, and carefully prodded at the pale hulk. "So which way is the top?"
So Arthur, brilliant Point Man that he was, had obviously done his homework for the occasion, if the extensive collection of cookbooks and Internet printouts were any indication. He had, however, not been brilliant enough to notice that nearly all his recipes contradicted one another.
"Are turkeys supposed to collapse once you put them in the oven?"
"No," Arthur said, completely deadpan, giving him a look potent enough to paralyze a rhino at twenty yards as he violently dumped the mushy pile of poultry bones and skin into the bin. His shirt was down to three buttons, exposing the clean lines of his collarbones, the rolled up sleeves speckled with a questionable substance that Eames knew to be Arthur's paltry attempt at gravy.
Eames shrugged, and continued to relieve a fat tuber of its sandy, brownish skin. "You know, I think this might actually be a sweet potato."
"At this point, I simply do not care."
"Why'd you do this to yourself if you knew you couldn't cook?"
Arthur pulled a face. "It's Thanksgiving," he grunted. "Seemed like the thing to do."
"Family tradition?" Eames ventured. He was expecting a sudsy, elaborate tale involving a mother's stifling sense of entitlement, a father's vicious cycle of recurring disappointments, and possibly something about an overachieving older brother tossed into the mix. Disappointingly, Arthur just lifted his shoulder, and stabbed a wooden spoon into yet another pan, swirling the content around for a moment before placing it into the now-vacated oven.
He had the temperature on way too high, but Eames selected not to address this fact.
Invariably, a smoky smell filled the kitchen. Arthur looked over at him with a fatalistic expression and announced, "There go the mashed potatoes."
In the end, Eames's candied yamotatoes was the only item on the menu that survived the culinary carnage. They sat in the living room and ate themselves stupid, passing the bottle of Bordeaux between them like unwashed slum-dwelling Bohemians. Neither wanted to touch the gunky cranberry sauce that had splooged out of a can.
"I can't believe you actually pulled this off," Arthur said, a fork dangling between his fingers.
"It's called knowing how to follow instructions," Eames explained delicately.
Arthur snorted. "Which is yet another reason I can't believe you pulled it off."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetheart." He spooned the last of his portion into his mouth. "We're out of wine. Where do you keep the sauce in this place?"
Raiding Arthur's pantries revealed a shockingly respectable mini-cellar. "You've been holding out on me, love," Eames said, unearthing a 1978 Château. He hadn't been aware one of these lovelies even existed.
The night deepened in a flush of warm, rosy-hued glow. Eames settled into an armchair. His eyes flickered from the corner where Stevens the cat had passed out face down in the food dish, to the enormous glass doors opening out to the balcony, beyond which they had a fantastic view of La Ville-Lumière herself, an ocean of twinkling lights. Historied streets coated in shades of a November night, gunmetal giving way to velvety midnight blue.
"Hope Cobb and his brats had better luck with their demon bird than we did."
"I spent Thanksgiving with him once," Arthur said from the floor. "Met the whole tribe. It was disturbingly domestic." He mercifully did not reveal whatever ungodly number of Cobb-esque individuals existed in this unfortunate world.
"When was this?"
"Years ago. You know. Before."
Right. Before. Code for the first installment in the two-part series that made up the segments Cobb's life had been partitioned into following his infamous personal tragedy. Arthur had reportedly been there for the whole grisly mess. Eames only had casual acquaintance with the facts, even post-Fischer, and frankly, that was as far as he was willing to go.
Eames had met Cobb years before in the middle of a con. Granted, he had been conning Cobb at the time, but rocky beginnings made for stable professional relationships, and he'd very much like theirs to remain just the way it was.
"You're sitting in my favorite chair."
When he looked up, Arthur was running his fingers innocently over the mouth of the wine bottle. His tilted face held that exact expression Eames had—he choked back a laugh—first encountered in a dream.
"You know something," Eames said, thumbing one corner of his mouth, "I was thinking that I'd like to fuck you in your favorite chair."
A hood drew low over Arthur's eyes. He put down the bottle, and got on his knees.
Arthur was, among other things, flushed and rock-hard, almost dripping over Eames's stomach.
He had his lean, lightly haired thighs splayed over Eames's legs, and two fingers slicked and buried inside his own entrance, breaths coming in harsh bursts. It was seriously the sexiest thing to come along since the part back there where he had gotten on his knees and sucked one of Eames's balls into his mouth while simultaneously working his shaft, displaying his vast capacity for lateral thinking in a smug but also ridiculously hot way.
"So tell me, Mr. Eames," Arthur whispered, hoarse and utterly filthy, nose a cold point on the skin of Eames's neck. "What did you have to be thankful for this year?"
"I'll leave your twenty Euros on the dresser in the morning," Eames promised, and biting the pointy tip of Arthur's ear, gripped the base of his cock and began to jerk. It thickened and jumped deliciously between his fingers.
Arthur dug his teeth into his bottom lip. He braced himself on Eames's shoulders and sank down ever so slowly, the prat, putting his whole body into the push, and finally—finally—Eames was balls-deep in his tight, hot arse. He hissed, hauling Arthur in and made their mouths fuck.
"You have very pretty eyelashes," Eames observed.
He ran his hand down the ridged ladder of Arthur's spine, gently stroked the raised skin of a scar with the pad of his finger, slipped into the warm crease where thigh met body. "You're very—" he went on, but lost track of whatever the hell he was saying when Arthur's cheeks clenched tight around his cock, muscles flexing sweetly. Arthur raised himself on his knees and ground down with his whole weight, so that they were almost squeezed into the armchair. His hips snapped, he was about to explode he was so turned on, and he had to fuck Arthur, now.
Just when Eames was about to cause them both permanent damage shoving Arthur onto the floor and giving him some wicked carpet burns, Arthur muttered against his mouth, "Hey, don't hurt yourself." He wiggled and writhed, trying to reach for something behind Eames's head, the tip of his cock dragging a slick trail along Eames's belly.
The ceiling tilted, and suddenly Arthur was leaning over him, panting in hungry, desperate gasps. The faint shadows painting his face and chest highlighted that delightful sheen of sweat coating his upper lip, the slick tip of his pink tongue peeking out from between parted lips.
"Your favorite chair is a recliner?" Eames asked, smoothing his palm over the dramatic curve of Arthur's hipbone.
"I have a bad back," Arthur said facetiously.
He gave his pelvis a minute, experimental thrust, showing off his devastating attention to detail, at which point Eames nearly threw out his own back flipping them over so he could have Arthur on his arse and fuck him into a blackout.
They were insensate to the world until a relatively scandalous hour of the following day, even by his lax standard. Eames reflected that he couldn't really accuse Arthur of lacking an imagination anymore, not after the impressive show he had given during the fuck-a-thon of the previous night. (Speaking of which, good call on the walk-in closet, he should compliment him on that later.)
Arthur grumbled, and nudged Eames's leg with his knee. "Jesus, your toes are like icicles." His hair looked even more ridiculous in the light of day. It was amazing that he could still move.
"Bad circulation," Eames said. "And hey, good morning to you too, bastard."
"Actually, I think it's halfway into the afternoon," Arthur said, glancing at the electric clock on the nightstand. He tugged at Eames's shoulder. "You all done?"
"Give me a minute, love," Eames said. "I think I might need a prick transplant after that little exercise with the towel rack."
Arthur snorted into his pillow. "Classy."
"Minute's over." He reached over and rolled Arthur onto his back. "C'mere, sugarplum."
Arthur made a satisfied rumbling noise in the back of his throat. "The soul is willing, but the flesh needs some sustenance before it can go back to doing terrible things to other flesh."
"Food trumps sex," Eames agreed, kissing the pink shell of Arthur's ear. "Breakfast, then?"
Neither of them was very fond of the idea of venturing back into Arthur's kitchen, which by now had been stripped of all perishables anyway. So they wrestled their unwilling bodies into some clothes and wandered down to a bistro around the corner, where Arthur ignored Eames's ardent protests and made them sit out on the goddamn sidewalk. Sure, it was all very romantic and delightful until a delightfully romantic piece of garbage blew into your profiterole courtesy of the Paris Department of Sanitation—or utter lack thereof.
Nevertheless, they drank their coffee and ate their turkey club sandwiches in that brisk late-afternoon air, and Eames spent a disgraceful amount of time watching Arthur puzzle over the crossword, offering rubbish answers and generally being mysteriously fascinated with Arthur's sunlit hair, the underside of his chin, the smug crease at the corner of his mouth.
This was the only reason he didn't put his cigarette out in Arthur's mochachino when a nice breeze shivered past and a paper bag practically smacked him in the face.
The sunny weekend stretched its luxurious limbs and flopbellied into Monday, when one by one, the defectors began trickling back into the country. Ariadne was the first, bearing the appearance of a shell-shocked war refugee and a report that Cobb had remained stateside to take care of some family emergency.
"We've lost him to the dark side," Eames said, shaking his head. "How could you let this happen?"
"What's the emergency?" said Arthur
"You won't believe this," Ariadne said with a huge smirk. "Apparently, Phillipa has a boyfriend."
Arthur arched his fine, fine brow at the same time that Eames snorted and said, "Oh, he is never coming back, then."
Yusuf shuffled into the warehouse at a quarter to noon, slack-faced and haggard, and stayed for fifteen minutes before taking off, mumbling something about free clinics and intense burning loins.
"See, this is why all those travel guides warn you against engaging in sexual congress with inappropriate people on vacation," Ariadne remarked.
Eames was in the middle of discreetly tuning her out, flipping through the latest issue of Plane & Pilot—Christ, the new Socata TBM could coax a stiffie out of a coma patient—when he caught the sound of Arthur's laconic drawl, saying, "Define inappropriate."
"Why?" Ariadne asked. "What shenanigans did you get up to over the holiday?"
Arthur shrugged, slanting a sly look in Eames's direction. "Never hurts to be careful."
Eames put down the magazine and pasted a grave expression onto his face. "Is there something you want to tell me, cricket?"
Arthur smirked, and waited until Ariadne had fluttered off to orgasm over some software she had brought back from the States that guaranteed to help people architect like they had never architected before. "I don't know," he said with a slight wicked edge. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
"As a matter of fact, there is," Eames replied. "It might take awhile though. We should reconvene. Say, my place? Saturday night?"
"You have a place?" Arthur said.
"Absolutely," Eames said. "I have a chair, too. Several, even. Interested?"
Arthur lifted the corner of his mouth thoughtfully, and did something highly distracting involving two fingers and the cuff of his shirt. "I'm listening."
"We can try them out one by one to see which is just right for Goldilocks's discerning arse."
But the point was—the point was that Eames liked that discerning arse very much, and somehow, after strenuous hours spent doing wonderful things to that arse, he found himself liking having breakfast on the sidewalk with its barmy owner as well. Right up until a poetic gum wrapper drifted into his sparkling water, when he actually put his cigarette in Arthur's coffee.
. . .