AN/ Written for the LJ Inception Kink Meme. Prompt: Arthur/Eames fluff – they have an impromptu snuggle, have to share a couch for some reason? So, no warnings for it being as fluffy and sentimental as hell. =]

Pairing: Arthur/Eames.


Definite Improvement

Arthur is tired. More so than he has been in a long time. His usual professional poise is being dented in the way he is slumped slightly, barely able to keep his head up, not even managing to muster the energy to have a last minute check through some details on the mark they'll be extracting tomorrow. He is seated at a wooden kitchen table with the palms of his hands propping up his head with his elbows providing the main support, attempting to yawn discreetly behind his hands with his usual polite mannerisms, Ariadne catching him every time as she passes the table already dressed in her pyjamas and shooting him that warm mothering glance that she always reserves for those she has dubbed 'her boys' (being the only female on the team, and as such the only one who is ever interested in getting them all to eat something that doesn't come in a takeaway carton, and ushering them to bed at a reasonable hour, as though she's their mother and not the youngest one just out of university). It's a look that Arthur both appreciates and disregards - because well, he's the Point Man. It's his job to be reliable, to be in control of himself, which is why he's fighting back the tempting wave of sleep to attempt to goad himself into perusing one more file before he retires for the night.

But no matter how many times he's topped up his coffee over the last couple of hours, to the point where he's used up the little milk they had and now is resorting to purely the black stuff straight from the granules, his eyelids are still closing of their own accord, fluttering and drooping down waywardly even as he struggles internally to open them again. He suspects that one of the team – he has his own suspicions about who, namely a tiresome jokester who he needs not name who must enjoy watching him suffer to commit such traitorous heresy – has switched his jar of gold roast coffee which he keeps for emergencies such as this with some of that heathenish decaf that he so despises. He imagines this has something to do with an argument he and the perpetrator had recently, regarding with hot drink was better – coffee or tea – and that this act is revenge for Arthur refusing to concede. At least, he comforts himself, his coffee hasn't been replaced by a jar of pyramid tea bags. He can't stand the stuff; milk or no.

With tiredness, however, sweeps in a mood of irritation. And the little things he can usually pass off and stoically deal with due to them being mostly beyond his control are beginning to bother him. Initially minor things like the loudness of the clock in the kitchen, the way the door between that room and the living room has no lock and doesn't shut correctly, so it swings open of its own accord, meaning Arthur has to listen to that accursed ticking all night . But he could cope with all that if not for the big issue, it being that – yet again – when he does succumb to the inevitable and retire, he's been left with the sofa. Not even a sofa bed which he can pull out; just a sofa.

He can deal with the safe house they're holed up in, that it in itself isn't bad despite the poky size and faded décor lifted straight out of the fifties, he can deal with the creaking floors and faded blue-turning-grey carpet and even that clock, it's just that he's sleeping on the sofa. No man he knows has ever awoken from a night on the sofa with declarations of a constant restful sleep, of all-night comfort, avowing over breakfast that they plan to relocate sleeping there because they were so much more rested than if they had slept on a normal cosy mattress. And no, Arthur is of course notbitter that Ariadne, Eames and Yusuf have taken to sharing the only bed – a spacious, double bed, the springs probably fine and the sheet not smelling of dog and spilt curry stains and god knows what else – in the apartment without even giving him a choice in the matter: of course he's not bitter that now he has to make do for what remains of the night with a lumpy sofa that whatever position he flings himself into he cannot get comfy. Every man he knows who has ever slept on a couch overnight has grumbled and whined like a bear with a sore head about it the next morning, and in several hours, Arthur can envisage himself being that man.

Rarely in his life does he ever dissolve into self-pity, mostly considering it an impractical pastime when he can do little to change his fortunes. But this time, punching his pitiful excuse for a pillow, leaning with his arm under his head when he lies back down and the extremity gradually going numb, his feet awkwardly overlapping over the arm-rest so that he has to curl up his frame and yanking his blanket to cover his frozen feet, with something digging into him from underneath his body (and he doesn't want to go checking down the sides of the seat cushions again, not after his last excursion into the dank unknown, where he found such delights as dog hair, mouldy crisps and an assortment of small change) Arthur is feeling rather dejected, and imagines that he'll be in a foul mood tomorrow when they perform their next extraction. His only comfort comes from the fact that the others – in their comfy, nice warm bed – will have to suffer his grumpiness in the morning.

He is just about to resign himself to the inevitable discomfort and restless sleep when he hears a creak of carpeted floorboards behind him. A groaning sharp sound that is unmistakable. Listening he then hears another shortly afterwards, suggesting that they're being caused by footsteps attempting stealthy manoeuvring across the living room floor.

"What do you want?" he hisses into the darkness, trying to turn his head round but only succeeding in disturbing the blanket so it exposes a part of his body to the outside cold, forcing an emergency adjustment. The footsteps halt in their motions, pause pregnantly before continuing their journey. A voice is accompanies them.

"Thought you could use some company"

Arthur groans, the sound muffled by his pillow. Oh, god, but did it have to be Eames? Arthur couldn't go a night permitted suffer in his misery alone without having the charismatic Brit distracting him.

"What's wrong with the bed?" Arthur doesn't mean to add inflection to the last word – maybe only a little bit – but Eames got the long straw in the way this predicament worked out whereas Arthur was handed the short. He may not be happy about it, but he would rather be left alone so he can grab what hours he can of sleep.

Eames might even be coming over to gloat over his luck, Arthur muses darkly. That would improve his mood no end. He promises himself that should that be the case, the Forger will definitely regret it.

"Can't sleep," finally comes the reply "Yusuf's snoring in my ear, and Ariadne keeps stealing the covers"

"As much as my heart goes out to you in your time of need, I am trying to sleep" Arthur bites back, turning his back further on Eames, raising his head to punch his pillow in a vicious over-eager motion, but either he doesn't hear his words or doesn't pay any attention to them as the Point Man listens to the footsteps shuffling closer, creaking with every step, grating Arthur's nerves until they are right opposite him. And then he feels a hand on his shoulder, prompting him to move further into the sofa to free up space.

"Scooch over, darling." Arthur witnesses the couch groan, the push of poor abused springs rising him up as a body gets in next to him, pushing him over further and lying absurdly close.

"Scooch?" Arthur growls to the dark shape of Eames, knowing he can hear him, wanting him to know he is not happy with this arrangement – the initial one and the recent – one iota. "Nobody uses that word. I'm American, and I don't even use it"

"Well, I said it, so tough" Eames responds gruffly, troubling the Point Man's basic position as he moves around trying to get comfortable, and Arthur wants to give an extremely unmanly huff as he feels Eames pull the blanket over to his side to encompass them both, taking some of Arthur's blanket. Of all the cheek –

"You're taking up all the room," he half whines, goosebumps rising up his skin of his arms, half preferring his previous miserable solitude to what he's faced with now. "It's getting cold"

"It'll warm up in a minute, pet"

Arthur really does hate it when Eames uses those pet names for him. There's just something about the way he says them, in all the time that Arthur has known him, that is somehow superior, joking, teasing, like he realises something that Arthur doesn't. The Point Man has long tried to get him to cease calling him that, but no no avail.

But he has to grudging admit as he gets used to the sensation of the Forger leaning against his back, invading his personal space so that there is barely any gap between the two of them, an idea that is vaguely disquieting to Arthur who so highly values his own privacy, but also feels strangely natural, the addition of another body to the mix is actually making the surroundings warmer. Arthur shuffles further across, giving Eames space to move in closer and not be so near to falling off the edge. He doesn't want to make any comment regarding this for fear it will be used against him later. Words are simple like that.

The warmth is certainly helping however, and Arthur senses his eyes beginning to get heavy again, sleep drawing in closer and closer. He follows the lead of Eames' breathing, a small childish challenge placed upon himself until they are inhaling and exhaling in sync. The makeshift bed is not as awkward and ill-fitting any more, and Arthur has the compulsion to check if Eames is comfy or not, but reigns it in, not wanting to disturb him, not wanting to give the impression that he is overly interested. They're close enough as it is without Arthur shouting out any thing which could be misinterpreted. He doesn't want Eames to feel like he has to leave (and that thought isn't selfish, not at all)

And then suddenly, without warning, another sensation, and Arthur freezes immediately as Eames moves slowly but certainly, perhaps deliberately and wraps an arm around Arthur's waist, using it to snuggle in closer so that his chin is resting against the back of Arthur's neck.

Arthur is about to give the Forger a panicked lecture regarding the blatant disregard for his personal space – because Eames is spooning right up against him, cuddling or whatever terminology he wants to use to describe this but everything about the whole motion is very obviously non platonic that when faced with it, Arthur doesn't know how to react. But he stops, uncoils his body from its tensed panic when he hears the sound of deep slow breathing in his ear, can sense warm air being blown out, exhaled across the nape of Arthur's neck, indicating that Eames' is well on his way to nearly being fast asleep. And regardless of the compromising situation, Arthur doesn't want it to stop, doesn't want to jostle Eames for fear of jolting him into wakefulness.

Arthur smiles gently, allowing himself a rare moment for uncensored emotion to shine through the natural control he adopt; especially when he's around Eames: and he wont admit to it, not to anyone, barely even to his own denying mind, but he quite likes – dare-say could get used to – the feeling of Eames sleeping next to him, the way he has pulled himself up against Arthur so that they're touching, only the thin cloth of bed clothes to separate bare skin; the warmth of another being detracting his conscious mind from the uncomfortable attributes of the sofa, from the ticking of the clock, even chasing away the dark of the night till all that there is is just them. Lying on a spurious old sofa, together in a way that is almost familiar, the way their bodies fit and mould into each other like they were made solely for that purpose.

Then, pausing to contemplate for a second, halting in indecision, wondering how conscious and awake the Forger actually is, how much of this he'll be able to recall with clarity in the morning before throwing caution to the wind and deciding based on human self-centred instinct – wanting to have this for himself, even if just for a moment – , Arthur turns his body gradually around so he's facing the other way, going through the motion slowly so he doesn't disturb Eames. He positions his head down below the bony crook of Eames' neck where it meets his collarbone, lifting up the hand that was encircling his waist then allowing it to unconsciously curl around him once more in an automatic action.

Arthur is not going to tell anybody – nobody, not any living soul that wants to continue living for the foreseeable future – that he spent tonight sleeping in Eames' arms, with his cheek resting against the other man's chest, sensing the calming rise and fall of his chest, hearing the rhythmic sound of a soothing heartbeat that is lulling him to sleep. Arthur isn't going to admit either, that this position definitely beats sleeping in the bed any day, that he would have volunteered to take the sofa if he had known that this was how he would end up falling asleep. He'll only admit that to himself.

"Goodnight Mr Eames" Arthur murmurs quietly, allowing his eyes to close and inviting sleep to come stealing up to him, but not before he gives into temptation and permits himself a last glance up at the Forger, wondering if he knew how peaceful he looked when he slept, how frown lines smoothed away into nothing, how his usually animated limbs were still, creating a mesmerising paradox.

There is silence for a while, all except for the sound of breathing in the dark of night. A perfect moment of peace out of nothing at all, merely human contact, but something that to Arthur is everything at the same time. And then a gentle whisper, so low that Arthur can barely hear it at all, heavy with drowsiness but tinted with an affection the Point Man has not heard directed at him before.

"G'night darling"

And Arthur smiles to himself, allowing sleep to claim him completely.