Originally, they hadn't hated each other. A slight distaste for each other's style, yes, but hate? Never. In fact, a friendship had almost been forming on their second mission as a trio (Arthur, Eames and Dom) when they discovered the awful truth; they were competing for the affections of Cobb, that brown eyed extractor. They had been hired by him within the same month, to work on a job. Both loved Dom immediately for his expansive imagination, the luster in his eyes, a Cobb that would be shattered later, but at that time he was almost worshiped by the Point Man and the Forger. With this passion firing in their hearts, jealousy grew to distaste grew to dislike and steadily transformed into a burning hate.

Hate hate hate..and then disappointment. Mal had come into their unrequited love's life, tearing the possibility for either of the combatants from having him, especially because this proved beyond a doubt that Dom was straight. Reconciliation was in order, but neither wanted to make peace right away. Jealousy was too much part of their lives.

So, they settled into a routine, shuffling around each other with snide comments and exasperated looks in a giant circle getting inexorably closer and closer with each tirade of hopelessly strange exchanges.

When Mal died, each had his chance to return to loving the outlawed and haunted Cobb, but nothing was the same. Something deep between the two had changed. Arthur was the only one to recognize it, love. He was in love with the Forger.

The well suited man kept it hidden from them all, until the Inception job, when he slipped, not even knowing anyone would find out. While testing the sedatives–specifically how long it would keep them asleep–Arthur was left overnight in the large empty room where they worked.

Eames had been at a hotel, comfortable in the arms of a young man with bright eyes and a randy attitude, when he realized that he had left his target information at what he referred to as the office. He cursed silently, disentangling himself from what he knew would have been a fantastic night, and leaving the boy there, half aroused and angry and drunk. The only reason Eames was so worried about it, was that Dom would hand him his head on a silver platter if he did not have his role down by the test they were doing in a few days. Eames made his way back to the place where he spent most of his waking hours only to find Arthur there already. It had slipped his hazy mind that Arthur was hooked to the machine for a test. It was beautiful to Eames, although he didn't recognize that it was beautiful to him. Arthur was hooked up to the machine, the IV trailing down his arm, lightly swaying as Eames walked past. His totem was held loosely in his right hand, his long lashes resting on his cheeks as his content breathing made the only audible sound. Eames walked around the prone man, the files he had come back for already in hand, debating weather or not to invade the man's privacy or not. Ultimately, his trademark smile appeared as he pulled up a chair, set down the reason he had come back, rolled up his bright pink pinstriped shirtsleeve and plugging in.

Instantly he found himself in a posh hotel, where everyone was dressed impeccably and the entire scene had a soft golden glow. Curious now as to why exactly the scene was set in a hotel, Eames set off in search of Arthur, taking care to be as nonchalant as possible, for he didn't want Arthur's subconscious to know he was there, lurking.

It only took a few minuets of wandering to detect the Arthurian presence that he was looking for, right there in room 77, how predictable. The door was shut tight against intrusion, but Eames was quite pro at infiltrating locks and that sort of thing, so he did. There was a shower running, thankfully, so Eames could find a nice spot to hide before his target could even know he was there. The door barely even clicked when he softly swung it shut. His grin grew broad as he slipped into the slatted closet, perfect for him to see whatever was going to happen and not be seen.

Arthur came out of the shower, one towel wrapped low around his hips, another tousling his sable hair dry. He looked at the perfectly made bed where two color-coordinated suits lay, ready for the choosing. The first was tan, slightly less formal than the other, with a golden and red tie to match. On the other hand (to witch, Eames noticed, Arthur seemed to be heavily drawn too) was the normal style of Arthur, navy jacket, matching dress pants, black vest, whit shirt, blue tie with purple flur de lis on it. The pale hand was just reaching out to it, having set down the towel, when there was the sound of the door opening. Eames expected a there to be a female voice, calling out for Arthur but what he heard instead was footsteps. Loud, cocky, footsteps.

Eames looked up in confusion, his chestnut eyes flashing in utter surprise as...no, it couldn't be. As Eames walked around the corner. The real Eames felt his mouth drop open in shock. He stared, actually stared, at the perfect likeness of himself-even wearing the same thing as he was wearing at the moment-wrapped a confident hand around Arthur's waist and whispered "Darling" before bestowing a very passionate kiss onto the breathless be-toweled man.

If there is a God, please, please make this a dre...make this stop. Eames thought inwardly, almost not remembering that it was a dream, Arthur's dream; desperately trying NOT to watch his hands trail up Arthur's back in that intimate way, trying to close his eyes to the intensity as his mirror locked eyes with Arthur, blinding himself to the words that were whispered, the murmurs of love; but it was impossible to turn away. The silent plea Eames had made to whoever was listening was answered when Arthur, slightly pink in the face but much more at ease than Eames had ever seen him, pulled back and said "We have a dinner reservation." with the factual precision that was all Arthur.

The dream Eames smirked asking lustily, "Can't we skip straight to desert?" and pulling Arthur closer. Real Eames almost gagged, not because the line was bad (he had actually used it before) but the very idea of using it on Arthur.

A shadow passed over Arthur's face, unnoticed by either Eames. He lightly pushed Dream Eames away and, picking up the darker suit, said, "Now you go wait in the lobby while I dress." Dream Eames pouted but did what he asked, contrary to Arthur's actual wishes, and against Eames's actual nature. The real Eams (heaving a silent sigh of relief in the closet) would have stayed, convinced Arthur to do the deed, perhaps even forced himself onto the smaller and more clean-cut man, not just walk away like a trained dog. Arthur craved the real Eames, the man he fell in love with, even though corse, rough, and completely contrary to Arthur. But, because he believed it would never EVER be, he made do with what his sub-conscious could produce, well aware of the implications, having met Mal in several of his trips with Dom.

It was all he had.

The small sigh of sadness went unnoticed by Eames, who had desperately begun to think of an escape route. It was easy to unlock doors, but to lock them again was another story. His eyes went over to Arthur who at that precise moment dropped his towel.

Eames didn't remember much of the next few moments, only an ache below his zipper, an entirely inappropriate spot, so he thought. And then, once Arthur was gone the night went in a blur. Knowing Arthur, Eames figured that the hotel was old enough that the windows would open. It was logical that Eames, frantically wanting to leave, had simply jumped out. It was, after all, a dream.

He didn't mention it, except for to ask aloud to the group the next day "Does having sex with your subconscious count as masturbation?" In his highly inappropriate but curious manner. He watched Arthur, back to the cool, collected one, flush slightly as Dom shook his head in disgust, and Ariadne had to stuff down a silent and immature giggle. Eames smirked, going back to the pictures of his forging object, the lengthy legged blonde girl for phase two of the plan. The rest of Inception went relatively without incident, because Eames was in no mental state to re-enter Arthur's mind. Well, the actual job did not count, even though there were two points where there was almost a spark of that other Arthur, what Eames was beginning to think of as the real Arthur although he knew it was all in the dream. The first spark was a little worry Eames had had, about the...anatomy of his counterpart. There was no real tactful way to say it (because doing so would admit he had been in Arthur's highly private dreams), but when he noticed Arthur using a very thin and small gun to kill the security of the targets brain, he had the epiphany. Waltzing over, he conjured up another gun, rather, a rocket launcher, and, smirking at the man said "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."

As he shot, he saw the look of confusion followed by a sort of respect out of the corner of his eye. Was there a flash of lust in there too? Eames couldn't tell, he was stuck on the fact that he had called him 'darling.' DARLING. It had just slipped out, sure he had called Arthur that before, but usually it was mocking. This time seemed to be a real pet name. Eames decided he had just slipped and used the wrong tones. Even the best Actors had their weak points.

Arthur was very surprised and did not catch the hidden meaning, besides, he knew pretty much everything about Eames. After their first job together, he had taken it upon himself to research the man thoroughly, right down to all his sizes, clothing and otherwise, and his grandmother's maiden name. Only the darling caught his attention. That name, the name the other Eames, his Eames, would call him quietly (or loudly) as they lay together. And that darling, that word, made him love that stupid, blind man even more. And then there was the second layer, where Arthur put the team to sleep in the hotel room. It was almost as if Eames was asking him to be careful...a dream come true for Arthur, who had always thought that Eames had loved to see him in pain or dead in dreams, judging from their past experiences. Eames himself had shot Arthur in the leg, when he was newer, to see if it was all as Dom said, pain was in the mind and dying in the dream would wake a person up. Thankfully, Eames was satisfied with the cry of agony ripped from Arthur and had not pursued the matter. And then it was all over, that job, the Inception, so revolutionary. Nothing was the same again, for any of them.

Arthur even tried the straight life, with the adorable Ariadne, but it hadn't gone anywhere. The thought of making love to her was appalling, and besides, he was afraid she would invade his dreams like she had Dom's, and find him in the thralls of his greatest secret. Now he was a guinea pig for hire, Yusuf and many other chemists liked to experiment on him. He didn't mind, it was like a drug for him. How many times had he warned Cobb of the danger? Yet here he was, imagining reality as he wanted it, skewing his perception of the world. Now he knew why Dom had seen Mal in all his dreams, Eames was like his drug, his addiction. He was all too happy to be hooked onto the machine and create the reality he wanted, one where Eames loved him, where Eames always called him Darling.

Eames had always figured that it was a simple dream, something of an experiment that Arthur was sickly entertaining, and why not? Eames knew he was an attractive man, and knew that Arthur was a closet homosexual what with their rivalry over Dom, all those years ago. But at the end of Inception, with Dom, well, with Dom gone, Eames began to wonder anew at that glimpse at the fantasies Arthur entertained. What if it wasn't just a passing fancy? What if Arthur was seriously thinking of Eames like that, as his lover and companion? And why? Why, why, WHY?

Eames had to know.

He had been keeping tabs on everyone, since they split apart. Ariadne was now studying with Cobb's father, Satio was running business as usual. Yusuf was still experimenting with his chemical brew. The draught he had made now allowed for dreamers to awaken when they died in the dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, however many layers, a perfection, he said. Arthur was still his favorite guinea pig, although Ariadne was often there too, and many people from wherever he was testing. Locals in need of escaping reality.

Eames knew that if anything, Arthur was being pumped full of chemicals that would allow him to be as sexual as he wanted without interruption with Yusuf patiently taking notes beside him. All he had to do was call the Chemist up and have an "accidental" bump in planned. Besides, Arthur was Yusuf's favorite guinea pig. There was only two rings before the heavy accent said "Hello?"

"Yusuf! It's Eames, how's it been? What have you been up to?" Eames asked, overly excited.

Yusuf was confused, Eames had never been too friendly with him. "I've been fine. I'm still working on my chemicals."

"Oh. Still where you were then?" Eames asked, wanting to know, cleverly manipulating the conversation.

"No, I'm in Mexico now. Less noise."

Eames smiled. "Really? I'm in the States right now! I should come and visit, yes?"

"What do you want, Eames?" Yusuf asked outright.

Eames heaved a sigh. Caught. "Is Arthur there?"

Yusuf was now extremely confused. He thought they hated each other. "Yes, in fact he is. Why?"

Eames sighed again, this time in relief. "Don't tell him I called. I'm coming over. Mexico City, right?" When Yusuf confirmed the address, warily, and hung up the phone, Arthur walked into the dingy house Yusuf was renting. "Who was that?" He asked.

"Telemarketer." Was the reply, but Arthur knew he was lying, he could see it in

those big eyes. It was strange that Yusuf was lying, but he was ready to go under.

"How long is this going to be for?" Arthur asked again, already knowing the answer of "24 hours." It was supposed to be some sort of record. Arthur was just excited to see his lover, and it was bliss when he finally went under and saw that smiling stubbly face. "Darling." Dream Eames purred, holding out his arms. "I've missed you."

Eames was not in the States. He was actually at a small airport in France. "One way ticket to Mexico city, please." and then again in French, "Un aller simple pour la ville de Mexico, s'il vous plaît." he asked, handing over his false info. The cheery blonde grinned at him, flipping her hair as she told him where to go. "I'm not on the same team as you. Sorry. Er, Je ne suis pas dans la même équipe que vous." With a shrug, he apologized as her face fell. The flight seemed longer than normal, mostly due to the anticipation.

When he finally arrived, disheveled and with no baggage whatsoever, except for a small briefcase with a change of underwear and pants, toiletries, and some socks. He flagged down a cab and rushed over to Yusuf's address.

The furious knocks on the door woke Yusuf from the light doze he was in. Eames barged in and stared down at Arthur lying flat on the bed, still in a suit. His hair had grown longer, and there was a sadness even in his relaxed form that stabbed at Eames's heart. "Hook me up." Eames said. "And give me a kick in an hour."

Yusuf complied, afraid of the fire in Eames's eyes. His sleeves got pushed above his elbows, and his shoes got kicked off haphazardly before he stopped. "One second." He rushed to the bathroom, remembering the incident when Yusuf had almost forgotten the consequences of having a full bladder in a dream. He splashed some water in is face and looked in the dingy mirror and quietly queried "What am I doing?" When his reflection didn't answer, he sauntered back into the bedroom, telling the chemist "Don't ever tell him I was here." and lying down next to the man who was currently seducing his mirror image.

And then he was in the dream. A sparsely populated countryside, green grass, and even some sheep. It wasn't a place Eames would have thought that Arthur would ever want to be, but he shrugged and began to look around for the man he was after. There were only a few houses around, so Eames didn't have too much trouble, but he did feel slightly creepy, peeping into house windows. Luckily, he found the right house on the second try. There they were, Eames dipping Arthur in a powerful kiss, emerging grinning. The real Eames let out a frustrated sigh. Why was Arthur doing this? There was no way that Arthur could love him, could there? Arthur had always been so cold, so distant. Eames was going to leave then, go on a stroll in the twilight countryside alone with his thoughts, but he saw the rings. Golden bands, one on Arthur, one on Eames. Matching. His eyes widened and he stepped closer, examining the bedroom scene before him-he had figured that the backyard would be less suspicious than the front yard. It was well-decorated, clean and tidy as Arthur would like it. Pictures lined a bedside table, and on the dresser as well. Pictures of them. Together, on what looked like dates. Dates!

He really loves me. Eames thought, incredulous. Or, this form of me. That gave him a pause, because he could not figure out if he was elated and relieved, or somewhat disappointed at that revelation. But his thoughts were cut off by the action in front of him. He ducked down behind the hedges lining the house, peeping over the sill to watch, feeling ever so dirty as he did so.

Eames-Dream Eames-pushed Arthur lightly onto the bed, smirking as he did. There was a lustful burning in his eyes as he moved forward, relieving Arthur of his garments and regaling him with a line of kisses from chin to trouser-line. Eames-the real one-could not seem to look away as the slow fire began to flame and flicker into an animalistic passion. The knuckles on his hands were white as he clenched them restraining himself from matching the rhythmic movie playing muffled just beyond the glass.

Finally, after what was to all three involved an eternity, the impassioned Arthur let out a cry of "Eames!" The entire world seemed to collapse then, and in fact the world had stopped: just for a moment, the entire dream state had become black. But that moment passed. Yet Eames, on his knees on the dirt, staring wide eyed into the room where he was getting up and leaving. Eames would never do that, especially with that golden after-sex glow surrounding the prone Arthur.

Arthur thought so too. He looked around at his lover, who was putting on his clothes. "What are you doing, Eames?" Dream Eames looked over and replied, "Going into the pub, Arthur." Arthur. No Darling, no Love, no Babe. Nothing, not even the hated Artie. "You're acting differently." He retorted, getting up, and putting on his trousers. It sounded like there was a rustle in the bushes outside as they moved from the bedroom to the living room. Arthur ignored it and chased after Dream Eames, who had been acting so very distant in this dream. Actually, now that he looked at the Dream Eames, there was slight differences, the eyes were lustful-not loving. He was clean shaven, not stubbly. Even some of his 007 charm had been hardened and skewed. A sigh escaped his lips. "Just go." Dream Eames smiled in triumph and watched as Arthur slunk back, dejected, into the room, shutting the door behind him. Dream Eames went to the door, pulling it open in a flourish. Real Eames was there.

He hadn't meant to go up to the front door. Honest. But he couldn't stand to think he was fighting with Arthur. At all. Ever. Because he realized as he thought back to that moment when Arthur cried his name-the only crystal clear moment of the narcissistic pornography he had subjected himself to-he was in love with the man. That was why he couldn't stop thinking of him. That was why he had jumped on a plane and traveled from France to Mexico just to invade his dreams. He was in love with Arthur. "Er. Hello." He said oddly, wincing at his own voce in the silence. Dream Eames reacted violently, shifting from Arthur's prefabricated Eames into the sub-conscious recognizing an intruder. He landed a good punch on Real Eames, but the reality version was much stronger, and tossed his clone off, throwing him to the floor. The large fist decorated in various rings slammed into the imposer's face repeatedly. Without knowing it, he was shouting.

"YOU STUPID BUGGER! WHY DID YOU LEAVE HIM? HE'S THE BEST FUCKING THING TO HAVE EVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKES OF YOU!"

Arthur was shocked at the sight that met him as he shoved the door open, hearing some sort of bedlam erupting in his front room so shortly after he had left. An Eames fighting another Eames. Arthur ran to his desk drawer, pulling out a small caliber revolver. "STOP IT!" he screamed, and immediately, the two did. One of the Eames got off the other, holding his bloodied hand up in a sign of surrender. "Look, Darling..." bang. Bang.

Arthur shot them both, panting heavily. One fell down in agony, screaming, one vanished completely. The glock trembled in his hands, staring down at the remaining Eames. "Who are you?" he whispered, staring into the eyes of his dream husband. "Darling, you shot me!" Dream Eames yelped, sending Arthur into a fit of giggles. He knelt down and helped that lovely bit of his subconscious up, wondering what had happened to the other Eames, who he only thought of as another fragment of his imagination.

Eames started up from the crummy hotel bed. He gulped back a sob, lifting his hands to his head. Glancing over to the side of the bed where Yusuf had taken his station, he noticed he was dozing. Eames got up and left.

He just couldn't stand it. Arthur wasn't in love with him, just a projection. A perfect version of Eames.

The resolution he made to stay away from Arthur for the rest of his life, to let him be happy lasted three days.

He was back at Yusef's door, just after Arthur had gone back under. They were now testing how many times someone could go under without becoming "dream sick" but that didn't matter in the slightest to Eames. He needed Arthur to know, at least, that the affection was mutual. Without asking permission and ignoring the "What the hell do you think you're doing?" behind him, he went under as well, amazingly catching the Dream Eames before he could get to Arthur. Guised as a young bell hop, for it was another hotel, he informed the imposer Eames that Mr. Arthur had checked out and was waiting at a local diner. Surprisingly, the Dream Eames nodded and went on his way.

Real Eames knew he didn't have too much time. He rushed to where he expected Arthur to be, and found him there, sitting on the bed with his head in his hands, looking very vulnerable and sad. "Darling!" he exclaimed, making an entrance and reveling in the glowing smile it brought to Arthur's face. But then...

Arthur examined this man. Something was different, and then he caught it. No ring. There was a flash of embarrassment, then pure anger. "Mr. Eames." He snapped, jerking to his feet, "What in God's name are you doing in my dream?" Eames's face fell, and he had the good graces to look ashamed. "Arthur. I-Damn, why is this so hard?" He brushed by Arthur into the room, leaving Arthur confusedly closing the door after him. Eames played with his cufflinks as he sat in one of the hotel chairs. "I don't expect a pick-up line will work, now, will it? How about, Are you from Tennessee? Because you're the only ten I see? Or Did It hurt when you fell from Heaven?" Eames looked up at Arthur, smiling that infuriatingly beautiful smile and Arthur wanted to strangle him until he saw a desperate seriousness in those sparkling eyes that concerned him. "Eames, what's wrong? Is everything ok?" He walked haltingly over to him, pulling the other chair over and sitting down next to him.

Eames laughed, hysterically, looking over into Arthur's eyes. "Yes, something is very wrong! I seem to have fallen in love with you."

Arthur sat, stunned, staring, eyes flicking from one of Eames's eyes to the next, as if he could see the truth there. Eames licked his lips, thinking that he should say something, anything to stop the silence, but was saved the trouble when he found lips brushing his, and a slim body thrust into his arms.

The contact was broken just long enough for Arthur to whisper "I know how you feel."

Then music began to play. Surprised, the pair woke up, slowly, not wanting it to end. Arthur looked to his side, expecting there to only be empty space, but only slightly surprised to see the truth. Eames was smiling at him, eyes a little glazed, hair a mess. "Darling." The man said, reaching out his hand to stroke Arthur's clean shaven skin, bringing smiles to both of their faces. "My Darling."