Eames watched as Arthur removed the gift box's lid, looked inside, replaced the lid, and cast an extremely unimpressed look at Ariadne.

"That is not even the least bit funny."

Eames hadn't gotten a chance to see the gift before Arthur put the lid back on and the amused look that Cobb was giving Arthur and Ariadne's stare down had him intrigued. Cobb obviously knew what was in the box and Eames didn't think that was fair at all. He tried to snatch the box away from Arthur but for all the man's apparently calm exterior, his reflexes were sharp as ever. Eames' fingers barely grazed the box before it disappeared over the side of the armchair that Arthur was sitting in, Arthur's eyes not leaving Ariadne's for a moment.

Cobb was snickering to himself and Eames was about to comment on Arthur's behavior, why so bashful, darling?, when Ariadne's voice cut through the tension in the room.

"Why don't you open your gift, Eames?"

Eames watched Arthur's eyes widen comically and he dove for the box that Ariadne was holding out to him, barely reaching it before Arthur. He took a moment to shoot Arthur a look that was equal parts smugness and confusion before looking down to consider the box in his lap.

It was identical to the one that Arthur had opened and Eames wasted no time in tearing the lid off and lifting out the contents. He took one look at the shirt in his hands, lowered it to shoot a amused glance at Arthur. The man's flushed face was contorted in a scowl and he was now glaring daggers at Cobb, who was chuckling outright at this point.

"I would ask if you like it, Eames," Ariadne said smugly, still looking at Arthur, "but I have no doubt that you do."

Eames stared at the side of Arthur's head until the man had no choice but to meet his gaze, which Eames held as he answered.


Later on, after all of the gifts had been unwrapped and Cobb and Ariadne had disappeared into some quiet corner of the warehouse together, Eames found Arthur hiding out in his office. Arthur was rearranging papers and folders that were already immaculate and that told Eames all he had to know.

Arthur was sulking.

The gift from Ariadne lay on the seat of a chair by the door, looking for all the world like Arthur had barely stopped himself from balling it up and throwing it in the bin. Arthur didn't turn around when he heard Eames come in, nor did he react when Eames opened the box and removed its contents. There was no point; Eames already knew what was inside.

Shirt in hand, Eames strode over to where Arthur was standing hunched over his desk, muttering to himself. Eames reached out and gripped the back of Arthur's neck firmly. Not enough to hurt him, just enough to show him what the situation was. From the way Arthur exhaled loudly and went lax in his grip, Eames knew that Arthur had gotten the message.

"You'll wear it," Eames whispered in Arthur's ear, relishing the slight trip in Arthur's breathing. Eames wasn't asking or demanding, simply telling. Eames watched Arthur shut his eyes tight, struggling internally before nodding sharply.

"I'll wear it."

Almost satisfied, Eames let his grip shift from the back of Arthur's neck to the front, his arm bracketing Arthur's body and pressing it against his chest. The tiniest hint of pressure and Arthur's head dropped onto his shoulder. He was trembling all over now. Eames loved him like this, just on the brink of giving in, the calm, composed point man struggling against submission. Watching Arthur finally break never ceased to please him.

The shirt had been an affront to Arthur's pride, that much was obvious. Having that exposed in front of the team shaken him deeply. He had no way of knowing that Eames' shirt bore a similar message, Property of Arthur, and he was obviously terrified that somehow Ariadne knew, that they hadn't been discreet enough with that part of their relationship. Eames let Arthur know that he didn't have to worry, would wear his own shirt to reassure Arthur and calm his anxiety.

But that was for later.

"You'll wear it because it will please me. Yes?"

A bit more pressure elicited a startled gasp and another sharp nod.


Eames was satisfied. For the time.