Bedhead is not something he expected. The get-up makes a little more sense. The slicked hair. He looks younger. He must have showered because when Eames touches him, he's child-soft, hair sprawled in fluffy C-curls against the pillowcase. Featherlight. Heathered.

Not all of him is solid color, as he seems to be in afternoon daylight when they meet in rented offices and the back rooms of bars, sometimes in warehouses. He's not solid ivory or slicked, unmottled ebony. He's freckled with spontaneous pock-marks, making themselves known only after they are noticed and scrutinized. His hair seems lighter at the roots. Here, he is the loud tweed of his vests than the dark leather of his shoe.

He groans something, seeming almost childish still, and rolls to the side. Eames considers lighting up a cigarette for old times sake, but he doesn't. He wants to keep this moment the way it is. Picking up these nuances isn't a habit anymore, it's not quite an addiction. More of a nature to him.

He rubs his stubble and raises his hand to scratch at his head, his own hair still stiff from styling. Did he hear the shower run last night? He only remembers falling asleep, wondering why Arthur wouldn't let him hold him.

"Quiet," comes the cool voice from down below, haunted by a youthful tenor that goes repressed most days. The morning light is still somewhat grey with ambivalence, not quite ready to wake the world yet. Eames checks the clock and hums. Mornings in Goleta seem quieter than most.

"What, this?" and he scratches his stubble a little bit more conspicuously.

"You're just nails on a chalkboard."

Arthur, who only moments ago seemed so disinclined to return to consciousness, rises with surprising grace. It's a robotic sort of thing, but marvelous to behold notwithstanding. Scratches his belly in a way that almost seems human, and Eames is reminded that Arthur's reputation precedes him. He flails when tipped just like any other man.

"Come here," Eames invites with a sweeping gesture from one arm, the other tucked uselessly in his lap. Arthur eyes him, inspecting him for purpose before reapproaching the bedside.


"You're not too sore, are you?"

"Eames, no."

Eames, not one to take insult from rejection, stands then. He makes his way around the bed, audienced by his scornful bedmate, and manages to slip into the bathroom before Arthur can recite his queue of displeasure with Eames' existence.

"I was going to use that."

"Well no one's stopping you," Eames reasons, taking aim and firing into the center of the toilet bowl. "Seems you showered last night?"

Arthur makes a face and folds his arms, leaning against the jamb. His eyes travel the long line of Eames' profile, appearing to want something he will withhold himself from taking. Eames shakes off a few stray droplets and thinks nothing of it. Sleeping with Arthur is like firing at a frightened cat. You get close enough to see the whites of its eyes before it makes off again.

Like this though, Arthur looks less like a frightened cat. Hackles raised and all, fur spiked and fangs showing, he looks more like a kid who just rolled out of bed, late for morning classes and accepting that sometimes, that's just shoulders brush in the tiny motel bathroom as they switch places.

"We could stay in bed," he offers again, hoping to take the hopeless, mean look off of Arthur's face. He smiles, just like any other man, but not often at or because of Eames.

"No," Arthur declines again, turning as he scratches the highest inside part of his thigh. In another life, he might have been a pigeon. Understated in beauty and overstated in confidence. Eames can see the resolution fading from Arthur's gaze. So he puffs up his chest and puts on more of a show.

"Alright then, pet. Whatever you wish." Turns out of the bathroom like a predator, like a man. The kind of man that Arthur likes if only lacking in silence. The room is decorated with soft, meaningless yellows and stained, old whites. Pleasant, but almost unbecomingly so.

The thin carpet makes small, crushing sounds as Arthur pads out behind him, stopping. Eames continues to stand there, taking in the placement of their clothes and the wide openness of the curtains. The rumpled bed dressings.

"We're not having sex at seven in the morning," he establishes clearly, finally pushing through the air just to Eames' right like he's broken through a very humid, concentrated moment. He starts trying to pick his garments out of the sprawled mess. "We're going to get breakfast."

Eames' heart jumps. He swallows it back down and nods his head knowing that Arthur won't see it, too busy in his search. He won't have to see it. He's made this decision. They're going to get breakfast. He's probably already picked out where, too.

He questions mentioning it, for fear of risking a good thing, but they've never done breakfast before.

Too intimate, he always thought. Something he would never catch Arthur doing. He takes his clothes as they're handed to him. Clears his throat but doesn't catch Arthur's attention. Interprets it as divine intervention and decides not to talk about it.

Arthur has picked out the place. Some dive down the street he must have seen when they were stumbling their way out of a wayward taxi from Los Angeles; something he must have noticed while he was pretending to not notice anything but the hand Eames had up his shirt, fondling the smooth cords of muscle constituting his lower back.

The menus double as placemats and there are several tears in the red vinyl of the booth's seats. A water stain hangs ostentatiously above their heads. Arthur hasn't seemed to notice and has hardly righted his appearance, only leaving in his white undershirt and his slacks. Eames feels overdressed and wishes he'd picked something out of his suitcase, instead.

Surprisingly enough, Arthur offers his hand under the table. Eames has to lean uncomfortable to the left to take it, but he does, smiling. Arthur doesn't smile back, just watching him levelly, eyebrows raised, seeming amused in his own little way.

"I'll tell you something," Eames starts lowly, waiting for a nearby waitress to pass them, "I've been trying to get you to smile all morning."

"Why?" Arthur asks, leaning back and taking his hand with him. With his hair like that, still hanging down over his forehead, he looks relaxed. Eames has seen him relax before, but he's never seen him look the part.

Eames shrugs, and that earns him a twitch at the corners of Arthur's lips, but it's hard to tell whether he's repressing or forcing the action.

Bland scrambled eggs the color of the pillowcases back in their room waft a salty smell up to his nose as they're placed before him. Beside that, bacon and toast on a separate plate, making the air even more dense with hunger. Arthur's coffee comes a few moments behind his omelette. The waitress apologizes for forgetting. Arthur waves her off, honestly trying to be polite but she can't tell. Eames can.

Maybe it's because despite the cat and dog nature they have about them, they do, indeed, know each other very well. Maybe it's because Arthur's gaze is still fixed on him, and the length of the gaze is starting to give it the appearance of malice, as it sometimes happens. Eames disregards it and knives at his eggs. It's never been easy to play this game with Arthur.

When he looks up, Arthur is smiling. Really smiling. Eyes crinkled up at the edges and teeth showing. His nose twists a little bit to the side, revealing the smile as somewhat crooked, one of his cheeks fuller than the other, but Eames almost chokes on the bite he's forcing down.


The smile falters a little bit, self-consciously, and Eames wonders if his smile is lopsided on purpose or if it's just one of the many reasons he refrains from doing so more often. His revelry of this new information breaks when he realizes that Arthur is guarded again, face blank as he looks down, cutting sharply enough to scrape against the plate beneath his food.

"Arthur, you have a beautiful smile."

Arthur snorts and closes his eyes, savoring his first bite.

The check is minuscule and they almost tear it in their attempts to grab it first. Arthur relinquishes it without hesitation and leans back, picking at the hem of his shirt. The walk back to the motel slowly, each seeming to count and ration the steps he takes. They left the door unlocked. Walking in is met with a surge of cool air.

Arthur's tongue licking in the small space between his upper and lower lips is quiet, nearly inconspicuous until the very moment it is in Eames' mouth, and he flounders, arms raised from his sides as though trying to find an adequate position of defense. He registers the kiss as it leaves him, Arthur watching him bemusedly, and then realizing the surprise that Eames has been drenched in.

He doesn't give it time to simmer though, grabbing Arthur by the back of his neck and steering him towards the bed. Arthur fights him, saying, "Eames, I just—"

And Eames says, "No, Arthur, just—let me—"

And they land against the pillows, Arthur tucked against Eames, their heights jimmied so that Eames can press his kisses to Arthur's neck, his jaw, his cheeks and nose. And he does, feverishly, like he might never get the chance to do this again. He's not sure he will.

"You held my hand. You smiled at me. You must be in a good mood today."

"Inception isn't such an easy feat," Arthur reasons by way of explanation. As if it justifies this sort of intimacy.

"I don't appreciate my chain being yanked, darling."

"No one's yanking your chain," Arthur grumbles defensively, his voice echoing in small tickles against Eames' lips. He looks up at Arthur, brow raised, and he sits up. Arthur disentangles them, looking threatened. He knows that Eames has just uncovered some big secret.

"Well if they're not yanking my chain, what are they doing?"

Arthur scowls petulantly. "Maybe they're trying to engage in the pleasantries that come with a relationship, Eames. Have you ever heard of the benefit of the doubt?"

Eames actually guffaws at that, and the next thing he knows, he's being smothered by a pillow. It takes two good punches to Arthur's shoulder to get out, and he comes out smiling. Arthur's scowl has deepened, screwing up his jaw and twisting his eyebrows in an ugly replication of the usual, untainted porcelain.

"You've just never acted like this before."

"It's hard to when you're constantly pulling pigtails."

"I can't help it. You're so cute when you poke and throttle every little thing I say when we work together."

"It's my job."

"Darling, shall I reengage the kissing?"

Arthur pushes the pillow back at him, but with no shortness of mirth beneath the action. Eames catches him and rolls over, also catching a ray of sunlight right in his peripherals as they plunder their way across the bed into new and uncharted positions, finding that if Arthur pushes his leg just a little bit up and out, Eames can lean that much further in and push his tongue that much closer to the knots in Arthur's stomach.

It's a toes-clenching, teeth gritting kind of sex that Arthur lets him take, then. The kind that comes with knocking headboards and fingers in hair and when Eames pushes himself a little deeper into Arthur, he swears he can wring out these tiny little noises that sound something like quickened heartbeats, high and tight in his throat. Mixed delicately into the soundtrack of his breathing, chest heaving as he comes and tries to tell Eames to slow down, he's sore, it's too tight, it's too dry.

Eames forgets to heed him but follows with his own orgasm not minutes later, surprising himself with it. "Sorry," he gushes while he's trying to avoid pulling out. When it's clear that Arthur forgives him or possibly doesn't care, he takes his rest, just off to the side where he might still be somewhat on top of Arthur, but most of it is just holding him close to his chest.

"Why now?"

Arthur looks up, brow knit in confusion. His hair is sticking to his forehead, and most of the back is flattened from the friction with the pillows, but there is still a good bit on top rising with complete submission to weightlessness. Eames runs his hand through these curls.

"You can't be serious. I've been trying to get here for months."

Eames snorts out a rusty chuckle, shaking his head. "Sorry, pet, hard to tell when you're grimacing at me over eggs and toast."

"You got it this time, though."

"Yeah. Maybe you're not as bad at this fraternizing business as we all thought." He smiles and before Arthur can take his offense, adds, "Not that it helps that you were trying to infiltrate such a thick skull. You should have brought a demolition hammer. It would have been quicker."

Arthur settles down, accepting the rare self-deprecation as penance for rocking the boat on this smooth current of a morning. He stares into the thick curl of Eames' arm around his shoulders. "Did you think I would be gone when you woke up?"

"No," Eames returns honestly, without a hint of doubt in him. He presses a heavy kiss to Arthur's forehead. "I thought you'd be grumpy. And dirty. When did you shower?"

"After waking up in the middle of the night for the third time." After a beat, "I had trouble sleeping. I decided to be more obvious. With you."

"So my ignorance keeps you up at night?"

"Kept me up one night."

Eames smiles and tucks himself around Arthur a little bit closer. It's getting hard to stay inside him, his flagging erection slipping out with the slightest movements, so he retreats, pulling his hips back before pushing them right up to Arthur's thigh again. Arthur sighs beneath him, resting a loosened fist against his chest.

"I definitely didn't expect this," he murmurs.

Arthur grumbles. "Don't get used to it." He looks up, smiling a little bit, looking pleased with himself. "I'm not normally a cuddler."

Eames puffs out a small laugh. Loosens his hold "I can—"

"Don't." The sharpness of the point man comes out then, the demand not one to go unheeded. Arthur settles back down. "Not yet. Just…stay there. Like you are for a minute."

Later, when Eames is picking out a flight back home, Arthur showers again and comes out looking like the child he was when he was laying in bed, fast asleep this morning. Petulant, much like the Arthur Eames expects whenever he thinks about him.

But when he leans up for a kiss, he gets one.