It's not long before they've snaked their way through the narrow streets of Marlow and over the river, glinting prettily and dotted with small, colourful boats. They leave the car at the Compleat Angler, grab the picnic that Eames has preordered from the hotel reception, and head down to their rental yacht on the river. There are willow trees leaning over the water next to a little country church with a spire on the opposite bank, and a plashing weir upstream. It's all so ridiculously bucolic and picture postcard perfect – like if someone had channelled Edmund Spencer and designed an English pastoral idyll and called the job 'Albion'. Arthur's hand hovers over his pocket again, but he shakes himself as he finds Eames watching him expectantly.
“It's unreal,” Arthur says as he swings his suitcase onto the boat and leaps nimbly aboard.
“It's Berkshire, dearest. They do their best to keep it that way.”
Arthur starts the engine as Eames pushes off, and they glide down the river as the morning grows hotter, the sun bright on the water.
Eames squints up at the sky, then looks Arthur up and down.
“Did you bring anything that could even be vaguely construed as casualwear? For a man who spends most of his time in LA, I would have thought even you might own something that isn't tailored to within an inch of its life.”
Arthur's still wearing his suit from earlier. It's perfectly comfortable and a wool linen blend that's just right for summer. Besides, this is a nice, trim little yacht and therefore requires appropriate attire.
“I've left my tie off,” Arthur says. This alone is enough to indicate it's not a work day. Arthur tilts back in his chair, and contrives to look as laid back as possible. “I guess I thought I'd spend most of the time naked.”
“I think it's time to moor the boat,” Eames says with great alacrity, practically jumping to his feet. Arthur looks round just in time to see that Eames has grabbed the back of his chair, offsetting the precarious balance, tilting the chair back and back at an alarming angle and Arthur with it. Arthur's about to lose his temper when Eames simply leans forward over the top of the chair, kisses him squarely on the mouth, and on the dimple that then appears on his cheek as he smiles in surprise, then rocks the chair back into an upright position. He wanders over to the rail and starts coiling the mooring rope in preparation, quietly singing the intro to the Sinatra song from earlier,
“My story is much too sad to be told,
But practically everything leaves me totally cold.”
Fuck it, I have no idea what taking things too quickly looks like, Arthur thinks, and Eames turns in surprise as Arthur joins in the song with him.
“The exception I know is the case
When I'm out on a quiet spree
Fighting vainly the old ennui,
And I suddenly turn and see your fabulous face.”
Arthur wonders what the appropriate amount of time is between saying you're going to spend your weekend naked and actually doing it. Lack of regard for propriety is one thing. Coming on too strong is another.
Eames's big hand reaches out and Arthur slips the cigar they're sharing between his fingers, the thick blue smoke billowing up and around their heads in the light breeze. Eames shoots him a glance and keeps his pinky hooked round Arthur's thumb for a moment. Mindful that there is an incendiary device only millimetres away from his skin, Arthur reaches over and takes the cigar back out of Eames's hand, fingers closing over his knuckles to squeeze them. He flicks a smidgen of ash into the ashtray, then leans over and slides the cigar into Eames's mouth. Eames grips it between his teeth and laughs softly, before he wraps his lips around the Montecristo and sucks, cheeks hollowing. Arthur looks away and shifts in his seat. Cigars, sports cars, and spectacular blow jobs from Eames are no bad way to start the day, Arthur decides. He could get used to it, if he wanted to.
“Finish this up, if you like. I need to get out of these trousers. I should have got changed sooner. Now they're quite thoroughly stuck to me and I think I'm going to have to chisel them off.”
Eames leans over and puts a hand lightly on Arthur's hip, gives him a cigar-flavoured kiss, then gets up and disappears below deck. After a few minutes Arthur can hear the pump for the shower starting up. He takes a drag on the cigar, holding the smoke at the top of his lungs and rolling it round his mouth. The end of the cigar is slightly damp, now, and tastes like Eames. Arthur's not surprised to feel his cock stir with renewed interest, and he pushes against it with the heel of his hand to take the edge off. The smoke wreathes upwards towards the powder blue sky, curling in great abstracted loops, and Arthur thinks of chaos theories and sex.
He's nearly finished smoking by the time he hears the stair creak. Arthur's cheeks flush with amusement and arousal as Eames re-emerges from below deck. He's wearing a shrunken navy and white striped t-shirt that he'd probably owned from when he was twenty, and linen trousers which leave nothing to the imagination – so Arthur doesn't even have to try. With the tattoos covering his biceps and forearms, Eames looks like a sailor's wet dream. Gaultier would probably swoon at the sight of him, declare him as his new muse, and devote an entire collection to him that Eames wouldn't wear.
“See, this is what I mean about you failing to grasp the concept of understated elegance. Just because we're on a yacht doesn't mean you're required to embody the word 'nautical',” Arthur says, proffering the last stub of the cigar.
“Shut up, Mr Point Man,” Eames says around the stub of the cigar, and Arthur's not forgotten quite how hot this makes Eames look, but he crosses his legs at the ankle, looking just as composed as before.
“I'm the captain and I'll wear what I like on my boat,” Eames says truculently.
“Uh huh, so you're the captain are you?” Arthur says, cool as you like. “Know how to get a sailboat through a force 10 without her sinking?”
“What sort of idiot goes sailing in those conditions?” Eames asks, then sees Arthur scowling. “Well, that was just asking for trouble, dear, though I know from personal experience how fond you are of a mess to clean up. I lived on a houseboat for nearly a year when I was sixteen and that was experience enough.”
“Your parents had one?” Arthur asks. He's heard very little about Eames's past, and Eames had heard even less about his.
“God, no, I borrowed it,” Eames says, stretching luxuriantly. Arthur watches his shirt ride up above his navel with interest, but he's listening when Eames says, “I was well shot of my parents by then.”
“I'm guessing you didn't have permission to borrow this boat you were living on, though,” Arthur says with a frown.
“So delightfully perceptive and judgemental as always, Arthur,” Eames says with the faintest hint of a pout, before adding, “And correct”. He twists towards Arthur in his chair, propping his elbow on the back of it and hooking one leg over the arm. He's got his foot nudged up against Arthur's free-floating chair leg, and is jiggling it ever so slightly. He laughs,
“God, I had a lot of sex on that boat. It was great.”
“Sounds kind of boring,” Arthur says, tucking his hands behind his head and swinging his feet in the air.
“How can it possibly sound boring?” Eames says, sounding vaguely bemused. Arthur tips the chair forwards and the front legs land on the deck with a neat, emphatic 'clack'. He turns to look Eames in the eye, and says,
“Because it wasn't lots of sex with me.”
“Touché,” Eames says, reaching out to pluck at the collar of Arthur's shirt. Every movement, every glance hints at barely controlled desire. “I think we should rectify the matter immediately and repeatedly on this boat.”
“Agreed,” says a relieved Arthur, who's already unbuttoning his clothes. Eames untangles himself from the chair, bends his head and presses his lips to the skin being exposed inch by inch, when all at once Arthur pauses and pulls Eames away from his nipple so he can look him in the eye.
“Let me get one thing straight.”
“Bit late for that, dear,” Eames says, brushing distractingly against the bulge in Arthur's trousers with his fingertips.
Arthur glowers at him and purses his lips.
“I am not, under any circumstances, calling you 'Captain Eames.'”
Eames chuckles knowingly and gets up, backing away from Arthur and down the stairs behind him, not taking his eyes off Arthur as he pulls his shirt over his head by way of invitation. He puts his head on one side and licks his lips, and it's this that Arthur can't resist, the sight of that lush mouth made wet and willing for him. He's up on his feet and bearing down on Eames and pushing him down the remaining steps, one hand working Eames's cock through his trousers and the other pushing him towards the bunk. Eames kisses him and it's fierce and possessive and Arthur knows it's not the jet lag making him dizzy, because flying never made him feel so happy and so free, not even when he used to dream it, years ago before the job put an end to it.
The sweet, insistent slide of Eames's fingers against his skin dip lower, lower, and as Arthur eases onto the bunk, Eames breaks the kiss and mutters huskily into Arthur's ear,
Arthur bites back a moan and asks blandly,
“After only two and a half weeks?” And it's only been a few weeks before that since they finally hooked up. Arthur lifts his hips so Eames can rid him of his trousers, one finger absently tracing a whirl of ink on Eames's shoulder. Eames frowns at the still-perfect crease in Arthur's trouser legs, as though they carried some kind of enchantment, then he hops off the bed and drapes them carefully over a rail by the staircase. He looks up and grins as he catches Arthur watching him, and suddenly Arthur's chest feels too small for his heart and lungs, as though his ribs were caging his very breath. He reaches out for Eames and pulls him down until there's no part of Arthur's body that isn't touching part of him. Their hips move unbidden as they fuck each others bellies, gasping at the sensation as their skin becomes slick with precum. The sharp press of Arthur's narrow bones fit exactly inside the curve of Eames's hips, bracketing their cocks between them in a parenthesis of warm, sweet friction.
“Yeah,” Arthur finally confesses, mumbling into the heat of Eames's neck. He can feel the throb of Eames blood under his lips and grazes teeth and tongue against the fluttering pulse. “Two weeks is too long.”
Eames is not moving. He's hardly even breathing. Arthur shifts awkwardly and Eames lifts his head and looks at him, not saying a word. There's an intensity in those blue eyes that sends an electric rush down Arthur's spine and up the length of his hard cock like bright pinpricks all over his skin. Arthur blinks, and for a moment he could swear... no, it can't be. For one candid moment, the Forger almost looks vulnerable.
“I want... I want you inside me,” he mutters.
Oh fuck, Arthur thinks. This is serious. This is way too deep. And I'm so ready for it.
Maybe an hour later, maybe more, the surrounding gulls and wading birds are startled into raucous wheeling flight by the sound of a whole bunch of expletives, followed by a single word repeated over and over in a rising pitch before it goes quiet again.
“I hate you, you fucking bastard,” Arthur growls, still breathing hard, one arm splayed across his face to hide his eyes from the shame of what he's just done in the crook of his elbow; the other arm is slung across Eames, who's sprawled over the rise and fall of Arthur's chest with a beatific expression on his face and come between his thighs. Arthur knows, he knows about the Forger's uncanny knack for persuasion. Arthur's a little too good at compartmentalising which is why he doesn't consider that Eames would be quite willing to use those prodigious powers of manipulation on him, even outside of work, until it's too late. It's why Eames is the best. It also could have something to do with the fact that Arthur's finding it increasingly difficult to deny anything Eames wants, including calling out his assumed rank of naval officer in the throes of passion. There's bruises already forming on Eames's chest and back and shoulders where Arthur's left his marks of proprietorship. Arthur strokes Eames's skin very gently, fingers sliding through the sweat cooling along the dip of his spine, lost in contemplation. There was a moment there, when he had been buried so deeply in Eames that nothing else seemed to exist. It had been as though something had been unlocked, and the thing he'd been hiding away inside was suddenly free.
He wraps both his arms around the sleepy man resting on top of him. Everything is open. Everything is possible. Arthur nudges his chin against Eames's cheek, and when Eames lifts his head, Arthur kisses him, deep and slow and sure.
“I hate you too, darling,” Eames breathes. His smile is warm as sunlight, and it makes Arthur feel invincible. Eames dips his head low again, and Arthur can't hold back the way his body quakes with bliss as Eames whispers against his lips,
“I hate you so very, very much.”