Title: Eat Me, Drink Me
Disclaimer: It's all Christopher Nolan's, he of the amazing nommable brain.
Word count: 13 402 (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SHORT)
Notes: Written for this prompt and this prompt on the inception_kink meme, though I'm not entirely convinced that it fills the exact parameters of either XO
Eat Me, Drink Me
Eames was a gourmand. Or was it a gourmet? Either word would do, but neither was sufficient to cover to what degree he was also a glutton and a hedonist. He knew good food, and knew how to enjoy it – and it was the same for everything else. He'd made a hobby out of making the most of life, of accruing experiences like other people collect stamps. He'd seek out the best chicken satay in the street markets of Singapore, the flesh charred to perfection and sticky with sauce. Or it might be that he discovered the ultimate chorizo sausage, handmade in some tiny little Spanish village where he found himself sat on the sleepy main square, licking off the red paprika staining his fingers as he alternated between mouthfuls of sizzling hot sausage and ice-cold beer, and read through the latest information on his laptop about a job that Cobb had sent through to him. Then there was the thrill of all those elegant restaurants in the most exclusive parts of each city, and in the swanky hotels, where he could enjoy as much langoustine ravioli with foie gras velouté, or fillet steak with fried chanterelle mushrooms, or white chocolate and raspberry mousse as he wanted (because most of them belonged to Saito who ensured that the bill was always waived for his favourite forger), as the light winked off the patina of each surface, the dazzle and glamour as disarming as the disguises Eames wore in his missions in the dreamscape. Good food, fast cars, and hot sex were the things he liked most, and he had his surfeit of them.
Always, though, he dined alone.
When Cobb next called him up, it was for a job in LA. He listened to the brief – it was a fairly standard case – spectacularly rich girl wants to find out if her ageing daddy dearest is going to leave her the majority of his money and make her even richer, or leave it instead to his new wife (several years younger than the client herself) - “though her words were, 'That gold-digging bitch of a Playboy Bunny with her plastic tits,'” Cobb told him, and Eames could hear the disapproving twist of his mouth when he said it.
“Let me guess. Our girl is no stranger to the surgeon's knife either.”
“Yep, you got it,” Cobb said drily.
“Oh good. I do so enjoy filling a dress to its limits. This'll be fun,” Eames said, and Cobb chuckled at the other end of the phone.
When Eames had hung up, he stuck 'Physical Graffiti' in the CD player, and started slinging clothes into his suitcase. When 'Ten Years Gone' came on, he paused, went back to the wardrobe, hesitated for only a moment, then pulled out two suit bags, laying them carefully over the top of the suitcase.
“Eames,” he said out loud to himself. “You are an eternally optimistic twat.”
That night he sat out on his patio and had salty slivers of parma ham over a sweet, fragrant melon, accompanied by a whole bottle of Pavillon Blanc du Margeax which smelled like linden blossoms and summertime, and smoked his way through an entire packet of Davidoffs.
It was an hour off dawn as Eames drove his sleekly anonymous rental Mercedes to the warehouse straight from the airport, and he stumbled through the door groggily, dragging his suitcase past Yusuf's hotchpotch lab and Ariadne's newly assembled model cityscape, until he reached the nearest recliner and threw himself down onto it. Since Saito had become their sponsor and occasional team-mate (because really, once someone has had a taste of extraction and inception, nothing else satisfies, and besides, all the money in the world couldn’'t buy Saito the kind of fun he had with them), the battered lawn chairs were no more. These were plush, executive leather, and Eames settled into place with a satisfied sigh.
He didn't realise he'd fallen asleep until he was woken up by a foot tapping hard against one of the legs of the recliner, and a voice saying, “Hey,” sharply. Eames sat up with a jolt, then relaxed. The sun was just coming up and the slender figure leaning over him was backlit by golden light. Trust Arthur to get there at such an ungodly hour. Although it was entirely possible that he'd been there the whole time.
“In case you hadn't noticed, I was asleep,” Eames said grumpily.
Arthur had a mug of coffee in each hand, and held one out to Eames.
“Cobb will be here soon,” he said, not needing to give any further explanation. As he turned to walk towards his desk, even with the cover of his dove-grey suit Eames could see how in the couple of months since he'd last been with the team, Arthur's already sparse frame was even leaner. No doubt he'd been working himself into the ground as usual.
“Thanks for the coffee,” Eames said, then added as casually as possible, “and while you're at it, how about whipping up some breakfast for both of us? Bagels, muffins, whatever you like.”
“How about no,” Arthur said, switching on his laptop.
“How about yes, you skinny bastard. Just because you're not hungry doesn't mean I'm not.”
“I already ate. There's some stuff in the fridge if you want it.”
“What did you eat?” Eames scoffed, “You look like you've been subsisting on nothing but dust and moonbeams since our last job.”
Arthur looked up at that, and raised an eyebrow.
“Not that it's any of your business, but I had a soya yoghurt, ok?”
“Sounds awful,” Eames said, making a face. “So what's in the fridge?”
“Soya yoghurt,” Arthur replied, deadpan, and kept tapping away at his keyboard. Eames continued to watch him slyly out of the corner of one eye, as the sun rose and cast a shadow in the hollow of Arthur's cheek, and wondered if there would ever be a day he could look upon him with indifference.
It got to 2pm before Eames cracked, and sidled up to Cobb who was deep in conversation with Yusuf about the possibility of synthesising a kick.
“If we can incorporate it into the PASIV device on a timer,” Yusuf was saying, “then it can be administered intravenously at the allotted time. This one does affect the inner ear, so anyone taking it would feel like their equilibrium suddenly shifted, and so it would bring them out.”
“A kick that doesn't rely on a physical stimulus, or need anyone to oversee when it happens. It's got potential, Yusuf, that's – what is it, Eames?”
“Sorry to interrupt your no-doubt profound discussion with something so mundane as food, but I vote we stop for lunch.”
“Ah, damn, you're right,” Cobb says. “I'm kinda busy, though.”
“Not to worry,” Eames says quickly, because if Cobb went he knew it'd be greasy, tepid chow mein from the nearest take-out place along the highway. “I'll go. I have an affinity for this sort of thing.”
On his way out of the door, he paused and caught Arthur's eye.
“Want anything in particular?” he said, cocking his hip just so, and giving Arthur a look which made most people naked in five minutes flat. If he'd been hooked up alone to a PASIV machine right now, Arthur would have replied, “You,” and they'd have fucked themselves into a sweat on top of Arthur's desk, closely followed by most other available surfaces. As it was, Arthur replied,
“No wheat. No dairy. No refined sugar.”
“Don't pretend that your body is a temple,” Eames said, shoving thoughts of falling to his knees in worship aside, “I know perfectly well how much coffee you drink, and that you're not averse to a sneaky fag on occasion as well.” He hoped the entendre was not entirely lost in translation.
A hint of a smile was there for an instant before Arthur reined it in, and said with a shrug,
“Every man has his vices,” before opening the next file in front of him.
“Would that I were one of them,” Eames thought to himself as he stepped out into the bright glaze of LA heat.
He had several bags full of the finest sushi LA had to offer – since he remembered that on the few occasions he had seen actual food pass Arthur's lips, it had been of the Japanese variety. He was heading back to where he'd left the car when he passed by a grocery store which had shelves and punnets of dozens of fresh fruits and vegetables stacked together outside. He walked through a cloud of air which smelled like peaches, and his head turned towards the source of the scent. One of the palettes was piled high with the red and orange fruit, the white bloom of fuzz inviting him to touch, to taste.
The thought of Arthur biting into a ripe peach, his teeth sinking into the flesh and lips wet with the juice, was enough to make Eames stop in his tracks. The paper bag he was carrying rustled in protest as he gripped it harder, thinking of the juice sliding down Arthur's chin, his fingers, dripping onto the front of his perfect white shirt. Unable to resist the idea, he tested them one by one, found five that were at the perfect tipping point of ripeness, flesh barely contained by their velvety soft skin, and added them to his pile of provisions.
“I bring sustenance,” Eames announced grandly as he strode through the warehouse doors and dumped the bags on the nearest table, which happened to be Arthur's desk. Arthur pursed his lips, but Eames noticed that as he unpacked the bags, Arthur's eyebrows raised as Eames pushed a box of sushi towards him.
“You got uni?” he said, one corner of his mouth turning up as he looked at the smart rows of gunkan maki topped with saffron coloured sea urchin. “It's my favourite.”
Eames let his gaze linger on Arthur, and said huskily,
“Also, I got dessert,” and left the paper bag of peaches on the table for later.
The sushi was a big hit, and as much as Eames enjoyed stealing glances at Arthur as he popped each piece of sushi into his mouth with his chopsticks, he was waiting none-too-patiently for the main attraction.
One by one the team availed themselves of the ripe fruit, remarking on how good they smelled. There was a brief, somewhat awed silence as they each took their first bite, and Eames was half-expecting them to give him a round of applause.
“My god, these peaches...” Cobb tried to say, then shut up and enjoyed his mouthful instead, shaking juice off his fingers. Yusef looked rapturous as he bit into his.
“I haven't had one like this since I left Syria.”
“Damn,” Ariadne said as the juice went everywhere, and she resorted to using her scarf as a makeshift napkin, though with great reluctance.
Eames looked at Arthur expectantly, waiting for the money shot.
Arthur had a small paring knife in one hand. He was absorbed in his research on his laptop, cutting off slices of peach, which he held off to one side out of the range of the keyboard and over a carefully positioned plate, and pausing to juggle the knife into the same hand as the peach so he could use his clean pinky finger to scroll down the page, then back into the other hand so he could use it to spear his next sliver of peach and slide it into his mouth. Eames gave him a frustrated glare which went unnoticed. He licked peach juice furiously off his own lips, and wondered if Arthur's waltz between knife, peach and hands made more sense to him than simply resting the knife on the edge of the plate between slices. The third time the knife passed from hand to hand, a droplet coalesced and ran down the length of the blade, dripping onto Arthur's palm as he switched from left to right. Eames saw the little frown appear and felt the tiniest sense of triumph, as Arthur glanced up for a second and caught his eye. Eames had finished his own peach and gave Arthur a smile which was around a 7 on the scale of his most beguiling (it wouldn't do to overshoot and waste a force 10 on a situation like this), and taking advantage of Arthur's attention, he popped his peach pit into his mouth to suck off the last of the flesh. Arthur's eyes had already slid away without showing any reaction and were glaring back down at the offending knife. There was a faint twitch at the corner of his lips, before he raised the knife to his mouth and licked the juice off the blade with the flat of his tongue, twirling it in his hand to get to both sides. Briefly, he closed his lips over the very tip of the knife to suck off any remaining wetness.
Eames nearly choked on his peach stone, and suddenly everyone was staring at him, Arthur included. Ariadne had leapt to her feet in alarm.
“You ok?” Cobb asked, looking as though he was coiled to spring across the room and wallop Eames on the back if necessary. It wouldn't do to lose their forger to something so mundane as a piece of fruit.
“I'm fine,” Eames spluttered, fishing the pit out of his mouth as elegantly as he could, given the circumstances – which was not very. “I've swallowed worse,” he said, swiping at his mouth and shooting Arthur an accusing glance.
“Don't you know it's extremely rude to lick your knife?” he said petulantly.
Arthur remained engrossed in whatever was on his laptop, and said softly but clearly.
“Choke a little more quietly next time, won't you? Some of us are working.”
Eames glared at him, and thought to himself, “This is war. And I shall not rest until I've got you into a fine mess, my dear.”
After that, for the rest of the week Eames became the unofficial provider of food for the group, and each day he would bring back things that most people would find it impossible to eat without getting dirty. Everyone except Arthur, that is.
On Tuesday, he brought back spaghetti with meatballs from a superlative little Italian restaurant, and as he sped back to the warehouse before it got cold, he thought about a Disney cartoon he'd liked when he was a kid, and amused himself with the idea of meeting Arthur's lips as they were both drawn together irresistibly along the same strand of pasta. He snorted as he thought about how there was no question which one of them was the tramp in that scenario. Although, that made Arthur the lady, and hilarious as that thought was, Eames knew there was nothing feminine about Arthur. Arthur was all sharp lines, sinuous muscle and merciless aggression, and gorgeously, unequivocally, unattainably male. Eames pushed the accelerator down and ate the miles between his location and destination.
On his arrival, the delight was not quite unanimous at his choice of lunch.
“Um, no wheat, remember?” Arthur said, looking disappointed because the food smelled fantastic, rich and comforing in the way that only Italian food could be. Eames gave him a grin, and with a flourish that would rival a Vegas magician, he whipped out another container.
“Of course I remembered. That's why I got yours with rice pasta,” Eames said, proffering the little box to Arthur. Arthur looked at him for a moment, a tiny frown niggling one eyebrow, before he gave Eames a surprised smile.
“Impressed?” asked Eames, thoroughly pleased with himself. Arthur gave him a little nod.
“Thanks,” he said, his gaze lingering on Eames for the tiniest fraction of a second longer than usual.
Eames settled back into his favourite recliner and started tucking in to his own portion, and watched the scene unfold in front of him.
Ariadne was slurping her spaghetti strands contentedly into her mouth, and her lips had gone red from the sauce. Eames had to admit this was adorable. Yusef had already managed to get an errant bit of sauce stuck in his moustache, and was wiping it away with the back of his hand.
Arthur was sat coolly at his desk, twirling the fork round expertly with one hand until the pasta was spiralled around the tines, then secured it in place with a meatball. Not even one strand of spaghetti dared to come loose from the military formation Arthur had assembled around his fork, and he achieved all this without once looking away from his work, eating with one hand and typing erratically with the other.
“Shit!” Eames heard Cobb say with a laugh as one of his meatballs leaped off his fork and rolled away on the floor.
Eames could only silently agree with this sentiment.
On Wednesday, Eames returned with gigantic burgers, which were succulent and delicious, and which were impossible to fit into their mouths and bite down on without the filling dropping out of the sides. Eames cursed the gods when he saw Arthur produce a knife and fork, and proceed to daintily make his way through the entire thing without losing so much as a sesame seed off his wheat-free bun.
Thursday was a Caesar salad, which had no real potential for causing mayhem unless the croutons started pinging off the plates, and naturally Arthur had foregone those in favour of bacon bits. But it was followed by powdered doughnuts for the afternoon, which Eames knew Arthur wouldn't eat, given that they combined the thrice-cursed evils of wheat, dairy and sugar in once delicious package. But it he'd planned it seamlessly, and just as Arthur was walking past, he’d orchestrated it so that he was in the middle of listening to Yusuf tell him a filthy joke about a taxi driver and an opera singer, and huffed a laugh at exactly the right moment. A vanilla-scented cloud puffed upwards and snowed down onto Arthur's shoulder, covering his dark jacket in a layer of sugar. Arthur stopped in his tracks and gave Eames a look that would have made most men's blood run cold and run towards the nearest exit before they got their asses handed to them on a plate, but instead Eames hastened towards the irate object of his affections.
“Oh darling, I'm so sorry. Here, let me get that for you,” he said, the very model of contrition, his hand poised to brush at the sugar, which would more than likely work it further into the smooth wool.
“No thanks,” Arthur said, grabbing at Eames's wrist before he could do any further damage, his fingers digging in like a vice and sending a thrill up Eames's spine. “I really don't need your assistance,” he said, backing away with a glare. Arthur dropped Eames's wrist and marched over to his desk, back straight, and yanked open one of the drawers. He pulled out a lint roller, and proceeded to remove every last trace of sugar from himself. By the time he was done, he had somehow contrived to look even more perfect than before.
Eames turned away, licked the dusting of sugar off his lips, and sulkily finished his doughnut.
On Friday, Eames thought he surely must have won when he brought back several portions of spare ribs, redolent of five-spice and smothered in sticky gloop. Everyone tucked in with gusto, and Cobb managed to get a blob of sauce on his nose in the first five minutes. Eames watched Arthur surreptitiously, nibbling on his own portion as Arthur opened the foil container. Eames had expected the napkin which appeared as if from nowhere, which Arthur used to hold the very end of the rib to keep his fingers clean. What he hadn't expected was for the entire bone to disappear into Arthur's mouth so he could suck off the sauce, mouth working around it and cheeks hollowing outrageously. Eames didn’t realise he was staring until something only a couple of feet from his eyes suddenly blocked his view. It was Ariadne, who leaned down, put her finger under Eames's jaw, and pulled upwards until he closed his mouth. She was shaking her head in amusement.
“Seriously, just ask him out already. It's getting embarrassing.” she hissed under her breath.
“Who? What?” Eames said, protesting his innocence. She flicked her eyes upwards in a god-give-me-strength manner, and turned on her heel. Arthur hove back into view just as another bone was being relieved of its sauce, sliding out between his lips as he hummed happily, completely oblivious to the effect he was having on Eames as he quite thoroughly and obscenely fellated his spare rib.
Eames rubbed absently at the sticky residue Ariadne's finger had left under his chin, and found he'd lost his appetite. For food, at least.
That afternoon was the allotted time for their mission, and they converged on the (conveniently Saito-owned) spa where the mark - Thomas Blanchard Halton III - liked to get a manicure, facial and massage, doing his utmost to look his best for his pretty young wife. Arthur had gleaned that Halton habitually fell asleep after his massage, which gave them the perfect opportunity to get in to his head, get the information, and get back out again in the space of fifteen minutes if they did it on two levels.
Given the kind of stymied mood Eames was now in, he flirted shamelessly with anyone and everything in the dreamscape, flicking his long blonde hair over his shoulders and thrusting his enhanced bosom at every opportunity. That is to say, he flirted with everyone except Arthur, whom he studiously ignored. Halton was quite captivated by the (evidently accurate) facsimile of his wife, and the plan was running smoothly. When they dropped down into the the second level, they were in Ariadne’s perfect reconstruction of Halton’s Beverley Hills mansion, which meant it was mercifully short on projections, and the main population was Cobb as Halton’s butler, Ariadne as his PA, and judging by the natty uniform Arthur was currently suffering to wear with a pained expression, he was the chauffeur. This was where things got interesting. They’d planned on a set-up by the swimming pool, where Eames, as Mrs Blanchard Halton, was supposed to have an impassioned heart-to-heart about how she needed to know if her husband would provide everything needed for their (entirely fictional) unborn child, now, and most importantly in the future. This would be the easiest route towards getting the information about the contents of his will. Evidently Arthur had done his research on what motivated their mark as thoroughly as his usual wont. Perhaps a little too thoroughly. At the first mention of a child, Halton swept Eames off the pool chair where he’d been artfully reclining, and kissed him with a vigour not normally found in men in their seventies. Since they were down in the second level, the kick wouldn’t come for at least another half hour, and it was obvious what would happen next; still, it was a scenario Eames had encountered enough times to be able to keep his cool and continue with the mission. The next thing he knew he’d been bundled into Halton’s arms like a blushing bride, and caught a glimpse from across the pool of Ariadne’s expression of horrified amusement, and Cobb, ever the professional, tapping his watch and raising his eyebrow meaningfully.
He felt a hand brush the back of his arm as Halton swept him towards the nearest bedroom and turned his head, blowing a strand of hair out of his eye and praying it wasn’t a suspicious projection.
“Go get him, tiger,” Arthur said so softly that only Eames could hear, but there was no humour in his smile. Eames saw him flick his jacket back at the hip where his Glock was holstered, and the gesture meant that Arthur wouldn’t hesitate to kick the door in and shoot him in the head to wake him early if the situation called for it. Eames thought to himself that the fact he could construe Arthur’s readiness to shoot him as a caring gesture was indicative of how very preposterous their interactions had got since they first met, back when Arthur couldn’t wait to shoot him just for the hell of it.
“Oh well,” he thought, never one to waste an opportunity. “It’s the only shag I’m likely to get this week.”
Eames lay back on the enormously vulgar four-poster bed and thought of Arthur.
“Did you ever really need somebody, and really need ‘em bad?
Did you ever really want somebody, the best love you ever had?”
“You know,” Arthur said with distaste almost the instant he came round and started pulling the IV out of his arm, “I really could live without being woken up by Robert Plant shrieking in my ear.”
“Would you prefer I whispered sweet nothings to you?” Eames said with a ready grin, sitting up and arching his back with affected langour until the vertebrae popped.
“As long as you weren’t yelling, ‘We are eagles of one nest. The nest is in our soul.’ in my ear, then yeah.”
“You, sir, are a musical luddite,” Eames sniped back, though he saw how Arthur’s gaze raked the length of his body as he stretched and felt a rush of surprise. Warmth pooled in his belly and he shifted into a more tempting pose.
“Like what you’re seeing, love?”
Arthur reached over with a look of intense concentration, and pressed his fingers to the trouser seam just above the inside of Eames’s knee. Eames’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped into a little ‘o’.
“Not particularly,” Arthur said, sounding preoccupied as his fingers twisted and plucked doggedly at the seam, each movement sending a jolt through to Eames’s skin beneath, up his thighs, and directly towards what could become a very obvious problem if Arthur didn’t stop doing that right now.
Ariadne stirred behind them and Eames heard her stifled giggle, and Yusuf coughed indelicately to signal that he was also awake just at the moment Arthur tugged hard. Eames felt something pull at his trousers and heard a tiny snapping sound. Arthur held up the long loose thread and inspected it gingerly, as though it was a particularly unpleasant insect.
“You really can’t go around with that hanging between your legs. It’s been bugging me all day.”
Eames was interrupted from replying with what would have been the greatest comeback in the history of the world, because Cobb chose that exact moment to sit up and say briskly,
“Did you get it?”
“Of course I did,” Eames said, affronted that Cobb would think otherwise. He was distracted by the sight of Arthur getting to his feet in one unbroken movement, his suit falling back into place effortlessly as though he hadn’t spent the best part of ten minutes lying on the floor of the massage room. Arthur turned and extended his hand to Eames, as though he was offering to pull him to his feet. Eames was acutely aware that everyone was watching them as he raised his hand, trying to look as impassive as he could while his heart went on a little roller-coaster ride round his chest. At the last moment before their hands touched, Arthur rolled his fingers together, and dropped the tiny balled-up bit of thread into Eames’s outstretched palm.
“I believe this is yours,” he said with a tiny smirk. Eames glowered at him and stood up unaided.
“Keep it,” Eames said, blowing the piece of fuzz back at Arthur as though he was blowing a kiss, “as a token of my undying affection.”
The abused piece of thread drifted through the air and landed on Arthur’s tie, clinging tenaciously to the silk fabric as Arthur tried to pick it off.
“When you two have quite finished behaving worse than either of my children ever have,” Cobb said as he stood scowling in the doorway and ushering a deeply embarrassed Yusuf and highly amused Ariadne out of the the room, “I think we should leave before the mark wakes up.”
Eames brooded in the very back seat of the van on the way back to the warehouse, and studiously tried to ignore Arthur for the journey.
“Little fucker,” he thought to himself. “Bugger this for a lark. I’m done. I’m done. ”
Arthur was all the way up front in the passenger seat, head cocked over his shoulder so he could chat to Ariadne. They were talking so quietly that it was impossible to hear them over the music coming through the stereo. Eames very heartily did not approve of Cobb’s choice of Coldplay. Although, he probably wouldn’t have approved of anything at that moment. Even a sudden outbreak of world peace might have been met with little more than a lugubrious eyebrow raise.
Ariadne leaned forwards and said something else to Arthur, and although he was most definitely not surreptitiously watching them, Eames couldn’t help but see the faintest blush appear on Arthur’s cheeks. Arthur was nodding at her with a small smile, and before Eames could feel the jealousy lurking inside him kindle into a cold fire as he wondered what in the hell they were talking about, Arthur looked up and caught Eames’s eye for a fraction of a second. Arthur’s smile grew suddenly wider and he looked away again almost instantly, and the flush spread down to his neck.
It turned out Eames wasn’t done after all.
They were the last two left in the warehouse, finishing up their reports and finalising paperwork - Eames because he got easily bored (by paperwork) and distracted (by Arthur) which made him slower, and Arthur because he was diligent, checking and rechecking everything a dozen times.
As the afternoon heat wore on and became evening, Eames noticed that there was a darker patch on Arthur’s waistcoat, in the small of his back where Eames could imagine the sweat was pooling as it slid down his spine. He couldn’t stop staring at it. Arthur never seemed to feel the heat or the cold, no matter the climate where they were working, so any sign that he was actual flesh and blood under that suit set Eames’s pulse racing as he thought of licking the sweat off him, tracing his tongue all the way up the dip of his spine to the nape of his neck. As if he was aware that Eames was eating him with his eyes, Arthur half turned in his chair and said,
“Before I go, I just wanted to say thanks.”
Eames sucked down another mouthful of cold beer to dampen his ardour, and said, puzzled,
“Keeping us so well-fed during the week. I haven’t eaten like that for months.”
“Oh, it’s nothing, love,” Eames said, very pleased with himself. “I just want to be able to fill you up,” he said, leaving the innuendo hanging in the air.
As if on cue, Arthur's stomach growled, and he looked down at it as though it had betrayed him.
“Hmm, though I guess I’m kind of hungry again,” he confessed. He gathered the last of his files together and slotted them into his desk drawer. Without looking up, he said, “Want to get dinner?”
This was the last thing Eames had expected to hear, so he could only manage a very articulate, “Eh?” in response, which was not what he considered to be one of his smoother moments. Arthur was looking at him, impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Right, yes, dinner,” Eames said, as his mind went blank. He thought to himself, “This is what people do. They have dinner together. In an entirely platonic fashion. A meal between colleagues. It’s... completely normal.”
What he said was,
Arthur pulled out his phone and flicked through the numbers, eyes narrowing as he looked at possibilities, considered them, and discarded them in a millisecond.
“Marmont,” he finally said, and it was a statement, not a question.
“No complaints here.”
Eames watched as Arthur made the booking, thinking how if anyone else phoned for a reservation at Chateau Marmont a couple of hours before they wanted to eat they'd have been given a polite brush-off. He was also quite enjoying the prospect of being able to spend the entire meal fantasising about having Arthur for dessert. He wondered how anyone could possibly know when dinner was just dinner, and when it meant something more. This was why Eames found it so much easier to skip the meal and go straight to the sex. There was no possibility of confusion.
When had the simple pleasure of eating become so complicated?
“I'll drive,” said Arthur, slipping on his jacket and straightening his tie when he came off the phone.
“Of course you will, dear,” Eames replied with a louche grin. He raked one hand through his hair and was ready to take on the town.
Eames had been positively itching to get a closer look at Arthur’s new car when he’d arrived at the beginning of the week. He’d actually had to check his totem when he first noticed it, because it was an impossible car - a Maybach Exelero. There was supposed to be only one in existence, and if that was the case, it was currently sat in the heat and dust of the car park concealed by three sides of the warehouse, its long shadow terrorising the chipped and faded pillars in the evening sunlight. It was like the Batmobile, only classier. The damn thing was beyond perfect for Arthur - the epitome of elegance and sophistication, understated, designed to perfection, and yet every inch pulsed quietly and surely with the message, ‘Do not fuck with me.”
Eames fought down the urge to push Arthur against the black, shiny heat of the bonnet and fuck with him.
“Well, what’s the story behind this pretty piece of metal,” Eames asked as he slid into the passenger seat.
“Courtesy of our not-so-mysterious benefactor,” Arthur replied with a half-smile, as he reached across and popped open the glove compartment.
“Oh dear god,” thought Eames as Arthur rummaged around in the little compartment just above Eames’s thighs until he found what he was looking for, “not the driving gloves. Sweet Jesus, have mercy.”
As Arthur pulled the black leather gloves on and flexed his hands, Eames was the very model of composure as he said,
“It’s a hell of a gift. Evidently he's got a soft spot for you.”
This was almost diametrically opposite to what Eames had for him right now. As Arthur started the car, Eames settled back into his seat as the purr of the engine vibrated through him, and prayed that the traffic would be kind, and the journey short.
Arthur drove almost as hard in reality as he did in the dream, with the barely concealed threat of violence which lurked just below that unshakable exterior, and soon they were were cruising along the San Diego freeway.
“Should we go and say hello to dear old Halton?” Eames said provocatively as they neared Beverley Hills. “I ought to make a formal introduction after the fun we had this afternoon. Such a charming gentleman.”
Eames watched as Arthur’s jaw set hard.
“I think the poor guy’s going to have enough on his hands with his daughter being pissed at him, without you trying to exacerbate the situation.”
“Do you think I might be able to - exacerbate - it enough so that he leaves me something in his will, considering I’ve probably just fucked him better than his wife ever has?”
Arthur snorted and took the turning into Sunset hard and a little too fast.
“Got any smokes on you?” he asked.
“Ha. I knew it,” Eames all but crowed.
Arthur took his eyes off the road for a second to flick Eames a look, the edge of his frown softened by a slight smile at the corner of his mouth.
“Do you or don’t you?”
“Silly question, love,” Eames said, shifting his hips so he could fish the Davidoffs out of his pocket. Arthur reached out his hand, but Eames batted it away, and put two cigarettes in his mouth, lighting them both at the same time. He inhaled them to pinpoint brightness, then handed one over to Arthur.
“Classy,” Arthur said, and Eames found he was staring again as Arthur took a deep drag of the cigarette.
“It’s almost like we’re kissing,” Eames drawled, smirking.
“Not even close,” Arthur said with a laugh.