ladyvader: (AE - Pet!Eames 3)
[personal profile] ladyvader
Extra warning this week for shameful (& shameLESS) gacking of RL stuffs, movieverse dialogue, cheese and also a dollop of Browning ex Machina ;) ...... also, it appears I have to CUT THE BLOODY THING IN HALF this week. *sigh* Scusi for the delay this may cause.

Title: Pet [Part 5a]
Author: LadyVader
Pairing/s: Arthur/Eames (Inception)
Category: Multi chaptered – Completed with postings once a week so to not destroy my poor beta’s brain.
Summary: AU fic - Arthur is in his final year of high school and finds himself entirely too interested in the new English teacher. Entirely inspired by the Police lyrics ‘Sometimes it’s not so easy to be the teacher’s Pet’.
Rating: R rated most parts for language etc, NC17 overall. This part NC17 for sexual references.
Word Count: 100k approx in full, part 5 10877 approx. (both parts included)
Warnings: Shameless gacking of movie verse characters and dialogue, high school angst and an inappropriate relationship between teacher and student (if this is something that bothers you then please don’t read the fic).
Disclaimer: INCEPTION and its lovely molestable characters belong to Mr Nolan who incepted me into borrowing them: You’ve no one to blame but yourself Chris!
Authors Note: Thanks to [ profile] dreambastion, [ profile] arineat & [ profile] takola for the cheerleading, [ profile] whisperedtones for the banner :D <3 and most of all to my evol, EVOL muse (and sadly put upon beta/ sounding board/ drill sargeant) [ profile] dysonrules. This one is ALL YOURS hon - you created the monster, I hope you enjoys it ;)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Pet: Part 5a

Maurice returned to school the next week, surly and self-inflated as ever and Arthur’s world seemed suddenly a little darker.

He’d borne the lack of private time with Eames as best he could; laughing off the lurch of hideous self-pity in his stomach each time he walked to the bus stop.

Rehearsals during the week of Maurice’s continued absence nearly sustained him, circling Eames with suspicious, angry eyes, watching him dip and sneer and simper while bearing Maurice’s demeanor, his voice lacking its usual warmth, but his eyes had remained entirely Eames, and Arthur found himself hard pressed to not constantly match his gaze to his, the steely blue depths ridiculously hypnotic even as Arthur recited his lines by rote.

During the third act, when Hamlet killed Polonius, Arthur found himself panting, standing over Eames (propped against the wall, watching, now that Polonius was dead) almost unable to tear himself away. Their eyes met briefly and Arthur felt sure Eames could read the anguish and want before he wrenched himself around to pour vitriol over Pamela, the afflicted mother to his tortured son.

Each time they ran the scene afterwards, Arthur made sure he kept his eyes low, disgusted as Hamlet would be, but he felt Eames’ gaze on him, heavy, and swayed beneath its weight only to find that, the following week, the weight abruptly lifted, leaving Arthur squinting, lightheaded against the newly lit spotlights, peering into the shadows where Eames remained now, directing from the darkness. Absent.


“Something wrong?” Ariadne asked him mid-crunch of her habitual between-scenes apple, and he shook himself free of his internal perusal of the sadly-empty weeks that had gone before.

“I was just thinking how they say time flies,” he said softly as he leaned back against the first row and regarded the stage. The crew twisted and hefted a complicated new lighting rig into place, ready to backlight Ariadne’s drowned Ophelia in a suitably macabre, but beautiful, way.

“When you’re having fun,” Ari concluded for him. “What of it?”

Arthur shrugged, keeping his eyes firmly forward. “It just feels like two seconds ago we were doing read-throughs. Now there are fancy new gadgets going up, and costume fittings, and it feels like it’s almost done already.”

She laughed, covering her mouth with a tiny palm to keep the apple within.

“Arthur,” she spluttered, “We’re not even performing 'til practically Graduation!”

“Yes, hence perfecting it now, so that when we drop to one rehearsal a week it’ll be second nature to us, and then it’s back to twice a week, before and after finals so that it doesn’t lose its piquancy. I know what Eames said Ari, I know it’s months away, I know. It just feels like it’s all going by so fast.”

“Senior year blues?” A husky voice came from behind them, startling Arthur into an unbecoming jerk and Ariadne into choking on the remainder of her mouthful.

“Something like that,” Arthur said, striving for nonchalance even as his brain said clearly, No, I’m trying desperately to cling to these scant moments, but they’re pouring through my fingers faster than I can grasp for them. He turned to face Eames as he walked down the aisle to stand by them.

Eames smiled, hands in his pockets, leaning back against the folded seats in his standard position for viewing the stage. “It feels like it’s moving fast now, but trust me, by the time you’re doing this once a week, perfectly, seemingly pointlessly, you’ll be so sick of it, it’ll feel as though it’s a million years 'til you’ll be done with it.” He clapped Arthur on the shoulder. “Good to know you’re not there yet, anyway, Arthur. It’s bloody dreadful when your lead can’t wait to get it over with.”

Ariadne smirked, ducking her head as Arthur smiled with Eames’ palm still on his shoulder. “Thanks,” he said gruffly, “I’ll try to enjoy it right up until I don’t.”

Eames grinned and stepped away toward the stage. “That's the spirit!”

Ariadne elbowed Arthur neatly in the ribs as he bit his lip, and gave him a significant glance before she made her way back up onto the stage. Eames stood beside Arthur and gestured at the frankly bewildering array of wires and bulbs being winched up before them.

“Exciting stuff!” He beamed, rubbing his palms together. “I know it feels like it’s all changing, Arthur, but this is just the beginning. I can’t tweak you all appropriately 'til the set’s complete. I’d insist on a dress rehearsal daily if I could get away with it, but we just don’t have the time, or basic costuming, right now.”

Arthur edged just a bare inch closer to Eames, sinking his hands into his pockets to mask the movement, basking in the heat that seemed to radiate from the other man’s skin, his exposed forearms under his rolled up shirtsleeves as ridiculously tantalizing to Arthur as a copy of Playboy to the freshmen students.

“I don’t mind the changes,” he demurred, eyes rolling as Browning began aping Quasimodo onstage amidst the dangling cables. “I can’t wait to run it with the completed sets. It’ll be amazing; it just... it feels as though two minutes ago it was September, that’s all.”

Eames smiled, his eyes warm in the darkness as they reflected the lights onstage.

“And two minutes before that you were only just starting high school. Don’t worry, Arthur, I vividly recall the sensation so, sadly, before long you’ll find yourself as dreadfully old as I am, and remembering how you feel right now as only being two minutes ago.”

As if he had any idea how Arthur was feeling right now.

“So, now you’re only two minutes older than me?” Arthur quipped before he could stop himself, ducking his head on a breathless laugh to avoid Eames' suddenly all-seeing gaze. “Not a great position to establish, authority-wise. I wouldn’t spread it about were I you.”

Eames chuckled. “Were YOU me,” he echoed softly and Arthur tensed slightly at the odd tone of his voice before a strangled yell from the stage caught their attention.


Peters, the on-hand technician, screamed out as Browning dove out of the mess of tangled wiring and cables. Several sections whipped up into the rigging as, on the far side of the stage, the mirror set up came crashing down directly where Ariadne stood.

Arthur was moving before he’d finished registering her shocked face as she threw herself backward. Eames was just a few steps faster than Arthur, hauling himself over the lip of the stage in a barely a moment and shooting across the boards to leap the mirror’s wreckage.

“Are you alright? Ari! Ariadne, look at me? Are you alright?”

Arthur paused, mid-sprint from the steps, frozen with hope as he watched Eames haul Ari a step or so away from the mess under the lights to where he could get a better look at her.

“I, I’m fine,” she stuttered. Eames tilted her to and fro, face to the light, “I, it didn’t hit me, just scared the crap out of me, is all.”

“That's totally fine. Just look at me a second...”

Arthur swayed in place, watching Eames double check her for damage, and felt something build in him that burned and cramped and exploded when she looked over at him with a watery, wavering, reassuring smile.

YOU ASSHOLE!” he roared, spinning to seize Browning by his shirtfront and shaking him like a rag doll, his mind’s eye blurred with rage as he remembered Browning swinging from the cables like a goddamn Tarzan wannabe, “You could have killed her, you FUCKING MORON!!

Browning’s head rattled on his neck. Arthur’s grip was vicious as he shook him harder, his brain just beginning the thought train of Release and Punch as strong hands seized his biceps and wrenched him backward.

“THAT'S ENOUGH, ARTHUR!” Eames bellowed and Arthur, much to his surprise, released his grip instantaneously, stumbling to one side. Eames’ hand smoothed down one of his arms even as he took his place before Browning, and then new harsh words buzzed in the air that Arthur couldn’t quite make out past the ringing in his ears.

He looked around for Ariadne, eyes stinging oddly, and heard Fischer tell him Eames had sent her to the Nurse to be checked over (how long had he been shaking Browning?). Arthur felt Fischer’s soft hand trying to pat him on the shoulder, and pushed him away to stumble backstage.

His chest was burning, his cheeks and eyes too, and his innards seemed to cramp as one as he took shelter in the shadowy recesses far behind the partly-drawn curtains.

LOOK OUT! He heard it in his head again, saw Ari’s wide startled eyes, her wobbly smile and the rigging crashing down, and then he couldn’t breathe – couldn’t breathe – couldn’t breathe…

He rested his palms on the cool wall, head down to rest on his crooked arms and tried to drag down breath after breath, but he couldn’t – COULDN’T, and –


Sorry,” Arthur burst out, his breath short whistling gasps that mortified and terrified him all at once as he heard and felt Eames move to his side. “Sorry – shouldn’t – don’t know – what I – I was – so – angry. M’sorry – I – can’t – BREATHE,” he all but sobbed, a stabbing pain in his front and side, head pounding, eyes watering, his face on fire with humiliation and strain.

Steady hands cupped his shoulder and nape, attempting to turn him from the wall.

“Arthur. Arthur, sshh, darling. It’s alright, look at me.”

Arthur staggered and allowed himself to be turned, but could not lift his head, panting harder now, his eyes squeezed tightly closed.

“I can’t. I can’t,” he wheezed, only to find his words muffled by what could only be Eames’ shirt front.

“It’s ok.” Eames spoke softly, and his voice sounded as though his mouth was directly by Arthur’s ear. “You’re having a panic attack. I’ve seen DOZENS of guys get them; usually stage fright, nothing like as good a reason as yours.”

“She’s – ok – so – stupid,” Arthur croaked, chest still heaving, struggling, and he let out an embarrassingly distressed sound. “Can’t – BREATHE – Eames.”

A firm hand gripped his and lifted it to press hard where Eames shirt parted above his buttons, one of Arthur’s fingertips dropping to rest on the hot V of skin showing there.

“Arthur, look at me.” He said it softly, but the command was too great to disobey, so Arthur lifted his reddened, and no doubt blotchy, face to look directly at Eames.

“Feel this, okay?” Eames said, his eyes never wavering from Arthur’s even as he tried to pull back. Arthur’s eyes burned as his chest heaved and hitched, his vision bluing at the edges. Eames inhaled deeply and Arthur’s hand rose and then fell with his chest as the older man took long, exaggerated breaths.

“In through the nose.” Arthur quieted slightly at his words and one hand rose with Eames’ sternum; the other still trembled, fingertips resting on the wall. “Out through the mouth.” Eames blew out with lightly pursed lips, his breath like Juicy Fruit gum, and Arthur trembled and followed the motion as best he could, breathing in time with Eames as his own body relaxed and started listening to him once again.

“There we go.” Eames smiled between breaths and watched Arthur slowly regain himself. “Horrid when it happens, I know, darling, but easily conquered when you know the tricks.”

Arthur attempted to pull himself away, suddenly aware of Maurice and Browning sneering from the shadows on the other side of the stage; each disappearing as they caught his eye.

“I’m… I’m so sorry,” he gasped, straightening out of his tilted lean toward Eames and jerking his hand from its resting spot atop Eames’ shirt and warm skin. “I don’t... I don’t know what came over me.”

“Easy, dearest, you lost it. Pure and simple.” Eames stepped back, his own cheeks oddly flushed, doubtless from their enforced proximity. “When someone with as much control as you loses said control, there’s generally a rather large fallout. Now, not that Browning wasn’t a damn fool, but you’ll have to make sure you don’t batter anyone next time, hmm?”

Arthur crossed his arms over his stomach and clenched his eyes shut.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.

“It’s fine, really Arthur. You saw what you thought was something awful and shattered accordingly. It’s perfectly understandable.” Eames sighed. “As is this, I hope. I need you to go to the Nurse, Arthur. You had a full-on panic attack and displayed an unusual amount of rage, so they’ll need to check you out.”

Arthur blinked, horrified, and Eames winced. “Ariadne will be there?” he added in a comforting tone and Arthur sighed.

“That’s fine. I’ll need to go apologize for freaking out and not even checking that she was fine, anyway. Might as well let them check me over while I’m there.”

“Atta boy,” Eames said gently and Arthur flushed.

“I’m really sorry.” He swallowed and Eames reached out and gently pushed a damp tendril of hair back from Arthur’s forehead.

“It’s FINE,” he reiterated and Arthur trembled. “Now, get you gone. I’ve a moron to discipline.”

And, with a wink, Eames disappeared back through the curtain and Arthur placed the hand, still warm from Eames’ chest, over his heart, took a deep breath and, grimacing, followed him out back into the light.


Arthur walked slowly as he left the school grounds.

He’d barely put in two laps before calling it a day, his body still oddly twanging with leftover adrenaline from his wretched panic attack before.

Ariadne had been waiting for him in the Nurse’s office, hands clasped about a steadily warming glass of water as she rested under the steady eye of Nurse Thorpe.

“She says I can go when my hands stop shaking,” she’d told him gently as he’d sat down beside her, tongue tied with embarrassment as she lifted his hand with her much smaller one, and watched it tremble before she placed it on his knees with a kind smile, “I figure we give it a bit, then we can go together, yeah?”

He’d swallowed, eyes on her hand still resting over his. “I think I got scared,” he’d told her quietly, “And then, when you were okay…” He turned his hand palm-up and squeezed hers fiercely, “I didn’t have anywhere to put that... terror. So I got angry, instead.”

When he’d finally matched her gaze he’d blushed to see the level of fond amusement there. “I’m sorry I didn’t stop to make sure you were okay,” he’d whispered, ashamed and she squeezed his hand back, hard.

“It was okay,” she’d soothed, “Eames took care of me.”

Me too, he’d said. Now, the sensation of Eames’ heart beating just at the edge of his fingertips was both so profound and humiliating that Arthur still felt dizzy with it.

He felt so stupid – weak and melodramatic, the silly boy who pitched a fit and didn’t help his friend, but found time to fall apart where everyone could see him all but sobbing over his wonderful, beautiful teacher who’d pushed the hair from his brow like Arthur’s mom had when he was a sick kid.

He pushed his hands deep into his pockets, rough enough to feel the tug of material from his shoulders, the sensation like gravity pulling him down, and the urge to crumble was overwhelming, to curl up on the floor in a tight, warm ball and just sleep the entire day away.

He lifted his head, gaze stretching further than the few feet in front of him he’d fixed on as he slouched his way onward, looking now to each side of him for traffic, ready to cross to the bus stop on the opposing corner when suddenly color poured back into his head.


The car parked just across from him, a few good meters ahead of the bus stop, was blue, and not just any blue, but the ridiculously memorable blue that was seared into his memory. A blue car that he saw everywhere, in his dreams, and in his apparent waking delusions, as well, because if that was Eames’ car just ahead of him, then the man who climbed out and walked around to lean against the passenger’s side as Arthur walked slowly closer, the man waiting for Arthur, must be Eames.

“Hullo.” Eames smiled as Arthur hesitantly crossed the street, standing just before the apparent apparition. “You look as though you’ve seen a ghost Arthur.”

Arthur blinked. “You’re here,” he said somewhat less brilliantly than he might have hoped for, reeling with shock and then all too swiftly dazzled at the flash of Eames’ sudden smile. “I mean, you’re here; why are you here?”

He bit the inside of his cheek as the words came out accusatory; Eames’ eyebrows quirked upwards even as his eyes seemingly mocked Arthur and his nearly instantaneous blush.

“I thought I might offer you a lift today, after all. I saw you stagger off the track, not looking quite your usual lithe self, so I thought I might swing by, beat the bus to the punch as it were.” The words were light, almost too-jovial but Eames’ steady gaze made Arthur want to step forward, press his face to Eames’ chest and just listen, secure in the knowledge that the man would allow him his weakness.

He dropped his gaze, bemused and horrified to note his fingers were quivering once more. “But I thought you had to do that thing - for your friend - in the evening?”

Eames stepped to one side, opening the passenger door and holding it wide as he ducked his head, his expression oddly furious for a moment before he gave Arthur a tight smile and placed a hand at his shoulder to usher him into the car.

“The thing is,” he began as Arthur climbed in on unsteady legs, blushing as Eames crouched beside him to hold his eyes, “I promised a friend I’d give this evening thing a try for her. It’s been a few weeks and I’ve come to the somewhat terrifying conclusion that she is not, in fact, always right. So, with that in mind, I’ve declared my nights my own once more and shall from now on be following whatever schedule I feel like.”

He shot Arthur a jaunty smile and clicked the door on the sudden plummet of Arthur’s heart into his stomach as his mind conjured the image of a beautiful, controlling woman set on the idea of shaping Eames’ nights to best suit her needs and wants, Arthur’s body cramping sharply again as his already-tense muscles rebelled at the thought.

Eames climbed in beside him and Arthur froze under the weight and warmth of the smile suddenly bestowed on him, tiny and almost tender as it was. “Besides,” Eames said, smiling lopsidedly, palm warm on Arthur’s shoulder again, brief and necessary before he started the engine, “this seemed more important.”

Arthur’s entire body throbbed in time with his heart, once, then twice before he was able to respond, voice somewhat strangled. “Thank you,” he ground out, “I’m… I’m fine.”

Eames lifted an inquisitive brow.

Really.” Arthur reinforced the word with a tight smile and Eames appeared to visibly relax in his seat; the sight of it set off a similar reaction in Arthur.

“Well,” the Englishman said softly, “I’m glad to hear it. Home then, Arthur?”

Throat tight, Arthur managed an affirmative noise and nodded, smile abruptly widening as Eames reached out to flick the radio into life.

“Veto,” he said and closed his eyes to let Eames’ laughter wash over him like rain.


Arthur stood in the middle of the stage, occasionally pulling on his cuffs and receiving slap upon slap on his hands for the effort.

“Quit it!” Patsy, the (somewhat ferocious) wardrobe mistress, snarled and Arthur couldn’t but help but give the left one a quick tug, just to show her he wasn’t truly afraid of her, but he winced when she glared daggers at him over her glasses. Her spare pins gleamed in a suddenly threatening manner as she reached up to jerk him forward by his lapels. “Look, Your Highness,” she all but spat, “You have one of the most complicated costumes, not JUST because it’s got to look as damn royal as possible, but I’ve got to build all these damn EXTRAS into it so you can just shed the outer layers to look steadily more crazy, and it’s REALLY DAMN COMPLICATED SO QUIT MOVING, OKAY?”

“Yes, Patsy. Sorry, Patsy.” He looked suitably penitent whilst resisting the urge to stick his tongue out at Ariadne who, across the stage, was silently laughing her ass off to the throes of Patricia’s righteous fury. The formidable junior stood back to review her handiwork as Arthur stood perfectly still.

“What do you think, sir?” Of course, Arthur sneered inwardly and rolled his eyes swiftly toward Ari, her tone was perfectly pleasant when directed at Eames.

Eames flipped himself up over the lip of the stage (a somewhat distracting habit he seemed to have formed after the whole Ariadne/lighting rig debacle) and stalked forward, eyes already amused as he apparently noted Arthur’s put upon expression.

“Well, well, let’s have a look here. Hmm.” He circled Arthur slowly, close enough to seem predatory, and Arthur felt a slight tightening at his groin that he promptly willed away with the benefit of recollections of biweekly kisses with Ariadne to cool him off.

Ari swept forward, the fabric of her ‘drowned Ophelia’ dress dragging softly over the boards with an almost wistful sigh, beautiful even with the pattern marks still obvious and pins rucking sections into place. Arthur couldn’t help but smile.

If he could just trick her beloved Yusuf into a dress rehearsal he was certain he’d be at her feet within minutes.

I think,” she said, almost gleefully, as she watched both Patsy and Eames position and then reposition Arthur as though he were a large Ken doll, “that you look simply DIVINE, Arthur.” She drawled the ‘I’ in divine so that it carried over several syllables, and winked. “You look like you’re ready to take to the catwalk at any moment!”

He rolled his eyes again. “So that’s what that was,” he quipped, “I thought I felt my IQ dropping just a moment ago.”

“OI.” Arthur jumped as a swift hand swatted him soundly around the back of his head (earning an amused snort from Patsy). “Watch it. Some of us dabbled in modeling whilst getting our nice, shiny qualifications, and our IQ’s were pretty damn impressive, let me tell you.”

Arthur’s jaw dropped as visions of catwalks, makeup and ridiculously attractive half-naked people whirred behind his eyes, only blinking back out of his stupor at Ariadne’s choked sound of equal surprise.

“You were a male model?” she squeaked and Eames grinned, walking back around to stand beside her as he regarded Arthur’s suit once more.

“Just model, Ariadne. Generally they were able to tell I wasn’t there for the lingerie shoots. Besides, when I say dabble I mean that. It was only for a year or so, and on and off then, at best. Apparently my own particular brand of physiognomy was quite in that year. It was really quite helpful all in all; it pushed me into actual acting versus the Am Dram stuff I’d been playing around with.”

“So, modeling helped you get into acting?” Arthur asked. Heat suffused him at the thought of Eames younger and heady with possibility, and wished he could cast himself back through time and simply fall at his feet.

“Well, I’d always enjoyed it, but both my parents are teachers,” Eames muttered offhandedly, briefly flicking through the sheaf of designs Patsy had attached to her clipboard of power. “They wanted me to do something with security and I’d always just gone along with that. Did the modeling for the money, knew I didn’t much care for it, but it was interesting and every now and then I’d have to do, or go, somewhere interesting and then one day it was Paris.” He scribbled something on the sheet, fortunately not catching Arthur’s almost orgasmic sigh.

Paris,” he repeated and Eames looked back up with a smile.

“Yup, that was my last job. I finished up, walked outside and thought, ‘this is for me’, so I stayed 'til it wasn’t, and because my parents had been sweet enough to repeatedly drill into me the need for qualifications, I was easily able to get my TEFL certificate, so it was just a case of taking whichever job struck me as best at the time.”

“So, did you teach or act in Paris?” Ariadne asked, peering at Arthur’s costume designs with the same dubious expression that Eames currently wore.

“Both.” He flipped back and forth from one page to another and both Patsy and Arthur sighed, sensing further alterations, and possibly outfits, yet to come.

“And here? I mean, in the States?”

“Both,” he said again, this time grinning at her, then at Arthur and Patsy’s scowling but interested faces. “I’m doing this as a favor – a wonderfully well-paid favor, of course – to cover Cobb’s absence and to aid the Academy in putting on a first class show. Come summertime I’ll most likely flit into the sunset to see what the Washington theatres have to offer me.”

Arthur was hard-pressed to understand quite why Eames’ words were so devastating, but he took the time to drop his gaze from where Ari might attempt to meet it. He took a quiet, careful breath through his nose before he responded offhandedly, “You’re leaving?”

Eames frowned at the clipboard, Patsy frowned at Eames, Ariadne frowned at Arthur, and Arthur stood, carefully impassive, waiting. “Yes, much as I’m enjoying this, I couldn’t stay on too long. I’m usually the one treading the boards, not watching others, so a year here is perfect, really, I get to bond with you lovely lot, then once you flitter away to your various universities or whatnot, I won’t have to stay behind here and miss you.”

Arthur blushed hard but Eames’ eyes flicked to Patsy, twinkling with mirth.

“Not that I won’t, of course, miss you dreadfully, Patsy.” He winked and she sighed, yanking back her clipboard.

“Don’t worry, sir, I promise to mourn your loss even though NO ONE has ever been this fussy about the costumes before...”

Arthur stifled a snort, but Ariadne didn’t quite manage it. If he wasn’t careful, he’d end up liking Patsy before the play was through.

“Ah, speaking of which…” Eames’ grin dulled back down to thoughtful as he retrieved the clipboard from Patsy’s protesting clasp. He glanced back and forth between Arthur and the sketches before him. “Darling, can you just extend your arms a bit, I want to see how much movement we get with the Regal layer still intact as it were.”

Arthur lifted his arms obediently and it wasn’t until he noticed Ariadne’s wide eyes, and the collective silence of Patsy and the small jumble of cast members nearby, that he realized Eames had never referred to him as darling in public before.

A small part of him clenched tight with triumph even as the rest of him swallowed and chanced a glance at Eames, who still regarded the sketches with a slight flush just at the edges of his cheekbones.

It’s either nothing or it’s SOMETHING, Arthur thought fiercely, unsure as to which he’d prefer, feeling stupid at just the thought of Eames meaning the word he so frequently uttered, certain of its casual usage.

“Ariadne, do me a favor quickly. Could you just move behind Arthur and pull the jacket tighter to his body? You can drop your arms now, Arthur – ah, hmm.”

Ariadne swept around and pulled the fabric tight behind Arthur. They all peered at his somewhat ridiculous jacket, unsure as to what Eames was thinking.

“O-kay, right, I think I know what I want now,” Eames muttered to the clipboard before he smiled swiftly, absently, at Ari. “Thanks poppet, that’s fine, you can let go now. Right, Patricia, I think what I’m going to need from you is a waistcoat, sorry, a vest as you’d put it, that way he can start out in the jacket and as time passes come down to the vest, then unbuttoned, then gone with just the braces and tie et cetera. How does that strike you?”

He moved away, talking further with Patsy, both of them smiling as they quickly amended the sketches (seemingly taking a lot of the hardship from Patsy’s job, going by her now-brilliant smile), and Ariadne stepped close, to stand directly at Arthur’s shoulder.

“He called you darling,” she said softly, sternly, and smiled to belie her tone should anyone glance their way. Arthur matched her for both voice and casual grin.

“He called you poppet,” he countered, “don’t make a big deal of it.”

“Has he called you it before?” she asked, gently impassive and he could hear her teeth lurking behind the words.

He hesitated then, seeing no point in a lie, said, “Yes. Frequently.”

She tensed and he could hear the cogs working, deep behind her eyes, adding up the sum of Eames’ affection to be so much more than it was, and part of him hated her then for making him tell her before she could ask it.

“He’s not interested in me. It’s never come up; it’s nothing to him when he says it, it’s only something he says informally, therefore you became poppet, alright? Can we drop it?”

“Oh, Arthur,” she whispered and there was pity and exasperation warring in her voice so Arthur felt no compunction in telling her to shut up.

“Arthur,” Eames burst out jovially, appearing before them once more, “How do you feel about a vest instead of the jacket?”

“Ecstatic,” Arthur returned lightly and Eames laughed, clapping him on the shoulder with a wide smile as he moved away to address the costuming issues for Old Hamlet with a steadily flagging Patsy.

“He’s just a man, Arthur,” Ariadne murmured at his elbow and Arthur smiled at her.

“I know,” he told her truthfully and winced slightly at the disappointment in her eyes.

“Well, I’m going to go get changed, then,” she said wearily and he nodded, surprised when her hand was suddenly, tightly, in his. “Y’know, you can always call me, right? Tell me anything?”

She squeezed his hand and he smiled, adoring her somewhat, and squeezed back.

“Thank you,” he murmured, letting just a touch of his feelings bleed into his voice and watched her sympathy for his situation twist her soft smile, “but there’s nothing to tell.”

After they had changed, Ariadne slipped her hand into his and, under Nash’s baleful glare, they walked out together. Arthur couldn’t quite find it in him to regret not waiting to see if Eames might drive him, just that once. It was nice to relax with his friend and ignore the word searing into the forefront of his mind.

Darling, it said and the pushed-down, unruly shadow of Arthur’s subconscious burned as the sound echoed down through his bones and deep into the core of him.



The rain rolled off of Arthur’s shoulders and sluiced over his skin; it left him laughing as he ran faster, determined to make his sixth lap before the weather forced him indoors.

It was oddly satisfying, pitting himself against a force he couldn’t defeat or defy, merely negotiate with – just this lap, all I need is SIX - as the blood raced through him and kept the cold from seeping in.

It was too wet for his MP3 player. The water had pounded down even as he’d first stepped outside, so he’d simply run to his rapid panting as he raced the rain, so close to slipping every here and there that he’d had to throw in a few leaps and skids, water in his eyes, heart in his mouth. It was brilliant.

He skidded to a halt as he completed his sixth lap and laughed triumphantly as he leaned back into the onslaught. He let it pour over his face and lifted his hands to push his dripping locks back to let the droplets drum on his skin, shivering deliciously with sensation.

His heart was racing and his skin prickled. Licking his lips, he felt an abrupt surge of arousal; his body reacted gladly to the endorphin rush and overwhelming barrage of feeling. The urge to simply strip and let the rain beat against all of him was suddenly tempting; a giggle rose in him as he pictured himself naked beneath the downpour, whispering Eames’ name to the heavens as he let his hands...

Arthur straightened with a cough and pushed his hair from his face once more, his touch decidedly more no nonsense than his slow slide through the strands previously. He turned to face the exit, intent on a quick shower before his body (and thoughts) could embarrass him in his rain-slicked, skin-clinging running gear, and… there.

Arthur felt a different sort of chill roll down his spine at the sight of Eames, who stood just under the high protective roof at the top of the stands, arms crossed over his chest, watching him. Arthur felt that same desire to whisper his name, just to say it.

Arthur swung himself neatly over the barrier; his eyes barely left Eames as he walked up through the stands as though summoned. His muscles obeyed readily, all but vibrating in place with the urges that still simmered under his skin.

“Y’know,” Eames called from his secure position under the roof, “I’m starting to wonder what you are, precisely, Arthur. A masochist or an endorphin junkie?”

“Both, obviously.” Arthur smiled as he came to stand a few steps before him, flushed with his prior exertion and prickling with the awareness that his clothes were literally dripping against his skin. He blushed slightly as Eames gave him an amused once-over.

“You should have been English, Arthur; this love affair you seem to have going on with the rain is really much better suited to my side of the pond.”

Arthur arched a brow and crossed his arms behind his back as he smothered a grin.

“Shouldn’t you be out here with me, then? What with you actually being English, and all.”

“Oh, I think you’re more than wet enough for both of us, darling.”

Arthur’s heart hammered and he laughed a little too hard. Eames dropped his eyes on a huffed chuckle of his own before he inclined his head in the direction of the parking lot.

“You coming, then?”

Arthur swallowed and nodded. “Give me ten?” he managed past the swell of giddiness at the easy familiarity of the situation, already starting back down the steps.

“Don’t rush yourself, darling,” Eames called after him, tone light in the growing darkness. “I can wait.”

Arthur froze on the bottom step briefly and threw a quick smile over his shoulder before he ran to the locker room, where he harshly told himself that his shaking was due to the rain and nothing more.

By the time Eames left him on his driveway, warm and smiling, he almost believed it.


Continued in Part 5b
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December 2011

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