The first indication Eames had that something was off with Arthur was that the man wasn’t wearing a suit. You could count on Arthur to look like a butler in most of the time, dream or real life. The professional point man didn’t know the meaning of “casual”, and Eames had been quite certain he didn’t own anything that wasn’t dry-clean only. Yet, there he was, in jeans of all things, bustling over his equipment.
Their team was between extractions of a group of people: three partners of a law firm. The client had been unsure of who held the desired information, so they had been ordered three extractions. The first had gone off without a hitch, but the second had a minor fuck up on their new extractor’s part, and Arthur had delayed the next job to get the team better prepared.
Arthur and Cobb had been attached at the hip for at least two years, and without him, Arthur wasn’t exactly at his prime. Eames was used to Arthur overworking, but he wasn’t used to him looking like shit. He certainly wasn’t used to him in street clothes.
Eames kicked the doorjamb of Arthur’s office- his way of knocking. He didn’t wait for a response and sauntered in, hands in pockets. “Well I’ll be; the lady knows how to let her hair down.”
Arthur didn’t spare him a second. “Get out, Eames. I’m busy.” And he looked it. There were at least three computers running on his desk, a pile of printouts scattered across the remaining desk space and the entire wall behind him was a map of photographs and profiles. Information, information, information.
A silver case was peeking from under a manila folder, and Eames rapped a fist on it, hitching an eyebrow in Arthur’s direction. “You been hooking up in your free time?”
Arthur made an irritated noise, though not exactly at Eames. One of the laptops clicked shut. “I’m investigating a new population process.”
“I need work on my interactions. I figure it’s easier to investigate my subconscious than bothering one of you.”
A grin pulled on Eames face. Arthur practicing was fairly interesting. They had run training scenarios before, mostly shootouts, but the subtle stuff was the hardest. “What, too afraid to pick my brain? Might find something that ruffles your feathers?”
Arthur actually looked up at that, eyes narrowed. “There is no way I would willingly go digging in that mess you call a mind. I might catch something.”
“You might get more exciting.” Eames barked a laugh and slapped the other man on the shoulder. Arthur staggered a little at the impact, obviously overtired. For a minute, Eames considered letting up on him. He did look terrible; there were bags under his eyes, and his frown lines were carving into his face. Eames wasn’t really that surprised: in the past few months the man lost a business partner, had to reestablish himself as an independent investigator, and had to train a new extractor for his team. Saito’s paycheck had been hefty, but both Eames and Arthur had debts to pay, and there were always secrets to be stolen. Eames had considered slinking back to Kenya, but he found himself sticking around as Arthur rebuilt his little house of cards.
The forger felt the slightest twinge of sympathy, and called his harassment off early. “Don’t kill yourself. I’m off for the night, yeah.”
Arthur was back to his work, already entrenched in a new download’s progress. “Yeah.”
Eames made for the door, slightly sullen. He didn’t like the way stress affected their banter. Overworked Arthur meant under-entertained Eames. “I’m serious, make sure to cut yourself a break.”
Arthur cast a quick glance at him over his shoulder, but it was gone just as quickly; the fingers returned to tapping at the keyboard. Eames shut the door behind him.
When he didn’t hear Arthur come back to the cheap flat their team had rented out, Eames began to get annoyed. It was beyond late, and a tired point man and manager meant a higher potential for error. Eames wasn’t a fucking nanny, but he was a business partner at risk, so yeah, he was going back to the goddamn “office” to drag Arthur back.
He maintained his mood when he unlocked the warehouse they were using, and ripped Arthur’s door open with enough attitude to drive home a point, but that all fell to pieces as soon as he stepped in.
Arthur was asleep, slung out on lawn furniture next to his desk, shoes toed off and head lolling. It was not the sort of sleep he needed. The PASIV Device hummed next to him, its timer ticking away. Eames tipped the case back, checking the allotted time. Ten minutes left. He must have been hooked up for a twenty-minute session. Arthur was addicted to work, but he wasn’t abusive. At least Eames hoped he wasn’t. A four-hour mental training session after a fourteen-hour workday was a little excessive. PASIV training was not considered restful sleep: the mind was far too active for complete rest, and the forced REM that dream-diving induced was nothing compared to the natural bliss of drooling into a pillow.
Eames’ speculations were interrupted by a very unexpected noise: Arthur let out a suspicious-sounding sigh. People rarely made noises under sedatives, and if they did, something powerful was happening in the dream. One glance at Arthur’s state told Eames exactly what was going on, he just had a hard time believing it.
Using the PASIV Device to indulge in sexual fantasies was generally considered a bad idea. It was certainly a fantastic masturbatory tool, and in the tradition of human interests, that had been the second thing dream-sharing and dream-diving had been used for. Somnophillia was a huge part of the market, but it was not suggested for extraction professionals: having a subconscious filled with sex kittens tended to distract the target, and that is a job best left for Eames.
He had done it a few times himself, but he was much more partial to having actual sex with the real, moaning thing. Arthur made another noise, this one deep-set and resonating. Eames swallowed. It was probably best to just leave him to it- if this was a normal situation, he’d tip them out and have a good laugh at their expense. For once, he didn’t feel like that was the appropriate response.
Eames wasn’t sure what to do, but after a minute he was becoming aware that he was turning into a voyeur. Arthur was twisting slightly, his breaths heavier. A thin sheen of sweat was shining on his brow. The forger licked his lips, feeling the familiar surge himself. It was probably best to leave, and he did, but he took his damn time about it.
The next morning found Arthur in the suit once again. He was slightly more alert, which for Arthur meant he was responding to Eames taunts. There were still bags under his eyes, and he insisted on grilling their architect more than necessary, but apparently a wank did him some good.
Unfortunately, that was all the Eames could think about during their morning brainstorming session. Apparently the forger could not concentrate properly with Arthur being stiff-backed and well-pressed again. By the time they broke off into their separate duties, Eames was already convinced today’s impersonation polishes would be unproductive. The face he formed in the mirror morphed into Arthur’s, open-mouthed and disheveled. This was bad for business: something had to be done.
The blonde had come in handy several times, and Eames had to admit he enjoyed playing her. He was a natural flirt, and he liked spreading the talent around, so inhabiting the form of a blonde bombshell was always a laugh. He had teased Arthur with her once, but the man had simply rolled his eyes, stating that blondes were just not his type.
Now Eames was stuck with the annoying question of what was Arthur’s type. A man good at gathering personal information was normally good at keeping his own hidden. He liked brunettes, yes. What else? Slim? Curvy? Mousy? Bold? Eames could simply impersonate Ariadne, but he had an inkling that would be a bad idea. There was always a risk when impersonating an existing person. Better to start fresh.
Eames had no idea when he had decided he was going to snoop in Arthur’s fantasies. Probably somewhere in between Arthur loosening his tie during their afternoon briefing and mussing up his hair after they adjourned from performance review. Any breech in the manager’s uptight upkeep was stroking a fire he didn’t know he had going.
When he came back after dinner he found the point man had changed to casual again, donning jeans and a loose button-up. His hair was out of the gel’s hold and dipping over his brow. Five o’clock shadow shaded his jaw, evidence of another long day, and he was memorizing the dreamscape map their new architect proposed.
“He’s no Ariadne, but it’s not terrible, huh?” He kicked the doorjamb again. Arthur didn’t flinch.
“He’s mid-level. Fine for this job,” Arthur said, leaning back a little to survey the scene, “the problem’s with the new extractor. He’s too constrained. We need more creativity.”
“And being the uptight one, that’s your job, ain’t it love?” Eames perused the blueprint. It wasn’t not as complex as Ariadne’s pieces, but it would do. Their little genius thought it better to finish school before joining a life of mind crime, so they were dealing without her constructs. Cobb’s absence was by far the worst. He had been the wild card.
Arthur shot Eames a glare that was quite withering. “I am the solid one, he needs to be the improviser.”
“Why don’t you be the improviser?” His grin is too wide for his own good. He really can’t turn his amusement off when it comes to Arthur. “Loosen up, babe.”
“There are enough loose characters around here already,” Arthur sniped. That was what Eames liked, a little fight.
“Enjoy yourself, dear boy.” If everything went according to plan, they both would. “Don’t give yourself a headache.”
Eames let the door hang open behind him, and after slamming the main entrance emphatically, found a place to hide out.
By the time that Arthur actually began finishing up, Eames had nearly nodded off. The man worked like a creature possessed, and he finally called it quits well after ten. A fourteen-hour workday seemed normal for Arthur, but it had its effects. Eames was almost nervous that he would not have a repeat performance when Arthur began to pack up his things, but the telltale creak of the shifty lawn chair confirmed his hopes.
He gave Arthur a few minutes before he snuck in. The point man was already out, sprawled tiredly on the chair, IV hookup in place. Eames skipped over happily, noticing the time left on the PASIV’s monitor. A shorter session tonight, but still plenty of time to do what he wanted. He slid the hookup in enthusiastically.
He was in a lounge; dark, smoky and very post-modern. Everything was clean and the couches were pinstriped. Figured. Eames had made himself up into a brunette with a nice set of hips and dancer’s legs. Everybody liked dancers. He smoothed his long, thin hands over his skirt, checked his hair in the mirror, and added a little south Asian blood to his genetics. Lovely.
The hunt for Arthur in his own mind proved interesting. The man was a fan of paradoxical and overly complicated architecture, so quite a few times he found himself in a loop. By the time he managed to get outside, twenty minutes had passed. He ended up in a set of arboreal gardens with a beach on the far end. The night was clear with a cool wind blowing off of the fragrant water. All in all, Arthur’s brain made quite the nice vacation resort.
It would be better if he could find him, though.
Picking his way through the gardens, he managed to make out a familiar shape on a bench tucked under a Japanese maple. Target acquired.
The trick about seducing someone within their own dream is making them think they thought you up. Since nearly all things in self-driven dreams are underlying parts of the subconscious, it’s difficult for the dreamer to tell if something is truly a part of them or an invasion. Arthur was sharp, so Eames would have to be sharper. He did love gambling.
“Lovely night.” The voice he had manufactured was girlish and smooth. Generic, but efficient. “It’s beautiful here.”
“Yes.” Arthur was in a charcoal three-piece with trim lapels and a silk tie. The man was startlingly professional, even in his own head. He was bound up again, just ready to be torn apart. “I come here to relax.”
“Perfect place for it.” Eames slipped into the seat next to him, getting used to his wider hips and longer legs. The tops of his knees peeked out from under the hem of his skirt, gleaming in the moonlight. Damn, he was sexy.
Arthur leaned back, openly regarding him. You didn’t have to worry about being caught giving someone the once over in your head. “I haven’t seen you here before.”
The forgery shrugged his new slim shoulders, one hand unwinding the tight bun on top of his head. “I come and go. Is that a bad thing?”
“No, just interesting.”
Eames made sure that he drew his cupid’s bow lips into a flirty little smile. “Do you know this place very well?”
Arthur nodded, eyes out to the warm waves again. “Yes, very well.”
Eames leaned forward, letting a little chest peek from the top of his shirt. The eyes were back on him. Men were easy. “Care to give me a tour?”
If Arthur really thought this was a part of his subconscious, then he was most likely curious as all hell as to what part this woman represented. Deeply repressed sexual desires? A representation of comfort? An outlet?
Or maybe he just accepted that this was his evening’s fodder.
Whatever the reasoning, their tour was brief, and ended in a very posh suite with an oversized bed and a wet bar. The walls were adorned in art Arthur would never be able to afford in real life, replicated from priceless originals. At least Eames didn’t feel like a cheap date.
Eames knew, as a professional female forger and a regular Don Juan, that getting a man to kiss you is surprisingly easy. It’s a matter of leaning in correctly and lowering the eyelids and licking the lips. It’s in opening and an offering and men like to know that beautiful women are interested and waiting. He didn’t have to work the charm hard: Arthur had a schedule to keep. They were kissing before they were properly sitting on the designer sofa.
It was always difficult to keep the forgery up when being touched by the subject, and Eames was sufficiently distracted with a man sucking on his bottom lip. He needed a little more stability, and that was only gained with a little control.
Straddling someone in a skirt is sexy once done properly. As a newcomer to this particular maneuver, Eames congratulated himself with not gumming it up. Arthur breathed deeply between their liplock and Eames couldn’t help but smirk into the kiss. That was the correct move. There were bold hands on his well-manufactured ass, and that gave him the opening he needed to rip at that silk tie and convince Arthur to shrug himself out of his jacket. By the time he got to the perfect hair, Arthur was sucking on his neck.
From what the forger observed, part one of his mission was complete. The further along they got, the more his form shifted; time was up. Now for the gamble.
He situated one hand down between them and cupped it against the hardness he found there. Eames gave it a firm squeeze, sucked on a patch of skin below Arthur’s ear, and let himself slip back into his own skin.
The reaction wasn’t immediate. Eames moved up to whisper into Arthur’s ear, stroking him through his slacks. “You like that, love?”
Arthur made a sound somewhere between alarmed and aroused, and Eames found himself shoved to the floor. He’d expected as much. “What the… Eames?”
Eames was enjoying this gambit, and he was prepared to talk his way into Arthur’s pants, but he was very unable to speak when he looked up.
Arthur was lax against the couch’s back, legs spread, shirt mussed, hair unkempt, and quite aroused. That was what he wanted. Wow, that was just perfect.
It took a couple of seconds for him to get his game back. He let a smirk settle on his face and thinned his eyes, kneeling before the couch. “What’s wrong? Didn’t like that?”
“Why are you here?” Arthur was breathless and confused, but not exactly angry. Maybe Eames won’t have to work that hard after all. If Arthur did believe Eames’ appearance was part of his subconscious, then they might just continue where they left off. Repressed sexual desires did have a way of making appearances in self-driven dreams.
“What do you mean, love?” He worked his way up Arthur’s thighs, sliding up to grip his hips, nearly nestling his face in his crotch. “You invited me here. Changin’ your mind?”
Arthur stared down on him. He hadn’t kicked the forger away yet, so that was a good sign. “I’m not sure.”
That was winning roll as far as Eames was concerned. There was a clothed erection very near his mouth, and all Arthur needed was a little convincing.
Eames had tasted a fair sample of what the human population had to offer. A little bit of everything was all right with him, but he’d never mouthed at a man through his trousers before, and frankly, he wasn’t sure that it would be a successful move. A caught breath from above gave him quite the reassurance. Arthur was still under his care, but if the hands fisted against the cushions were any indicator, he wouldn’t have to wait for the green light for very long.
“Come on,” he murmured against Arthur’s crotch, fitting his lips over the hard outline and sucking softly. The fabric under his tongue was soaking through, and he made sure the groan in encouragement at tiniest twitches. “Come on, let me.”
Just as Eames was considering a switch in tactics, a hand shoved him away from his doting. “You’re going to ruin my pants,” Arthur growled without teeth, undoing the clasps of his trousers.
“Let’s get them off, then.” And off they came. Eames was enthusiastic, and one great wrench had them at the ankle. There were no undergarments to be found. If Eames wasn’t so aroused by that, he’d of been shocked. Arthur did wear knickers in real life, didn’t he?
“What are you waiting for?” Arthur’s voice had changed, and Eames felt it in his spine. His eyes were dark, commanding. “Go on, suck me off.”
Eames wasn’t aware when the tables turned, but he didn’t much care. This was perfect. This was the Arthur he hadn’t seen before. Eames lapped luxuriantly at Arthur’s cock, gripping him at the base and sucking lazily on the head. Even in dreams, one’s brain makes sure all the right smells and tastes are there, and the heady, thick scent coming off of Arthur had him hard and grinding unashamedly against the manager’s leg.
Eames shuddered. It was perfect.
The hand against the back of his head was sudden, but Eames had the reflexes not to gag as Arthur shoved him down on his cock. He hissed through his nose, but didn’t pull away.
“Stop fucking around, Eames.” Arthur’s tone was practically black, low and dangerous and just fucking right, “I know you know how to suck cock.”
Eames swallowed around the prick in his mouth, and the hand on the back of his head let him slide up, only to force him down again. Eames groaned and began to bob his head, sucking noisily. Arthur’s hips pressed upward, meeting him halfway. His hands tore painfully at Eames hair, guiding his motions. After a few awkward seconds, Eames gave up trying to move, Arthur’s hips doing the work for him, fucking his mouth. He relaxed his throat hummed around Arthur, encouragingly. The hands on the back of his head were shaking. Soon. All Eames had to do was hold on.
He heard it coming in Arthur’s gasping breaths, felt it pulsing against his tongue and he groaned deeply around Arthur to set him off. The reaction was violent. Arthur wrenched Eames off of his cock and held his head in his lap, gasping as he came on Eames’ face.
Eames was in a state of both shock and horrific arousal. He had never… what in hell? Was this what Arthur was hiding from him, this sexual aggression? He licked his lips, tasting the mess dripping down his face. Good god, this was fucking fantastic.
Arthur’s breathing was returning to normal, and he was regarding Eames in an almost condescending manner, hand still knotted in his hair. “You’ve always had a talented mouth.”
Eames could only manage a shaky groan. He was nearly gone, himself. One hand worked furiously on his own erection, winding him tight.
Arthur was apparently not a fan of that. Eames hissed as his hand was torn off of himself and head pulled further back, causing him to arch to keep from having his hair ripped out. Arthur was leaning over him, eyes hungry and face set. Something inside Eames was begging and twisting, and Arthur seemed to find it.
With a quick swipe, the manager gathered up the wetness on Eames’ cheek and brought is hand down to clamp over Eames’ cock, holding him in a tight, slick grip. He didn’t make a single move to jerk him off.
The smile on Arthur’s face was igniting. “Work for it.”
And Eames did, snapping his hips back and forth with absolute abandon. His mouth was open, his face wet with cum as he frantically fucked Arthur’s fist. He was blind, gasping. Arthur’s eyes were hungry, his face triumphant and free from the confines of the real world. This was Arthur, raw. Eames bucked under in his grasp, coming with an undignified moan.
For a moment, Eames didn’t really know what had happened, but Arthur’s low chuckle snapped him back to it and there is a warm wetness seeping through his shirt where Arthur’s wiped his hand.
“That was new.” The heated look was fading from Arthur’s face, replacing itself with a sated, sane expression. Eames found he was having a harder time.
“You’re welcome.” He tried weakly. He is barely passable as himself. Even if it is a dream, it feels awkward balancing post-orgasmic euphoria with general shock.
Arthur rolled his eyes, standing abruptly and tucking himself into his pants. The manager didn’t bother helping him up as he headed to the washroom, and why would he? If Eames is a projection, he could very well take care of himself.
Eames was out of the room the second the washroom door shut, unholstering the pistol he’d dreamed along with him and searching for a closet to dispatch himself in. There is at least three more minutes on the PASIV, and he needs to be out of the office before Arthur wakes up.
The next week rambled by quickly, the mission rising up faster than they expected it to. Arthur’s overworking paid off, and they gathered the information without any tremendous mistakes.
If Eames had one thing to complain about in the execution of the job, it was the improvised punch to the face his forgery got. Yes, it did convince the client to trust Darrow and Arthur, and he did get a millisecond’s warning on Arthur’s part before he was laid flat with a broken nose, but it was right in the beginning of the mission, and he had to suffer three hours with a psychologically broken face before being woken up. Everyone was very amused by the whole ordeal.
“If that is you being creative and innovative, I want no part of it,” Eames sniffed experimentally as they gathered their equipment. It was amazing how some dream pain lingered.
Arthur actually laughed at him, eyebrow crooked. He looked almost reanimated, the signs of stress erased. “Eames, if I remember correctly, you like me when I’m rough.”
Something inside Eames shuddered excitedly. “I guess you’ll be taking it easy with your training then?”
Arthur hefted the closed PASIV. “We’ve got another job lined up in a week. It’s good to keep it up.”
Eames didn’t fight the leer on his face and slipped his hands into his pockets. He let his eyes follow the crisp-cut lines of his co-worker’s form. “Maybe I’ll join you.”
Arthur loosened his tie under the scrutiny. The look he shot Eames was not exactly filled with disapproval. “I have no doubt.”
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