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03 December 2010 @ 06:56 pm
The Space Between I and You 1/?  
Title: The Space Between I and You 1/?
Rating: R

Summary: Five times Arthur breaks Eames’ heart, and one time he breaks his own.


He couldn’t even read the clock in front of his face with his glasses on. Everything was blurry and his eyelids felt like lead weights. He wasn’t sure how he was keeping them open in the first place, he kind of felt like he was floating.

Eames slid his fingers underneath his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. Wake up, come on now. He exhaled slowly through his nose and slid his hands down his face as he looked back at the clock. 3:30 AM. Arthur was still working.

Just like last night. And the night before. And the night before that. And... Eames had lost count. He leaned forward a little on the couch, propping his elbows on his thighs and running a hand through his hair. He hadn’t woken up when Arthur came to bed last night, if he came at all. He wondered if this night would be any different.

Probably not.

He stood up, hearing several joints crack, and made his way to the doorway of the study. He leaned against the doorframe, every limb laden with exhaustion. “Arthur? How’s it going?” he murmured, making out Arthur’s hunched form in the dim light.

Arthur was completely engrossed in his work, several books lying open across his desk as he worked at translating the confidential reports he’d managed to procure. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t originally transliterated through two other languages before settling on Slovenian. And current Slovenian dictionaries were rusty at best.

So it wasn’t until Eames was right behind him, a hand resting heavily on his shoulder that he noticed he was being addressed. He was at a crucial point, he just needed this one inflection and it would unlock more than an additional half of the papers.

The hand sliding to the nape of his neck demanded his attention, so without looking up he said, voice rough with exhaustion and working so hard, “What is it, Eames?”

Eames faltered a little, his tone a little painful; Arthur sounded so tired and annoyed. He moved his fingers slowly, and gently caressed the back of his neck anyway. Arthur always liked it when he did that.

“Aren’t you coming to bed soon? You need your rest, love,” he said quietly.

Arthur tilted his head, almost a half shrug that caused Eames’ hand to fall away. “I’m fine, I just, I just need to finish this first.” He turned towards Eames finally, a small quirk of his lips meant to be a reassuring smile, but he was just so tired and he was so close to cracking this passage.

“Okay,” Eames replied, frowning a little at the dark circles and lines underneath Arthur’s eyes. He looked thin, too. Eames wondered if he was even eating when Eames didn’t cook dinner and force him to eat. He bent down and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Goodnight, then. Don’t stay up all night.”

A few minutes later when Eames slid into their bed, he cringed at how cold the sheets were. The cold air made him cough a bit, and after his throat was clear, he swore under his breath. Sodding flu. He lay down and though coughing tended to wake him up, he was so tired he was asleep within minutes. Though he found falling asleep with Arthur in the other room, still awake, was not easy. At all.

----------------

Arthur walked over to Ariadne’s desk, a few files in hand. It wasn’t anything she’d asked for specifically, but he knew she would appreciate them all the same. After all, she seemed genuinely interested in paradoxical structures, and Arthur always liked things that weren’t as they initially appeared to be, warping the viewer’s perspective.

“I think you’ll find this of interest,” Arthur said, standing behind her chair and leaning around her casually. She looked up at him with her warm eyes and smiled. Arthur found himself smiling back at her, and he went on to explain the qualities of the different structures.

Eames watched out of the corner of his eye, writing on a white board with his back mostly turned to Arthur and Ariadne. It was one of the first days in months that he was not enjoying working with the two since they had started working as a trio. He sighed a little, rubbing a palm over his forehead as he placed a period on the end of his sentence.

Looking over his notes, he noticed his handwriting was even worse than usual. He was so tired.

Ariadne murmured something under her breath near Arthur’s ear, her hand resting lightly over the top of his on her desk. A beat passed and Arthur laughed, a soft sound that rang out clearly throughout the room. When he had finished, he quickly replied in a low tone, smiling wide enough that it even reached his eyes.

Eames turned around a little, his eyebrows raised. He was no stranger to the lighthearted flirtation between the two, but he’d never really thought about it before, or even cared. The three of them enjoyed the playful banter together usually. And Eames himself playfully courted the both of them simultaneously. After all... after... he paused, scratched his chin. Where was he going with this?

He lowered his eyes to the floor. At least, he’d always thought it’d been lighthearted. Arthur hadn’t come to bed in three nights. Could he be...? No. That’s ridiculous. Right?

He felt his stomach sink a little anyway.

“Well, we’ll see, won’t we?” Arthur said, laughter still in his voice. Then, as he moved away, he placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently.

Eames couldn’t suppress the slight wince. He shook his head, and turned his back. This is ridiculous. You’re being ridiculous. They’ve always been like that. Why is it different now?

It’s different because Arthur would rather work all night than come to bed with you. He frowned at himself. He would kick himself for thinking like this, but he was so damn tired. These kinds of thoughts would disappear when he’d gotten a good night’s sleep. Hopefully.

---------

“No, no, it’s not like that...” Arthur said in a hushed tone. He glanced at the clock on his desk, the hands indicating it was 3:44 AM. “Yes? I mean... ...ok, yes, I do, are you happy now?” He couldn’t help the small chuckle that came up, even though he was bone-tired.

Eames listened to the conversation quietly from beside the open door. He paused there momentarily, holding his breath, listening to Arthur talk on the phone. It was 4 AM. He’d wondered to whom he would talk on the phone to at 4 AM.

Besides him. Like they used to. Before they started living together and were thousands of miles apart.

But Eames knew whom he was talking to. He only ever talked like that to Ariadne. Who was visiting her family in America, far, far away from their current little headquarters in Rome.

He suddenly felt like he’d been punched, and he couldn’t tell who he was more angry at, himself, or Arthur, who wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Nothing wrong.

God, was he even angry at Ariadne? No, he wasn’t. He doubted she meant any harm at all. He couldn’t bring himself to be mad at her.

She was always so sweet, so nice. Eames could see why Arthur would want to talk to her.

Eames moved to the bedroom and opened a drawer in the nightstand, pulling out a bottle of scotch.

---------

Arthur rubbed the heel of his hand against his eye as he looked over the documents he’d collected on the least interesting mark he’d ever seen. Yawning for the sixth time in twenty minutes, he wasn’t sure if it was because of the late night and early morning or because this was the most boring extraction they’d ever pulled.

Just as he was sliding his hand over his mouth to stifle a seventh yawn, Ariadne came over to his desk. “Looks like you could use this,” she said as she handed him a mug of freshly made coffee. “There’s three sugars and two tablespoons of creamer, just the way you like it.”

Arthur swiveled in his chair towards her, gratitude written all over his face. “Mmm, you read my mind, thank you, babe.” He took the proffered mug and sipped it, the warmth spreading through his body and making him more awake and alert. It was a good way to start the morning.

Ariadne grinned widely and ran her long fingers over his shoulder as she went back to her worktable. “Anytime, Arthur.”

Eames, a few yards away from Arthur’s desk, froze in his tracks. Arthur and Ariadne had their backs to him, and for that he was thankful as he looked down at the mug in his hands. Three sugars and two tablespoons of creamer.

His stomach wrenched, hard, and he quickly backed away and went back to the kitchen of the abandoned restaurant, putting the mug on the table. He leaned on the counter, his palms flat on either side of the mug, staring straight down into the viscous liquid.

The muscles in his back suddenly spasmed; he hadn’t realized he was clenching every single muscle in his body. He rolled his shoulders a little to release the tension, closed his eyes, opened them again.

Arthur had never, ever called him a pet name. Ever.

He passed a hand roughly across his face. At least the coffee won’t go to waste. He pulled a silver flask out of his jacket pocket.

------------

Back in their temporary safe house in Moscow, they’d just completed another job and were busy packing up, and Arthur was glad of it. As one could perhaps tell from his many layers of clothing he wore daily, he hated the cold. It sank into his bones and caused him to shiver ridiculously. His ears were red, he was sure, as well as his nose and cheeks. So when he felt a small form beside him reach up and gently wrap a warm scarf around his neck, he reached a hand up and rested it lightly on her’s.

Closing his eyes and exhaling a sigh, he said, “Oh, Ariadne, how I love you.”

The words made Eames flinch. He’d never thought that those three words could hurt so badly, but they did. He slowly pulled his coat over his shoulders. He was so thankful that he’d finished that bottle of gin before he’d packed his suitcase.

The slight floating of the room was all that was keeping him from doing, saying something he’d regret. Not that it mattered. He wonder if he’d done something to distance himself from the man who, a few months ago, couldn’t wait to crawl into bed with him.

Two years. Well, more like three. They’d lived together, slept together. Arthur had never told Eames he loved him, even in a lighthearted manner.

And the realization stung, burned his skin, like bees, stinging him over and over. He buttoned up the coat and followed them outside without another word. He didn’t say anything else the entire trip home. Not one word.


cont.
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indybreeindybree on December 4th, 2010 05:23 am (UTC)
Oh my, this! It broke my heart, but it was just an amazing fic. You really captured all the emotions so well and it was just beautiful. <3 I love it.
shiverelectric: bad wolfshiverelectric on December 4th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, but this ride isn't over yet xD
LaTia: inception; arthur/eames otpjacquise on December 4th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC)
okay, so.
1. this was bloody brilliant.
2. somehow, and it must be a testament to how I will read A/E fiction without caring who wrote it, i managed to NOT realize that it was YOU that wrote this.
3. With #2 in mind, HNNNNNNNNNGH, BB. <3333
4. WHERE IS THE REST.
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 4th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC)
Haha, oh oats, you are the best! And it wasn't just me, you can blame Hek equally as much for breaking hearts like a freight train xD

And I should have all the parts up tonight as I complete editing each section (it's taking longer than I expected because in rereading it, I well...you'll see >_> )
pgp128 on December 6th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
'twas a lovely read. Can't wait for the next parts.

PS) Out of all the possible languages for the report to be written in, why slovenian?
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
Hmm, at the time I did a search for lesser-known languages, and slovenian stuck with me as being the final incarnation of a difficult to translate document that had already been put through a couple translations. So no disrespect to any speakers of the slovene language, it more seemed an interesting choice and to somewhat show that Arthur isn't completely the master of language that he's sometimes portrayed as.

Thanks again for reading and I hope you like the rest!
pgp128 on December 6th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Heh. I've just seen the "cont" link (missed it before) - going to read the rest.

And don't worry - as a Slovene, I can tell you, we're pretty much gluttons for any kind of attention thrown at us. That's what you get for being a small nation. :P