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05 December 2010 @ 07:30 pm
The Space Between I and You (4/4)  
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Eames gasped for air as he shot up in bed. He took a deep breath and tried to steady himself as he removed himself from the device; he’d never gotten used to dying in the dream that way. He swallowed, still trying to catch his breath and turned his head, seeing Arthur’s form next to him. His breath caught in his throat. He grabbed for his totem in a frantic manner, running his fingers across it, searching for the truth.

Real. It wasn’t just part of his subconscious. Arthur was here.

Arthur had cringed when he died, whether it was from the house landing on him or the look on Eames’ face when he realized what Arthur had done, but it carried over back into reality regardless. Violent deaths were nothing to him, just another part of the job, but this wasn’t for the job. This wasn’t for work. And being honest with himself, he’d felt a lot worse during the past fortnight, so it must have been Eames, all of it was Eames.

He turned his head slightly into the rough sheets of the mattress when he was fully awake, feeling the shifting of the bed beneath him. He blinked, tears still trailing down his face. He inhaled slowly, taking in the stale scent of the bed underlaid with Eames as he removed the needle, and exhaled. He’d come this far, but all he could do was wait now, too exhausted physically and emotionally to do anything else.

Eames watched Arthur for a minute, until it finally sunk in. Arthur was here. That means he’d followed him, had track him down like an animal, and then invaded his private dream, an act that had always got him in grave trouble with Arthur before. Eames’ jaw immediately set in a firm line. His face filled with rage as he heard Arthur raising his voice to him in his mind, repeating the horrible things he had said to him.

The thoughts and emotion were incredibly fleeting. He’d always assumed Arthur was a person that never cried, but he had been wrong. He had been wrong about a lot of things. He could count the times he’d seen Arthur cry on one hand, and every time had been painful to watch, not to mention a shock.

He hated seeing Arthur upset. It made him feel physically ill knowing something had hurt Arthur that much.

He wasn’t sure why Arthur was here, why he had invaded his dream, or why he now lay beside him, the dim light of the room reflecting off his wet face as his facade lay in shambles around him. It didn’t really matter to him anymore, at least, not now.

He exhaled shortly through his nose, relaxing his face and his body, his gaze getting softer with every passing second. He sighed a bit, pursing his lips, before he slid an arm underneath Arthur’s shoulders, helping him up to a sitting position. He guided him gently and patiently back into his arms, wrapping them around him tightly, allowing Arthur to rest his head against his shoulder.

Arthur’s breath hitched, and it was all too much to keep in, same as in the dream. He wrapped his arms around Eames’ waist, pulling tight as he cried and cried into the crook of Eames’ neck. His eyes and throat and chest burned with it, his body shaking with the force of everything crashing down around and out of him.

It happened so rarely to him, that whenever it did he felt like he was caught, shame and embarrassment curling in his stomach. But this wasn’t like being caught being weak. This was something different, he could tell by the way Eames’ arm held him so close like he knew, and even if he didn’t it was enough for Arthur.

Eames held him fast, feeling every shake and tremble as all of Arthur’s pain came searing out of him, and he gently and slowly caressed and stroked the back of Arthur’s neck with his free hand. Arthur’s skin was hot and damp, and he could feel wetness running down the collar of his sweater. But it didn’t matter.

Touching and holding the real Arthur was indescribably better than his dreams, and he fought to keep it together. He couldn’t believe he had actually come to him, in this horrid frigid city. But hearing Arthur so broken was painful, and he shut his eyes tightly to keep his own problems at bay. Arthur was suffering, and he was damned if he was going to let him suffer alone.

“There now, it’s all right,” he whispered soothingly after awhile, hearing Arthur slow down a bit to catch his breath. He moved his hand slowly from Arthur’s neck down his back. “That’s it, take a deep breath. You’re going to make yourself sick if you carry on like that.”

Arthur inhaled, choked on the last of his sobs, then tried again. He shook his head and rose up enough so that his mouth was even with Eames’ ear. “I,” his voice broken on the single syllable, wrecked from his recent bout, as well as having hardly used it much since Eames left. “I’m so sorry, Eames.”

He leaned back, not out of Eames’ embrace, just enough so he could look into his eyes, those eyes that sometimes seemed to see right through to the core of him. The eyes that held so much pain because of Arthur, and how long ago was it that Arthur stopped looking that he didn’t see it earlier?

“God, Eames, I’m so fucking sorry.” He moved a hand to Eames’ cheek, the hair not quite prickly, but not yet soft. “I didn’t...” I didn’t mean it, he wanted to say, but that would have been a lie and they were beyond lying to each other, rarely had. The thing with words that pierce hearts, there’s always a truth in them, and that’s what makes it hurt so much.

Eames looked back at him solemnly out of tired eyes, the lines around them prominent as ever. He laid his hand over Arthur’s and clasped his fingers over it, bringing it away and brushing his lips over the other man’s knuckles. He took a deep breath, squeezing his hand as he lowered them to their laps. He didn’t let go, instead entwined their fingers.

He suddenly felt ten years older, and though he had slept most of the time while staying there, he was still so, so tired. He sighed, low and long.

He raised his other hand and moved his palm across Arthur’s stubbled cheek, wiping away his tears. He looked more at his hand than at Arthur’s face. “Is that what’s got you so upset?” he questioned quietly.

Arthur’s breath stilled at the soft touch, and he had to lower his eyes at the question. There wasn’t any one thing that caused his heart to burn and break. “It’s everything, all of it.” It’s nothing and it’s you.

He glanced back up at Eames, his chest tight, but it was time to come clean, wasn’t it? He dipped his head, squeezing Eames’ hand, and murmured, “I didn’t know...how it would look from the outside. “

Eames carefully palmed away the wetness from his other cheek before he tipped Arthur’s chin up gently, looking at him with a firmness that was meant to be comforting. God, he had missed that face. It was still beautiful, even when it was swollen and red and blotchy.

“It’s all right, love,” he said softly, and the pet name felt strange on his lips, it’d been so out of use. But he felt a great relief to use them again. “It was a little worrisome, that’s all.”

He paused, a sudden pang of guilt stabbing him in the chest. “Arthur...” he started. He bit his lip, tried again. “Arthur, I didn’t think you were cheating. I never thought that, I promise you.” He tucked a stray tuft of hair that had come out of place behind Arthur’s ear. “I just... I just thought you weren’t interested in… being with me anymore.”

How stupid Arthur was, that he’d driven Eames to feeling such a way, when it was all for him. He grabbed Eames’ hand at his chin, grasping both tightly. “Eames, listen to me,” he said, his voice clear for the first time in days. “You, you’re more than I deserve.”

And there was too much more to say and never enough, and not enough time to express it except for the few seconds that felt like eternity.

Eames, I love you.

Eames opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Had Arthur really just said that? He felt an instinct to reach for his totem. Up until now, only his projections said that. But this wasn’t a dream.

Eames felt a small smile tug at the corner of his mouth, and he felt his throat close up. “I... I love you, too,” he replied quietly, looking down at their conjoined hands before looking back up at Arthur. He had never stopped loving him.

Arthur felt every muscle in his body relax, like a weight had finally been taken off his shoulders. Was it really as easy as that? He remembered Ariadne had said, just say how you feel, but things like that are hard to say without the proper vocabulary. He thought it would suffice if he showed Eames in the way he touched him, the way he breathed his name, but no, he could feel the difference as his body thrummed with the energy of saying it aloud and meaning it.

He leaned forward and pressed his lips softly against Eames’. Both of their lips were chapped from the cold, but it was one of the best moments he’d shared with Eames, or anyone for that matter.

Eames pushed forward a little into the kiss, placing a hand lightly on Arthur’s neck to steady them. Gentle and slow, his body shivered with the contact. And after the kiss ended his mouth lingered and he placed a second, quicker kiss on Arthur’s mouth before he pulled back. They let a few inches between their faces, but Eames kept his hand on Arthur’s neck, his thumb following the line of his jaw.

He swallowed, feeling the burning in his throat. God, it was such a release to hear Arthur say that, though the sea of turmoil had moved slowly up his stomach. It was getting hard to hold back.

“What made you...?” He paused. Change your mind? Decide to say it, if you always have? He wasn’t sure how he’d end that question, so he just fell silent.

As if he could hear the unfinished questions, Arthur smiled sadly. “I’ve wanted to tell you that for a long time, Eames,” he answered, resting his forehead against Eames’, breathing each other’s air. He licked his lips; Arthur could taste the telltale acrid residue of cigarettes from Eames’ mouth. He had missed even this habit he thought had ended so long ago. “But I...didn’t know how. I’ve never said it to anyone before.... well, before,” he ended before his voice broke again, but he knew Eames knew what he meant.

Eames pushed his forehead against Arthur’s slightly, making himself more comfortable on the bed. He made a thoughtful, sad noise in his throat. “Is it because we’re...” He cleared his throat. “Er. Is it because I’m...” Fuck. He was not doing well with finishing sentences. He had always been articulate. So what was the problem?

Arthur closed his eyes and groaned softly, “Eames, you knew it from the start. I never really had a problem with that.” But he could feel his cheeks flushing slightly nonetheless.

“That so?” Eames said, thoughtfully scratching his nose. He pulled back a little. “Then why did you promptly ignore me for those few years after we shagged?”

Arthur looked at Eames sidelong, shrugged a shoulder. Though he’d asked variations of that same question many times, Arthur had found ways to skirt around that issue and distract the curious forger. This time, though he didn’t want to lose Eames because of why, he also knew that Eames had put up with him doing his damnedest to push him away during that time.

Taking a breath and meeting Eames’ eyes, he said with a deliberateness, “Quite frankly, I didn’t like you, Eames. You...annoyed me in more ways than you knew.” Arthur glanced away and looked at his hands, a small smile playing on his lips, “Sometimes, I think that if it weren’t for how much I drank that night, I would have avoided you forever.”

Eames looked at Arthur with his brow creased, tilting his head to get a better look into the other man’s face, and his lips twitched. He snorted, the corners of his mouth turning upwards. He started to chuckle, and then plain laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

“Oh, fuck, Arthur. I think I already knew that,” he chuckled, wrapping an arm around Arthur’s waist. “But you didn’t regret what we did, though?”

Arthur’s smile grew, and he found himself laughing quietly as well. “Hmm, if I did,” he began as he raised a hand to Eames’ face and then up into his hair, “do you think I would have found you again after the first Fischer job?”

Eames made a little noise of complacence. “What made you do that, anyway? If you thought I was annoying?” he chuckled. Before Arthur could answer, he looked down at his hands and noticed he was still trembling a little bit. My nerves are shot all to hell. He reached back into his back pocket, pulling out a somewhat flattened carton of cigarettes. “You mind?” he asked, meeting Arthur’s eyes. He was still going to have one even if Arthur said no, but he still felt the need to be polite about it.

The corner of Arthur’s mouth twitched up. “As if you’d listen to me any way,” he said, holding up two fingers. “Though you did for a couple years, so I suppose I can overlook it for now.”

Eames smiled and instead of placing a cigarette between his waiting fingers, he slipped it straight in his mouth, same as he’d done those years ago, then followed suit. Arthur, noticing the slight way Eames’ hand wavered as he struck a cheap match, laid his own hand over Eames’, steadying him as they brought it up between them.

Eames gripped the little stick of wood tightly as the two men leaned in, Eames allowing Arthur to make sure his cigarette was lit before letting himself lean too far forward. The little flame was hot on the men’s faces, casting dancing flickers of light across their faces. The room was still fairly cold though Eames had sworn he’d turned the radiator on before he’d gone under.

He leaned back against the headboard of the bed, to give Arthur space, and took a long, satisfying drag, lowering his eyes and letting the smoke seep slowly out of his slightly parted lips.

He paused for a minute, letting the nicotine sink in. Shit. It didn’t seem to be working. He was still shaking. He tapped some ash into a tray on the nightstand, then raised the cigarette to his mouth again.

“Arthur, I couldn’t blame you for wanting a little...normalcy in your life,” he said thoughtfully, quietly. He shrugged a little, knowing that most likely, Arthur was tired of talking about this. But the thoughts kept troubling him, even after his profession. “You deserve to have a beautiful woman, a normal life. Don’t you want that?”

Watching Eames, Arthur knew the thoughts tumbling around his head, and he felt guilty that he’d put them there. He took a pull of the cigarette, the smoke burning his throat slightly, exhaled, and rested it in the ashtray. “Eames,” he said in a soft low tone, shifting on the bed until he was curling up into the other man, his head on his chest. “What about our lives is normal? And even then, no, I don’t want that.” Arthur leaned back until he was able to look up at Eames’ face and catch his eyes, and murmured, “I want you.”

Eames shifted so Arthur could align his body to his. Arthur’s body was warm and familiar, his sharp elbows and a sturdiness that was surprising. Eames watched Arthur lay his head on his chest, looking up at him; his nose still tinged red from his earlier jag and a dark stubble covering his jaw and upper lip, even his neck. He gently ran his free hand through Arthur’s thick, dark hair that seemed to be even free of product. He felt something snap in his chest somewhere under Arthur’s cheek.

“As long as you’re happy, love,” Eames murmured. He looked back at the burning cigarette in his hand, and his mouth twitched again and he started to chuckle. It was followed by a light laugh as he tapped the ash into the ashtray.

Arthur looked up at him, lines in his forehead as he gave the forger a confused look. “What’s so funny?”

Eames took a light pull of the cigarette before he answered, letting the smoke expel from his mouth with his words.

“It’s just that... you and I never smoked after we had sex, even when I smoked like a bloody chimney,” he chuckled, and suddenly his eyes were burning, and he pushed the heel of his palm against one, still holding the cigarette away from his face. “But here we are, after a fight, and smoking in bed, when we’ve both supposedly quit. It’s just... kind of funny.” His words trailed off, still smiling a bit.

Arthur laughed, but it was cut short by a stifled yawn. Eames watched Arthur’s eyelids flutter, felt the vibrations subside. He cleared his throat and sighed as he took in the other man. Arthur looked awful: dark circles under his eyes, dark stubble mottling his jaw, and he felt thin.

Feeling his body relax, Eames made a mental note to make Arthur’s favorite dish when they got home. Home. He could go home.

Eames stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray, then shifted and gently pulled Arthur down to lay with him on the bed. “Come on, love. You look terrible,” he said quietly.

Arthur’s eyes snapped open, a reflex he’d developed lately whenever he felt himself falling asleep. He looked at Eames sharply, then recognition filed his face, softening his gaze. He nodded his agreement, shrugging out of his coat and kicking his shoes off, not caring where or how they landed, then slid underneath the scratchy covers, fully clothed.

Eames helped the exhausted, fumbling man get himself underneath the cheap bedcover before he slid in next to him, on his side so he was facing Arthur. His eyes were already closed.

“Arthur?” he whispered. When Arthur made a sleepy noise in response, Eames smiled before wrapping his arms around him and pulling him close. “Thank you.”

Arthur’s cheeks dimpled as he nuzzled closer, and beneath the sheets he fumbled for a moment, then brought his hand up to rest heavily against Eames’ chest, right over his pounding heart. “I love you,” he said softly.

Eames grinned in return, taking Arthur’s hand gently off his chest and pulled the key out, which he turned over in his palm. “I love you too,” he replied, his breath hot against Arthur’s forehead.

“Thank you for this back,” he said, slipping the key back into Arthur’s shirt pocket. When Arthur made a face to protest, Eames held a finger to his lips and smiled. “But I’m already home.”
charliechick117: inceptioncharliechick117 on December 6th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)

Let's see if I can type through my tears! That last line, that pretty much ended me. It's so perfect and sweet and wonderful and I loved every bit of this story.
shiverelectric: mermaid!fotcshiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
Sorry to make you cry (though not really, I'm glad we were able to elicit such a response!) and thanks soooo much for reading!

Also, that was my favorite line too, especially after the emotional rollercoaster of it all!
LaTia: inception; arthur/eames otpjacquise on December 6th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)

shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)

clair3clair3 on December 6th, 2010 08:55 am (UTC)
great end to this!
shiverelectric: dance!harukoshiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Likimeya: Arthur-Eames chibis_likimeya on December 6th, 2010 09:29 am (UTC)
Awwwwww, very sweet, all of it! :)
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

And your icon, gaaah, I love it!
time_was_lost: arthur & eamestime_was_lost on December 6th, 2010 10:06 am (UTC)
Wowowow, this was amazing - I love the way you wrote this, definitely a favourite! Those twooooo -shakes fist-
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you so much! A/E know how to angst on a level I can't really find with any others, except Arthur/Cobb, or maybe Dom/Mal.
firelement85: Eames level 3firelement85 on December 6th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
Gah, my heart, it hurts so good. Wonderful angst.
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
I knooow, I love angst, but especially when it has a happier resolution (I love the ones that end on a sad note, too, but they tear me up so damn much ;__; )
fight_bears: Eames Suitfight_bears on December 6th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
The rest of it was so beautiful! I'm so happy that everything was resolved!

The story was wonderful!
shiverelectric: a/e chushiverelectric on December 6th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! We sure did put them through a ringer (and there was even more of an angstier ending, if you can believe it), so I'm glad the emotional payoff of it all was well worth it!
fight_bearsfight_bears on December 6th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
I'm sure the angstier ending would have still been good, though. Sometimes the unhappy ending can be better than the happy ones (mostly due to the fact that life doesn't always go as planned)

But the story was lovely and the emotional payoff was COMPLETELY worth it!

I will look forward to reading more from you!
lost_in_the_zoolost_in_the_zoo on December 6th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
OMG. You know those stories you read when you literally feel how the character is feeling? And your heart drops and chest hurts reading it? Omfg that was me. I accidently skipped class because I was so engrossed in this! Just lovely, I don't even have words right now.
Nemesisternemesister on December 7th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Loved this. Very touching!
cydnee199cydnee199 on December 8th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
That was fantastic. Well done/
Beff bEFF: rawr tombethycool on December 9th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC)

The crying just made it seem more real~ Arthur being all snuggly and showing his emotions was so precious.
Orionorion_nightbane on December 9th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
The ending was perfect!!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥
lezzerlee: Eameslezzerlee on December 25th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
God I love angst with happy endings (love angst with any ending actually) but this was so lovely!
too_rationaltoo_rational on April 13th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
You made me all choked up and sniffly, and every time Arthur unwittingly did something to cut Eames, a huge fist wrapped around my heart and SQUEEZED. ;_;

Well done. <3