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09 November 2010 @ 04:39 pm
Losing to Win (2/3)  
Part One

Arthur looked away from the beaming man beside him and made a small noncommittal hum. He grabbed his glass and downed the rest of the contents in one go. The amber liquid burned it's way down to settle in the pit of his stomach alongside a matching, similar low burn.

He shifted in his seat, and swirled the remaining ice cubes in his glass. "Do you have anything else to drink here?"

Eames took the seat opposite Arthur again, peering into the bottle of scotch. He made a face and shrugged.

"I'm sorry, love. It appears you've drank all of my alcohol. I'm not sure I should even give you anymore, anyway. You're looking a little lopsided."

Arthur shook his head, and then realized he was a bit light-headed and tipsy. Not quite drunk, exactly, just, easier to let go.

"I can handle my alcohol, Eames, but thanks for your concern," he shrugged, then took another glance around the room. "So, I can spare an hour or two; do you want to play cards or something?" he asked.

Eames smiled at Arthur, drumming his fingers lightly on the table. He reached up and mindlessly played with the next done button on his shirt, unbuttoning it.

"That sounds lovely. Do you happen to have a pack?"

Arthur almost missed the question entirely, his attention focused on the forger's hands playing at the button of his shirt. When the button became undone and exposed just a bit more of Eames' skin underneath, his breath hitched in his throat, and he noticed the forger's eyes watching him. He had a sudden shock of bashfulness and hoped that Eames hadn't noticed the way he was staring at him.

"Um, yeah, I pack a set whenever I travel, it helps with boredom, I'll go grab them now," he rambled all in one breath and rose from the chair a bit too fast to be casual. He grabbed his vest and made his way to the door, calling over his shoulder, "I'll just be two minutes."

Eames watched Arthur go, feeling a small shudder of excitement at the power he had just discovered. He now had a new favorite game to play: drive Arthur absolutely nuts. He grinned to himself and waited for Arthur to return.

Arthur stumbled out of the door and as soon as it was closed he leaned heavily against it, knocking his head lightly on the worn wood. He closed his eyes and waited for his chest to stop feeling so tight.

After a moment, he crossed the hallway into his room, fumbling for the light switch on the wall. He crossed quickly to his open suitcase on the bureau, laid his waistcoat aside it, and grabbed the deck he carried with him everywhere. He started to make his way back to Eames's room, but as an afterthought grabbed the full bottle of scotch from his mini fridge. Items in hand, he went back across the way and knocked on the door.

Eames opened the door for Arthur again, and grinned at the other man's sway and the bottle of scotch clutched in his hand.

"You wouldn't happen to be trying to drink me into a more attractive person, would you?" he purred, gently putting a hand on Arthur's back as he went inside.

Arthur shivered at the touch and a small giggle (a giggle? what the hell was wrong with him?) escaped him. He cleared his throat to cover it up and said lightly with a smirk, "No, I'm not really in the mood for alcohol poisoning tonight. This is to level the playing field. I wouldn't want you sulking all night and day because I'd beaten you so badly at cards."

Eames made a bemused face that wrinkled the corner of his eyes. He absentmindedly scratched at his collar bone.

"You think I'm rotten at cards, eh? Well, we'll just see about that, won't we?"

Arthur's mouth went completely dry. Maybe he'd had too much or too little scotch. He simply nodded and sat back at the table, refilling both his and Eames's glass. "What do you want to play?" he asked when he trusted his voice to be mostly even.

"I think we should play poker." Eames responded calmly, watching Arthur drink. "You're familiar with the game, are you not?"

Arthur swallowed, barely even registering the slow burn of the drink and took another swig automatically to moisten his mouth. "Of course. You can even deal first hand," he added offhand.

Eames took the deck of cards out of Arthur's hand and started to shuffle them. However it soon became apparent that he was squinting at them.

"Ah. Hold on a second." He reached into the bag next to the table and pulled out a case. He slipped a pair of rimless glasses onto his nose, and continued to nonchalantly shuffle then deal the cards.

Arthur, who had been again drawn to the movements of the forger's hands shuffling, nearly choked on the scotch when he saw Eames slip the glasses on his face, easy as anything, and then return to shuffling with his hypnotic hands.

"Wh-what are those?" he asked around the hand he'd brought up to his mouth, urge to bite into his fist steadily climbing as Eames looked at him over the glasses.

Eames gave him a coy smile. "They're my reading glasses, darling. I'm afraid reading without them gives me a terrible headache." He continued to smile to himself as he dealt Arthur his first hand, and then his own.

"Surely you've seen folk wear them before?" he added.

Arthur closed his slightly agape mouth and picked up his cards. "I do, I just meant, I've never seen you wear them before," he finished a bit lamely, looking at his hand, which was shit, but Eames didn't have to know that.

Then he frowned as he realized something. "What are we betting anyway?"

Eames sat back, looking down at his hand and slipping a hand in between the buttons of his shirt. He grinned.

"I just got them a week ago. I'm not partial to wearing them around the team, don't want them thinking I'm smarter than you, Arthur," he chuckled.

"I'm just kidding, love. As for the bets, I suppose we could start with change, and work our way up?"

"Ah, y-yeah, that's fine…" Arthur stammered out, hand blindly reaching for his glass of scotch, only to find he had emptied it sometime in the past few minutes. But he could hardly be blamed when Eames was sitting there, doing -that- with his hand, it was very nearly indecent.

Arthur poured himself another glass, then reached into his pocket for his change. "I have," he began, counting the various few coins, "about $1.13. I should be able to get a hand or two out of that."

Eames pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and added in a few quarters and a half-dollar. He leaned back and continued to play with his buttons, undoing two of them, then doing them back up, then putting them back. He also let a few fingers run down his neck every once in awhile. He watched Arthur's reactions and distinct lack of poker face with relish, enjoying the sight to a high degree. Needless to say, Arthur's money was gone in twenty minutes.

Arthur isn't sure what happened in the blur of hands dealing cards and moving and a number of things that Arthur is sure he'll remember for times when he's alone, but he'd lost every hand, even when he began playing a bit cautiously to conserve change.

"I think.." he began, meeting Eames in the eye and then quickly looking away, "I think somewhere in there you were cheating."

Eames made a pouty face as he finally undid the two buttons he'd been teasing Arthur with. He then rested his fingers on his forehead as he gazed over his cards, leaning back on his chair.

"Cheating? You slander me, Arthur. I would never cheat. Maybe we just need to raise the stakes a little bit."

Arthur licked his lips. He'd take another drink of scotch, but it'd been failing him so far in quenching his unexplainable thirst.

"What do we have left to wager? Our clothes?" he said with a half-laugh, half-hysterical fantasy that just came up out of nowhere, and why oh why did he say that?

"Have you ever played strip poker, Arthur?" Eames asked with a coy grin, undoing another button.

It's almost a subconscious response that Arthur's eyes immediately trained themselves on the deft fingers undoing yet another button, and he vaguely noted that before long Eames would run out of them.

He shook his head to clear himself of his stupor, and replied, "N-no…but I'd heard about people doing it in college…"

"Would you like to try it?" Eames said in a sultry voice, leaning forward a little and looking up at Arthur above his glasses.

Like the pull of a strong magnet, Arthur leaned forward ever so slightly. Or maybe it's even more like gravity as he felt himself falling and falling towards something bigger than he is, or was, and maybe even ever will be singularly. He can't trust his voice, not when those eyes look at him like that over those while his fingers do that there, so he settles for nodding as uneagerly as possible.

Eames laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "All right then. First hand." He cleared his throat then shuffled several cards to Arthur. Within ten minutes, Eames cupped his chin in his hand and looked coyly at Arthur.

"All right, darling. You lose. It's time to lose that shirt."

Arthur's mouth dropped as he looked at the cards on the table. He couldn't believe it, but he wasn't going to let Eames have the satisfaction of seeing him wimp out of anything. Fascination or not, he wouldn't lose this particular battle of wills.

Locking eyes with the forger, he raised his left wrist, undoing the cufflink, then switched to the right cufflink, placing them on the table. He brought his fingers up to his collar, loosening his tie before he began working on the buttons, drawing out the process and taking much longer than was strictly necessary.

Now it was Eames' turn to squirm, as he watched the point man take off his shirt. Sweat was starting to bead on his forehead and he tugged at his collar. He should've known Arthur would pick up on his game, fast, and turn the tables on him. Well, two could play at that game. If he was so good at tilting the tables in his favor, he could turn them against himself, too.

"Looks like I have to shed a layer as well," he said in an extremely noncommittal voice. His hands went up and he started on the buttons.

Arthur was completely fixated on the way Eames' fingers seemed to flirt with the buttons before caressing them through the buttonholes. With each button removed, Arthur felt a dull throbbing settle deep in his stomach and lower.

Eames finished the buttons and then slowly moved his hands into the shirt and started to slide it off his shoulder, slowly revealing his tanned skin and black ink zigzagging over collarbone, his shoulder, his arm. He finally got the shirt all the way off and tossed it aside.

Arthur couldn't control the half-strangled groan he let out at the sight of Eames shirtless. He shifted in his seat, lacing his fingers together and leaning on the table with his elbows. "I never knew..." Arthur began as neutrally as possible, dragging his eyes up and down the forger's torso of elegant ink and toned muscles, licking his lips, "..that you had gotten so many new tattoos, Mr Eames."

A wicked grin slowly spread across his face when he heard the groan, which seemed to light up his whole face as he leaned forward on the table on his elbows. He lifted a hand and trailed the celtic lines of the one on his right shoulder, slowly with one finger.

"You like....?" he asked in a smoky voice.

Arthur's eyes shone brightly as he followed the pattern of swirl the finger traced on his skin. "They, suit you well," he replied as smoothly as possible, though his voice began to deepen just the slightest. He moved one of his hands to rest near his collar bone, while gathering the cards up with his other hand. "Shall we continue?"

Arthur leaned back in the chair and began to shuffle the cards slowly, eyes flicking up every so often to meet Eames' eyes. He was in a conundrum; if he lost, he'd have to disrobe yet another article and feel the forger's eyes like a physical touch -- but if he won, then Eames would undress in that tantalizingly hypnotic way, making Arthur feel just the dirtiest for watching him.

He decided he'd have to just deal the cards and let them go as they may.

Eames continued to grin devilishly at Arthur, meeting Arthur's eyes whenever he looked up, leaning back on the back legs of his chair. Now, with no buttons to play with, he placed a hand on his stomach, gently drumming his fingers on the taut skin there. After seven minutes, he placed his hand face up on the table.

"Royal flush, Arthur," he said, his voice laden with taunting.

-----

cont.