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I Will Change My Ways

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Eames meets Ariadne at the lounge attached to his hotel, sitting on a stool at the bar with a coke in one hand as she scans the rest of the patrons. It's early enough for most of them to be sober; there are mostly couples laughing intimately at each other over tables, with a few louder crowds of businessmen roaring in ostentatious humor. In her slacks and loose cotton shirt, with a non-alcoholic drink, Ariadne feels like an interloper as she sips, tapping one thumb against the smooth surface of the bar.

Eames walks through the door a calculated five minutes late. How fashionable Ariadne thinks as he strides toward her in a suit and silk shirt, grinning like a cat who got the cream and the canary.

"Hello, Ariadne." He takes her hand in his and kisses her knuckles, still grinning. She smiles wryly and pointedly takes her hand back. They both know why they're here, but she understands Eames well enough to know that the back and forth is part of the appeal for him.

"Hi," she says. Eames slides onto the stool beside her and waves to the bartender. The woman nods and mixes a drink. Ariadne isn't so much impressed as wryly amused and she grins as she takes another swallow of her coke. Of course he's utterly ingratiated himself into the machinations of this place in less than forty-eight hours.

Eames accepts his drink with a small salute to the bartender, then turns back to Ariadne. Behind the smiles and the charm, she can sense him inspecting their interactions, turning them over in his mind to arrive at the best interpretation of what's really being said. Ariadne wonders if it would save time to tell him that she's not really in the habit of lying and double speak, or if he'd just assume it's another layer of games being played.

"I wasn't entirely sure you would actually come," Eames says lightly, sipping at his drink. "Arthur seemed to think that going back to being a good little schoolgirl would be appealing after our misadventures."

Because Arthur secretly believes that everyone really wants normal, Ariadne thinks and doesn't say. Whatever's behind the tension that thrums between Eames and Arthur isn't Ariadne's business and she has no intention of getting involved.

A quick glance at her watch confirms that it's eleven and she has fifteen hours before she has to be on a plane to Tokyo, heading to another job with Saito. She hasn't been to France for any extended period of time since they landed in LA and maybe some part of her does regret the passing of what could have been, but she's too enthralled by what she's doing to mourn much.

She drains the rest of her coke and sets the glass down on the bar. "But here I am," she says. Her skin's already jumping with anticipation from her fantasies of how this is all going to work.

"Cheers." Eames raises his glass and knocks it back. He sets the glass down with a thud and looks back at Ariadne with something hot and electric and hungry in his eyes and a flush of pink burning high on his cheeks. "So, do you know what it is you're in a position to accept?"

Ariadne cocks her head. "Do you know what it is you're offering?"

"Touche, darling." Eames stands and holds out his hand, just like a perfect simulacrum of a gentleman. Standing, Ariadne smoothes down her jacket and tucks her hands in her pockets. She looks at him with perfect innocence, all smiles and girlish batting eyelashes.

Eames laughs then, with a touch of both relief and expectation. "My God, where did Cobb find you? Come on, then."

His room is on the top floor of the hotel, a good twenty-five stories up. In the elevator, they stand close enough for their sides to lightly brush and they both stare at the number over the door. She counts along with the mild chimes: one, two, three all the way up to twenty-five when the doors slide open and they slip into the quiet, muted hallway.

The carpet beneath their feet is thick and opulent, because Eames isn't in his particular line of work for the thrill only. He likes his luxury and never pretends otherwise. Ariadne doesn't have quite the same zealous appreciation, but she can see the appeal, especially when his room proves to have a big bed and plenty of space.

Suddenly it's almost businesslike between them, but Ariadne understands that. She takes off her jacket and lays it at the end of the bed while Eames drags the lounge chair by the window nearer to the bed. Eames's silver case sits innocuously on top of the neatly made bed. There's a new scuff on one corner that she doesn't recognize. She smiles, wondering if Eames has been having adventures he declined to tell her about.

When the chair is in place, she sits in it and starts rolling up her sleeves while Eames positions himself on the bed and does the same. "I assume you've been practicing?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Ariadne fixes him with a pointed look. "No," she says, "I figured I'd just wing it."

Eames's smile is wry and Ariadne doesn't hold the question against him. To be perfectly honest, she doesn't completely grasp the depths of what this thing means to Eames or why he's chosen her of all people in the world to be sitting in his hotel room at nearly midnight. But the prospect of it is enough to send strange, heady washes of heat through her belly, so she's not much in the mood to question anyone's motives.

She thinks about asking why it's so important to do it in dreams, but she can acknowledge the slight unfairness of that question. There are too many answers.

Eames opens the case with practiced ease, drawing out two needles. He's gentle sliding the first one into Ariadne's wrist, though he disguises the gentleness with a mocking kiss to her skin and a lecherous look. Ariadne categorizes his grandiose gestures, his exaggeration, as a side-effect of nervousness and finds it endearing rather than patronizing.

He pushes the needle into his own skin with a slight flinch. "Would you like to do the honors?" he asks, nudging the case towards her.

Ariadne considers for a moment, then says, "Lie back." Eames does, settling his hands over his chest and breathing deeply, like it actually matters whether he wants to fall asleep or not. Careful to make sure she won't go sliding out of the chair when she falls asleep, Ariadne adjusts slightly, then presses the white dome.

When she opens her eyes again, she's standing in the middle of a loft, with the dark skyline of city glowing outside a wall of glass windows. It's the kind of apartment she dreamed about when she was a teenager, imagining the life she would have once she was rich and famous and she grins. Eames either got lucky or he's more perceptive than she gives him credit for.

"Oh, very nice." Eames's voice comes from behind her and she turns, unable to keep a slight smile at bay when she sees him.

Leaning against a doorway that probably leads to either a bathroom or a closet is a woman with blond hair pulled away from her face in a low ponytail at the nape of her neck. She's wearing a loose, comfortable looking black dress that drapes carelessly over her frame and her feet are bare. Eames's tattoos decorate her bare arms and it's slightly bizarre how much she looks like what Ariadne would have expected Eames's sister or mother to look like.

Which, of course, makes sense. It's the whole point of this tryst.

"What do you think?" Eames asks, lightly touching his hands to his breasts. "It's a bit less Playboy Bunny than I usually go, but then again you're not a lecherous, idiotic old man."

It's incredibly weird to hear Eames's voice coming from his Forged body. And yet, Ariadne feels a shudder that wraps around her spine and shoots heat along her nerves. "You're lovely," Ariadne replies with genuine sincerity and gets the faintest hint of a pink blush over Eames's skin.

"You're not so bad yourself."

Belatedly, Ariadne remembers that Eames isn't the only participant in this fantasy and she turns, searching for a reflective surface better than the windows and the distorted image they can provide. She catches sight of herself in an oval mirror hung on the wall beside the bed and walks toward it, marveling.

She'd spent more time than strictly necessary in building a mental picture of what she wanted to look like as a boy, as a man, really. Looking in the mirror is still unreal, like some kind of optic illusion designed to shock and titillate. Which, in all fairness, it is a kind of illusion, but the point isn't shock or titillation. Experimentation, maybe.

She touches her fingers to her face, feeling the unfamiliar, sharper planes. She rasps over the faint shadow of stubble on her cheeks, then runs her hand through short, thicker, darker hair. Eames comes up behind her and it's odd to have him go from six inches taller to four inches shorter.

Ariadne feels the press of his breasts against her back and the light pressure of his hands on her waist. Hot, shuddering desire surges through her in ways she's never experienced before. "You're right," she says, voice gone husky. "Not so bad at all."

They look at themselves in the mirror for a long moment, but this isn't about narcissism and Ariadne suddenly burns to try the things they talked around when they set the night up. It was all oblique, really. But now they're here, sharing something, and damned if she's not going to ride this thing as far as Eames will go with her. She suspects that'll be pretty damn far.

The door Eames was leaning against when they arrived in the loft turns out to lead to a bathroom of such ridiculous and improbable fucking proportions that Ariadne barks out a laugh when she steps through the door. The size of it defies the physics of the rest of the place. "The first rule of Architecture is learning to build in paradoxes," Eames says by rote, grinning.

Ariadne touches her hand to what looks like marble counter-top. "You're not supposed to make them so glaring."

"Thus why I am not an Architect."

Ariadne follows him into the bathroom and pushes herself up onto the counter between a pair of sinks. She realizes that all she's wearing is the bottom half of a pair of cotton pajamas and when she looks down, her chest is smooth and toned, though not overly muscular. Moving without the weight of ever her small breasts is mildly enthralling.

Eames coughs lightly and when she looks up, she finds the black dress has been discarded and he's standing naked and easy, cupping generous breasts in his hands. She notes the odd realism he's put into his Forged body. There are slight silvery stretch marks on the tops of his breasts and fanned over his hips. His belly isn't flat, but gently curved. He looks like the women Ariadne fumbled with beneath her sheets when she was an undergrad, exchanging frantic murmured kisses while their hands groped for each other.

On instinct, or perhaps from the desire to prove she's not here just to humor him, she slides down and pushes her pajama pants over her hips, letting them slither down her legs to puddle on the floor.

Cool air strikes against her skin in places it never has before, because they don't exist on her body and she has to bite back a noise of shock. Eames's eyes roam over her body, the dark hair on her legs and chest, at the top of her legs and trailing in a thin line to her belly button. And yes, over her cock. Ariadne looks down at herself, the expanse of unfamiliar body that she's borrowed for a night, and thinks it has to be normal that she really wants to touch it.

"Very nice indeed," Eames huffs out, words caught between desire and nervous laughter. He runs his hands down the curve of his waist and the generous outward flare of his hips. There's a thatch of light brown hair at the top of his thighs.

Slowly, she takes a step forward in a body that's taller and broader then she's used to, muscled in ways that are unfamiliar. She feels a little tipsy, like she's drunk half a bottle of wine and the sensation is unbalancing and enthralling at the same time. "What do you want?" she asks, pushing into Eames's personal space.

In the corner of her eye, she can see their blurry reflections in the mirror. And the funny thing is, it's not really like seeing two strangers. It's like seeing an unexplored possibility brought to startlingly vivid fruition. It's not really Forgery, Ariadne thinks, standing so close to Eames she can feel the heat radiating off his body, it's logical conclusion that just didn't happen to come true.

Eames looks up at her (and goddamn if she doesn't love that little reversal) and his eyes are exactly the same. It's him beneath the skin and bones and she wants him very, very much. He inhales and exhales slowly, breath gusting against the flat planes of Ariadne's chest. "I don't know."

"Bullshit." Ariadne leans in, ghosting her mouth against Eames's temple, over the rise of his cheekbones to the corner of his mouth, that beautiful mouth that looks just as unreasonably enticing on a woman as it does on a man. "You don't get this specific without having a damn good idea."

"Ah." Eames swallows and meets her gaze. There's a sense of defiance there, which Ariadne likes. There's nothing wrong with sex that's easy, but she likes a challenge. "I want to be fucked."

"Fucking isn't just about dick. If you wanted to be fucked, you could have that in the real world without really having to work that hard. Try again."

Eames's breath speeds up and a pink flush spreads out from his cheeks, down the column of his throat and over his collarbone. Desire flares sharply in Ariadne's gut, rushing blood to her a dick in a way that makes her want to groan and giggle at the same time. She wants Eames's mouth around her cock or to be inside his cunt, she wants so goddamn badly.

"I want you," Eames says with exaggerated, tight enunciation, "to fuck me."

The temptation to ask him why her, why not someone who comes prepackaged with the body is really goddamn strong, but she bites it back. Because the honest answer is that she doesn't think she wants to be here with anyone but him. It's revealing, she thinks, to show a side of yourself that you never get to talk about and the shared sense of rushing, overwhelming nervousness makes everything headier and deeper.

Ariadne presses her hand to the small of Eames back and pushes him closer, until his breasts are pressed against her chest and their hips converge. Eames makes a small noise, almost dainty, in the back of his throat. He slides his hands up Ariadne's chest and around her neck. They look like some tableau of an anticipated kiss, like a still frame from the climax of a romantic movie.

"Fucking kiss me," Eames murmurs.

Nobody ever expects someone as small as Ariadne to be anything but delicate in bed. It's an assumption that spans gender and sex and sexuality; everyone, from the skinny boys with guitars she slept with in college to the butch women she spent much of her time in Paris with looked at her small frame and expected gentleness.

They were wrong, of course, and it's so much easier to crush this mouth to Eames's lips without worrying that she'll scare him away by defying his predictions.

All it takes is that first kiss, Ariadne pushing her tongue into Eames's mouth past his teeth, seeking that same little shocked whimper he made before. Eames kisses her back with unexpected force, angling his head to better slot their mouths together. He tastes almost exactly as she expected, like smoke and whatever booze was in his drink at the bar. (It doesn't seem to matter that this is a dream and that drink wasn't, the transference is real and dizzying.)

Eames fists a hand in her shortened hair and pulls hard, pushing himself up on his toes to try and bridge the height difference between them. The sharp rush of pain along her scalp pulls a gasp from Ariadne and earns her a nip to her bottom lip from Eames, who very much doesn't relax his hand.

She curls her hands under the curve of Eames's ass and, hoping to God she's not overestimating the strength of this body or that dreams make physical strength irrelevant, and hauls him up. "Jesus, Mary, motherfucker," Eames exhales wrapping his legs around her waist.

The bathroom, however improbably long, is just about as wide as a normal bathroom and it only takes Ariadne two steps to stumble across the cool tile and slam Eames up against the opposite wall. She can't think of how many times in her life she'd wanted to do this, but hadn't been tall enough or physically strong enough; the reality of Eames's hips trapped between hers and the wall is too fucking much.

She's hard, so fucking hard already, and the sensation is strange as hell, but not so entirely alien as she'd been expecting. Being turned on, apparently, is a sensation that transcends physical bodies.

"Put one of your legs down," Ariadne says, voice rough and low. Her mouth feels swollen and tender, nerves snapping and firing against overheated skin. Eames whines in disapproval, tightening his legs around her waist. "Do it," Ariadne orders, pulling her mouth away.

Breathlessly, Eames drops his right leg to the floor, keeping the left hook around Ariadne as she moves his mouth down his throat and over the rise of his collarbone. He moans softly at the scrape of her teeth over thin flesh; it quickly flushes bright red and Ariadne has a single moment of regret that the marks won't be there in the morning for her to press her thumbs against.

Eames's peaked nipples are next. Ariadne cups his breasts in her wide, callused palms (that was a detail she added at the last minute and thank Christ the idea came to her). The weight of them is familiar, but the keening sound Eames makes when she rolls his nipples between her fingers isn't. It's high and shocked, needy at the same time. "Like that?" she asks, then catches one between her teeth.

"Yes, Jesus," Eames grits out, hands still twined tight in her hair. "It's so goddamn different."

Ariadne hits her knees, pushing Eames's leg over her shoulder so she has as much access to the dark curls at the top of his leg and the cunt beneath them.

"I'm sure you've never done this before," Eames says, looking down at her and mustering enough self-control to turn the words sardonic. Like finds like Ariadne thinks, remembering in brilliant flashes when Cobb came into their little abandoned French warehouse after his trip to Mombasa with Eames standing behind him with slicked hair and silk shirt.

"And you've never sucked a cock before," Ariadne says, biting at his inner thigh.

Eames's laugh is breathless.

Ariadne turns her attention back down, nosing at the crease between his hips and thighs, where the skin is thin and delicate and pale. She runs her tongue along it, mapping out lines and planes that she has missed feeling beneath her hands. Eames can't keep his hips still and fuck, fuck she likes that. He's damp and he smells so fucking good. She knows he's going to be wet.

"It's different?" she asks, running her tongue along the cleft of his cunt, teasing just a little. She has one hand looped around the thigh slung over her shoulder, but she uses the other to trace the wet line she left, toying at the hair, pressing her palm the rise of flesh at the apex of his legs.

Eames shivers and shudders, pulling at her hair in some facsimile of begging for her to just fucking get on with it. But no, she won't, she really can't, because part of the condition, the appeal, of being in this dream on her knees with a hard cock bobbing against her stomach is getting to know why he wants this as much as she does.

"Yes," he says, sounding like he's been drugged. "Yes."

Ariadne spreads him open with her fingers and tongues at the hot, delicate flesh she finds. She tongues over the nub of his clit, noting the broken gasp she gets in return; it sounds disbelieving and wanting and that, actually, Ariadne can understand. She remembers being a teenager, hiding beneath her sheets with her best friend and feeling a mouth against the places of herself she'd barely begun to touch. It was revelatory moment.

She trails her tongue downward until she finds his entrance and pushes just the tip in, tasting the salt of sweat and come. Eames's hips buck off the wall and Ariadne has to push him back, pulsing her tongue in and out.

"How is it different?" she asks, pulling back with the taste of his cunt on his lips. She sounds half wrecked to her own ears and wonders what a damper it would put on proceedings if she came before her cock got a real chance to be involved.

Ariadne looks at her hand for a moment, the broader palm and longer, thicker fingers and smiles to herself. "I asked you a question," she says, sliding her first twin fingers along the cleft of Eames's cunt and then, slowly, deliberately, inside. She presses her thumb to his clit and starts slowly working it in small, tight little circles.

"It takes so much bloody fucking longer. You can't just fist a cunt twice and get it to pay attention. You have to take time," Eames grits out through his teeth, digging his heel into Ariadne's back. "Fucking Christ, Ariadne."

She picks up speed, fucking Eames with her fingers and rubbing at his clit the way she likes. It's never drawn any complaints from the women she's slept with and it doesn't get any from Eames. His words trail off in tangled, gasped syllables that echo in the ridiculous bathroom. Ariadne thinks, if she could take her eyes off the expanse of Eames's stomach and breasts and hair spread out in front of her, she might see the entire dream world start to shiver and contract.

One of Eames's hands comes away from her hair and tangles in his own hair. Ariadne drinks it all in, his breasts swaying from the contractions running through his body, the tangles of blond hair falling over his shoulders and slanting across his face. This beautiful fucking woman falling apart beneath her hands, Eames turning to well-fucked pliancy.

Eames's shoulders curl away from the wall and Ariadne moves her thumb and replaces it with her mouth, sucking at the throbbing rise of his clit. The noise Eames makes is a ragged scream and nothing else and she can feel him spasm and contract around her fingers. She sucks him through the waves of orgasm, toes curling on the tile floor and against her spine.

His knees give out when he's done and Ariadne only just manages to catch his weight and keep him from falling ass over tits. They end up sitting pressed together on the bathroom floor. Eames's eyes are wide and shocked and sated, Ariadne's hard enough to be aching and thinks she has rarely been as satisfied with herself as she is now.

"Not too bad?" she asks, grinning slightly.

Eames huffs out a breathless laugh and tips his head against the wall. "God, girl."

Ariadne laughs, then reaches out and tucks a stray chunk of hair behind his ear. Eames looks at her with something new in his eyes. It might possibly be approaching trust or affection, Ariadne doesn't know for certain. It might just be the effect of everything, because experience has taught her that orgasms make everyone more prone to sentimentality.

"Good." She runs a hand through her hair, watching the bright red color slowly fade away from Eames's skin as his breath evens out.

Eventually, he casts an appraising eye at her dick and arches an eyebrow, back to the version of himself that's all wry, cynical charm. "Fancy a hand with that problem?"

"Problem? Is that the word for it?" Ariadne counters, but she can't deny that she does. She's a little selfish in bed, because self-sacrificing only gets you so far before fucking becomes a one sided chore. "Sure, I could use a hand."

"Follow me, then, sir."

They push themselves up off the floor; Eames circles his small hand around her wrist and leads her out of the bathroom and back into the loft. It's still night outside the windows, glowing with pinpricks of light from the many buildings and the fainter glimmer of stars.

There's a bed in the corner, low and sprawling. "Why didn't we start here?"

Eames tosses his hair over his shoulder and gives her a look. "Variety, darling."

Easily, he pushes her down onto the mattress. She sits, leg sprawled open and bites back the urge to tell Eames he's better hurry up, because it's not going to suck itself. She's always hated that from the men she's been with, but it feels different to flip them back on Eames. She senses he likes being told what to do, in the sloppiest, filthiest terms.

Now it's Eames pushing into her space, reaching to twist his long hair away from his face in a messy knot. He stands bracketed between her legs, breasts a tempting inch from Ariadne's mouth. She flicks out her tongue against his nipple and he shivers for a moment, then chuckles and slaps gently at her cheek. "It's your turn."

Slowly, he falls to his knees, taking time to settle comfortably. The ceremony is a little funny to Ariadne, but whatever it takes. "I wouldn't have pegged you for being so fastidious," she comments.

Eames chuckles, propping his elbows on her knees. "I'm a man of many unplumbed depths, Ariadne." The double-entendre is obvious, but Ariadne still smiles.


She looks down at Eames, the sweep of his eyelashes against his cheek and his mouth. Her nerves are already firing and now she doesn't have the distraction of Eames's cunt in her mouth to keep her from thinking about the unfamiliar dick between her legs.

"So, oh deeply inquisitive one," Eames says, "What's it like?"

Ariadne blushes and laughs, because some part of the back of her mind insists this isn't something to be talked about. Which is fucking ridiculous, both because in twenty minutes of real time she'll wake up in the body she really does love and because in the dream it's not as though there's anyone squawking for modesty.

She leans back on her arms and meets Eames's eyes. "Vulnerable," she says eventually, shrugging a shoulder and offering up a half smile. "I feel like any minute someone's going to knee me and for the first time in my life it will actually hurt."

Eames bursts out in peals of laughter, but it's not unkind. He leans in and kisses Ariadne's knee, then the flat span of stomach below her belly button. Her cock rest against the curve of her thigh, half hard.

"That's not a bad description of it," Eames manages, once he's petered out to chuckles. "Once I get my mouth on you, how long do you think you can hold out?"

"I." Ariadne shakes her head. "I have no basis comparison. I don't know."

Nodding, Eames pulls his arms down off her knees and moves to cup her balls in her hand. His hands are warm and certain, because of course he's done this before, just like she has. The shock of touch against that newest part of her anatomy makes her jerk. She doesn't think she has skin that thin and delicate anywhere on her body and the heightened sense of awareness flood through her system.

Not that Eames would, but he could crush them in her palm, he could pull, he could cause her unspeakable amounts of pain. He won't, Ariadne knows, (unless she asks) but the chance of it makes her breath speed up and her cock go hard again. With one finger, he scrapes at the little piece of skin between her balls and her cock. It yanks a noise out of Ariadne's chest.

"Like that?" Eames asks, his voice pitched low and rough and certain.

"Fuck," Ariadne murmurs, curling her hands into white knuckles fists in the blankets.

Deliberately, Eames spits in his palm, circles his fist around her dick and jacks it. The slick friction of his skin against hers is so fucking unlike anything Ariadne has ever felt before in her life. It's the inversion of how she knows sex to be, the most responsive parts of herself on the outside rather than hidden away between her hips. She used to fingers and taking them in herself, always being entered.

He sucks the head of her dick into his mouth. Ariadne's eyes snap closed and she bites down hard on the inside of her lip. She's used to sex that's messy and wet, skin rasping together with come and sweat. And it's not that this, Eames's mouth tongue pressing against a vein running along the underside of her dick, is intrinsically better. It's just so fucking different, so new, that she feels like her skin is going to fly off her bones.

Eames releases her balls and wraps his hand around the length of her cock his mouth can't get to. The muscles in Ariadne's stomach coil in on themselves, winding tighter with a speed that she really, really isn't used to. She understands what Eames meant, about it taking patience to make a cunt come.

Ariadne forces her eyes open and looks down at Eames. It's a little bit like porn, but maybe not bad porn with harsh overhead lights and cheap, degrading dialog. She watches the bob of Eames's head and the stretch of his lips around her cock. My cock she thinks, gasping, Mine, mine, mine.

Her hips start to jerk, lifting up but not quite coming off the bed, because she doesn't want to be that jackass. She's had boys ram the back of her throat when she wasn't expecting and then been offended when she gagged. She's not going to do that, but fuck she wants to. It's hot and wet and even in her own head those words sound trite and obvious, but she can't think of better ones. She just wants more.

Distantly, she realizes that ragged, choppy gasps are coming out of her mouth, filling up the quite air alongside the wet, sloppy sounds of Eames's mouth. "Eames, Eames," she pants, digging her toes into the wooden floor. "Eames, please."

Eames pulls off, mouth slick with sweat and curved into an open mouthed grin. "What's that, love?"

"Fuck you," Ariadne spits out, but there's laughter somewhere in the words. "Please, fuck."

"I'm ready when you are," Eames says, picking up speed as he pumps her cock.

The funny thing is, she thinks even as most of her brain goes sliding down her spine, orgasm feels pretty damn similar whatever body you're inhabiting. She collapses in on herself, muscles all over her body spasming. Come stripes over Eames's chin and neck, just barely to the tops of his breasts.

He keeps his hand working past the point where pleasure turns into over-sensitized shocks that feel more like pain. "Please, please," Ariadne chants, meaning both that he has to stop and has to keeping going. Eames slows, then stops, running his nails along her thighs. He pushes himself up higher on his knees and kisses between Ariadne's eyebrows, smoothing down her hair. She's beginning to understand this night isn't a whim.

"Ever done that before?" he teases, sliding his arms around her neck.

Ariadne shakes her head. "Fuck, no."

For a long moment they stay like that, breathing the same air caught between their bodies. Ariadne's skin slowly settles back to how it should beneath the rhythmic stroke of Eames's thumb on the back of her neck. She opens her eyes to familiar, beautiful, ridiculous eyes and smiles. There's really no other reaction that fits.

"Well," she says. "Wow."

Eames laughs. "Indeed."

She knows they have some time left before they'll automatically be kicked out of the dream. In something this close to reality, where privacy means more than safety, they don't bother with a kick. Eventually the timer will run down and they'll wake up on their own. She falls back onto the bed and pulls Eames up with her, so they're laying on their sides on top of the blankets, looking at each other.

Times ticks by, a few minutes between them and a few seconds in the real world. This isn't what Ariadne expected when she agreed to meet Eames, reading through his short, concise emails trying to decode what he wasn't saying. She feels her heart beating beneath her ribs and she lets her eyes roam over the flared curve of Eames's hips.

"Can I ask you something?" she eventually ventures, head pillowed on one arm while the other traces along Eames's forearm.

He raises an eyebrow. "Would me saying no actually stop you?" Something just slightly guarded creeps into his eyes behind the lidded satiation.

"Why me? Of all the people you have to know, why invite me into this dream with you?"

Eames turns his head and looks at the ceiling for a moment, biting at his bottom lip. Then he turns back to her, guileless. "This sounds so bloody stupid even to myself, but I got the feeling that if anyone would understand what it's like to wonder, it'd be you. And if anyone would appreciate the magnitude of what can be Forged, it's be someone who pushes the bounds of what can be built."

Ariadne stares. Her heart pushes up against her throat. "That's poetic."

He shoves lightly at her, but it's without malice and with understanding. She's not much better with emotion than he is. "Fuck off," he says calmly, toying with a strand of blond hair. "Most people, even many Forgers, don't really appreciate the change it offers outside of tricking people. Sheer creation, wasn't it? What Cobb had to say to get you in? This is my creation, Ariadne."

On a whim, she leans in and kisses him lightly on a mouth still raw and swollen and lovely.

The world begins to shimmy and shimmer around them, which means they're quickly running out of time. She presses their cheeks together, lips brushing against the shell of his ear. "Want to make a date of it?"