Somehow Arthur and Eames are now considered a package deal, and Arthur doesn’t like it. He mostly agrees with the definition – after all, he and Eames have been together for years, now, and as far as he’s concerned, nothing will ever change that – but he doesn’t appreciate that somehow the entire dream-share community knows it too.
It hits him when he gets an email from Gabriel, a good acquaintance from dream-share, that says, “Arthur. Job for you and Eames. Unfaithful spouse and business man. Let me know if you both are interested.” The job will pay thousands, and there’s no reason for them both not to take it, but it rankles Arthur that Gabe knows he can reach both of them with a single email.
The door opens and Eames calls out, “Darling, please don’t shoot your Queen of Hearts.” Arthur smiles at the words, remembering the day they established the code.
“Darling!” Eames begged, hands in the air, ground covered in the groceries he’d just brought home. Arthur saw broken yolks oozing onto the floor and sighed. “Would you please stop pulling a gun on me every time I walk in the door?” Eames continued. “This is horribly inconvenient. I shall have to go buy more eggs.”
Arthur felt the tips of his ears burning, and he slowly lowered the gun. “How do I know it’s you?” he asked. “There are too many people who want to hurt us for me to just…”
“I know, darling,” Eames said. “But can I not just call out to let you know who I am?”
Arthur shook his head. “What if someone is holding you at gunpoint? Threatening you?”
Eames hummed. “What if we establish a code? I’ll say one thing when I’m safe, another when I’m in danger?”
Arthur smiled. He didn’t deserve this, a person who understood his thought process and was willing to offer a solution to help instead of telling him to get over it. “What kind of code?”
Eames smiled. “How about I call myself the Queen of Hearts when I’m safe and Alice when I’m not?”
“Alice in Wonderland, Eames? Really?”
Eames grinned. “Well, darling, this way, when I’m in trouble, you’ll certainly know I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.”
“I do what I want, Eames,” Arthur calls back with a grin. He hears the clink as Eames drops his keys into the bowl on the table near the door.
A familiar, spicy scent drifts over to Arthur, and a warm, Eames-shaped body tumbles onto the couch beside him. Arthur relaxes into the arm Eames drapes over his shoulders and sighs contentedly.
“What’s this, love?” Eames murmurs, his breath tickling Arthur’s ear. He pulls Arthur’s laptop into his own lap, eyes flicking across the screen. “New job?”
“Mhm,” Arthur grunts.
Eames nudges Arthur’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong, darling?”
“Do you want to take the job?”
“Sure, why not. Now tell me what’s the matter.”
Arthur quickly replies to Gabe and closes his laptop. With a long sigh, he closes his eyes and leans against Eames’ warmth. “It’s really nothing.”
Eames runs his fingers through Arthur’s hair, idly playing with the curls that appear when Arthur doesn’t use his gel. “Mm, darling, last time you told me that, you were surrounded by five dead bodies.”
Arthur smirks. “Extenuating circumstances.” He pauses, then sighs. “It just…how did Gabe know to email me to get in contact with us both?”
“We haven’t exactly been subtle about our…circumstances,” Eames says. Arthur almost wants to tell him to just say “relationship” but that would require another discussion, and Arthur would rather have this one right now.
“I just worry,” Arthur says with a shrug. “People could use it against us.”
Eames matches Arthur’s shrug. “If anyone does, they obviously don’t know us very well.” He stretches languidly. “Let’s go off to bed, shall we, darling? I imagine we’ll be spending most of tomorrow packing.”
Arthur smirks and follows Eames into the bedroom.
The job runs flawlessly – not that Arthur expected anything else – and other than fielding a few disparaging comments about him and Eames, the entire process is almost laughingly simple, even though the other team members wouldn’t be able to extract their way out of a paper bag if they tried.
“I could have slept through this job,” he complains to Eames as they board their plane home.
“You couldn’t have,” Eames replies. “You would never be so mean as to leave me all alone with those…” He waves his hands through the air in vague circle-like shapes. “You know.”
Arthur rolls his eyes and pretends that he doesn’t feel his dimples betraying him.
Ariadne is the next to annoy Arthur, this time with a phone call.
“Hey, my school is having an exhibition and family day next week,” she says. “Do you guys want to come?”
“‘You guys’?” Arthur echoes.
“Yeah, you and Eames. Can you come?”
Arthur pulls the phone away from his ear and frowns at it. “I will have to check with Eames and ask him about his schedule.”
Ariadne laughs. “You do that. I’ll put you down as my plus two.”
She hangs up, leaving Arthur sitting, flummoxed, on the couch.
“What was that?” he asks the air.
“Darling, you’re brooding again. Haven’t we talked about that?”
“Why do so many people know we’re together?”
“They aren’t complete idiots, darling. I’d imagine anyone with eyes could tell we’re together at this point. What’s that look? Arthur? What did I say?”
“You do know we’re living together, yes?”
“…Eames. All my belongings are here. I haven’t gone to my apartment for years. I cancelled my lease over six months ago. Of course I know we’re living together.”
“Okay. Just wanted to make sure.”
“Yes, Eames. I know.”
“I just worry.”
“I know, love.”
Arthur has just stepped out of the shower when he hears the door open. Eames is home early.
“Darling,” he calls, “please don’t shoot your Alice.”
Arthur freezes, breath catching in his throat. He swallows. “I do what I want, Eames,” he calls back.
He hears a chuckle, slightly strained. Arthur quickly dresses and pulls a gun out from underneath the bathroom sink. Eames had hidden it there after a heated debate where Arthur questioned the purpose of hiding a firearm in there. Now he’s glad Eames ignored him.
Something clinks, but it’s a far cry from the sound of Eames’ keys in that bowl.
“Darling,” Eames says. “Did you run out on me? That would be rather awkward, would it not? I was rather looking forward to our customary couch cuddle.”
Arthur takes advantage of the cover of Eames’ voice to dash down the hall and circle around to the main room through the kitchen. Crouched behind the island, he counts three men standing around Eames.
“Oh, no no, you can’t sit there, sweetheart, that’s Arthur’s spot.”
Four, then. One sitting on the couch.
Arthur smiles. Only four? He could be offended by that.
With a deep breath, he darts out from his cover. This will end only too quickly.
“Darling, I had it under control. There was no need for you to come rushing to my rescue like a knight in shining armor.”
“You said Alice, Eames. What was I supposed to do?”
“They were hardly going to execute me, love. They wanted to talk.”
“Talk?” Arthur swings his foot from where it rests on the floor and smirks at the muffled groan. “You want to talk to this one when he wakes up?”
Eames drapes his arm over Arthur’s shoulder. “No, I’ll leave you the privilege, darling. I just want our customary couch cuddle.”
Arthur leans into Eames’ warmth. “I want a little more.”
“I know, love. That’s why I’m leaving the questions to you.”
“No, I mean…Eames.”
“We’re…in a relationship. You know that, right?”
“Okay. Just wanted to make sure.”
“Yes, darling. I know.”
“The dream-share community knows.”
“I’d be willing to wager the entire world knows.”
Another groan comes from the floor.
“You’d better get that, darling. I think he’s asking for you.”