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20 January 2011 @ 05:51 pm
[fic]: we'll sit and wait for the stars to take hold  
Title: We’ll Sit and Wait for the Stars to Take Hold

Author: epistolic

Rating: M.

Word count: 2,589.

Genre: Romance/Angst.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own it.

Summary: “There’s nothing else,” Arthur grits out against Eames’ shoulder. “We’re boxed in and we’re two guns to twenty-three." Eames/Arthur, slash, One-Shot.

A/N: Originally written for accioscar on dream_exchange. Thank-you so much to incandescent and slanted_edges for the beta!

Feedback is love. ♥

We’ll Sit and Wait for the Stars to Take Hold

It’s taken them ten years to get to this point, storage room in the belly of New York with the rust clinging to the sides of the pipes. Eames is fumbling with the cartridges in his pocket; there are two. One for Arthur. One for Eames.

The door’s quiet.

“Guess they’re waiting it out,” Eames says, accent rolled around the curves of his tongue and let loose only very reluctantly. “No windows in here.”

Arthur’s checking the corners, leaving a steady trail of red that drips from the cuff of his pinstriped shirt. They can hear the generators groaning somewhere on the other side of the concrete wall. Eames catches the tip of his tongue in his teeth, braced a bare two metres away from the door, handgun up, for all the good it would do, which isn’t much, but it’s instinct to try nonetheless. The sharp click of Arthur’s shoes on cement come like pecks, like the careful sounds of a bird.


“Shut up, I’m trying to think.”


Arthur does, reloads automatically. It’s clumsier than it usually is, Arthur’s left sleeve already stained and wet.

“There’s got to be something we can use,” Arthur says, low, with words left chasing each other. Survival mode. “A distraction. Something. Just enough to get them off guard so one of us can – ”

Arthur stops.

Arthur clears his throat, and corrects himself. “So both of us can – ”

“If you bring up that hare-brained scheme again, Arthur, I will club you over the head, I swear.” Eames puts a shoulder against the wall, pointedly, feet dug in, handgun still firmly trained. The door remains quiet. Terrifyingly. There’s nothing in the world as frightening as silence.

“It’s the only way we can get out,” Arthur snaps. “I’m being practical. It’s the only thing that’ll work.”

“It won’t work,” Eames snaps back.

“I just have to draw fire – ”

“You’re fucking bleeding all over the place,” Eames says, chopping the consonants out with his teeth. Arthur’s staring. Well, let the fucker stare. “If we get out, then we do. If we don’t, then we don’t. I’ve no intention of letting you live out some fucked up childhood dream of heroics.”

Arthur’s eyes go very, very black.

“Don’t make me do something stupid,” says Arthur. “I don’t fucking need your permission for this.”

“If you go out that door by yourself,” says Eames, “I will shoot myself. I can promise you that.”

Arthur hisses a sharp breath out, the sound furious, left hand clenching a fist.

“Don’t be melodramatic.”

“Don’t be stupid.”

“I’m the only one with a plan here – ”

“It’s not a plan, Arthur, I can see it for what it is – ”

“Then what is it?” Arthur snarls. He’s closer now, right hand curled into the trigger of his gun. Eames can still see the slick of something wet on the slide, the slight tremble to Arthur’s wrist, the red nails, the sudden shock of Arthur’s cufflinks, gold and black. “I’m trying to get at least one of us out alive, here, it’s a question of figures. I’m laying down what will work.”

“I won’t do it,” Eames says simply.

Arthur stares at him. For a long moment Arthur looks like he’s about to hit Eames, the same edge to Arthur’s jaw, as good enough as a warning.

“I really fucking hate you sometimes,” Arthur says finally, charged and not losing an ounce of heat.

Eames shrugs.

“Think of something else, then,” Eames says.

Arthur hits him. It’s a slam of the pistol across his jaw, hard, and the last time Arthur hit Eames like this was four years ago, just another of their fights, back-and-forth, the only way they could settle things, the cold smear of blood across Eames’ cheek from the slide of the gun, Arthur’s blood, Arthur’s gun, Arthur. Eames doesn’t miss a beat and hooks a hand into Arthur’s waistcoat, drags him in. Arthur goes but turns his face away. Eames’ mouth falls short onto Arthur’s neck.

Normally, Arthur would fight him at this, but this time Arthur lets him. This once.

“There’s nothing else,” Arthur grits out against Eames’ shoulder. “We’re boxed in and we’re two guns to twenty-three. With no spare rounds.”

“How long have we got?” says Eames.

“Minutes, hours. How am I meant to know?”

“We’ve got enough bullets between us,” says Eames and Arthur snorts, hard and bitter against his chest.

“Handguns against semi-automatic rifles, Eames,” Arthur says. “I trust you can do the math.”

“It’s not always about the math,” Eames says.

“You want to factor in luck? Since that’s worked so well in the past?”

“What, are you still sore about the Benedict job?”

“You got shot in the leg,” Arthur snaps at him. “I’m surprised you’re not sore about it yourself.”

“I’m always the first to forgive myself,” Eames says, lightly. Arthur’s spine is warm under his palm. “It does wonders for my outlook. You should try it sometime.”

Arthur elbows him roughly in the ribs.

“I wish you’d take things seriously for once,” Arthur spits and it sounds ferocious, like it’s cracking halfway. “This isn’t a fucking dream, you know. This is real. We can’t just wait around for the kick.”

Eames falls quiet. Arthur’s body is one lean line of heat and Eames can smell the gunk Arthur piles on his hair, his cologne, mingled in with the sweat and the salt-like sting of something Eames thinks is fear, something wedged in close, caught between the snag of Arthur’s gun on the fabric of Eames’ shirt and the underside of Eames’ ribs. They’ve ducked in and out of this sort of thing for years, always landing just the right side of luck; they’ve come out with bruises, with knife-wounds, with worse, but they’ve always managed to come out together, and Eames wonders if this is a sign of some sort, moments like this sprung up on them to remind them of something indelibly crucial that otherwise would have been missed, overlooked.


Like the first time Arthur met Eames – Eames can’t recall head or tail of it, the event mashed in somewhere between quick jobs and separate continents. It could’ve been special, or it could’ve been ordinary. Eames finds himself leaning towards ordinary, because by this stage Eames can recognise that not all great things happen noticeably; most pass by quietly, most don’t leave a mark until later. It’s just the way things come to be. If you don’t have a chance to lose what you have, then you don’t really recognise that it’s there.

Perhaps that’s the reason they’re both in this business; the real reason.

Arthur shifts, and then pulls away.

Eames can still feel the phantom press of him, the cling of Arthur’s blood to his shirt. Arthur puts a careful ruler’s-length between them and checks his gun for the second time.

“Arthur,” Eames says. Somehow, he feels sure. Of something. “Arthur, I really think – ”

“Do you think Cobb’s alright?” Arthur cuts in, sharp. “Do you have your phone with you? We should tell him to move. Can’t be sure they don’t have him, like the way they have us.”

“I don’t give a bloody fuck about Cobb,” Eames says.

Arthur pauses.

Arthur stares at him.

“Eames,” Arthur starts and something goes through his face, quick and terrible, like Arthur is only just managing to keep things from crumpling. “You can’t – ”

“Cobb can handle himself.”

“And I can’t?” Arthur says. “Is that the reason why you’re here, with me?”

“No,” Eames admits.

Arthur pauses again. When he swallows it looks like a half-hearted gesture, the vulnerable line of Arthur’s shoulders and down the length of his arm to his gun. Eames thinks briefly, the notion suddenly springing on him, that perhaps he should have said something about this before – that perhaps Arthur is not really so controlled, so distant, that perhaps if Eames had really dared they’d be here, yes, they would always end here, but perhaps between the start of things and the end there’d be changes. There’d be something else.

“I’ve never seen you drunk,” says Eames.

Arthur blinks. “I only ever drink at home.”

“I know,” says Eames. “I’ve never seen you sick, either. Or asleep. Real sleep, not hooked up and drugged out.”

Arthur’s lips pull taut into a fractured line and he looks away.

“I’ve never seen you sick or asleep either,” says Arthur. “Though I’ve seen you drunk. Too many times to count. I used to think you kept bottles of scotch in your desk, something poncy and English, maybe.”

“You never checked?”

Arthur pauses like he regrets it, says, “No.”

“I wouldn’t have minded, you know,” Eames says. “You rifling through my desk. I actually kept a few risqué magazines in my drawer, hoping you’d find them and be scandalised.”

Arthur barks out a laugh, startling both of them. Trapped in the tiny box of cement the sound becomes rough at the edges a little. Arthur cuts it off early like he feels it’s inappropriate, to be laughing with Kalashnikovs on the other side of the door, though at this stage nothing’s really inappropriate, nothing matters.

Eames stretches out a hand and strokes a thumb over the side of Arthur’s mouth.

Arthur jumps. And then Arthur goes quite, quite still, every one of his muscles peaked and frozen.

Eames can feel the blood rushing hot through his ears, his ribs throbbing with it. There are a couple of times Eames has dreamt this before, in unaided dreams, so different to the ones Eames usually has – no sex, nothing heated or strung in the air – just Arthur lying on the grass somewhere with his eyes closed and the sun draping over his face, his throat, long arms folded up underneath his head and Eames would touch his thumb to that spot, the same spot by the crease of Arthur’s mouth, and Arthur would hum, just a single, short note, very low, like it had come from the base of his chest and wouldn’t allow itself to be stopped.

“Breathe,” Eames says, and takes his hand away.

Arthur stares for a moment longer, then nods.

“Alright,” Arthur says.

Eames says nothing to that.

“I used to think – ” Arthur says eventually, stops for a second, tries again. “I used to think there wasn’t a thing in this world I wouldn’t give to have the pleasure of shooting you.”

“Figures,” Eames says.

“I think I hated you.”

“You did a very good job of masking it,” says Eames.

“I’m being serious,” Arthur snaps, reflexively. “Sometimes I hated you so much, I couldn’t think straight. I wanted – to shake you, punch you, do something, because you were always there and you were always being such a goddamn ass, doing things you weren’t supposed to do, saying things you weren’t supposed to say. And then you’d go and do something so obviously smart, and brilliant, and I’d just – I wouldn’t even know what to think anymore, there’d just be so many things I’d want to do and not a single one of them would make any sense.”

Eames realises that he’s holding his breath, words lost somewhere in the maze of his lungs. Arthur’s leaning just the slightest bit forward.

Eames could count Arthur’s lashes if he wanted to.

“I used to think that if you were gone, if you weren’t around always following me from job to job, that things would be easier, that I’d work better. That I’d make fewer mistakes.”

“Arthur,” Eames manages.

“And then on the jobs when you weren’t there, I’d – I’d stay up nights hating you, sometimes, making sure I knew where you were, always thinking that you’d be doing something stupid and that I’d have to swoop in later and clean things up for you. And you always called me in to clean things up for you.”

“Darling, you could have just changed your phone – ”

“And then I realised,” and Arthur’s practically hovering above Eames’ mouth now, breath warm and soft and close and fearful, “that I’ve never hated anyone as much as I’ve always hated you.”

Eames can’t find his voice, can’t dig it out of his throat.

“Eames,” Arthur says. “Do you know what I’m trying to say?”

“Yes,” Eames rasps. “Yes, I – guess I do.”

Arthur waits for a moment more and just looks. Eames has never really seen Arthur desperate before, never anything less than professional, level-headed, a sleek collection of abstract lines; but Arthur’s desperate now, very quietly, like there’s something boiling behind his brown eyes.

“I’m glad that I’m not alone here,” Arthur says, “and that might make me selfish, but I don’t care right now.”

“I don’t care either,” Eames says.

Arthur kisses him.

It starts gentle, hesitant, nothing more than chaste and just the need to feel something alive next to one’s mouth, Arthur huffing a breath that sounds close to a sob but isn’t, Eames not daring to touch, not yet. And then Arthur’s hand comes up, the uninjured one, pressing flush to Eames’ neck and the gun digging in and just like that it turns violent, Arthur’s tongue shoving in, and for what feels like hours it’s the sharp clash of teeth and the feeling of everything going to hell. Eames traps Arthur’s bottom lip and bites hard. Arthur snarls something around the quick taste of blood and scrapes his tongue over the roof of Eames’ mouth, back-and-forth, the only way they could settle things, and then past some indefinable point they slowly melt by gradual degrees back down, turning calm, pace dragging back out until they’re really just trying to learn each other around the shuddering sway of lungs, and heart, and beat, and blood, and pulse. They could concentrate years right into this moment, and they do, since they don’t have years anymore. A lesser man might find things to regret – but Eames thinks with a sudden clarity that he doesn’t regret what they have and don’t have, because here is what matters, now is what matters, and it’s the easy way out to dredge up the past and blame it for things that won’t ever emerge.

When they finally break apart for breath Arthur braces his forehead on Eames’ own. Arthur smiles. Eames puts a thumb to the dimple that forms and he learns it, he learns it, he learns.

“I’m glad that I’m here with you,” Eames says, lets it ghost its way over Arthur’s lips.

Arthur snorts, a faint, endearing sound. “You’re such an unholy sap, you know.”

“Perhaps I’m just a little in love with you.”


Arthur pulls away and Eames feels the cold rush of air to his neck. Arthur looks so suddenly brilliant, so young, all fierce, flashing eyes and breathless grin, so dangerous and perfect and so utterly Arthur that Eames can’t find a single fault with where they are now and how they got here. Neither of those things count at all. They’re here, and it took them ten long years, but they made it.

“Let’s go,” Arthur says at last.

“Alright,” Eames says. He flicks his safety off with his thumb, echoes Arthur’s smile with one of his own. He can still taste Arthur’s mouth on his tongue; he’ll remember that, when the penny finally drops. “All ready, sweetheart. Let’s give them a show.”

The End.

A/N: Writing will be very slow from now on, as I've just started Med school and it is eating my time like nothing else. Though, zeto darling, I have something very special planned for your second writing4acause fic. :grin: It may just end up over 5000 words.

Thank-you for reading! Any feedback would be absolutely lovely.

epic escapist love: jglchaoticallyclev on January 20th, 2011 07:58 am (UTC)
ack, I am so stressed now! the tension, the verbal sparring of sorts, the knowing there are unfreiendly guns, and my chest was getting a little tight. jeez, warn a girl what she's getting into right before bedtime, huh?

(that being said, gorgeous and evocative as always, darling. ♥)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on January 20th, 2011 08:42 am (UTC)
Bah, sorry! I was thinking of adding a warning, but wasn't exactly sure how I'd warn for... angst. Sorry to spring that on you just before bed!

Thank-you so much for the feedback, darling. And also thank-you very, very much for the adorable baby otter. I love you so much. ♥
- chaoticallyclev on January 20th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Ah, thank-you so much! I'm glad you liked. ♥
stagecrew42stagecrew42 on January 20th, 2011 08:26 am (UTC)
That was quite pretty ! The emotions were very clear, which can't be said too often, and everything about it felt very grity and real :)

Beautiful work!
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, gritty and real is what I was going for, so it's lovely to hear that praise from you. Thanks so much!
Em: inception-mine-eames-(mementis on January 20th, 2011 08:47 am (UTC)
I loved this to bits when it was first posted, and still do, now. Thank you :)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Gaw, you. I swear, you are just the sweetest. ♥
rennerenne on January 20th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
Denorios: inception eames crydenorios on January 20th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
Oh. Wow. This is wonderful, darling. You really ratchet the tension up and I feel like I'm right in there with them going Oh Arthur and Oh Eames and just dreading the end.

ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
Gaw, wow! Thank-you, I don't even know what to say in the face of such a compliment. It's hard to keep tension going and I was so sure I wasn't going to be able to succeed with it, but your comment has just made my day and reassured me. Thank-you so much! ♥
(Deleted comment)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)

I wrote this fic so long ago, the style isn't something I even use any more. It means so much to me to hear that you liked it! I never know how to answer your comments, I can just feel your love bursting out from the computer screen and I'm always, always, always overwhelmed. THANK-YOU. I don't even. Thank-you so much. ♥
(Deleted comment)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Oh! Thank-you! ♥
Ifrit.weatherfront on January 20th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
So, so, so gorgeous.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:15 am (UTC)
Thank-you so much, darling! Glad you enjoyed it. ♥
Jules: [text] special hellhaltlos on January 20th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
This. This fic. I was trembling because the angst is so exquisite. I adore your fics and your style but somehow I think you've outdone in this because you managed to capture the atmosphere - the despair - in only a few words. So as always - with your fics - this goes straight to my recs.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:16 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, I can't even. I'm glad to hear the angst isn't too overwhelming! And it's such brilliant praise to hear that the atmosphere came through, the despair, that I managed to somehow keep it succinct (I so rarely manage that, hahaha). Thank-you! You are much too kind. ♥
Fideliti: gonefidelitii on January 20th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
this is so beautiful and sad and i love it. i think i could quote every line of it, but this:

I’ve never seen you drunk,” says Eames.

Arthur blinks. “I only ever drink at home.”


Eames puts a thumb to the dimple that forms and he learns it, he learns it, he learns.

D: so beautiful! ♥

good luck with med school :)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:17 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, thank-you! For both the darling compliments and the good luck wishes. You're so sweet! I'm so very glad you enjoyed it. ♥
Bonaparteskyvehicle on January 20th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
No way, no wayyyyy. GAH! This was so poignant and beautiful that they are finally SHARING THEIR FEELINGS but then its tragic because they're only doing so because they KNOW THEY'RE GOING TO DIE. This is so you, so expertly written, genuine emotions, all kinds of wonderful things. <3
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
Hahaha, I'm not going to lie, I saw your comment and the first thing I did in RL was snap my fingers, do that weird neck-waggling thing, and say "Yes wayyyyyyy, sista". Haha! Okay, obviously I have the maturity of a three year old. But still. Thank-you so much for your compliments, I don't nearly deserve them, but from an author like you - gah, I can't even. THANK-YOU, DARLING. I just. Gah. ♥
clair3clair3 on January 20th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
badass! love it!
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)
Gaw, I will happily live in your pocket forever, you seem like such a kind and lovely person. :grin: Thank-you! I specifically made it an open ending because I didn't want to give people unnecessary angst, haha. So glad you liked it! Thank-you so much. ♥
osaki_nana_707osaki_nana_707 on January 20th, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
Beautiful. You can feel the intensity thrumming through every word.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on February 6th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)
Your comment made me grin so widely, thank-you so much. ♥