Summary: Arthur's alone on Christmas Eve... or at least he was until Eames showed up by chance.
Author's Notes: For twisted_ream for dream_holiday. The prompt was a simple "a sensible and a delicate moment in any variety, mental and/or physical." So... guaranteed fluff here.
If Only in My Dreams
It was snowing.
Arthur looked out from the foggy window of his office at it falling, a cup of coffee hovering at his lips.
He'd never really liked snow. It was too cold and too wet and it made people drive like idiots, not to mention that time he and his team had gotten snowed in at a heatless warehouse once two years ago. They been unable to escape for three days, but these gentle flakes, combined with the warmth and coziness of his office weren't so bad… Well, maybe it was that, or perhaps he was just feeling oddly sentimental.
It was December 24th, Christmas Eve, and he didn't have anywhere to go. A dreamer doesn't have a set home, and he was currently without an apartment at all. At least his Christmas would be white, the way Christmas was supposed to be according to old holiday songs of yesteryear.
It was stupid to want anything more, even if it was just someone to share it with.
He wandered away from the window, sipping at his coffee and idly turned up the tinny radio so that he could better hear the music. The radio had been his idea, but it was Ariadne who had brought in the little plastic Christmas tree, battery operated lights leaving rainbow spots against the wall and on his desk.
She'd gone home for the holidays, as had the rest of the team. Arthur didn't have any reason to leave, so he figured he'd keep working. Information was much easier to obtain when the people he was taking it from were distracted by gifts and turkey and television specials. It was better than sitting in his apartment alone.
That was when his cell phone rang.
With a sigh, he set down his coffee and picked up, answering with a curt, "Arthur."
Arthur hesitated, a bit surprised. "Eames?"
"Would it be anyone else?"
Arthur fought back the urge to smile because he knew Eames would hear it without a doubt. "What are you doing calling me? Shouldn't you be stuffing your face with… well, with stuffing?"
"I despise stuffing," Eames replied smoothly. "Just wishing a 'happy holidays' to everyone I care to is all. Tell your mum I said hello."
"I'm not with my mum, Eames. My mother died like… six years ago."
"Oh," Eames said. He fell silent for a moment. "Oh, yeah, that's right. I remember now. Bloody sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it," Arthur said, sitting down at his desk and opening his files on his laptop. "It's been long enough for me to be done grieving after all."
"So… who are you spending Christmas with?"
"My laptop and my coffee cup," Arthur replied with a snort. "Work doesn't stop just because Jesus was born. Allegedly."
"No, I know what you mean. I got signed on for a job too," Eames said with a sigh. "I'm headed there right now to pick up some paperwork. It's bloody cold isn't it?"
"I guess that depends on where you are, but considering you spend most of your free time slumming it out in Mombasa, I imagine just about anywhere is cold to you," Arthur replied, leaning his ear towards his shoulder so he could type with both hands while still talking on the phone. "You don't have anywhere to be? No fancy dinner? No chestnuts roasting on an open fire?"
"Well, Jack Frost is certainly nipping at my nose, but no, no chestnuts. You talk about me working over Christmastime as if it's some sort of sin, Arthur, you hypocrite."
Arthur could hear the smile in his voice, but decided to pretend it was the coffee that warmed him rather than the grin he could see in his mind's eye.
"We do what we have to do, I suppose," Arthur mumbled, opening an e-mail from the extractor for this job and starting to idly scan it. "Are you avoiding your family? Is that why you took the job?"
"Of course not," Eames laughed. "They're avoiding me, actually. You know how it is. I think I'd be best celebrating by myself if their involved. I don't know if they believe in that whole 'peace on earth, good will towards men' bollocks."
"Well, you are a criminal."
"Yes, I suppose I've been a bit too open about my working life in comparison to you. Your mother was convinced you were an investment banker or something, wasn't it?"
"I don't know," Arthur laughed, unable to help himself. "She came up with all of that on her own. I never told her what I did, and she didn't want to know. She picked something that sounded good considering my salary and told her friends such. I just wanted her to be taken care of."
"I'm so sorry about what happened."
It was oddly sincere, coming from Eames, and for a second a knot caught in Arthur's throat at the memory of her smile.
"She was sick. All the money in the world couldn't save her… It's too bad."
"It really is. She'd probably be real bloody disappointed to hear you were working on Christmas."
"Yeah, well… I did plenty of things to disappoint her. Didn't we all?"
Eames chuckled, but even that sounded a little sad. "Indeed, indeed. You are right about that. Oh—someone's here."
"At the office where I'm working."
Arthur raised his eyebrows and right on cue the door to his own office came swinging open, revealing a bundled up and slightly damp Eames, still holding his phone. "Oh, hello," he said, face breaking out in a surprised grin.
Arthur clapped his phone shut and looked back at the email.
The extractor had hired Eames. Go figure. That was what Arthur got for not paying attention.
"Eames," Arthur greeted as if he hadn't just been speaking to him.
Eames shut the door behind him, removing his flat cap and shaking out his hair. It was un-gelled for once. "Fancy meeting you here," he grinned, removing his pea-coat and scarf and tossing it over the leather chair in the corner. "Happy Christmas."
Arthur said, "Can I offer you coffee?"
"I don't suppose you have tea?"
"I do not."
"That sounds like you," Eames said, eyes gleaming knowingly, and Arthur found himself swallowing for no reason. "Sure, coffee sounds good."
Arthur stood, moving to where his ceramic coffee pot sat, along with a couple of mugs (one for Ariadne and one for their extractor—it was Arthur's request to be in the office with the coffee pot), and he poured Eames a cup. "It should still be warm. I made it a few minutes ago. You're working here?"
Eames accepted the mug and blew on it before sipping at it and grimacing. He set it down and started adding cream and sugar to it. "I suppose so. I was a bit of a last minute addition to the group, yes. I'm assuming by the way you glanced at your computer that you were just discovering this information when I walked through the door. Fancy that."
"Fancy that indeed," Arthur said, a smile slowly forming on his lips. "I guess you just want the information about the job so you can go back to your hotel room?"
Eames snorted. "Well, I would have done that, until I realized that here I actually have some company. How about you and I sort things out together, yeah?"
"I don't have much to offer you."
"We can order some food. There has to be some bloody place that's open. Chinese people don't celebrate Christmas, do they?"
"Some do, but not for Christian reasons," Arthur replied. "Then again, what American really does celebrate for Christian reasons nowadays?"
"Funny how they steal from the pagans and then demean them, eh?" Eames chuckled. "See if you can pull up China Taste's website."
Arthur did, finding the office somehow even cozier with Eames there. In the past he'd been occasionally frustrated by Eames's presence, mostly because he was the only one competent enough in mind crime to make Arthur look foolish, but here and now he was enjoying the company. It didn't seem so… lonely.
Surprisingly enough, China Taste was open, but Arthur still had to leave and go pick up the order (after all, he couldn't compromise their position). He returned with it clutched close to his chest, shivering, and found Eames sprawled out in the leather chair, humming to "Blue Christmas" on the radio.
"Dinner is served," Arthur said, setting it on top of his desk. Apparently Eames had made the effort to move Arthur's paperwork out of the way and set it aside in a surprisingly organized fashion.
"You're a saint," Eames declared.
Arthur set out the noodles, chicken and rice, the egg rolls and fortune cookies, and for a split second it almost looked like a feast. He figured he'd take what he could get (after all, Eames had paid for it).
"I also… bought wine," Arthur said, digging it out of the other bag. "It is Christmas after all."
They didn't have wine glasses, so they swigged it out of the bottle, back and forth, while they ate. They talked about everything and nothing really, and Arthur was a bit surprised by how easy it was. He realized as they talked that they'd never really gotten the chance to speak to one another about anything other than work and the occasional (well, more than occasional) playful jab. Arthur had learned everything about Eames's life in his research, while Eames had…
…Well, he wasn't sure where Eames had learned his information. It probably should have bothered Arthur more than it did.
As if reading his mind, Eames took a swig out of the wine bottle and said, "D'you wonder how I've known about your mum for so long? How I've known about so many things about you?"
Arthur shrugged. "I wasn't actually keeping any secrets, but it is a little bizarre considering I know I never told you."
"It was that job," Eames explained, handing over the bottle. Arthur only dimly realized it was half-empty and that a pleasant buzz had settled over him. "It was that job six years—maybe five and a half—ago. The one in Rio. You were acting particularly gloomy and quiet. It might not have been noticeable to others, but I, with my brilliant forging abilities and thus equally adequate people-reading skills, noticed."
"You're so humble," Arthur laughed, digging his chopsticks into the bottom of his box of lo mein.
"You Americans are the ones who say 'If you've got it, flaunt it' right? Anyway, you were looking down in the dumps, and when we went under—I believe we were testing to see if you could find my forged self in a crowd of projections, but I don't remember precisely—when we went under, I saw her."
"You saw who?" Arthur asked, slurring a little bit. He decided another swig of wine would even that out.
"Your mum. Well, the projection of her at least. She was on your mind, so she was bound to show up."
"How did you know she was my mom?" Arthur asked, handing the wine bottle back over and biting into an egg roll. "This wine doesn't taste very good with Chinese food."
"Yes, well, you'll find that you can't generally combine the refined with the mundane and get good results," Eames chuckled. "I knew it was your mum because face it, Arthur, she couldn't have denied you if she tried. You look just like her."
Arthur smiled a little fondly at that, remembering her sly grins and bubbling laughter.
"I guess you're right about that… You're lucky though. In my dreams she's always healthy and beautiful. She didn't look like that up at the end… It doesn't explain how you knew she died, by the way."
"Oh, all I had to do was dig up a little information after that. You'll find that curiosity is a strong factor in me getting things done, darling. I looked up where you'd flown from and found one of your aliases had been signing checks for hospital bills and funeral arrangements."
"It wasn't an alias," Arthur said, letting out a halfhearted snort. "That was my real name, Eames."
That was information he generally wouldn't trust with anyone. He only used his true name when he absolutely had to.
"Whatever," Eames said, waving off the information as if it didn't matter, and maybe to Eames it didn't. "Either way, it wasn't too difficult to figure it out from there. Was she your only family?"
"All I ever had," Arthur said, sighing. "It was just the two of us against the world. She always used to make a big deal out of all the holidays. We would have a fancy dinner with turkey, cranberries and mashed potatoes or whatever we fancied. She'd decorate the house with lights, tinsel, crystal angels and candles. We also had this really fantastic tree—it was plastic, but it fit perfectly in the corner, and we'd always put the ornaments on it together. When I was little she'd pick me up and let me put the star on top. Then, the two of us would sit on the couch together and watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special while we baked cookies for Santa, or for us after I found out he wasn't real. I loved every moment of it, but… It just didn't feel right to do the same when I was by myself. It feels…"
"A bit more like a pity party, yeah?" Eames said with a smirk, and Arthur nodded, chuckling softly.
"Exactly," he said. "It doesn't mean I don't miss it though. She would have loved the snow. She probably would've liked you too, I imagine."
Where did that come from?
Eames wheezed he was laughing so hard. "Quite right! At least one of our mothers would like me."
Arthur grinned. "Oh, I'm sure your mom likes you."
Eames shook his head, still laughing. "She loves me, no doubt, but likes me? No, not at all. If you weren't a criminal and were from London, you'd probably be perfect for her."
"You're not trying to set me up with your mother, are you?" Arthur asked, and if anything that made Eames laugh even harder. Arthur couldn't help but think Eames had a nice laugh, but he blamed those thoughts on the alcohol.
"I promise—I promise I'm not," Eames said between gasps for air as he started to calm down. "I certainly wouldn't want you as a stepfather, not in a million years. I would hate to think so fondly on a family member."
Arthur sat back in his swivel chair, propping his socked feet up on the desk (he'd taken off his shoes several hours ago). "I'm so full," he sighed peacefully, tugging his tie free of its knot and rolling up his sleeves. "I didn't know you thought of me fondly."
"Well, not all of you," Eames teased. "Parts of you."
"You're so mean," Arthur mock-pouted before flashing him a bright smile and taking another drink of wine. It was close to empty, maybe about a fourth of the bottle left. He was beginning to feel the effects of it in the heat of his cheeks and the way the world seemed fuzzy around the edges. "What parts d'you like about me?"
Eames stood, pressing his hands against his lower back as he leaned back, stretching his spine. Arthur watched the curve of his chest with interest. "Well, you've got a fine arse and a lovely smile, but there's also the fact that you're utterly competent in the face of adversity."
"Competent's good," Arthur agreed.
Eames leaned his hip against the side of the desk, looking at Arthur with this expression… Arthur wasn't sure quite what it meant. It seemed like some kind of mixture of fondness but a little less innocent. "Yes, competent is good. There is a certain amount of skill that comes from being charming even while being a twat too."
"That's you," Arthur accused and laughed. "I'm still convinced it's the accent though."
"Being charming is ingrained in us Brits," Eames replied with a smirk.
Suddenly Eames was closer than Arthur remembered, and Arthur liked it a lot more than he thought he would.
Eames continued, "It's not the accent at all."
"It isn't?" Arthur asked, disbelieving.
"I can be charming no matter the accent, I assure you," and Eames fell effortlessly into an impersonation of Arthur's own accent. "I want to kiss you."
"Do it," Arthur challenged.
Well, it wasn't like Arthur didn't know Eames couldn't say no to a challenge.
Eames crouched over him, turning Arthur's face towards him and pressing his lips to Arthur's in a chaste kiss. Instinctively Arthur's eyes fluttered closed and his head tilted into it.
The chasteness didn't last. Neither of them were the type after all.
Arthur dropped the wine bottle. It thudded to the carpet, spilling the little bit that was left on the carpet. He was too busy wrapping his arms around Eames's neck and tugging him closer, pressing his tongue against his teeth as a question of invitation to notice.
Eames grinned and opened up, slotting their mouths together as if they were pieces to a puzzle. Arthur dropped his feet to the floor and soon found himself pulled upwards and pressed against the side of his desk.
Only then did they break, panting into each other's mouths.
"I do think I quite like all of you, actually," Eames said, and maybe Eames was right.
Maybe it wasn't just the accent that made him charming.
"Here I thought I didn't get any Christmas presents," Arthur said, voice deeper than usual—scratchy. He groaned softly when Eames leaned in to mouth at the skin of his neck.
"You're not trying to tease me, are you?" Eames asked, loosing a button on Arthur's shirt. "You're not going to get me all randy and then leave me hanging are you?"
Arthur smirked. "That all depends on how naughty or nice you are from this point on, now isn't it?"
"Do you want me to be naughty or nice?" Eames asked roughly.
The rumble of Eames's voice was too much on Arthur to really care. Arthur spread his arms out behind him, knocking empty Chinese takeout boxes to the floor with the wine and let Eames press him down onto the desk. The forger's hand slipped underneath Arthur's shirt, slightly chilled fingers tracing his ribs, peaking his nipples.
Arthur didn't even realize he was making a sound until Eames growled against his neck, "Listen to how needy you are."
"I think you're wearing too much clothing, ohhh," Arthur moaned in response as Eames rubbed a palm over his tented trousers.
Eames laughed against Arthur's neck. "God, look at you, you little minx. I've been interested in you for quite a bit."
"I always had my suspicions," Arthur gasped as Eames finally undid his belt and freed his cock from the press of the zipper. "Why now though?"
Eames gave Arthur a long, slightly wary look. "Why not?" he responded simply.
Arthur couldn't complain, especially after Eames unbuttoned his own shirt and trousers and folded himself over Arthur, rubbing their pricks together. Arthur shuddered, head thudding against the top of the desk as he arched into the feeling.
"Am I just extra inviting this evening?" Arthur said, trying to come across clever but sounding entirely too wrecked to do it convincingly.
"Well, considering that you did technically invite me," Eames groaned, rolling his hips so that their cocks slid against each other again, "yes, I do believe you were. However—it's not like we've really had much time to ourselves."
"Opportunity, then," Arthur sighed, eyelashes fluttering.
"No one sees you like I do," Eames panted, trailing messy kisses and nips down Arthur's collarbone and chest. "I suspect I might know you better than anyone else alive right now."
"Oh, d-do you," Arthur tried to counter, but it came out as more of a keen.
Eames chuckled, and Arthur could feel it against his skin. "Yeah…" he said huskily. "I watch you. I know you're competent and bloody foxy. I know by the slightest tilt of your shoulders or the set of your jaw if you're angry or sad or horny or frightened..." The scrub of Eames's facial hair on his abdomen was glorious. "I can tell by the dilation of your pupils if you trust someone or if you don't…" Arthur's cock twitched as Eames kissed the inside of his thigh. "…and I know innumerable little ticks about you that you might not even realize."
"Yeah?" Arthur asked breathlessly.
Suddenly serious, Eames said, "and I also know that you're often as lonesome as I am."
The desperation and the thrum of arousal didn't fade so much as it shifted then to something… something else… Something not able to be described as heat so much as warmth, something almost… tender… The touches were just a twinge softer and more intimate, the press of lips just the slightest bit more sweet and lingering.
Arthur wasn't as mortified by the feeling as he figured he should be.
Instead, he took hold of Eames's collar and pulled him back up for a kiss, licking his way inside. For a few minutes they stayed that way, rocking against each other for the friction they needed, mouths pursuing one another again and again.
They couldn't fuck—not really. Neither of them had expected the other to be there, and even if they had, it wasn't as if this turn of events had been planned either, so neither of them had the necessary supplies… but it didn't seem to matter.
They rutted against one another, pulling vulnerable little noises out of one another as hands scrambled under clothes and into hair and along the sides of faces. Arthur had fooled around and fucked in just about every way imaginable, but oddly enough this felt different. There was something about that comfortable fuzzy warmth that seemed to settle over him, prevalent even with the longing and the begging and the moans and sighs. In the past, sex had just been sex.
He wasn't sure what was different, but… well…
"You're the only person I trust," Eames whimpered, sounding as wrecked as Arthur felt. "I'd do anything for you, you know?"
Arthur let out a sob, pressing himself against Eames, no longer able to form words because he was so, so close.
Eames, talkative as expected, continued to speak as he picked up the pace, suddenly just as desperate. "I've been so very fond of you for so long, and I—I just—"
The rest of it was drowned out from the rushing sound in Arthur's ears as he toppled over the edge, shaking as his orgasm rocked through him. He vaguely registered shouting Eames's name and feeling his own name in his mouth when Eames groaned it, coming as well. It felt like it lasted an absolutely blissful eternity, but when Arthur opened his eyes, sprawled out over his desk with Eames breathing on top of him, the clock on the wall told him that only a few minutes had passed.
"Well," Arthur said, still a bit winded, "that's not how I expected my evening to go when I got here."
"I was kind of hoping it would when I got here," Eames laughed, and Arthur laughed too, shoving him off so that he could sit up.
"Here porn had led me to believe that lying on a desk was comfortable," Arthur teased as he accepted some of the napkins Eames handed him to clean himself up.
"Your first mistake was believing anything from porn," Eames assured him, wiping himself off and then putting his clothes back together. As he buckled his belt, he looked up at Arthur and smiled at him warmly.
Arthur's heart leaped, and he found himself smiling back the same way before he could stop himself. Eames leaned in and kissed him again, but didn't venture to take it further.
"Shall we go back to a hotel? I've got supplies in my suitcase," Eames offered.
Arthur moaned regrettably. "I have to finish this paperwork. You know how once I get started, I can't stop."
"I hope that applies to the bedroom," Eames teased and kissed Arthur's jaw. "Sure, I'll just help clean up this mess, and you work on typing without showing how drunk you are."
Arthur slid off the desk and back into his chair and got back to work as if nothing had happened, despite the fact that his hair was in disarray and his clothing rumpled. The only thing he couldn't seem to stop doing was glancing up and sending secret smiles at Eames as he tidied up. Normally Arthur wasn't so saccharine after sex, but he could blame it on the fact that still flooded with endorphins… or rather, the new rush of them he'd get every time he looked at Eames.
Again, Arthur figured that perhaps he was just being sentimental. It was Christmas Eve after all, and a far nicer one than his last few Christmases (Christmas with the Cobb family had been great until Mal got sick too, but he'd rather not think about her).
"You're bloody marvelous, you know?" Eames said, leaning over to pick up the wine bottle and toss it into the trash bag he had in his other hand. He squinted at the stain but seemed to decide he'd get to that later, if ever. Arthur had a feeling that Eames was sort of fond of the stain already. "I wouldn't have wanted my Christmas any other way."
"Chinese food, wine, and sex on a desk?" Arthur snorted.
"No," Eames replied lightly and left to go take the trash down to the curb without an explanation.
Arthur pouted, trying to think of what Eames could possibly mean. He leaned his cheek on his fist, and then decided a more comfortable position for thinking would be with his head pressed into his arms folded on the desktop, and…
Well, he may have been more tired than he realized.
Arthur opened his eyes to find himself standing in a cozy living room completely decked out in Christmas decorations. The details of the room were the slightest bit fuzzy, giving Arthur his first indication that it was a dream, but he still ran his fingers across the needles of the Christmas tree (it was a real tree, not plastic—just like he and his mom had always talked about getting but never really got) while a hazy interpretation of the Charlie Brown Christmas special played on the television.
There were gifts under the tree and tinsel around the fireplace, candles and crystal angels. Looking out the frosty windows Arthur could see a snowy forest and the lights hanging off the house and the other houses in the streets. He stared in wonder at the sight, returning to the tree and touching each precious ornament (they weren't plastic but ceramic and glass and each unique and sparkly and enchanting).
He turned at the sound of his name being called and then fell still.
His mother, her hair perfectly styled and red velvet dress fitting attractively over her body, smiled at him affectionately from the kitchen's doorway. "You want to help me eat this food or what?"
He knew it was his projection of her, knew it was all she ever could be, but in that moment…
In that moment, she was just his mother.
He crossed to her slowly, reaching out a slightly trembling hand to brush a dark curl behind her ear. "Mom," he said softly, voice innocent and vulnerable and strange to his own ears.
She continued to smile at him, kissing his cheek. "You can be so sentimental sometimes, honey. Let's eat ourselves into a food coma."
She led him through the kitchen and into the vagueness of a dining room. Much more attention had been paid to the design and detail of the classic Christmas feast set out on the table than the smudge of walls and a china cabinet. Arthur for one was much more focused on the person sitting at the table.
Eames, dressed to the nines and offering that same warm smile said, "Happy Christmas, darling."
"Eames," Arthur said, momentarily surprised. The shock faded quickly however, and all he could do was smile back at him and say, "Merry Christmas."
The three of them ate together, talking cheerfully about Christmases past, laughing at embarrassing stories of childhood and arguing over which stop-motion special was the best one. Arthur's mother was as delightful as he remembered (considering she was built from his memories, that wasn't all that surprising), vibrant and full of life. It was so good to hear her laughter again, to feel her warm hand on his shoulder as she teased him, taking Eames's side to spite him like he knew she would. Eames was a magnificent addition to the company as well, full of bizarre and possibly not true stories that left him and his mom both rolling with laughter.
On the way back into the living room to eat dessert and watch Charlie Brown, Eames caught Arthur under the mistletoe and gave him a long, dramatic kiss. His mother squealed and took a picture.
They watched Charlie Brown, all of them piled onto the couch, Arthur in the middle of what he could only describe as a 'snuggle pile', and then they opened gifts. No one seemed to care what the boxes contained, much more interested in kissing cheeks and thanking each other for this or that.
They went out in the snow and had snowball fights, built snowmen, made snow angels, and never got cold. The three of them lay under the stars, Arthur holding his mother's hand, and pointed out constellations as their breath rose into the air like trails of smoke.
Back inside, his mother sat at the piano and started to play the old classic Christmas tunes, and at that point Eames asked Arthur to dance. He was feeling festive, so he decided to take him up on the offer.
She sang, "I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love even more than I usually do…"
"So, Eames," Arthur asked softly, tucked in close to him as they swayed side to side. "This is your dream, isn't it?"
"And although I know it's a long road back…"
"You caught me," Eames chuckled softly. "I didn't know what your home looked like, so I improvised. Good enough?"
"Not even close to the house, but I'd say it works..."
"I promise you…"
"Why did you do all this?" Arthur asked him as the pace of the song picked up just slightly. "All the decorations and the stories and the dinner and—and—"
Eames nosed against his ear. "I just wanted to give you the Christmas you missed so much. Everyone deserves a perfect Christmas."
"I'll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me…"
"You didn't have to do that," Arthur said quietly, arms pulling Eames closer.
"Please have snow and mistletoe…"
"I know I didn't have to, darling. That's sort of the point, isn't it?"
"…and presents on the tree…"
"That's why everyone gives gifts, why everyone bothers to celebrate the bloody holiday in the first place. It's about other people, not about ourselves, and besides…"
"Christmas Eve will find me…"
"I owed you."
"You owed me?" Arthur questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"Where the love light gleams…"
"For making my Christmas perfect, remember?"
"Yeah—about that," Arthur said, effortlessly being dipped backwards. "What did you mean by that? You said it wasn't about the food and the wine and the sex, so what—"
"I'll be home for Christmas…"
"Darling," Eames huffed, grinning. "My Christmas was perfect because I got to spend it with you."
"If only in my dreams…"
"Oh…" Arthur said, eyes widening, and they were just watering from the heat of the fire, that was all. "Oh, Eames, I…"
Eames spun him around and tucked him against him again, Arthur's back pressed to Eames's front as they watched Arthur's mother smoothly move through the piano solo. "I know this'll never be like the real thing, but… I thought perhaps I could try… Is this okay?"
"Christmas Eve will find me where the love light gleams…"
"Oh, Eames…" Arthur said softly, voice wobbly. "It's… It's more than okay."
"I'll be home for Christmas…"
"I just wish it could last forever," he sniffed, a tear sneaking its way out of a corner of his eye.
"If only in my dreams…"
Eames turned him around and gently thumbed the tear away. "Christmas only comes once a year, darling."
"Shut up and kiss me," Arthur said and pressed his lips against Eames's.
"If only in my dreams."
Arthur opened his eyes to find himself slouched in his office chair, the PASIV open on the floor where Eames was rolling up the lines. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" was lilting softly over his tinny radio.
"Eames," Arthur said scratchily, just as Eames shut the case.
Eames looked up, smiling. "Yes, love?"
Eames stood up, casual, as if he'd done absolutely nothing. "No need to thank me. It was just a little decoration and snow. You could get that anywhere, really."
Arthur walked into Eames's arms, wrapping his own arms around his waist. Eames didn't move for a long moment but then settled his hands on Arthur's shoulders. "It really was nothing, you know," Eames said again. "It was literally the least I could've done."
"The least you could've done was nothing," Arthur told him, burying his face into Eames's neck, and he would defend himself to the death if someone were to accuse him of crying at that moment (even if that was totally what he was doing). "That was… I've never gotten such a wonderful present… You've made this the best Christmas ever…"
"With some dreamed up decorations and a fireplace?" Eames snorted. "I don't think—"
Eames fell silent, hand coming up to stroke through Arthur's hair, almost like he didn't realize he was doing it.
"It's perfect because I got to spend it with you."
Eames smiled, tilting Arthur's head up and whispered against his lips, "Shut up and kiss me."
So Arthur did.