A/N Just random writings that somehow formed into a story. Go figure.

Eames wasn't the type of man who indulged in relationships. He didn't want them and even if he did, it wasn't as if he'd be any good at it. Though Arthur disparaged him as a drunk womanizer, he wasn't nearly as bad as the other man made him out to be. He didn't go out to the bar every night to pick up women or anything like that, he wasn't a dog. It was just that in his line of work, the occasional one night stand was smarter. Less potential danger and awkward questions. He secretly thought that Arthur was just jealous that he wasn't as good as picking up women as he was. Well, not that Eames was exactly secret about it, he teased the other man mercilessly whenever they worked together.

That seemed to be a lot lately. Since the Inception job, Eames, Arthur and Ariadne started working together almost exclusively, sometimes with Yusuf as well, though he still liked to stay home whenever possible. There were times when they'd work with other teams, but it was rare. Eames and Arthur were very careful about who they let Ariadne work with. She'd rolled her eyes at them and told them they were being over protective, to which Eames had given her an indulgent smile and told her very politely that it was 'just too damn bad'.

When he thought about it, only a few people he'd ever worked with had serious relationships. Arthur had dabbled briefly, but after the Cobb/Mal fiasco, he'd all but abandoned his plans. So Eames wasn't the type of man who was out searching for someone to spend his life with, considering the necessary secretive nature of his life there wouldn't really be much to share with anyone anyways.

He also never expected to become Ariadne's shoulder to cry on. He was actually downright perplexed, which wasn't good for the forger, a self proclaimed people expert. He had known that he and Arthur sheltered Ariadne from some of the harsher sides of the business, but he hadn't truly noticed the extent of that until the Stein job.

It was supposed to be all routine, a very rich business man had paid them an extravagant amount of money to dive into the mind of his son in law who he believed was embezzling from the multimillion dollar company. The son in law hadn't been trained by extractors bit he has a particularly violent subconscious nonetheless. Ariadne had become separated from Eames and was taken by projections. At first she hadn't been too worried, expecting the projections to do nothing more than kill her. She was so very wrong.

As it turned out, the mark had a few seriously twisted desires that he felt the need to take out on the architect who just happened to match his preferred physical type. By the time Eames had found her, the man had been torturing her for over an hour. Eames burst through the door and was immediately assaulted by the vision of small Ariadne strapped to a long table wearing only her underwear and a bra. Eames' heart dropped to the very pit of his stomach at the sight of he tied down. Her skin was bruised and bleeding from multiple cuts, there was entirely too much blood. Eames' grey blue eyes met her pleading chocolate browns. Without hesitating, he raised him gun and fired, hitting Ariadne between the eyes before turning the gun on himself to escape the dream. Arthur would be mad that he left early but he was sure their illustrious point man could handle the details.

He opened his eyes to see Ariadne jerk the PASIV needle out of her arm. She flew out of the hotel room, body shaking and teams escaping her eyes, leaving the extractor, Arthur and the mark hooked up to the PASIV. Eames hastily unhooked himself and followed, catching Ariadne by the arm. He whirled her around to face him, her breathing was coming in short and shallow gasps.

"Ariadne," he tried.

"Eames, let me go," she nearly yelled. Eames pulled him hand back at her flinch and the hysteria in her voice. "I need to not be touched now." She shook her head and backed away as if he were a potentially dangerous animal. It broke his heart a little bit.

"Ariadne," he tried again.

"I have to go, I need to get away from this sick fuck," she said, still retreating down the hall. "Look I'll be at our hotel, just finish up here."

Everything in Eames wanted to follow Ariadne, but he knew the spitfire architect would have his head if he tried. Against his better judgment, he retreated back into the room and sat, anxiously tapping him foot until Arthur and the extractor opened their eyes.

"Eames, what the hell happened?" Arthur snapped the second he emerged and began packing up their equipment.

"We were detained by a projection," Eames said darkly. Arthur looked around at his words.

"Where's Ariadne?" he asked.

"She went back to the hotel," Eames said. "She needs some time alone."

"What happened?" Arthur asked, face immediately adopting a look of concern.

"Apparently this man," Eames said, giving the still unconscious man a kick to the shins, "has a few dark desire that include nearly naked brunettes and knives."

Arthur's eyes darkened. They all knew that dreams aren't real and that the dream is different than reality. But they were also keenly aware that even though it wasn't happening in reality, the effects could still be just as scarring. Eames, Arthur and the extractor finished erasing all traces of themselves and delivered the information to their employer (the son in law was embezzling and planning on taking over the company). They also informed him about the son's twisted ideas, especially since the employers daughter was also a petite brunette.

Eames made it back to the hotel they were staying at nearly five hours later. He couldn't wait any longer and set off down the hall to Ariadne's room. He knocked on the door lightly and again harder when he received no response.

"I can hear you in there, Ariadne," he called. "I'm a thief sweetheart, do you really think I can't get through a hotel lock?"

There was a pause then Ariadne opened the hotel door. She stared at him for a second before turning around and leaving him in the open doorway. He followed her in, closing the door and turning on more lights to illuminate the dark room. Ariadne was dressed in the white fluffy robe, her hair wet and hanging limply down her back. She sat on her bed, curling her legs under herself, ignoring Eames as he sat in the chair opposite of her. She didn't even acknowledge his presence until he cleared his throat loudly and her eyes slid to him.



He narrowed his eyes at her. "You know it's not good to keep things like this to yourself," he said.

She raised her eyebrows. "Sure Dr. Eames, while you're at it, maybe you can throw a few puppies my way and a unicorn that shoots rainbows out its ass."

"Ariadne," he said again. Her eyes faltered and she looked down at her hands.

"I don't want to talk about it. How do I explain what it's like to have knives slicing into your skin over and over? To be burned by cigarettes and choked? It was so real, Eames. I felt everything. If he was torturing me for information, I'd have given it to him," Ariadne said.

Eames stood and walked to her slowly to show he meant no harm. He carefully sat next to her, noting that she flinched less than before. "Darling, there is no shame in that."

"I was terrified. I screamed. I begged. Hell, I'm still scared. And it wasn't even real. It shouldn't bother me, it isn't real but all I can think of is that bastard twirling that knife and his smile…" She stopped, her voice had steadily risen until it cracked, threatening to become a sob.

Eames reached out and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, very pleased when she leaned into him instead of flinching away. "He is a man who's had his whole life to think of cruel and horrible ways to hurt people. The fact that he managed to hurt you doesn't make you weak," Eames said. "You are in fact one of the strongest women I know."

She rested her head on his shoulder, contemplating what he said. He ran what he hoped was a soothing hand down her arm. Normally he was good at this sort of thing, people being his business and all, but the vulnerable Ariadne tucked against his side was alarmingly disarming.

"Eames?" she said after a few minutes.

"Yes, sweetheart?" he answered.

"I want you to teach me how to fight."

He paused. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," she said firmly. "If I'm ever in a situation like that in real life, I want to be able to do more than just scream when some creep tries to pull me into his van."

Eames nodded. "Good, it's a good idea. I must admit I like the idea of you being able to defend yourself. As long as you use your skills to whoop Arthur's ass occasionally."

She laughed lightly against him and the knot in Eames' chest loosened significantly at the sound. "You should probably get some rest," he said.

She shrugged. "Nervous to sleep."

Eames nodded in understanding. "Nevertheless, you should try," he said. He unwrapped himself from her and leaned over, kissing the top of her head in what he insisted to himself was a brotherly fashion. "I'll be right down the hall if you need me." Ariadne nodded, thanked him and he slipped out of the room with a sigh, wishing more than ever that their employer had paid him the kill the son in law.

He normally wasn't much of a restless sleeper, the fact that he hardly ever dreamt naturally saw to that, but that night sufficiently kicked his ass. It took him nearly an hour to get to sleep and once that finally occurred, he was plagued by odd dreams about monkeys chasing the team with knives. Just as the deranged Wizard of Oz-esque primate were about to slice and dice them, he was jerked awake.

Eames blinked and looked around the dark hotel room for what had woken him. The bedside clock read 3:09 AM. He was still confused until he heard it, a tentative knock at his door. With a grunt, Eames pulled himself out of bed, grateful he'd decided to sleep in boxers instead of naked. Though it would be fun to test people's reactions if he opened the door naked, he had a shrewd idea of who it was and was certain she wouldn't appreciate that much. His instincts were proven right when he opened the door to a very anxious looking Ariadne.

"Yes, love?" he asked.

"I know it's late, I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I just needed to make sure."

"Make sure what?" he asked, successfully stifling a yawn.

"You, he, you died and when I woke up I couldn't find my totem at first and- I had to make sure," she finished, still speaking very fast.

Eames looked at her for a beat before opening the door fully, inviting her in. She blushed fiercely at the sight of him in nothing but his boxers. "You're not wearing pants," she said.

"That's true," Eames said, then winked. "Don't tell me you don't sometimes sleep in your negligee."

She blushed even harder but walked past him and into the room, muttering something that sounded like, "That's none of your business either way." She made her way to the chair beside his bed and curled up, resting her head on the chair's arm. Eames raised an eyebrow.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm tired," Ariadne said, a yawn emphasizing her statement. "So I'm just going to sleep here if you don't mind."

Eames rolled his eyes. "In the chair?"

"Yep," she said with a nod. "Every time I close my eyes in my room, I see him coming out of the shadows and killing us all, so if it's all the same to you…"

She yanked one of the blankets off the foot of Eames' bed and wrapped it around her small frame. Eames assessed the young woman before him, surprised to see the spitfire Ariadne so shaken up. He had to admit, she was taking it a lot better than the average person. Still, with all the strength the slight girl possessed, she was still in pain and still afraid.

Eames shook his head. "Ariadne, love, sleep on the bed. You'll break your back in that chair." Ariadne raised a skeptical eyebrow which Eames answered with an eyebrow raise of his own. "I'm not going to ravage you on sight. We're adults Ariadne, we can share a bed."

Sighing, she had to admit to herself that the king size bed would be a lot more comfortable than the small chair. She climbed into the bed, wrapping her blanket solidly around herself. Eames crawled in on the other side, far away from her and clicked off the light.

"Don't worry darling, your virtue is safe for tonight," Eames assured her. "Sleep well."

Eames was vaguely aware of Ariadne waking up at least two more times that night. At one point she was shaking so badly that he rolled her over and pulled her to him, tucking her against his chest. In the morning, he would blame it on being half asleep, but in the moment he did exactly what his alpha male instincts told him to do, protect someone that mattered to him.

When the woke the next morning, Ariadne's back was pressed against the front of Eames' body, his arm curled around her waist. Ariadne woke slowly, slightly groggy from waking up so many times. She vaguely remembered being pulled to Eames but had almost thought it was a dream.

She slowly tried to extract herself from the forger's grasp to keep from waking him, but her efforts only made his hold on her tighter and earned her some very unhappy grumbling from the large man. Ariadne forced down a giggle, not sure why she was surprised that Eames wasn't a morning person. Despite his unintelligible protests and the fact that he was holding onto her like she was his favorite stuffed toy, Ariadne disentangled herself from him and made it out of the bed and into the bathroom.

Locking the door behind her, she splashed some water on her face before looking in the mirror. Her reflection startled her, her skin was even paler than normal and dark circles hung under her eyes, betraying the fact that she'd had a less than restful night's sleep. She shook her head, beyond caring. This was Eames, he knew what she looked like, she wasn't worried about trying to impress him.

By the time she made it out of the bathroom, Eames was halfway dressed, that strong upper body exposed. He glanced her way as she stepped into the room and she willed herself not to blush at the sight but of course her reddening cheeks didn't comply.

"Good morning," he said, pulling on a ribbed white under shirt.

"Morning she answered, trying not to seem awkward watching him dress while she searched for her words. "Thank you, Eames."

"Anytime my little architect, maybe next time we can finish by tarnishing that virtue of yours a bit," he said with a wink. Ariadne rolled her eyes.

"I was thinking about…what happened," she started slowly. "And I don't ever want to come up in a situation where I'm helpless like that again, either in real life or in a dream."

"Understandable," Eames agreed.

"So I just want to make sure that you will teach me to defend myself, I don't want to be completely week and useless if something like that ever happens, I'm not a victim," she said.

"No, you aren't," Eames agreed. "I told you last night and I stand by what I said, I will teach you. But it will have to wait at least a month. I have a few things to take care of right away and we both know Arthur would pitch a crying fit if we saw each other sooner than that after a job."

Ariadne smiled, relief evident on her face. "That's fine. Thank you."

"Of course. Now, you have my number if you need anything in the meantime."

He wasn't sure if he was hoping or expecting a call from her, but nevertheless, a few days later he received the first of many. A few were panicky, Ariadne convinced he was hurt or worse but some were calmer, giving Eames the impression that she was merely anxious and needed to talk to someone before she exploded.

Over the weeks that Eames was gone, he became used to Ariadne's calls a few times a week and found himself almost looking forward to them. One of the men Eames was with, having overheard the forger talking to a woman, made incessant jokes about cheesy movie love, constantly making kissy faces whenever Eames' phone rang. For Eames' part, he merely snorted and answered the phone with a "Hello darling."

He met Ariadne in Paris a little over a month later. When he showed up out of the blue on her doorstep, she'd immediately threw her arms around him in a bone crunching hug, which surprised him considering her size. Then she quickly pulled back and put her hands on her hips.

"You're late," she informed him.

"Maybe a little," he said, smirking. "But you're still happy to see me."

"Maybe a little," she echoed then gave him a side smile.

Since her apartment was so small, they had to find a different place to have what Eames called 'Ariadne ass kicking spectaculars'. They ended up in a vacant condo building. They'd been halfway through the renovations when the money dried up, so there was plenty of empty space. After clearing out drywall and nails on the ground, it was perfect. Ariadne asked why they didn't go to the gym or something, Eames had answered that he liked privacy, also that some of the things he would teach her should be for her eyes only. That gave her a sneaking suspicion that either he was showing her something extremely strange and different that the other martial artists would take interest in, or that they might get funny looks if he instructs her in how to do something like slit someone's throat. After all, they'd have no idea that they were talking about killing people in dreams.

When she first showed up at the empty building, she was happy to see that Eames had covered the floor in mats so she wouldn't break any bones. The first day Eames worked on teaching her the basics in how to hit without hurting herself. It took awhile, but she managed to land a few blows on the punching bag he provided. He'd had her stop before too long to ice her hand to keep it from painfully swelling. They'd retreated to her apartment after the lesson for dinner. Ariadne was about halfway through preparing food when her hand started throbbing painfully. Eames smirked at her and gently pushed her out of the kitchen so he could finish preparing the meal. Ariadne wasn't at all surprised to find out that Eames was a fantastic cook.

"True renaissance man, chivalry and all," Ariadne commented as they ate.

"I don't know many renaissance men who taught their women to beat a grown man until he cries," Eames commented.

"Their women?" Adriane asked with a quirked eyebrow.

"You're my architect," Eames said in a smooth attempt to cover the uncharacteristic slip up. "So unlike the medieval man, I'm not foolish enough to think I could keep such a woman as yourself in a glass box."

Ariadne's eyes widened slightly as she tried to make out the exact meaning of his words.

"To that purpose," Eames continued before she could get a solid grasp on what he'd said, "tomorrow, we'll be teaching you to take a hit."

Ariadne looked at him warily. "Why does it seem like all of your plans for me involve pain?" Ariadne asked suspiciously.

Eames chuckled. "Don't worry, I'll be teaching you to cause pain as well," he promised.

And thus began another routine for Ariadne and Eames. Over the next few weeks in addition to more muscle mass, Ariadne now had the ability to accurately hit and disarm an average opponent, say a random mugger on the street. They were about to begin making her a bit deadlier when Eames got a call from an old contact, a man Eames would almost consider a friend, and definitely someone he owed a favor to.

"I have to go," Eames told her after one of their lessons and drinks after. That night they were in a small bar a few blocks from her apartment.

"Why?" she asked almost nervously. It was silly and almost didn't even make sense to her, but having Eames nearby both made her feel safer and made her more comfortable knowing he was safe.

"A friend of mine called in a favor," Eames explained. "I won't be gone long."

She nodded and before she could talk herself out of it, she leaned across the table and kissed him. Eames wasted no time and wrapped a hand around the back of her neck. She moved hungrily against his lips, a desire he readily mimicked, hand twisting in the hair at the base on her head. As quickly as she started it, she stopped, reluctantly pulling away.

"Hurry back," she said and left the table, leaving the bar. Eames shook his head. Ariadne certainly did keep him on his toes.

The job was a simple extraction, Eames was more or less there mainly to make sure things went smoothly. He knew he was in trouble when a projection of Ariadne started appearing during training sessions. A few of the men teased him while the one woman on the team merely rolled her eyes and muttered something about men. Eames assured them that she wasn't real, just a forgery he has been working on. He doubted they believed him.

At first, projection-Ariadne merely observed them as if she was watching a rather interesting TV show. Though it was off and a little unnerving sometimes, it didn't cause any particular harm.

Then, during a final trial run before the job, the projection of Ariadne showed up once more. He and another team member, some scrawny kid that Eames was unimpressed with, were waiting for their signal to move into the dream park when she stumbled around the corner. The gangly kid stared in horror as the small architect stumbled toward them, covered in blood. Her leg was bent at a strange angle and was dragging behind her. Instead of pristine pale skin, her skin was shredded into nothing but red ribbons, blood running in rivers down her body. Her face was a riot of violent colors, bruises forming down her jaw and around her desperate eyes. It was as if a hand reached into Eames' stomach, grabbed his organs and twisted. His wimpy companion turned very pale and vomited.

"Eames," Ariadne whimpered. "How could you leave me? How could you let this happen to me?" Her voice cracked and blood began to dribble out of her mouth. "You don't care…you don't…look what happened…Eames how could you let this happen to me!"

Eames' insides felt very cold. He froze for a second then lifted the gun in his hand and fired, hitting the projection of Ariadne. With a pathetic whimper, the projection died.

"Oh god, oh god," Eames' wimpy companion was moaning over and over again. He was leaning heavily on a nearby tree, obviously trying to keep from hurling again. If Eames wasn't mistaken, there were small tears seeping from the young man's eyes. "Oh god, that, she – you, oh god!"

Eames stood over the cowering man, using his size to his advantage. "Not a work to anyone," he growled out, not so subtly fingering his gun. "You never saw this, this never happened, you understand?"

His eyes widened and he began to nod very fast. "Yeah, yeah, man never happened, I got you, I – oh god." He threw himself to the side and began throwing up again.

Thanks to his threat, the rest of Eames' team never found out about the last little Ariadne episode. Nevertheless, Eames was still disturbed. He didn't think he blamed himself for the torture Ariadne had endured, but his subconscious seemed to think differently. Or was he worried that something might happen in his absence? Eames tried to shake off his unease but he also knew he couldn't afford for anything like that to happen during the job. He picked up his phone and dialed Ariadne, not caring it was around 3:00 AM in Paris.

"Mph, hello?" Ariadne answered, voice heavy from sleep.

The knot that had been twisting inside Eames' rib cage since he saw his projection of Ariadne suddenly released at the sound of her voice. "Sorry for calling so late," he said.

"Eames? Is something wrong?" she asked, suddenly sounding much more awake and alert than she did the moment before.

"No no, nothing's wrong," he said. "I'm sorry to have woken you."

"No, wait," Ariadne said and he heard the rustling of sheets as if she was sitting up in bed. "Eames, what is it?"

"Nothing, really," he said. "I should be back in around a week."

"Good," she answered, sleepiness crawling back into her voice. "That's good."

"Yes, go back to sleep Ariadne," he said.

"Yeah, I will," she said with a yawn. "Goodnight, darling."

Eames, feeling extremely better, hung up the phone and went back to his notes, putting the finishing touches on the job.

Luckily, it went smoothly after that. Ariadne didn't show up during the extraction. The team pulled off the job then split separately in all directions.

No, Eames wasn't an overly emotional person and certainly wouldn't be considered sentimental. He never planned on getting married and shuddered at the idea of children. Being Uncle Eames to Cobb's kids was more than enough. He considered very few people friends, and from that handful only a few he would risk anything for. Eames never felt his life was lacking in any way because of this lack of attachment, and he didn't particularly miss the feeling of deeply caring for someone. So when the overwhelming worry for Ariadne slammed into him like a train, it was fair to say he was more than a little unprepared. Worrying, Eames felt, was a completely useless and counterproductive emotion and avoided it at all costs. Nevertheless, he was undeniably compelled to fly right back to Paris after the job.

Eames didn't even take the time to check into his hotel room, instead driving to Ariadne's apartment straight from the airport. He wasn't even sure if she'd be home. He was up the stairs and knocking on her door barely 45 minutes after the plane landed. He tapped his foot impatiently, she was taking much too long to answer the door. He inspected the pathetic lock, about to put his thieving skills to use and break in when Ariadne opened the door wearing a short purple robe and towel drying her damp hair.

"Eames," she said in surprise.

"Remind me to get you a new lock," he said.


"You need a new lock," he said. He stepped into the apartment, eyes never leaving hers. She stared back, transfixed by the intensity in those stormy eyes. He advanced on her until he was right in front of her, chest to chest. The back of his left hand traced her cheek before his right rested on her hip. "I missed you," he said, his voice coming out husky and soft. Before she could answer him, he dipped down and kissed her, pouring the weeks of desire into her. Ariadne was momentarily startled before responding, winding her arms around his neck. He lifted her easily, her legs wrapping around her waist and she could feel just how happy he was to be there. The sensation made her moan into his mouth, drawing a rumbling growl from deep in Eames' throat.

His mouth found her neck, alternating between biting and sucking the sensitive flesh. Ariadne's breath came out in a high pitched whimper and that was enough for Eames. He blindly guided them through her apartment and into the bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him.

The next morning, Eames woke to what he decided was one of his new favorite sensations, a naked Ariadne curled around his side, head and arm splayed across his broad chest. Eames' arm was wrapped around her, hand resting o her waist. He was a light sleeper so he woke when the sun started to stream in through Ariadne's bedroom window. The sun woke Ariadne a few minutes later. She groaned, burying her face against his chest. With a chuckled, Eames rolled her closer, both arms holding her small frame against him.

"I usually close the drapes before I go to sleep," she mumbled into his chest. "But you distracted me."

"And I'd do it again," he said. She shivered as his words rumbled through her. Ariadne mumbled something else unintelligible and Eames ran his hands up and down her arms, fighting her goosebumps. Eames kissed her temple and in a few seconds she managed to fall back to sleep, securely held against Eames' large solid frame. Eames held her while she slept, relieved that her nightmares had given her a reprieve that night.

Staying the night with a woman and cuddling wasn't exactly a part of his normal M.O. For a moment he considered leaving, stopping what could be a critical mistake but pushed the thought away almost immediately. It already was proven to him that ignoring Ariadne didn't work well if his projections were any indication to go by.

Ariadne and Eames continued her lessons, though their extra activities afterward changed a bit. Eames started spending half the nights of the weak with Ariadne. He memorized the feel of her skin under his fingers, the smell of her hair after a shower and exactly which noise was earned when he touched each specific place. He considered it to be time very well spent.

Eames was lounging on Ariadne's bed months later with her laying on top of him when Eames received a call from Arthur. The point man gave Eames some details about a job if he was interested. Eames accepted and promised to give word to Ariadne. Arthur paused, about to ask what exactly he meant by that but decided he probably didn't want to know.

They flew out the next day to Scotland where they would meet Arthur and Davis, the extractor they would be working with. Ariadne trusted Eames' and Arthur's judgment on who was safe to work with and who wasn't, so over all she didn't have much of a problem with the extractor beyond finding him mildly irritating due to his smug arrogance. The few times he looked over Ariadne's work, he began to make condescending remarks, only to back away slowly under the weight of her glare. Eames smirked at her from his work station and sent a wink her way.

Ariadne wasn't as happy with their employer. Something about him just made her skin crawl. When she brought it up to Eames, he assured her that he wasn't dangerous, but he also started to keep a closer eye on the older man. Sure enough, Eames noticed that Ariadne's instincts were right. Their employer's eyes rested on Ariadne often enough to make Eames decidedly uncomfortable. He and Arthur vowed to keep Ariadne away from the man, but that didn't make much of a difference when they had a final confab with the team and their employer.

The older man walked in while everyone was making final preparations and going over the last minute details. Arthur, Eames and Davis were huddled together and Ariadne was forty feet away pouring over blueprints and layouts. He sauntered over and started circling her like a shark that had smelled blood in the water. Ariadne's face felt hot as she did her best to ignore the man.

Eames looked up, seeing the movement out of the corner of his eyes, to see him taking a slow, deliberate path around the architect. Eames narrowed his eyes, recognizing the predatory look on the man's face. He nudged Arthur, who looked up, face becoming stony. David seemed to hold his breath, not sure what to do about the sudden tension in the room.

Their employer seemed to realize he had their attention and spoke. "How," he asked, still circling Ariadne, effectively cutting her off from the rest of the team, "do you manage to get any work done with someone so exquisite as the little thing around you all day?" The question was directed at the men but he never took his eyes off of her.

She looked him full in the eye, defiantly staring down his disturbing leer. His grin never faltered, he just circled closer and closer. The muscle in Arthur's jaw twitched. Eames stood when he ran his fingers through a lock of Ariadne's hair. She stood and forcibly pushed the man's hand away while taking a large step back. Eames was at her side in seconds, putting his well built frame between Ariadne and their employer. He wrapped an arm around her, securely clasping her to his side.

"We manage. If you 'd follow Arthur, we can do a final walk through of the plan," Eames said firmly in a voice that invited no room for argument. Although Ariadne kept her composure extremely well, especially considering what she'd been through lately, Eames could still feel the fine tremor running through her body. Thankfully, her face didn't betray her fear, instead her expression was one of cold anger. Eames was suddenly very grateful that she didn't carry a gun, though he decided to help her get one and a carry permit. Their employer, with a final lecherous wink, walked over to where Arthur and Davis were standing, the two team members now speaking to him in very clipped voices.

Ariadne snaked an arm around his waist and he felt the tension leave her body. They sat on the desk nearly ten feet away from the rest of the team for the duration of the meeting. Eames' hand was glued to her back, a comforting weight. Arthur and Davis ushered their employer out of the work area, giving Eames an Ariadne a few moments alone.

He kissed the top of her head and asked, "Are you all right?"

She nodded. "Yeah he just reminded me of…him."

"Me too," he said darkly. "Don't worry, as soon as we're done we'll get the hell out of here."

"That sounds good," she said. She gave him a brief hug before letting go and taking a deep breath. "Let's do this."

The job went without a hitch, their employer's competitor's dirty little secrets easily extracted. They split at the airport, all taking different flights though Eames and Ariadne met in the London airport, deciding to spend some time in Eames' native England.

Eames wasn't an overly cuddly person in general. He didn't dislike contact, just never had the same ooey gooey desires that everyone else seemed to have. Despite this, he loved holding Ariadne to him, or having her body wrapped around his, or really any variation of physical contact with her. Over the months he spent with her, he also noticed that his alpha male protective instincts went into insane overdrive, whether she needed it or not.

They never specifically sat down and defined the parameters of their relationship, nor even say that they had a relationship period, but they bother knew and understood. He was accustomed to the sound of her even breathing while they slept, the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest, the scent that was uniquely her. It took awhile for her nightmares to stop completely and Eames was undeniably pleased that his presence seemed to quell most of the dreams.

They moved in together not a year after the Inception job. It wasn't exactly a huge step, they already spent most nights together anyways, they just brought his stuff into her apartment. She'd upgraded to a two bedroom after the first job so there was plenty of room.

They didn't argue nearly as much as he'd expected, nothing outside the usual playful debates and jabs. She didn't particularly enjoy when he went to the casinos, but since he rarely indulged in this vice, it was something of a non-issue.

Eames never thought he'd be holding this enigmatic creature in his arms, but as he glanced to the bed side table where the glistening diamond engagement ring was hidden, he never thought he'd be doing lots of things.