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24 September 2012 @ 11:14 pm
The Last Heat, pt. II [PBell!verse]  
Title: The Last Heat, pt. II [Pavlov's Bell]
Pairing: catboy!Arthur/werewolf!Eames
Words: ~11,500
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Gestating is such hard work.
Warnings: mpreg, references to bestiality, comeplay
Author's Note: Sequel to The Last Heat, part of the werekittens arc in the PBell!verse. I'm working on a Bane/Blake fic, but I wanted to have something to tide you guys over with, and nesting!Eames is the best Eames.

“You're terrible at fooling me,” Arthur says.

Eames counters, “You're terrible at losing a tail.”

There's a pun in there that neither of them touch. Arthur glares. Eames has been building up immunity, though, and he doesn't quail under the force of it.

Obviously, Arthur decides, the problem is that they know each other too well. That, and they're both well-equipped for this. Arthur will always smell Eames coming as long as he's downwind and Eames will likewise be able to track him. But it's obvious they've been working together for too long, or they'd have been able to get past the obstacle of scent. The realist in Arthur says this is bad. What if, one day, he and Eames...?

But he'll probably never need to be on the run from Eames. Probably. Not in a life-threatening situation, anyway, which this isn't. It's just a client meeting.

“I don't need your help,” says Arthur.

“I know you don't,” says Eames.

They're both silent again. A couple of people walk past them carefully, giving them space. It must look dodgy, them standing out here in front of a ramshackle hotel in Minsk, staring at each other so intensely. Eames' face is a perfect mask.

“Asshole,” Arthur says. “They're going to shoot me if I walk in with you.”

“Not if I shoot them first,” says Eames grimly.

“Look,” says Arthur. “I don't have time for this. I had a plan and you've fucked it all up. They probably already know you're here. So we need a new plan.”

“Easy,” says Eames, smiling. “I'm your hired muscle.”

“I don't need hired muscle,” Arthur snaps.

“Of course you do,” Eames says, leaning indolently against the wall of the hotel. “Because the mark didn't know everything Gurevich thought he did and he's going to take that out on you, but we won't give him the chance.”

“We can't go in there armed. You know that, right?”

“Of course,” says Eames.

“You were just a consult for this job. Why are you even here?” Arthur demands.

“Well,” Eames says. He looks thoughtful. “Just bored, I suppose.”

Scowling, Arthur turns and pushes through the front doors to the lobby. Eames follows him, just as Arthur suspected.

They take the elevator to the penthouse. At the landing, they're both patted down by two men and pronounced clean, then ushered into the next room, where a man sits behind a desk with two more guards on either side. There's a couch in front of the desk. Arthur and Eames take a seat.

“Mr. Kimble,” the man behind the desk says, smiling. “I had thought you were coming alone.”

He speaks in heavily accented English, slowly and deliberately. Arthur says, “This is my associate.”

“Of course. Of course. You have information for me, I gather.”

Arthur doesn't budge. Gurevich suddenly throws his head back and laughs.

“Ah! You think I will not pay you. You will get every kopek for your trouble, Mr. Kimble.”

He gestures to one of the guards, who hands him a briefcase. Gurevich places it on the desk and stands up.

“Naturally, I must exercise caution,” he says, waving a hand loosely at the guards on either side of him, while Arthur straightens up and pulls a file folder from his coat. The initial two guards have disappeared.

“Naturally,” says Arthur. He places the file folder on the desk, just out of reach.

“It could be, maybe, that you are double-crossing me. I don't know. But I think you are a ... trustworthy man, Mr. Kimble.”

Gurevich slides a briefcase over the desk. Likewise, Arthur gives the file folder a shove. It slides across the polished surface.

“My thanks,” Gurevich murmurs. One of the guards leans down to pick the folder up, causing his coat to fall open. Metal glitters at his hip.

Arthur scarcely registers what happens next. He's lifting the briefcase when he gets thrown backwards onto the couch by an arm around his waist, and shouldering past him furiously is Eames, gun cocked and aimed. He manages to clip the guard just as all three men dive behind the desk. When Arthur tries to leap up, Eames blocks his path determinedly.

“Eames, what—”

The guards return fire. Eames flings out an arm, bundling Arthur behind him again; then, changing his mind, he drags Arthur behind the couch.

“Eames, what the hell!” Arthur snarls. Bullets fly over their heads.

“He had a gun! He would have shot you!”

“It was going fine! Eames, you fucking lunatic!”

There's a lull in the shooting. Eames leans past the side of the couch and fires off a shot. There's a yell.

“You're armed, I hope?” he asks conversationally, crouching back down next to Arthur.

“Of course I am,” Arthur says irritably, already checking his own gun. “And there are two more guards here somewhere. You watch those two and I'll keep an eye out.”

He presses his back into the couch, facing the door with his Glock raised and steady. Eames looks up at the couch and down at him, anguished.

“But ...”

“Don't argue,” Arthur says in a flat voice. “I'd like to get out of here alive today, Mr. Eames. On time, preferably.”

Eames purses his lips. In the doorway, a man leans into view, aiming at them.

Two bullets hit his arm and hand almost simultaneously, Eames just a fraction quicker. The arm disappears.

“Eames,” Arthur says, while more shots ring out behind them, “fuck you, Eames.”

At the end of the day, Gurevich has his information, even if he also has a bullet in his arm, and Arthur has the money to pay his team, so it could have gone worse. But it does mean sewing up Eames' side in the bathroom of a Russian McDonald's, thread clamped between his teeth so that he can't block out the sickening smell of blood. They have to zigzag across several continents before landing at a safehouse: an isolated cabin in the middle of Sweden, belonging to a friend of Eames' who owes him a favour. They have to force their way in and immediately build up a fire, because there's no electricity.

And all Eames has to say at the end of it is, “I didn't like you working for him anyway.”

Arthur stares at him disbelievingly. Eames' shirt, which they'd bought at the airport, has a bloodstain on its side where Arthur's sloppy stitches have started to tear.

“You don't get to decide who I do or don't work for, Eames,” he manages to say finally.

“I know,” Eames says, a little abashed.

“You fucked that up. We could have been killed. We could have got the whole team killed.”

“I know,” Eames says, looking more and more chagrined.

“I don't like shooting at people when I don't have to.”

This time Eames doesn't say anything. He doesn't have to. He's like a dog caught chewing on its master's shoes; the self-abasement radiates from him. They don't talk for a few hours.

The cabin is so cold that they end up hanging sheets in every doorway to the main room, and Eames finds some plastic sheeting to cover the windows with. They ransack the bedroom and construct a rough nest in front of the fireplace. Now that they're safe, Arthur takes a second look at Eames' wound and cleans it carefully. It doesn't look infected yet. Mostly it's just a graze. “It'll heal,” Eames says simply. He looks away. “Full moon soon.”

Arthur doesn't look at him, either. They still haven't quite talked about that last full moon.

In the interests of keeping warm, Arthur is willing to cuddle after the sun goes down and it's time to sleep. He's not in the mood to fuck, though, not even when Eames snuggles up behind him and starts petting all around the base of his tail, which usually makes him crazy, and makes him want those deft, nimble fingers inside him now. He huffs once, sharply, and Eames gets the hint and stops. He's still in the doghouse.

They spend five days at the safehouse. They fuck the morning after they get there—because they haven't for a whole week and Arthur can have loud filthy sex with Eames even if he's mad at him, damn it—and also that night, and the next day, too, but apart from that they don't talk to each other very much. Eames knows to tread lightly. If there's one thing Arthur cannot stand, it's Eames thinking he needs protecting. Arthur can hold his own in a fight perfectly well and Eames knows that.

(Still, with his name on an angry Russian mobster's shit list, he is kind of glad that Eames is there.)

There's running water, at least, and the larder is stocked with preserved food, so they don't starve. Eames, a chronic fidgeter, soon becomes desperately bored and takes to bundling up and heading out to the woods with an axe to collect firewood; but Arthur finds it okay when it's not too cold. He curls up during the day and reads the few books he brought with him—loaners from Eames' uncle Micah, an avid historian, with names like A History of Were-wolves and Warfare (that one contains a depressing amount of rape and cannibalism, which Arthur omits when Eames asks him to read aloud).

On the fifth day, Arthur is exhausted.

This isn't new. He's been feeling tired for the past week or so now. But today just getting up and walking to the kitchen to grab a packet of instant coffee makes him feel like he's been running hard for half an hour. He chalks it up to a stressful job and is glad he didn't have to go down with his teammates for that one. Once under, he might have just kept on sleeping.

Eames darts worried glances at him while they eat a breakfast of tasteless instant oatmeal.

“Are you feeling alright?” he asks finally. “Nauseous again?”

Arthur shakes his head, shoveling down spoonfuls. They've been eating this gruel for days and until now he's only touched it with the greatest of reluctance. “No,” he says. “Starving.”

At once Eames pushes his bowl over, and Arthur accepts it gratefully. Eames watches anxiously while he bolts it down.

“God, what I wouldn't give to be able to make you a proper English breakfast,” he says, seemingly distressed by this.

“It's fine.” Arthur licks the last bits of oatmeal off his spoon. “I can live without bacon and eggs, you know. Not for very long, but it is possible.”

“There can't be any nutrition in this,” Eames mutters, staring at the empty bowls.

“It's fine, Eames,” Arthur repeats, because at least there's something warm filling his belly. “Do you mind washing up? I think I need to go back to sleep.”

“Of course,” Eames says promptly. “You get some rest, and I'll get us some more firewood.”

Arthur dozes and reads for the rest of the day, not even realizing that Eames is trying to avoid him. That evening he's distracted from his book when he finds Eames standing in front of him, in his coat and boots.


“Full moon?” says Eames, raising his eyebrows.

It's snuck up on them. Good thing Eames has been paying attention. Arthur certainly hasn't.

“You'll freeze out there,” Arthur protests, struggling up out of the blankets. “When you change back, I mean.” Eames shrugs this off.

“I'll get back to my clothes by sunrise,” he says.

“Don't—” Arthur starts, and immediately feels his ears burn. Eames looks at him curiously, and Arthur manages, “You won't come back to the cabin tonight?”

Eames gets his meaning, and to his credit, he doesn't laugh or make a lewd comment. They haven't talked about that last full moon since it happened, the morning after, when Arthur was so fucked-out and full of endorphins he'd probably looked and sounded perfectly stoned. He'd been too far gone at the time to be self-conscious, anyway. Now it just seems embarrassing. He doesn't want Eames' canine brain to think they've set some kind of precedent.

“I'll stay away,” Eames promises. “You're not in heat this time. There are other interesting things out there to sniff.” He leans over and kisses Arthur on the forehead, still ignoring his blush. “I'll pee on some trees for you.”

“Thanks,” Arthur says dryly. Eames gives him a last crooked-mouthed smile and leaves.

He's very accepting of his lot in life. If it were Arthur, he'd hate turning into a big hairy animal once a month. He's never heard a werewolf complain, though.

He gets comfy, stokes the fire, and settles back down with his book in his expanding attempt to fathom the werewolf mind.

An hour or two later—he's not sure—he startles awake. The fire's getting low; he's slumped over his book. It's not like him to fall asleep in the middle of something. Muddled and sleepy, he checks his totem and starts building the fire back up. It's then that he hears the noise, recognizing it instantly as the sound that woke him: a high-pitched whine outside the door.

He immediately has images of Eames with his foot caught in a trap, or mauled by some animal, injured, crying on the doorstep for help. He bounds over just as he hears a second, more insistent whine, followed by the grating scrape of claws on the door.

He opens the door. The wolf outside at once rises from a sitting position to all fours, tail lifting gladly. His eyes are bright and intense.

There's no blood. No visible injury.

“What do you want?” Arthur asks, somewhat grouchily.

The wolf lowers his head and starts sniffing around the door. He lifts his leg on the side of the cabin and Arthur jerks back. He knows he should be a little more magnanimous, given that this is his boyfriend peeing on the house, but he can't be blamed if he's a little headshy from last time. Eames obviously isn't cold in that thick pelt—just lonely.

His duty of marking the cabin done, the wolf starts to casually push past him through the door. Arthur blocks him with his hip, bringing the wolf up short.

“Go run around in the forest,” Arthur says. With that, he shuts the door and latches it securely.

It takes a minute for the noise to start again, an alternating whine-growl. Then the scraping. For a half hour or so the doorknob rattles around as it's either battered or chewed on from outside—the wolf isn't dumb. There are numerous locks on the door, though, and these foil him. Arthur lies down and drags a blanket up over his ears to block the sound out, because he's just so tired—but he can still hear the thud of the wolf outside standing up, planting his massive paws on the door, still trying to make it open so that he can get inside and be with his mate.

It's not like him to be so clingy. Uneasily, Arthur wonders if it's an outcome of—last month.

He doesn't open the door. He drifts off when the wolf falls silent outside at last. Arthur can tell he's still there, though, and his jumbled, feverish, half-formed dreams that night all involve the wolf stalking him.

He's woken abruptly when a hand grabs him by the back of the shirt collar and hauls him upright. Arthur flails momentarily like a scruffed cat, reaching for a gun that isn't there.

“What?” he demands, as soon as he finds his footing and realizes he isn't under attack. It's past sunrise; coals are glowing in the fireplace. “What'd you do that for?”

“You weren't waking up!” says Eames, releasing him. He looks rattled. “We've got to leave. Come on.”

Arthur shuts up and starts fishing through the blanket nest till he finds his gun. He shoves it into the waistband of his trousers, grabs up his book and follows Eames to the bedroom, where they start throwing clothes into their bags. It's not very much, fortunately; they're both in the habit of keeping their bags as ready to go as possible. He slides a few quick sidelong glances at Eames, who is bruised and scraped with new, half-healed injuries.

“You didn't hear anything last night?” Eames demands disbelievingly. “The gunshots? Nothing?”

“No. Nothing,” Arthur says, this fact making him a little panicky. He's always been a light sleeper. It's saved his life more than once. He'd just been so tired—what the hell is happening to him?

“It's okay, you don't have to rush,” Eames says when he looks up, laying a hand on Arthur's arm. Arthur is scrambling desperately to find one of Micah's textbooks.

“What,” Arthur starts, but he shuts up when he catches the scent of blood. He looks at Eames hastily, but Eames isn't bleeding.

He slows down just a bit, just enough to check that his clothes are lying flat instead of rumpled. While he does this, Eames suddenly groans and staggers to the corner. Arthur turns in time to see him vomiting up a torrent of blood. It's an alarming amount. Arthur watches, stunned, until he coughs and only a little pink spume comes up.

Eames turns, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “Come on,” he rasps, seeing that Arthur has stopped packing.

Arthur doesn't move. “Who?”

Eames shakes his head briskly and goes back to his bag. “Griffin sold us out,” he grunts after a moment. “To Gurevich.”

Griffin is his friend, the one who owns the cabin and owed Eames a favour. He must have wondered why they were hiding out, how much he could profit from knowing where two of the biggest names in mind crime are.

And Eames had been waiting on the doorstep all night, like he'd known, somehow. Right there to greet Gurevich and his cronies when they pulled in.

Eames hadn't wanted to come inside just to be with Arthur. He'd wanted to protect him.

A funny little cramp shoots through Arthur's stomach and, oddly, he feels a wave of nausea sweep over him as well, even though he's no stranger to the smell of blood. He swallows it and keeps packing.

When they leave the cabin, Arthur stumbles and nearly does throw up. Two bodies lie crumpled in the snow, which has been churned up with tire tracks and prints and slushy blood. Broken glass glitters in the light and blood flecks the snow everywhere. A set of red pawprints trails down the drive and then returns to the doorstep.

“Don't look,” Eames says, shouldering him aside toward their own car, like he's—ashamed, Arthur realizes. But Arthur looks anyway, because he can't make sense of what he's seeing. The bodies are too mangled and he can't figure out what the hell happened here. He stops, and Eames pushes at him again pleadingly. “Arthur, don't, it's awful, I know ...”

Arthur takes his hand gently and guides him to the side of the house, where their rental car is parked and the grisly scene is out of sight. “Stay,” he tells Eames.

Eames watches anxiously as he goes back to look. Arthur approaches very slowly, hand hovering close to his gun, even though it's obvious the two corpses aren't going to do anything. He stops short when he gets close enough, suddenly understanding.

He already knows that werewolves don't kill by targeting the throat, like real wolves do. Like big cats, they sever the spinal cord if they can. But sometimes they don't do that, either.

Each body's head has been wrathfully ground to a pulp. One has almost been parted entirely from the neck.

There are a thousand pounds of pressure per square inch in the tips of Eames' teeth when he's fully transformed. Arthur thinks of that pinkish foam Eames brought up and swallows hard.

He stoops down next to each corpse in turn to check them swiftly, not looking at their crushed skulls. Gurevich's ring glitters on one's hand. Both bodies have guns at their sides. Arthur straightens up again, piecing together the picture. They'd come in the night, Gurevich and maybe three or four cronies, and crept up to the house in a car, probably with the headlights switched off. They'd never seen Eames coming. He'd been sitting right outside the door all night, almost as if he was waiting for them.

It looks as though the windshield was smashed, but a few got away in the car, clearly. Gurevich wasn't so lucky.

When Arthur walks around the house again he finds Eames fumbling to light up a cigarette, his back turned toward Arthur. Arthur's never seen him so shaken after a kill. Someone unfamiliar with them might take Eames, with his solid bulk and gimlet eye, as the deadlier of the two, but it's not true. Arthur's faster both to draw and to shoot—and Arthur does kill-shots, he doesn't fuck around. Eames thinks he can talk his way out of anything, and he does so when possible. He's downright artful with a weapon or his bare hands when he's pushed to it, in dreams or otherwise, though in reality he always holds out if he can. But when he kills, he knows it has to be done. Eames doesn't lose sleep when he kills.

Of course, he's certainly never killed somebody while changed that Arthur knows of. It means risking life in jail, even death in the States, but he knows Eames isn't worried about being caught. He's just ... unsettled. Probably never thought himself capable of this.

Arthur watches him for a few minutes. When Eames has smoked the cigarette down to a stub, Arthur walks to him and stops in front of him. Eames looks at him, eyes bloodshot and glazed.

“They'd have walked in and shot me,” Arthur says.

Eames flicks the cigarette away and looks aside, shaking his head slowly. Arthur places both hands on his shoulders and forces him to make eye contact.

“They'd have killed me, Eames,” he says forcefully.

Eames shakes his head again.

“I know,” he says after a pause, his voice very low. “That's what terrifies me.”

Arthur pulls him into a hug. There's nothing else he can do.

They stand there in the cold for a full minute. Eames buries his nose in Arthur's shoulder and takes deep breaths, flushing his senses of the carnage at the front of the house. He still smells like blood, it's on his breath even after the cigarette, but Arthur blocks that out as much as he can.

When they draw apart Eames has pulled on his calm, self-assured mask. “Thanks,” he says.

“I'll drive,” says Arthur.

With their Gurevich problem solved, they're able to go back to London. Things don't go back to normal immediately, though. Arthur is still mysteriously fatigued and his nausea persists throughout the day. He spends a few days resting, while Eames, bristling with nervous energy, leaves for short but frequent stretches—patrolling the neighbourhood, Arthur suspects, like a zealous watchdog. When he tries to relax with Arthur in bed, Arthur usually ends up chasing him out for being too fidgety, and Eames wanders off to sulk. He's so clingy lately, so unlike himself, that it's borderline smothering, and Arthur can't figure out what his problem is.

He can't figure out his own mystery ailment, either, because he's never experienced symptoms like this before. In the mornings he wakes up starved, and Eames plies him with more bacon and fried eggs and sausages and toast than he can eat, apparently trying to feed him to death. Arthur inhales it all anyway, and then uses the last of his remaining energy to crawl back to bed and either catnap or read or surf the Internet, and he usually falls asleep while attempting the latter two. Then he wakes up later in the day feeling sick to his stomach, vowing never to touch fried eggs again in his life, and he spends a miserable night trying to keep his food down, sometimes failing. By morning, he's starving all over again.

After he's been feeling tentatively better for a couple days, he starts searching casually for a new job. New, clingy Eames doesn't like that. He lies down on the couch with Arthur and innocuously shifts around until he can start mouthing and kissing Arthur's neck.

“Stay,” he says. “Don't take a job just yet.”

Arthur half-heartedly tries to bat him away. “I'm just looking.”

Eames nips lightly at his earlobe, making Arthur sigh. “We haven't even had a proper homecoming.”

“I was sick.”

“You're not sick now, are you?”

Arthur can't argue with his logic. He snaps the laptop shut and surrenders to Eames' mouth.

Eames is even more insatiable than usual. Arthur tries to keep up with him, pushing against the headboard to fuck himself back onto Eames' cock, arching and squirming against him, but after two rounds he's done. He falls limp onto the mattress, eyes shut, catching his breath and grunting when Eames pulls out.

Eames growls softly, collecting on his fingertips the come that has followed him out and pushing it back in. Arthur gropes without opening his eyes until he finds Eames' neck, wraps a hand around the back of it and pulls him down for a kiss. He wants to nap, and waits for Eames to flop down at his side. Instead, still kissing him, Eames presses the head of his cock to Arthur's hole, starts to push back in.

“Hey.” Arthur pushes on his chest. Taking his meaning, Eames withdraws, panting. At his confused look, Arthur mumbles, “Sorry. Just—can't.”

“Can I just—” Eames says, kneeling over him, and he starts jerking himself swiftly. Arthur lies back and watches, the head of Eames' cock just a few inches from his face, slick and swollen. He reaches up to touch it, twines his fingers with Eames' briefly, then closes a hand around his swollen knot. Eames moans, his whole face drawing tight. “Arthur, can I—I want to come on your face, I've been thinking about it all week—”

“Yeah,” Arthur says, “yeah, do it,” and almost at once Eames is coming with a strangled gasp. Arthur just thinks to shut his eyes in time and feels it as hot liquid pulses over his eyebrow, in his hair, painting his lips. Eames is rigid above him.

When it feels safe to open his eyes, Arthur does so and sees Eames still kneeling over him, cock in hand, chest heaving.

“Arthur,” he breathes.

There's come on Arthur's eyelashes, clinging heavily. He opens his mouth and licks his lips carefully, tasting Eames. Eames stares, enthralled, mouth still hanging open.

“You're beautiful,” he murmurs.

Arthur cracks a tired grin at that, because he doesn't feel beautiful; he feels debauched and slutty, letting Eames' come dry on his face. But Eames looks perfectly awed. He leans down and starts lapping it away in steady strokes of his tongue.

“Gross.” Arthur pushes at him weakly. “Hey. Gross.”

Eames smiles indulgently. “It's just semen, Arthur.”

“I mean licking my face. Gross.”

Eames licks the tip of his nose deliberately, then, very gently, closes his teeth over it. Arthur fights back a smile.

“You spend altogether too much time biting me,” he says.

“I spend not enough time biting you,” Eames argues, and he nips Arthur's nose again, harder. “I think about biting you all the time. Biting and licking and tasting you. I want you in my mouth.”

“I'd like to be a vehicle for your oral fixation,” says Arthur, “but I think two orgasms is all I can do right now. Sorry.”

“Don't be,” says Eames. In one slow lick he gathers the streak of come across Arthur's cheek onto his tongue. Then, leaning down, he presses his mouth to Arthur's tentatively. Arthur opens gladly, licking Eames' come into his own mouth, sharing the distinct flavour.

Eames gives a little shudder at how easily Arthur takes this, and reaches down quickly to adjust himself. Arthur sighs.

“You can't still be,” he says, looking down, but Eames is, fully erect and flushed with desire. He starts stroking himself again, drawing back, but Arthur gently bats his hand away and rolls onto his belly. “Come here,” he says, and Eames collapses gratefully onto his back. Arthur crawls between his legs, takes Eames' straining cock into his mouth.

He knows, with Eames this far gone, that it won't take much. He wraps a tight fist around Eames' throbbing knot, just above the base of his cock, and keeps it there. With his mouth, he envelops the head and tongues it, probing the slit carefully. He waits until Eames is breathing raggedly; then he pulls off a bit, starts playing with his foreskin, nibbling very lightly with his teeth, then dipping the tip of his tongue just inside and swiping it around. When Eames is squirming fitfully, Arthur takes as much as he can into his mouth and sucks hard.

With a cracked groaning sound, Eames arches and comes, flooding Arthur's mouth. It's as startlingly hot as ever. This time Arthur doesn't swallow. Instead he holds it all on his tongue, rolling it around a bit, weighing and tasting it like a wine. Then, before Eames can recover fully, Arthur leans over and kisses him. He does the same thing to Eames when Eames opens his mouth, spilling come slowly from his tongue to Eames', savouring Eames' hot little moan.

“Since you like semen so much,” Arthur says, sitting back, when Eames has swallowed. Eames is looking decidedly pole-axed, unable to even come up with a rejoinder for this; and deciding that he's sated for now, Arthur bundles up the towel he'd been lying on before (he hates having to wash the sheets every time Eames wants to ravage him), wipes himself off thoroughly, and then lies down at Eames' side.

When he can breathe adequately, Eames says, “I might be getting too old for four orgasms in a row.”

C'est impossible,” Arthur says, feigning shock. Eames gives another little groan at this, and rolls over, slinging an arm over Arthur's belly, then sliding it down to pet his tail.

“God, I just can't get enough of you lately,” he says. “There's something about you—you just smell so irresistible ...”

“I'm not going into heat, am I?” Arthur asks, suddenly alarmed. His cycle's been off lately, but this would still be way too early for it. It's only been five weeks or so since the last one. They should have at least another few weeks ...

“No,” Eames says thoughtfully. “You don't smell like that.”

“We're okay, then,” Arthur says, relaxing. He sweeps his tail over Eames' leg and leaves it there, knowing without looking that it will make Eames smile. It does; he can tell when Eames bites his neck. “Ow.”

He wants to writhe away when he feels his mate wrapping him up tight against his body, tucking them together like a perfect fit, because he's sweaty and sticky and Eames is too hot, but he just lies there, because he's tired and it's easier to just let Eames have his way. Eames is a fierce post-coital cuddler even when he's not obsessively attached to Arthur. He buries his nose in Arthur's hair.

“Strange,” he murmurs. “Can't keep my hands off you.”

Arthur finds the energy for a blunt reply. “It'd be strange if you didn't want to fuck me every hour of the day.”

“Mm ... no, it's not like that. I keep telling myself to get up and run you a bath but I can't seem to move from this spot.”

“That's the separation anxiety talking,” Arthur mumbles into the pillows. Then the words register a second later. “A bath sounds great.”

Eames hesitates. “You won't go anywhere?”

“Where would I go?”

“I don't know,” Eames says, as if he's thinking about it. He must come to the conclusion that there is, in fact, nowhere Arthur can go at the moment, because after a minute he kisses Arthur on the back of the neck and says, “Okay. Bath. Stay put.”

“Staying put,” Arthur murmurs sleepily. Eames kisses him once more and disentangles himself from Arthur's body.

Arthur drowses until Eames returns. He's run a bubble bath, steaming hot, and Arthur sinks in with a sigh of relief. He slides under for a few seconds to run his hands through his hair and over his face until he's gotten rid of any lingering fluids. When he comes back up, Eames is still standing there.

“You look thin,” Eames says.

Arthur blows a few bubbles off his upper lip. “Thanks.”

“I mean it. You don't look well, Arthur. I can make you something—”

“Remember the conversation we had about micromanagement in this relationship?” Arthur adds, injecting just a bit of bite, because this is getting beyond borderline smothering and starting to just be annoying. Eames apparently does remember, because he leaves without saying anything else.

Arthur soaks until his fingers are wrinkling and he feels ready to nod off again. As he's towelling off, and spongeing bubbles out of his tail, he glances over at the mirror. Maybe he does look a little thinner than usual. That can be chalked up to a week of cabin food, surely. But he's been eating so much since getting back. Fleetingly, and with alarm, he considers the possibility of something unpleasant like a tapeworm, but he dismisses that notion in the next second. No reason to freak himself out.

Eames has made him a cup of tea and buttered a scone when Arthur returns to the bedroom, which as far as cosseting goes is tolerable. He opens up his laptop, nibbles the scone and sips at the tea until both are gone, and then slips into a doze with the laptop still propped in his lap.

When he wakes up, it's dark, the laptop is gone, he's been tucked in, and Eames is lying at his side; and Arthur needs to throw up. Right away. He makes it as far as the doorway before pitching his stomach contents all over the floor.

Throwing up is always unpleasant, no matter how old one is, and he's glad when he feels Eames' hand stroking his back gently. Eames crouches down next to him and waits until Arthur's brought everything up, rubbing soothing circles over his back.

“We've got to get you to a doctor,” he says.

“No,” Arthur croaks, hunched and miserable on the floor. “No doctors.”

“I'm worried, Arthur. If you can't even keep down some tea and a scone—”

“I'm not a werewolf, Eames,” Arthur snaps. “You can't order me around.”

“I'm not trying to,” Eames says, uncommonly patient in the face of Arthur's pissiness. “I want to figure out what's making you so sick so that we can fix it.”

“It's just a bug,” Arthur says stubbornly. “It'll pass.”

“We already thought it had passed, and it obviously hasn't. Look, a doctor can at least give you—”

“No doctors,” Arthur repeats. “I hate doctors. All they want to do is poke and prod and run tests and do x-rays—”

“That's what doctors do, Arthur,” Eames interrupts.

“If you have a tail,” Arthur says petulantly. “I'd go in for this bug and end up institutionalized as a guinea pig for the rest of my life.”


“Is it?” Arthur demands. “How would you know?”

Eames sighs. “Alright. No doctors.”

His anxiety prickles off him. Arthur pushes at him, not liking the scent. That's not just anxiety—it's actual fear. “I'll clean this up,” he says, needing to distance himself from Eames.

“No, you get in your PJs and get back to bed. I've got this.”

Arthur's weary enough not to argue. He just pulls off his clothes and crawls back under the covers, shivering a bit and feeling miserable.

What the hell is wrong with him?

What the hell is wrong with Eames?

The fear/anxiety-scent lingering around Eames doesn't go away for days. It's always there, even when Arthur starts to feel better and tries to act more normal. It's just Eames acting unusual now, ramping it up even though Arthur is improving. Eames is nervous, constantly, his thought processes irrational. When they go out for dinner, Eames vehemently opposes Arthur's request for wine, afraid it will make him nauseous again. They go shopping at a furniture store together, still trying to replace the old armchair that Eames ruined, and Arthur keeps finding him halfway across the store looking for the comfiest chairs, regardless of what they look like. “I want you to be comfortable,” he says pleadingly. “Try this one, just humour me.”

It's baffling, starting to become seriously aggravating, but Arthur puts up with it until they're in the grocery store one afternoon and a man accidentally bumps him with his cart.

“Oh, sorry,” the man says immediately, and Arthur is opening his mouth to say no, it was his fault, he shouldn't have stepped back without looking, when Eames suddenly rounds on the man, grabs the front of his cart, and shoves it back into him.

“Watch where you're fucking going,” he snarls.

“What—” the man wheezes, nursing his stomach. “I said sorry!”

“It's fine,” Arthur says briskly. He lays a hand on Eames' arm and peels him gently away. “Eames, come on.”

Once they're a polite distance away, Arthur drops his tone and hisses, “What the fuck was that about?”

“He hit you!” says Eames, breathing hard. He keeps glancing over in the other man's direction, clenching his fists. “He could have hurt you.”

“He barely bumped me. Are you kidding me with this?” Arthur demands. He's always thought Eames had his bossy alpha-mindset in check. Eames has always been subtle, not the sort to challenge people left and right. Arthur—Arthur needs freedom, independence. He can put up with Eames taking care of him, even a bit of unnecessary coddling, but if there's one thing Arthur can't stand, it's being protected. It's his job to protect people.

Eames just looks at him, puzzled. “What?”

Arthur turns and leaves.

He needs to clear his head. He's starting to get a bad feeling about this relationship and he doesn't like it. Eames has never acted like this before. He's always had Arthur's back without stepping on toes, knowing that Arthur's got his, too. For him to change so abruptly is upsetting, because Arthur ... he can't put up with this for long. It's not who he is. He'd thought this new mood of Eames' would pass, but it's just getting worse.

A new thought strikes him when he gets back to the flat. Maybe this is just a result of—what they'd done, that last heat cycle. Maybe Eames had bonded to him in some new, odd way, treating Arthur the way any alpha would a female werewolf. But Eames' father has never seemed overbearing around his wife. Maybe it mellows with time. That seems hopeful. Arthur scans the textbooks when he gets home, and although he finds chapters upon chapters about sex, none of them mention anything about this. And it's not like he can call Eames' family up to ask.

He pauses over one page with an illustration of an erect werewolf penis, with and without inflated knot. It's very bland and textbook and Arthur traces a finger down it sadly, thinking that Eames' cock has much more character. It's just one of many things he'd miss about Eames if he were to leave.

His abdomen twinges, an unhappy little cramp that passes quickly. He shakes his head, closing the book firmly, knowing he's not going anywhere. This thing with Eames is the first serious relationship of Arthur's life. He owes it to them both to try and get to the bottom of this.

Eames is full of contrition when he gets home with the groceries.

“Arthur, I'm sorry,” he says. “I know you hate it when I try to protect you all the time. I've just been so worried about you lately; I can't even describe it. I know it doesn't seem like it, but this is me restraining myself.”

It's not the answer Arthur wants to hear. “Restrain better.”

“I'm trying,” Eames says tiredly. “It's in my nature to want to look after my mate. I'm going to slip now and then.”

“You've never been this overprotective before.”

“I know.” Eames looks troubled. “I don't know what to tell you, Arthur. Call it instinct if you like.”

He doesn't elaborate any more than that. Arthur sighs. “When's the next full moon?”

“Next weekend.”

“I'll go with you to your parents',” Arthur says. “Micah's textbooks aren't telling me anything. Maybe they have a book about this.”

Eames raises an eyebrow, not looking hopeful. “What to do When Your Mate is Convinced the Worst is Coming?”

Arthur rolls his eyes and starts unpacking groceries. “What to do When Your Mate is a Big Fat Mother Hen and You Want to Shoot Him in the Face, more like.”

“Look for one on domestic abuse while you're at it,” Eames snipes at him, joining him in the kitchen. “How to Fix Your Self-Esteem When Your Mate is Such a Terrible Bully.”

Arthur shoves him. Eames shoves back, and looks immediately distressed when Arthur bumps into the counter. The sooner they find a fix, the better.

Arthur does find a good book at Eames' parents' house. It's a little outdated, perhaps, but he finds a whole chapter on what he's looking for.

Mating Dynamics, he reads, curled up on a plush red couch with a crackling fire before him. Outside, a forlorn howl can be heard over the hills. The pack is out to play.

Sexuality is one of the most well-researched aspects of a werewolf's life. Upon reaching sexual maturity, a werewolf will seek out a number of partners, as discussed in chapter 12. Eventually, all werewolves embark on the more focused search for a life-mate. This chapter will cover the highly unique bond between life-mates.

It goes on at length to explicate a lot of things he already knows. He's already pored over one chapter entitled Rituals, searching for anything about mating on a full moon, but that didn't come up. Instead it was mostly about rites that werewolves go through from infancy to adulthood, ending with death. A good thirty percent or more of werewolves will die in their wolf form, the book says. This trend, known as the Klein Phenomenon, was first noticed in 1952 by scientist Hans Klein; however, it is still unknown what compels a dying werewolf to shift, or whether the strain of the change itself is what ultimately kills them. It is only known that, regardless of weather circumstances, an aging or dying werewolf will often slip outdoors on its own and be found later in its wolfish body, having passed away. Some of these werewolves have time to make a small nest in preparation, and it can be days before their body is discovered. In several documented cases, mated pairs have been found having shifted and passed away together.

The chapter about mates comes back to this. There's one paragraph that Arthur finds particularly depressing: It is rare for a surviving mate to ever take another partner after their life-mate has died. In instances where one dies during a full moon, the surviving mate often prepares a comfortable nest for the victim to pass away in peacefully, and stands vigil until their partner has gone, which can be hours or days. At least two werewolves are known to have starved to death after refusing to leave their deceased mate's side.

Arthur likes to think Eames wouldn't shut down if Arthur were to be killed on the job. Rather, he'd like to think Eames would ruthlessly and relentlessly track down every single person responsible for Arthur's death and destroy them. Then maybe he would shut down.

At last, he finds a relevant passage.

...Once a mated pair is bonded, both werewolves will assume the same rank in pack hierarchy. When a dominant werewolf takes a subordinate mate, the subordinate assumes his or her mate's rank and will demonstrate dominant behaviours. The relationship between the two werewolves is typically equal in nature. However, there are certain occasions when a werewolf in a pair will take on a more distinctive role of provider, such as when his mate is ill or injured, or is pregnant (see chapter 13). In these circumstances a werewolf may become highly agitated whenever his mate shows discomfort or distress, suggesting that anxiety is transferable between life-mates. At these times, protecting and providing comfort for his mate is a werewolf's first priority, eclipsing even his own needs.

That's it, then. Relief washes over Arthur. He was sick and Eames reacted the way a werewolf would, that's all. Strange that his behaviours should still be present, but it's not like Arthur's feeling a hundred percent yet. Eames is picking up on that, obviously. And this means that once Arthur is all better, Eames will go back to normal. He's so relieved.

He puts the book down and makes himself comfortable right there on the couch, in front of the fire, letting his tail uncurl over his leg and the side of the couch. It's so nice and warm here and he's so tired. He drifts off, unable to keep his eyes open, forgetting entirely that he's in Eames' parents' home.

He startles awake at a sudden thud against the glass window, and looks up. His tail bristles with shock at the sight of the hulking werewolf at the window, massive forepaws planted on the glass. Noticing him, the wolf gives a soft, bass wuff.

Arthur swears softly, recognizing Eames. He puts his head back down, but the wolf paws the glass and wuffs again.

Finally, afraid he's going to damage the window, Arthur gets up and trudges to the back door in the kitchen. The wolf meets him there, tail raised high, ears lifted expectantly.

“What?” Arthur demands, opening the sliding glass door partway.

This time, the wolf doesn't try to enter the house. Instead, he leans over and gently takes Arthur's arm in his mouth, pulling entreatingly. Arthur jerks back, alarmed.

“What?” he asks again.

Eames grabs Arthur's sleeve and tugs, then lets go and skips away a few strides. He turns to look back at Arthur, who can't help but think that Eames wants to show him something. He hesitates.

“Stay,” he says at last, and goes back into the house to track down a coat. It's cold outside.

The wolf capers around him excitedly when he returns and steps outside. He bounds over to Arthur and grabs him by the hand, mouthing him as if he's as fragile as glass, pulling him along. At the bottom of the garden is a sheer drop, a six-foot wall studded with rocks. The wolf scrambles down before Arthur can even try to stop him, then he looks back up expectantly. Arthur has to sit down on the edge and ease himself over. He stumbles on the uneven landing, and the wolf is right there to support him.

“This is weird,” Arthur says when they start walking again. The wolf bounds ahead, circles back, tail waving. “You're not even trying to hump me.”

It's meant to be a cynical remark, but on reflection, that is weird. They're alone, they're together; under normal circumstances, Eames would be trying to climb on him, and Arthur would have to rebuff him. The wolf isn't trying now, though. He's trotting ahead of Arthur to lead the way, repeatedly looping back when Arthur refuses to pick up the pace. Apparently, they have some ways to go.

Closer to the heart of pack territory, they pass Eames' parents on a stroll, his mother going slowly to match her mate's stiff, limping stride. As they walk past, the alpha female brushes Arthur's hand with her nose and gives it a quick lick. He's strangely heartened by this gesture.

At last, they reach a strand of woods. Arthur follows Eames in, starting to grow more intrigued. The wolf stops in front of an old tree, and looks at Arthur with bright eyes.

In the hollow between two fat tree roots, on the lee side of a bank, Eames has made a nest. This one is heavily padded with grass and dead leaves and what looks like his own fur. Apparently this wasn't enough, because Arthur recognizes cotton strewn on top and a fabric pattern that looks suspiciously like the cushions from the Eameses' patio furniture. The cushions have been shredded, making a soft bed on top.

The wolf looks at Arthur, tail high in the air.

“That's ... a nice nest, Eames,” Arthur says carefully. There's no way he's going to lie down in that mess. The dead leaves will probably make him sneeze.

Eames scampers over to the nest and lifts a leg, marking one of the roots. Then he circles around Arthur and takes his hand, trying to pull him closer. Arthur resists.

“I'm not sleeping in that,” he says. The wolf butts him insistently, making Arthur stumble. “Eames, really, it's nice, but I have a bed.”

Eames circles back around to his front and stares up into Arthur's face. It's hard to tell, but he looks vaguely hurt. Either that or he's about to maul Arthur to death for rejecting his present. His nostrils flare and his ears are pinned forward.

There's a sudden sharp crackling, and Faye comes flying past them, tail between her legs. Alizé is a second behind her. She circles back and slows, intrigued by Eames' nest, stopping to look even when Alizé catches her up and grabs her sharply by the nape. Eames is there quickly to cuff him away and Faye goes back to her investigation of the nest, sniffing at it curiously. Eames watches her anxiously, clenching his paws, not willing to start a confrontation with a female. When Alizé notices what she's doing and joins her, sniffing, he starts to cock a leg, and this is more than Eames can take. He flies at Alizé, hitting him in the side and sending him sprawling. Alizé shows his throat and licks at Eames' jaw; when Eames is satisfied, Alizé gets up and wanders off as though bored.

Faye is still sniffing at the nest. At last she turns from it and approaches Arthur, sniffing at his wrist. He draws away from her, frowning, and Eames growls to make her back off. She stares at Arthur, eyes wide. Her whiskers twitch. Then she turns and bounds off.

What does she know about this that he doesn't?

Relieved that the marauders are gone, Eames nudges Arthur again, encouragingly. He goes to the nest and curls up in it with a crackle of leaves; then he's up in a flash and mouthing at Arthur's hand again, as if showing him what to do. Arthur pulls his hand away, thoughts racing.

It comes to him suddenly. The mysterious illness, Eames' overprotectiveness, the nests ... the surviving mate often prepares a comfortable nest for the victim to pass away in peacefully ...

Arthur sinks to his knees, all his strength ebbing away in that moment. Hoarsely, he asks, “Eames, am I dying?

The wolf pads closer, uncertainly, and licks Arthur's face several times, which tells him nothing. Arthur wraps his arms around himself, suddenly cold.

He goes to the nest without thinking, sheltered there from the wind. Promptly Eames lies down over his legs, spreading warmth all over him. Arthur digs his fingers into Eames' thick coat. Dying. He doesn't want to die. Is it cancer? Maybe they can still catch it in time. He doesn't know. He's not sure about anything.

“Okay. You win,” he says softly. “We'll go see a doctor. Happy?”

Eames licks him with desperate abandon.

In London, after Eames hangs up with the family doctor, he says, “I had a thought. You're going to laugh when I tell you this.”

He doesn't seem as stressed-out as Arthur does about all this, which is weird. The persistent anxiety is still there, but he's not acting as though he thinks Arthur's death is imminent. Arthur says, “What was your thought?”

“Well ...” Eames sits down on the edge of the bed, where Arthur had retired as soon as they got home, pleading exhaustion again. The dragging tiredness is back. Eames clears his throat. “It was just a bit of an idea when I was thinking about that nest. I can't really rationalize everything I do as a wolf, but I do remember this vague thought ... and you're really going to laugh, darling ...”

“Spit it out, Eames.”

“Well, we mated,” Eames says in a rush. “And I was a wolf, and you were in heat, and I think—in my furry little wolf brain—that some part of me expects you to be ... well, expecting.”

“Fuck you,” Arthur says flatly.

“I'm serious,” Eames says, and he sounds serious.

“I'm just sick,” Arthur says, because he's firmly shelved the dying thought for now.

“I know you aren't really pregnant, Arthur. I'm just saying, it's not an illogical conclusion to come to. Werewolves are particularly virile on full moons,” Eames says, with a slightly pained tone. “If you were a female wolf in heat—”

“I'm not a fucking female and I'm not giving you a baby!” Arthur snaps.

Some mean little part of him relishes the slight tightening of the corners of Eames' eyes that would be a wince on anyone else's face. He'd thought Eames had accepted that they're not going to have children. If not, it feels good in a perverse way to slap him with reality like that, claws unsheathed. Eames doesn't say anything, which is unusual for him.

A second later, Arthur is slightly horrified at himself. He never yells at Eames when it comes to the things that really matter to his mate. Where did that meanness come from?

“Sorry,” he says, his face hot with shame. “I don't know why I—”

“No. You're right,” Eames says, carefully blank-faced now. “We're not having a baby. You're right. Maybe it was wishful thinking. I don't think my wolf brain knows I can't knock you up yet.”

“Anyway, you said the females make the nests,” Arthur adds softly. Eames nods.

“Yeah. You're right, it was a stupid thought.”

Arthur doesn't like this subdued, cowed version of Eames. What happened to life-mates being equals?

Gently, he pulls Eames down toward him and kisses him on the mouth. Eames lies down carefully at his side, and strokes Arthur's cheek.

“I just want you to be okay,” he whispers.

“I know,” Arthur says past the lump in his throat. “Me too.”

“There.” Dr. Forsyth does not sound at all surprised to be proven right. He points. “That's a heartbeat.”

“It is?” Eames says. He's holding Arthur's hand, probably unconsciously, because that's just what you do when your significant other is propped up on a table for an ultrasound. And Arthur is—he feels like he's watching himself and Eames, registering this moment from a great remove; staring across a gulf, unable to take part.

“Yes, it is. There's at least one here.” Dr. Forsyth moves the instrument over Arthur's stomach—and Arthur twitches, brought back for the moment. The gel is uncomfortable. “I can't say how many there are. They could be attached anywhere. But that's one, at least.”

Arthur hasn't said a word, because he's certain if he opens his mouth he'll puke. He's abruptly aware of how sweaty his palm is, clasped in Eames' hand. Eames says hoarsely, “There could be more than one?”

Dr. Forsyth just shrugs, then takes the instrument away and drops a cloth on Arthur's stomach for him to wipe away the gel with. Eames grabs it automatically, starts cleaning Arthur up carefully. Arthur pulls his hand away from Eames', mute, horrified.

“So that's that,” Dr. Forsyth says briskly, and Arthur wants to scream. That is not that. There's a heartbeat inside him that isn't his. There's a living thing attached to him, feeding off him, and it got there without his permission. He wants to rip it out of himself. It doesn't belong there.

“Arthur?” Eames says, looking at him with concern. But he still can't speak. Eames presses a hand to his cheek briefly—a curious, unfamiliar gesture—and turns back to the doctor. “Is he going to be alright?”

Dr. Forsyth grunts, pulling his gloves off. “Probably. Give him an hour or two.”

Eames is quiet. Then he says, faintly, “Are you very sure?”

“You saw for yourself, didn't you?” Dr. Forsyth says waspishly. “You don't have to believe me, but you do need to bring him back in two weeks. Do you understand? This will be much easier if ...”

His voice slowly fades to a sort of high-pitched ringing in Arthur's ears. He can't listen to this. The screen is blank now but he can still see that repulsive heartbeat, that fluttering spark of life inside him. The parasite who's been sapping all his energy and clamouring for food.

He'd rather have a tapeworm.

How can this be happening to him?

“Up you get,” Eames is saying softly in his ear, helping him to his feet, straightening out his clothes. Arthur goes where Eames guides him. He doesn't have the strength to resist. Even though he wants to flip the table, smash the screen, destroy everything in the room, he has no strength to do anything but follow Eames out quietly.

Eames opens the car door for him in the lot, helps him in, does up his seatbelt for him when he doesn't move. He's like a mother hen; and that word, mother, sends another shiver of repulsion right through Arthur's body. Eames shuts his door gently and gets into the driver's seat.

They don't talk. Arthur stares out at the streets of London. The sidewalks are crowded with people. He envies them. Normal people.

“Are you cold?” Eames breaks the silence when they're halfway home. Arthur doesn't know what he is, so he says nothing. Eames turns up the heat.

At the flat, he settles Arthur on the couch and disappears. Can't he even stand to look at me? Arthur thinks vaguely, and dismisses that thought. Whatever reaction Eames is having, it's not the same as Arthur's. Sure enough, Eames is back a moment later, carrying a blanket, which he tucks around Arthur.

“There,” he says, stepping back, regarding Arthur anxiously. “Arthur ... pet, could you say something now, please?”

Arthur moves his lips numbly. “I don't know what to say.”

“Well ... anything. Are you okay? Do you need a glass of water?”

Arthur nods. “Water.”

Eames vanishes swiftly and reappears in the next instant. Arthur's hand is trembling, so Eames helps him tip the glass to his lips and trickle it down his throat.

The water seems to have some restorative effect on Arthur. He blinks and pushes Eames' hand away. Then the blanket, shoving it angrily to the floor.

“Arthur?” Eames says warily, stepping back.

“I ...” Arthur rallies his thoughts forcefully. He's good at this part. Making plans. “I should go to LA,” he says mechanically. “I should—my mom.”

Eames gives him a nervous little laugh. “We've got to see the doctor again in another two weeks. Remember?”

“I don't want to see the doctor.”

“Arthur, look,” Eames says, all of a sudden more like his old self, the take-charge extractor, and that makes Arthur pay attention. “I know this is—completely mental. And I know it might be hard for you to take in right now, and that's alright, because you've got time to let it sink in. But right now we have to act based on the assumption that he's right.”

“I don't want to,” Arthur says, choked and childish. He wants his life to be normal, like it was two hours ago.

“We've got to,” Eames repeats. “We can't afford not to.”

Arthur looks at him, finally. “Or what?”

“Or ...” Eames seems taken aback. “Well ... you might hurt them.”

Suddenly, Arthur can feel again. Fury surges up in him so fast it threatens to smother him.

“Is that what this is about?” he demands, his face going from sheet-white to flushed hot. “You're trying to contain me so I don't do anything to the—things?”

“No,” Eames says, mouth twisting unreadably. “I don't know, Arthur. Why don't you tell me what you're thinking, and then maybe I'll know what the hell we're supposed to do with this.”

“What I think?” Arthur rises to his feet, fists clenched. “Fine, Eames. I'll tell you what I think. I think you want it to be true. I think you knew this could happen and you wanted it all along.”

“Of course I didn't know,” Eames says impatiently. “How could I possibly know?” He turns away, one hand rumpling up his hair distractedly. “It's—I wondered, maybe, in the past—but I didn't think—”

“You did this to me,” Arthur spits out. His brain is working a mile a minute; he doesn't even hear Eames. His abdomen cramps again, sharply: his body wants them gone. His voice shakes. “I can't believe you did this to me.”

“I didn't know!” Eames insists. “And neither did you! I'm as surprised as you are, Arthur. Believe me.”

“They're not in you!” Arthur shouts. To his horror, his eyes are watering, rage and panic and terror and frustration bubbling over. His tail wants to lash. “They're in me!

“I know,” Eames says, gentling his tone. “And I'm so sorry.”

“You're not sorry!” Arthur lashes out when Eames tries to touch him. He hits Eames in the chest, not really hard enough to hurt him, just enough to make him go away, but Eames flinches.

“Please don't do this, Arthur,” he says softly.

“Do what?” Arthur shouts. It feels good to shout. The words scrape his throat. “Get mad? Am I upsetting your litter? Don't touch me,” he snarls when Eames reaches for him again. One hand grabs up the TV remote, and he flings it mindlessly. Eames ducks. The remote hits the wall, leaves a mark, and clatters to the floor.

Eames backs up to a safe distance now, wide-eyed, finally getting that Arthur doesn't want to be touched. He doesn't ever want to be touched again. He wants to be alone with his shame, and the things inside, because his body isn't his own anymore and he's panicking at that thought. It feels dirty, somehow, housing these mutants. And yet, what he wants more than anything is for Eames to grab him and hold him tight, no matter how he struggles, and tell him it will all turn out okay. But Eames doesn't come near again.

“I am sorry,” Eames says.

“Stop saying that!” Arthur yells harshly. He finds a magazine and throws that, too. Eames ducks, and it falls short of the wall, flopping to the floor. “How could you do this to me? You're supposed to be the only person I can trust!

His raised voice rings back at them and the silence that falls is deafening. Eames looks shocked. Arthur can feel his furious tears spilling over, and it just frustrates him even more.

“I'm going to bed,” he says finally, the energy draining from him.

“We can talk about this whenever you're ready,” Eames says gently. Arthur hates gentle. He wants Eames to yell back, to hit him, too, to tell him to stop being such a prick and grow up and deal with this. But Eames doesn't. He just stands there.

“I don't want to talk,” Arthur says. He turns around and leaves the room, his tail bristling madly. He wants to be alone and he wants to cry and scream until his throat is raw and fall asleep until some kick wakes him out of this nightmare.

“Arthur,” Eames says softly, behind him, and that quiet word speaks volumes.

Two weeks later Eames hangs up the phone and says, “He says we'll have to do some tests and things—bloodwork and such—but he's willing to try implanting into a surrogate. No guarantees, but he's willing to try.”

Arthur's on the Internet, trying to tune out his own ridiculous life, as usual. “Good,” he says absently.

Eames flops onto the couch and pulls Arthur—gently—up against his chest. “What're you looking for?”

What to Expect When You're Expecting Mutant Baby Werewolves.” It's a feeble joke. He's swallowing his panic. He's getting good at that.

“I could tell you that,” Eames says, nuzzling his ear. “They'll be small and adorable and they'll be ours.” His hand slides to Arthur's stomach before Arthur pushes it away.

“Don't get your hopes up, Eames. Please,” he says. He doesn't think he'll be able to handle it if this doesn't work and Eames is devastated. Eames pauses.

“I figure between us, one of us ought to have some hopes,” he says carefully.

“Look, I don't—want this to fail.”

“You wouldn't be unhappy if it did.”

Arthur reaches behind him, and finds Eames' hand, entwining their fingers. “I'd be unhappy for you,” he says.

There's another pause. It's one of those moments when Arthur thinks he's said something too big, too serious for whatever this is. But if carrying Eames' babies doesn't make them serious, what the hell does?

“I love you,” Eames says.

He doesn't say it that often, for Arthur's sake. It makes Arthur uncomfortable and squirmy. Now, strangely, it causes a warm, spreading blush in his chest.

“I know,” he says. He takes a deep breath, and tips his head back to let Eames brush a kiss to the shell of his ear. He can do this. He can. As long as Eames stays right here. “Let's have a baby.”

Alice Macmanus: Fancy girl shoesgucci_shoes on September 25th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
This is really cute. I'm glad it ended on a good note! :) I'm always checking for updates on this fanfic, because I absolutely love it.
有无限的快乐.reversaled on September 25th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
I don't know if you put the shopping cart thing in for me but even if you didn't I WILL PRETEND YOU DID LIKE YOU LOVE ME


I had so many feelings about babies today. And now this. *__*
Whiskywhiskyrunner on September 25th, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
Re: asjdfk;laSYDGPOFQI!@#*(!YR

My sister-in-law is supposed to go into labour like, tomorrow, so I'm having all the feelings about babies too. BABIES. SO EXCITE.
A sexy, fun bitch who just bought you a piñata!loverly on September 25th, 2012 04:13 am (UTC)
snagglepuss78mysteryllama78 on September 25th, 2012 06:17 am (UTC)
how do you write such exquisitely glorious stuff? even though i already know how it all ends the angsty parts are still angsty. the fear the confusion everything is just, ugh, so much perfect!

i am ridiculously thrilled that you are working on a bane/blake fill...
Saigemaiguancai on September 25th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
Your fic always make my eyes water and my chest clench, and it feels soooo good!
And the sex is smokey hot as always, btw.
little baby bird cheep cheepplatina on September 25th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC)
;____________; babbies
cyberrubiscyberrubis on September 25th, 2012 10:13 am (UTC)
OMG OMG OMG << I actually cried this out loud IRL when I noticed your update.
and BABIESSSSSSS <3 Babies and life-mates SO MANY FEELING ;____;
The angst hurts so good even though we all knew how it would turn out eventually. You're just that magical and genius <3
I was disturbingly delighted with facial kink and snowballing in this part. THANK YOU! I regret nothing lol

GOSH tell me you're thinking of writing the part 3? YES/YES?
and write this verse forever PLEASE <3

Thank you for creating this verse, Whisky <3

p.s Have you seen this lovely Bane/Barsard chibi fanart? http://comaagain.tumblr.com/post/28492651563/bane-protein-shake and http://comaagain.tumblr.com/post/28492764854/barsad-his-machine-gun
sotobowsotobow on September 25th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
You write Eames' brand of clingy (b/c of the babies) very well. Normally I can't stand clingy, overprotective people in a relationship (real or fiction), but you wrote it as a byproduct and in a way that it was pretty adorable (mostly), particularly with Eames' confusion over what he was feeling and doing. And Arthur's light crankiness in response is very amusing. :)

Haha! That thing with the "comfiest chairs" was so cute - it reminded me of the strange nesting thing Eames had done before. Poor guys - so confused.

These guys are crazy, but so very entertaining. This is such a fun 'verse! :D
duckwinds on September 25th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Pavlov's Bell verse is my comfort zone (weird but it is) so I was very happy to see another fic! Yay!

I adore overly protective Eames and Arthur's denial of his pregnancy, which is very true to his characterization in this verse.

Can't wait to read the Bane/Blake fic.
Nikitanikita79x on September 25th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
OMG - Whiskyfic!! Before I read I just have to ask - did you catch the SNL with JGL??? I missed it, but I am so glad my mum sent me an email with the link to his opening!!


OMG!! He's great! Now I'm hoping it'll spark the muse again for you - what would Eames do if he found out Arthur did this when he was younger, or maybe he does it in between dream jobs as a stress reliever or an AU with Stripper!Arthur. LOL Of course I'd love Stripper!Eames, too. :)
Unrequited Narcissistbottledminx on September 26th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Oh. So that's what my day was missing. Hyperventilating from feels.
Glad that's sorted.
Caiteternallycait on September 26th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)

delilah_lilithdelilah_lilith on September 26th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
This was so good. Loved it!
akalilLynakalillyn on September 26th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH While I loved the happy ending, I do have to admit I really enjoyed the parts where Arthur and Eames were fighting. That outburst from Arthur about Eames being the only person he could trust was like AAAAAAAAAH MY HEART. I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu Whisky.

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

also, Eames as a wolf is still adorable as fuh. FUHHHHH.
Whiskywhiskyrunner on September 29th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
I love wolfy!Eames. He's like, "What do you mean you don't like the nest? I SPENT ALL NIGHT WORKING ON THAT. DO YOU WANT OUR BABIES TO BE BORN IN A BARN??"
mincamomincamo on September 26th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
Yaaay babies!!!

I could feel how annoyed Arthur was with all of Eames' attention though ):
shiroi_ten: THard TeeHeeshiroi_ten on September 26th, 2012 07:41 am (UTC)
BABIES. SO HAPPY INSIDE MY FEELS ARE ABOUT TO BUBBLE OVER. All the fussy male fussying eheheh it was very fun to imagine Arthur's frowny face during it! Thank you so much for this!!!
eaconwell on September 27th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
*collapses on the floor* oh my god i feel like i've been waiting for EVER for you to update this 'verse

omg, i LOVED this, it was so cute. they were both so adorable. and i just want to hug them both. (gently, so that eames doesn't freak out)
Moyamoia on September 27th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
This verse is awesome. :) Yay that we got more of it!
Orionorion_nightbane on September 29th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
♥ ♥ ♥ so lovely! :D and yay! i am excite about the Bane/Blake fic that you're writing too! :D
rivitngtalechprivitngtalechp on September 29th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
You are great at writing sex scenes. The comeplay earlier in the story was so hot.
Juliet_Ros: Booshjuliet_ros on October 11th, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
This was wonderful. I wish I could say something more profound. To put it in simple terms, I should have gone to bed already because I need to wake up for work at five but I didn't because I really wanted to read this first. (I'm one of those that checks back for updates.)
gadez on October 22nd, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
Awesomeness galore
I can't believe how awesome this series is!!!!
If I have even half of your writing talent I would be writing fanfics about your fanfics.
I usually re-read your pavlovs bell stories when there's no new interesting fic for A/E.
Please write more on this verse!
mildgrooveonmildgrooveon on December 5th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
Fanart to cheer up a friend that I thought I would share here:

Blurry smeary Thomas bugging blurry smeary Will. XD

earlgreytea68earlgreytea68 on August 31st, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
So I'm totally late to all this Inception stuff and slowly catching up and I'm like, "Oh, whatever, I don't need to read this one about werewolves and cats," and then it turned out I REALLY NEEDED TO READ THIS ONE ABOUT WEREWOLVES AND CATS.

Oh, my God, Arthur as a cat is BASICALLY THE BEST PIECE OF CHARACTERIZATION I'VE EVER HEARD. Like, I *loved* it. That was brilliant. I love how perfectly they fit their animals, how it made total sense to me to think about them as being cat and dog, it really was part of their personalities and I just *loved* it. Arthur loving to nap in the sun was kind of my favorite thing, I have to say. No, wait, the *purring* was my favorite thing. HOW DID YOU MAKE PURRING A THING WITH ME???

I got so ridiculously attached to their babies, too. I've been reading a bunch of Inceptionfic and I admit I haven't yet read a babyfic that really sold me on these two as parents, but you totally did, in this weird little universe you've created, I felt like Arthur especially was exactly as I'd think as a parent, kind of cranky but fiercely devoted. I am especially attached to little Will and I imagine all good things for him.

Aliya Olivia Carissa ChunnAliya Olivia Carissa Chunn on November 8th, 2015 06:48 pm (UTC)
I really love your Arthur. Poor thing. Its tough dealing with love youve never known before and then mutant werekittens... im glad you made him so complex yet i still live him and can understand why Eames loves him no matter what