Word Count: ~7600
Warnings: Knotting, Not underage but... naive?, First time everything, Sort-of-not-really bestiality (Eames is a werewolf, what do you expect?), A bit of angst
Pairings or Characters: Arthur/Eames
Summary: Arthur is Little Red Riding Hood, Eames is the Wolf. This story loosely follows the fairy tale premise and contains a few nods to some lines from the source material. Aside from that, it's about Arthur, stories, and figuring out what we should really be afraid of.
Beta: night_reveals who has my everlasting devotion because there's beta'ing, and then there's beta'ing. All remaining flaws, both inherent and surface, are mine and mine alone.
The Better To See You With
The twigs snap satisfyingly beneath his feet, bone dry after days of bright sunshine. It’s pleasantly shady here, though, the boughs arching above Arthur and giving him the impression of walking down a long and graceful tunnel. It’s his favourite part of this walk and he breathes in deeply, the earthy scent filling his senses.
The cooler in his hands is heavy, but he’s used to it now, though he has to shift it to his other arm periodically. He doesn’t resent having to do this, though. Sure, it’s a bit of a long way, but most days it’s an exceedingly pleasant stroll. If his grandmother wants to spend her summers at her cabin in the woods, she’s certainly earned the right, raising him by herself. He figures the least he can do is visit her several times a week and save her the trouble of wheeling her cart down the bumpy path.
His shoulders are aching and his fingers have deep dents from the corners of the handle. Arthur stops at the log that lies across the path, which someone has helpfully sawn a gap through; it offers quite a comfortable perch without having to leave the trail. He places the cooler on the ground and pulls out a pear before climbing up to sit. He unzips his hoodie, suddenly aware of the shift from morning chill to midday sun.
The pear is sweet and perfectly ripe; he’s just licking a drip of juice from his wrist when he hears the rustle of bushes beside him. He tenses instantly, readying himself to leap off the log and run. Although he’s never seen one, he’s been told there are wolves in the area, the normal ones and even the other kind.
But a moment later a man steps out, looking almost as surprised as Arthur feels.
“Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize anyone was here. I was just...” he waves vaguely in the direction from which he just emerged. Arthur looks at him expectantly. “I was just taking a stroll off the beaten path, wandered a little farther than I thought I had,” he finishes, looking mildly abashed.
“Yeah, this forest is deceptively large.” Arthur is a little disarmed by this random appearance of another person -- the first encounter he’s had all summer in these parts. “I’m Arthur, by the way,” he says as he wipes his hand on his jeans and extends it. The man smiles and steps forward, clasps Arthur’s hand with a surprisingly hot, dry grip.
“Eames,” he says. “My name’s Eames. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Arthur. What brings you all the way out here?”
“My grandmother has a cabin out here. I visit her a few times a week,” Arthur says, and doesn’t miss how Eames seems to be paying only a modicum of attention to his words while giving him a perfectly brazen and casual once-over. Arthur is affronted but feels something else prickle over his skin.
“What a conscientious grandson you are,” Eames’s eyebrow quirks up.
Arthur is pretty sure Eames means something different but he has no idea what it is. He seems strange and foreign and he has a smell about him that’s like a breeze from far away, a faint hint of something exotic.
“You’re not from around here,” Arthur says, and it’s not a question. “I’ve never met anyone who isn’t from here.”
“No, indeed,” Eames says with an amused smile.
“Are you from the World Outside?” Arthur says, eyes widening.
“Well, it’s a big place, and I’m from part of it, yes,” Eames replies. Arthur tries not let his greedy curiosity show. He pulls another pear out of the cooler and holds it out to Eames, who takes it graciously and sits down on the other side of the sawn-through log.
“This part of the world does have lovely pears,” Eames says, taking a bite. “Juicy as a pineapple.”
“A what?” Arthur asks and Eames tells him all about the spiky fruit with sweet, tart yellow flesh.
Arthur is hesitant at first, asking about the World Outside in vague terms, but Eames answers so readily soon Arthur is peppering him with questions.
Some time later Eames asks whether Arthur shouldn’t be getting to his grandmother’s, and Arthur is instantly chagrined.
“Yeah, sorry. I didn’t realize how late it was getting. If I don’t leave soon I’ll be walking home in the dark.”
Eames gets an odd knowing smile and says, “Hm. Plenty of dangers, certainly. I’ll be coming through here fairly regularly, so perhaps I’ll see you again?”
Arthur smiles shyly. “I’m coming again in two days, around the same time. You know, if you’re around then.”
“I’ll be watching,” Eames says, and stands, moving in close. Arthur freezes, not sure how to react, and tries to hide his shock when Eames leans in and places a quick kiss on his cheek, one hand braced on Arthur’s shoulder.
Eames laughs. “Sorry, love. Foreign custom. See you soon, yeah?” and he turns away. Arthur just stares at him until he disappears around a bend in the path, then gathers up his things and heads towards his grandmother’s house.
Eames meets him somewhere along the path most days, and Arthur takes to visiting more often than he did.
Arthur can’t get enough of Eames’s stories, his descriptions of strange foreign customs like gambling, of trees called “palms”, lakes so big you can’t see the other side, of yellow fruit you pick off a tree and peel yourself. He can’t imagine why Eames finds Arthur interesting at all, but he appears to. He asks questions about what Arthur does for fun, about the books he’s read, about his desires.
Truthfully, Arthur never really had any before now. His unnatural curiosity had grown to the size of the town he had always known, stretched to the edges of these familiar woods.
But now Arthur’s unquenchable curiosity is answered by Eames’s seemingly endless supply of strange and wonderful stories, and the once-idle curiosity deep in Arthur’s belly grows. He thinks at times he can hardly contain it.
“I see you’re running low on firewood, Gran. I’ll chop up some more for you today,” Arthur says as he puts away the food he’s brought.
“Oh yes, thank you, dear,” she says as she steps into the kitchen and puts on a kettle for tea. Then she turns to him, reaches up and pats his cheek. “You’re such a good grandson. What would I ever do without you?” She smiles warmly.
Arthur laughs wryly. “You’d probably just stay in town and have Uncle Frank bring you anything you need.” Seeing her hurt expression, he softens. “Well, you do have me, anyway. At least until you go back in autumn.”
She doesn’t reply, just bustles about with cups, sugar and milk.
“Gran, what do you know about the World Outside?” Arthur asks over tea.
“I know it’s dangerous, filled with odd folk and unpleasantness. Nothing like here, where it’s safe and folk are decent. Why do you ask, dear?”
“Oh, no real reason. I was just wondering if it’s really like in the stories you hear when you’re a kid.”
Grandma stirs some more milk into her tea thoughtfully. “They may be simple versions, but they carry a grain of truth. Anyway, dear. You mustn’t worry your head with those sorts of thoughts. The World Outside is no concern of ours,” she says with an air of finality. Arthur knows not to press her further.
It’s while he’s chopping wood later that afternoon that a thought occurs to him: although every tale may carry a grain of truth, that doesn’t mean it’s the whole story. He buries the axe into the chopping block with a clean thunk and pulls his notebook from his back pocket, the leather soft and convex from use. He takes the opportunity to catch his breath while jotting down his thoughts in tiny letters, then tucks his notebook away. Bracing his foot on the chopping block, he yanks the axe out and returns to his task.
They sit in a clearing, sun streaming down on them as Arthur reaches into the cooler for a couple of apples to follow up their meal. While his back is turned, Eames reaches across and takes the second half of Arthur’s sandwich; Arthur catches him out of the corner of his eye.
“Hey!” he shouts, laughing, and leans over to grab it back. Eames holds his hand out of reach, leaning back and grinning. “Give it back, I’m still hungry,” Arthur says, climbing further.
Eames just laughs harder and pushes at Arthur’s chest steadily with one hand. Arthur moves to sit back, then launches himself forward, angling his shoulder into Eames’s chest to knock him solidly onto the ground, not caring now that the sandwich has gone flying out of both of their reaches: it’s the principle of the thing.
They laugh and wrestle playfully until Arthur manages to get a leg over Eames’s thighs. Then Eames’s smile turns sharp; he makes a sound low in this throat and rolls, his momentum pushing Arthur off to the side and Arthur reacts by scrambling to shift aside, trying to keep the upper hand. It’s a struggle for a moment as their weight is perfectly balanced, Arthur slightly above, but Eames heavier and their bodies push against one another, trying to topple.
Arthur is fast, though, and gets his legs under himself quickly to gain leverage and knocks Eames back. But he isn’t expecting Eames to roll with it, using the momentum and changing direction slightly until he’s on top of Arthur again, chest heaving, both hands pressing Arthur’s wrists into the cool grass. From this close Arthur could swear Eames’s stubble has thickened, his sideburns grown longer.
Eames gives Arthur a searching, curious look and Arthur stares back.
“Your eyes -- they’ve changed,” Arthur says, surprised and peering at the now-golden irises.
“The better to see you with,” Eames says, lips curling into the barest hint of a smile.
Arthur follows the line of Eames’s neck, drags his eyes down the length of the corded forearms, visibly bulked up from earlier and thick with dark hair. Arthur murmurs under his breath, “Your arms too.”
“All the better to hold you with, my dear,” Eames grins, predatory.
Arthur gasps. “Your teeth,” he says wonderingly, eyes widening. Eames just laughs, a low, slow rumble, and touches his tongue gently to the tip of one sharp incisor.
“You’re -- you’re a wolf, aren’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?” Arthur is a little breathless and wonders why no one ever said that wolves could look completely human. He doesn’t mention it, though; he’s too keenly aware of how close Eames’s face is, how he hasn’t let go of his wrists, of the absolute vitality of the strong body above him.
“You wouldn’t have talked to me if I had. Surely your grandmother warned you against talking to us big bad wolves?”
“She must never have spoken to one before, because you don’t seem so scary.”
Eames looks at Arthur piercingly and his nostrils flare. “You’re a little frightened, I can smell it.” He noses at Arthur’s throat for a moment, and Arthur knows there’s no point in denying his fear, but another instinct has him lifting his chin, exposing his neck to Eames’s exploration even as he trembles. A low rumbling growl gusts hot breath over his neck.
Arthur can feel his pulse pounding and is surprised at how his body is reacting; he hopes that Eames can’t feel the swelling against his hip. But Eames sniffs a little more insistently, nosing under Arthur’s chin, and Arthur guesses there isn’t much he can hide from Eames. It makes him feel exposed, and not a little embarrassed.
Arthur tries to relax into the ground while Eames spends long moments nudging his nose into Arthur’s neck as if fascinated by his scents.
“You’re still on me,” Arthur points out inanely. Eames grunts his assent and shifts off, and Arthur tries not to feel disappointed.
Eames sits down in his previous spot and Arthur awkwardly rights himself, brushing off stray bits of grass from his clothes.
“So now you know,” Eames says, and though his voice is a mask of neutrality, Arthur guesses the question behind it.
“Yeah. It doesn’t change anything, though, does it?”
Eames shrugs but it isn’t nonchalant; it gives him a hunched look. “It doesn’t for me, anyway.”
Arthur thinks he’s supposed to be bothered but he isn’t; he’s just curious. “Are there a lot of you... your kind?”
Eames gives him a small smile, still mild, but Arthur can tell they’ve passed some kind of test, because Eames begins to tell him what he knows, which isn’t much. It turns out wolves have small packs but as often as not roam around on their own, so there isn’t exactly an easy way to tell how many there are. Eames answers all of Arthur’s questions with measured frankness and the occasional wry commentary. Far from quenching Arthur’s thirst for knowledge, the answers unfold it, revealing new surfaces, endless landscapes of things to be curious about.
Later, when he catalogues all the information in his book, he wonders if everything is knowable if he just finds the right person to ask.
Arthur is digging in his cooler for his flask of water when Eames lifts out Arthur’s notebook and shifts away too fast for Arthur to grab him.
Eames runs across the clearing, but Arthur is faster and grabs him by the back of the shirt and gets him pressed against a tree. Eames stretches and holds the notebook out of reach.
Knowing his only hope is to outsmart Eames, Arthur stops struggling, looks in Eames’s eyes and smirks. Eames waves the book tauntingly. Lifting his hand in a fake grab for the notebook, Arthur quickly cranes forward and presses his lips to Eames’s.
Eames utters a surprised hum and his arm drops, but before Arthur can pull away to grab his book, Eames begins to kiss back. Eames’s lips are startlingly soft when the rest of him is so rough.
Arthur stays still for a moment, then lets his eyes drift closed and suckles lightly at Eames’s top lip. He’s surprised when he feels Eames’s tongue reaching out; Arthur opens instinctively and feels Eames pushing inside. It feels strange but also good, natural, so he licks back tentatively.
Eames turns hungry, pulling Arthur closer and his licks become more insistent. But it lasts only a moment before he pulls back and grins at Arthur.
“What’s so important in this thing that would drive you to such drastic measures to distract me, hm?”
Still staring at Eames’s lips, Arthur doesn’t much feel like talking. But he started it and Eames pulled away, so he quashes the urge to kiss him again.
This time when Arthur reaches for his book, Eames hands it over easily. Looking into Eames’s face, Arthur can’t remember why he was so embarrassed about the contents. There have been several occasions Eames could have made Arthur feel foolish or naive but didn’t.
“It’s about you mostly,” he says quietly, turning to walk back to the cooler. “Well, the later pages, anyway. I’ve been writing down everything you’ve told me about the World Outside.” He tucks the notebook neatly back into the cooler and feels Eames come up behind him.
“Whatever for?” Eames asks, sounding genuinely baffled.
Arthur shrugs. “To track it all, I guess. I don’t like losing things.”
“Hm. Interesting. What else do you write down?”
“Everything, really. Gran doesn’t see the point; she calls them my ‘scribblings’”. Arthur is beginning to be embarrassed again; his odd habits have made him a bit of an outsider his whole life. He doesn’t want to be an outsider here with Eames, even though he knows the futility of the desire.
Eames looks thoughtful.
“You think it’s a waste of time, too, don’t you,” says Arthur dejectedly.
“Not at all,” Eames replies. “There are lots of people in the World Outside who would find that a desirable habit, Arthur.”
“Well, I don’t live out there,” Arthur grumbles. “Anyway,” he shakes his heads to shed that line of thought. “I brought you extra rare roast beef today,” he says, eager to change the subject. Eames graciously lets it drop and reaches for the proffered sandwich.
“Thank you, darling,” he says with a fond smile. Then, suddenly remembering something, he goes to his own bag and pulls out a book.
“I know you didn’t ask for another, but you’re going through them so quickly I thought I’d anticipate you this time.”
Arthur’s face lights up and Eames begins to tell him all about his first encounters reading this book while they settle down to enjoy their lunch. For the first time Arthur finds he’s only marginally interested in what Eames is saying. He’s reasonably certain he manages to keep his surreptitious glances at Eames’s mouth subtle enough not to be noticed.
Arthur likes to push Eames after that. He likes to see what it takes to trigger Eames to change, to see how long he can tease before things turn intense. The moment Eames growls and his eyes flash, Arthur gets a rush that is quickly becoming addictive.
It’s the wrestling that Arthur instigates most, because he loves the ache in his muscles later; he loves watching for weaknesses, anticipating Eames’s moves, breaking himself of the habits that Eames exploits. On those days he goes to sleep plotting new moves in his head, replaying the fights to look for opportunities he missed.
The kissing he’s more hesitant to try again, not knowing if Eames will just stop it, not wanting to feel that sharp pang of rejection. But after a few days when he playfully shoves an orange slice into Eames’s mouth and a drip of juice trickles over that plump lower lip, Arthur can’t stop himself and he leans in to lick it off. This time Eames doesn’t push Arthur away -- on the contrary, he grins, finishes eating the orange slice and launches himself at Arthur, pushing him down to the ground and kissing him deeply. Arthur does his best to keep up.
After that day things progress at a dizzying rate. The first time Eames drops to his knees with Arthur’s back to a tree, opens his trousers and takes Arthur’s cock into his mouth, Arthur comes almost immediately, slamming his head back against the bark. He learns to control himself a little better after that, though it takes Eames patiently pulling off and letting Arthur catch his breath before continuing. Arthur does his best to reciprocate and though Eames seems happy enough with the results, Arthur suspects his skill is distinctly lacking.
The first time Eames dips his tongue lower than Arthur’s sac, Arthur nearly jumps out of his skin. Eames laughs but pulls off in consideration of Arthur’s shock and says, “Let me, darling. It’ll feel wonderful after you get over the strangeness, I promise.” So Arthur spreads his legs wider, and discovers that Eames is right: that velvety, caressing tongue reduces Arthur’s world to that one point of contact.
Arthur has only a few occasions to become accustomed to the sensation before Eames mysteriously stops to snap a nearby leaf in two, smearing the seeping clear liquid on his hand and pressing the tip of one thick finger inside. By then Arthur trusts him enough to let it happen for a bit, just to see if it’ll feel good. It doesn’t, at least not until Arthur gets used to the intrusion, and when Eames curls his finger and pets a spot inside Arthur, his nerve endings all fire at once and he spills embarrassingly quickly, making a mess of himself and of Eames.
Throughout it all he devours the books Eames brings him, practices little fighting moves as he walks to his grandmother’s house, fills the pages of his notebook. He gets increasingly distracted in his chores and his interactions with his gran. She expresses concern a few times, but he just pulls himself back to the present and apologizes with a kiss to her cheek. She seems satisfied enough with the gesture.
Satisfied is not what Arthur feels as he counts down the hours until the next book, the next chance to test out his newly invented fighting moves, the next meeting with Eames.
It’s during one of their fighting sessions that Arthur finally pins Eames legitimately, Eames pressed face down into the ground. He can feel the shake of Eames’s laughter.
“Well done, Arthur. Feels good, doesn’t it?” Eames says, head turned to the side but not bothering to crane around enough to look in Arthur’s face.
“Having you beneath me? Yeah, it does,” Arthur grins.
Eames smiles at that. “No, I mean getting better at something. You’ve improved dramatically.”
Arthur hums his agreement, and opens his mouth to say something but is interrupted when Eames rolls them over unexpectedly. Arthur doesn’t bother moving from where he lands, just lets Eames move on top of him, bracketing his shoulders with the half-transformed arms Eames gets when they fight.
A shimmering thread of saliva connects Eames’s upper and lower incisors as his lip curls in something that’s part smile, part growl. Arthur arches up to lick it away, tongue flicking over the sharp edge and past, to the soft hot tongue beyond.
Eames ruts against Arthur’s thigh with mindless urgency, and though they’ve done this before and Arthur is grinding back in kind, he senses a tipping point, something more demanding in the way Eames is holding him down.
It’s confirmed when Eames lifts one hand to Arthur’s face, stroking his cheekbone with one finger but otherwise gripping him around the chin and looking at him like he wants to devour him. “I want to get inside you, Arthur,” and although it sounds like a statement, he stops moving and waits.
Arthur has a vague idea what Eames is asking, can put two and two together from their other activities, but it doesn’t matter. Everything in his body is saying yes, so he nods. Something softer flashes across Eames’s face but it’s there and gone, replaced by a hungry snarl before he leans in and bites at Arthur’s jaw.
Arthur wraps himself around Eames, tilts his head and lets out a soft moan, thinking they’ll do this for a while as they usually do, kissing and rubbing. But Eames stays only long enough to find Arthur’s rapid pulse, licking up his skin and biting in before he moving off. He tears at Arthur’s shirt, lifting him bodily off the ground to pull it over his head and moving back to yank Arthur’s trousers off. He’s ferociously efficient, and Arthur is a little stunned, but it all makes him breathe faster, exhilarated by the speed with which things are hurtling forward.
Eames undoes his own trousers, snaps one of the ubiquitous leaves in two, and smears the liquid across Arthur’s hole and over his own cock. Arthur half expected this but now that it comes down to it, he’s apprehensive. He’s had Eames’s large fingers in there, but his cock is so much larger, he wonders if it’s going to hurt.
“Don’t worry, love,” Eames says, his voice husky with arousal and his wolfish growl. “I’ll make this good for you.”
Arthur can tell that Eames is more eager than usual, that his restraint doesn’t come easy. But Eames hasn’t hurt him yet, despite his increased strength and sharp teeth. The thought calms him, and he feels Eames press a thickened finger inside. Eames flicks a tongue at Arthur’s nipple, and he arches into it. He feels the sharp points of Eames’s teeth sink in a little, just enough to be aware of the two points of pressure, and it sends a shiver down his spine.
Eames works him open gently and moves down further, takes Arthur into his mouth, teeth barely grazing the sensitive skin of his cockhead. It’s still a dizzying sensation, no matter how many times Eames has done it, and Arthur turns his head to the side, squeezing his eyes shut and moaning softly.
Eames comes back up, fingers still inside and nudges Arthur’s chin with his nose, urging him back into a kiss. His fingers slip out and are immediately replaced by the blunt head of his cock and Arthur tries not to tense up but fails. Eames keeps a steady pressure, not forcing his way in but decidedly not moving away either. He just carries on kissing, hands possessively touching Arthur anywhere he can reach, rubbing his thick calloused fingers roughly over his nipples, gripping Arthur’s neck to move him where he wants him.
It comes as a surprise when Eames presses in, the breach sudden and easy, but as soon as it happens Arthur tenses again, and it hurts. Eames cradles Arthur’s head in one hand and pulls back to look at him.
“I’ll wait, just hold still,” Eames says, though his breathing is ragged. Arthur turns his head to kiss Eames’s arm and Eames lifts his hand away, gently dropping Arthur’s head back to the ground and pressing his thumb into Arthur’s mouth. Arthur suckles it instinctively, enjoying the roughness of it on his tongue.
Eames pushes in further then and Arthur forces himself to breathe but feels himself clench. He winces.
“Bear down,” Eames says and pulls out slightly. Arthur frowns, not entirely sure what he’s being asked. “Try to push me out,” Eames says, voice tight. So Arthur does, and feels the pain lessen. Sensing that Arthur is ready for more, Eames slides in the rest of the way. Arthur grits his teeth and continues to push until Eames’s hips are flush with his skin. Eames stops there, though Arthur can feel the incredible amount of coiled energy in him. It spikes Arthur’s arousal knowing how crazy he’s making Eames, and it loosens him that little bit more. He clutches at Eames, tries to pull Eames closer which lifts his own body a little off the ground in the process.
That causes whatever reserve Eames had to break entirely and he begins to thrust, shallow but insistent and he snarls into Arthur’s neck, saliva dripping onto his skin. Arthur does his best to move up into it, but he’s limited by Eames’s full weight on him so he just holds on as best he can, wrapping his legs around, squeezing hard.
It’s strange, just shy of painful, but the immediacy of the sensations are almost overwhelming; Arthur tries to pay attention to everything, to burn it in his memory.
It’s not long before Eames loses all rhythm, slamming in and grunting with growls that sound like they coming from deep in his chest. Arthur feels a rush of both arousal and fear as he catches of glimpse of the animal he’s never really seen.
Eames grinds in hard and stops. Arthur wonders if that’s it, if Eames is finished. But in a few moments, he senses the expansion and it’s frightening.
“Eames?” he says, slightly embarrassed by the plaintive worry in his voice.
"Shhh. Hold on, just feel me, it's okay," Eames murmurs directly into Arthur’s ear.
Arthur feels a warmth spreading inside him, knows that Eames is probably pulsing splashes of come up inside even as he continues to swell. Arthur feels so full and he thinks he can't possibly take any more, he needs Eames to stop expanding but he isn't, and oh god, what’s happening? But then it stops, and Eames's hips pulse a little, breath hot on his neck, tongue soothing on his skin, hands stroking down his sides.
Arthur wonders how Eames is ever going to be able to pull out of him when he's this big inside. He can feel the panic bubbling up in him. "Eeeeaammes...," Arthur says quietly, barely above a breath as he trembles.
"It's okay, love. It'll be okay. Just be patient," Eames holds mostly still, but his cock twitches slightly.
Eames presses kisses into Arthur’s shoulder, and Arthur is oddly soothed by Eames’s weight. He tries not to think about the swollen bulb inside him, tries not to worry about how it'll come out. He focuses instead on the warmth of Eames's skin, on the sensual thickness of the hair on his arms and chest. He takes solace in the protective bulk of him.
"You're doing so good, Arthur," Eames murmurs and noses under his ear.
“What’s happening?” Arthur asks, calmer than before but still needing to know.
“It’s normal,” Eames says between little pecks to Arthur’s neck, his jaw. “It’ll go down. Shhh, quiet, love. D’you feel that?”
Eames’s hips pulse again, although the pressing wet heat filling Arthur seems to have abated. Arthur feels the straining fullness begin to ease as Eames breathes a sigh into Arthur's ear. Arthur arches up a little, sensing Eames sliding out slightly, and wanting to keep him inside. This earns him a pleased huff and a kiss to the neck.
Eames slips out and immediately Arthur feels empty, bereft. He utters a small "uh" that is equal parts sated and regretful. He senses the hot trickle out of his body and it feels messy, come dripping out of him and smearing his cheeks and the insides of his thighs. He tries to clench, to hold it inside but he can’t stop the drip. He frowns and his lip curls; Eames smirks in response and presses a fond kiss to his lips.
“Can’t have you going anywhere all wet, can we,” Eames says, smiling mischievously. Arthur knits his eyebrows together in confusion.
In response Eames moves off of him, and with a strength that Arthur will always find astonishing, flips him over and pulls his hips upwards to put him on all fours. Arthur looks over his shoulder at Eames, affronted. But Eames is smiling at him and gripping his hips, spreading his cheeks with his thumbs. Arthur is shocked at the thought that Eames will lick him like this, dripping as he is with Eames’s own come. The idea of it is primal and his cock swells slightly towards hardness again.
The licks are firm and confident, different from Eames’s usual fluttering touch. When he circles in on Arthur’s hole, he eases his touch again, tickling a little and teasing. The soft wet give of it is soothing to his tender flesh. He imagines he’s red and raw, and he feels exposed like he did the first time.
Eames prods gently around the rim, then pushes inside with his tongue and reaches between Arthur’s legs to stroke his cock, dangling heavy below his belly. His hand is large, rough and warm and it doesn’t take long before Arthur starts shaking, unable to thrust any more, just desperate for the sensation to continue. In moments he tenses all over, his orgasm ripping through him, causing him to jerk a little although Eames holds on through it.
After the final shivers die away, Arthur collapses forward, taking only enough care to flop to the side of the come-splattered grass but otherwise not caring how he lands. Eames moves over beside him on his back and pulls Arthur to him. Arthur settles his head on Eames’s shoulder, sweaty with exertion but skin prickling up in goosebumps from the cool late-summer breeze. Arthur stretches to grab the tatty picnic blanket, pulls it over them, and they doze away the rest of the afternoon. Arthur doesn’t visit his grandmother that day.
Arthur knows what Eames has been hinting at with steadily increasing consistency over the past few weeks; he may be sheltered but he’s not stupid. It’s tempting, certainly. He thinks about Eames and his exotic adventures, his promises of places where Arthur could drink his fill of information, could test his strength against others.
But in his heart Arthur knows where his loyalties lie. And there simply isn’t room in his life to indulge his own desires.
“Arthur, we’d be great out there,” Eames says to him one day as they lie sated, sweaty and half-clothed in their clearing. Arthur’s on his stomach, picking at blades of grass.
“We’re great here,” Arthur replies.
“Don’t be deliberately obtuse, darling, it doesn’t suit you.”
Arthur arches an annoyed eyebrow, “And what is it I’m being obtuse about, Eames? If you have something to say, come out and say it.”
“Come with me,” Eames says as he rolls onto his side, propping his head on hand. “You’re wasted here.”
“I don’t see why we can’t just carry on like this -- the way we are,” Arthur says, keeping his voice pragmatic, betraying none of the dismay that he feels settling in a tight knot in his stomach.
Arthur glances over and sees Eames’s face goes stony. “I’m leaving at the end of summer. I can’t stay,” Eames says.
You could stay with me, Arthur doesn’t say, because even before it leaves his lips he knows it isn’t true. Eames doesn’t fit in this place, never will. Instead he says, “How can you ask me to leave everything behind? I have a life here; you have no right to expect me to give it up.”
“And what kind of life is that, hm?” Eames asks, voice tight. “You’re kidding yourself if you think you’ll be happy staying here.”
Arthur sits up, pulls on his shirt and does up his trousers. “Who do you think you are, anyway, passing judgment on my life, waltzing in here and thinking you can just change everything? Did you think you were fixing me? This may come as a surprise but my life was just fine without you.”
Eames has sat up now, and stares at Arthur, expression hard. Arthur meets his gaze, a little panicky at how the situation is spiralling out of control so fast, but too furious to apologize.
Finally Eames looks away and gathers up his clothes, puts himself back together.
“All right,” he says, and Arthur gets even madder at how calm Eames is suddenly. “I guess that’s it then. “I can see you’ve thought about this. You should go, Arthur. It’s getting late, and you don’t want to be in these dangerous woods after dark.”
Arthur can tell he’s being mocked despite Eames’s neutral tone. He sneers, but Eames doesn’t see, as he bends to pick up his book and begins to walk out of the clearing. Arthur watches him go, awash with helpless frustration.
The noises of the forest after Eames is gone sound familiar and alien at once, and Arthur wonders when he last noticed them. He listens to them until they start to feel oppressive, then packs up his things and leaves the clearing.
When Arthur doesn’t see Eames the next two times he makes the trip to his grandmother’s house, he tells himself Eames just needs time to cool off. And if the frequency of his visits increases to daily, it’s only because he wants to make the most of these final days of summer.
After a week he forces himself to admit that Eames might not come back. He’s angry and frustrated, mostly with himself, but he squashes it down and puts his efforts into his chores in the hope of building layers of work over the cold lump of sadness in his chest.
His grandmother’s garden now is pristine, harvested of all edibles and winter-ready. Her house is spotless, all repairs done. The firewood is stacked high, covering the wall of the house in the lean-to.
As he stacks yet another layer of perfectly split wood, effectively using up the last of the covered area, Arthur feels himself reaching a limit. As much as he’s tried to keep his mind on his tasks, a part of his brain has been adding up the details of his life, and finding them wanting.
So as he meticulously slides the last piece of wood right under the awning, he comes to a decision.
The trees are almost black, darkness making the woods seem thicker, more ominous, even as the sky still glows with the last hour of so of daylight. Arthur had thought he’d be approaching the edge of the woods by now, but he is prepared to camp out for the night.
It’s because he’s no longer lost in his thoughts and is raking his eyes over the edges of the path that he hears the tiniest ruffling of the bushes just beyond the shadows. The hair bristles at the back of his neck but he keeps walking steadily. The sound doesn’t return.
About half an hour later, he finds a dip in the trees, mossy and soft, enough of a widening of the path to let in the moonlight so he won’t be completely in the dark all night. It’s not a moment too soon, too, because the sun has dropped low enough that the gloom of the forest has bled across even the most open areas of the path. He’s dropped his bag and begun to unpack his supplies when a twig snaps behind him.
He spins around and adrenaline spikes in him when he sees a wolf -- the largest he’s ever seen -- emerge from the trees on the opposite side of the trail. And while it occurs to him that it could be Eames, it seems as likely that it’s another wolf entirely. He stays stock still, tense as a drum, and stares at the ground a few feet in front of the wolf, not wanting to meet his eyes in challenge.
The wolf begins to pad forward slowly, and Arthur has to act fast. He has a small camp axe with his things, already unpacked but under the bedding. It’s a good few feet away, but if this is just a very large regular wolf, it won’t know what he’s doing. In any case, he seems to be out of options. He crouches down slowly, shifts over and gingerly reaches his arm out to feel under the blankets for the axe. He’s still very deliberately not looking at the wolf but watches him out of his peripheral vision. The wolf’s head tracks his hand movement and Arthur’s heart pounds.
His fingers slide over the back edge of the axe blade; he moves his hand down and clasps the handle, wondering how to pull it out without alarming the wolf.
He doesn’t get the chance to decide, though, because the wolf leaps forward in a blur of fur, and Arthur is slammed by three things at once: the immense weight knocking him flat, the growl filling his ears, and the musky, heavy animal scent flooding all around him. It happens so quickly he can’t think, but when he’s on the ground, petrified, a tiny part of his brain registers the familiarity of it all.
The wolf has two giant paws on Arthur’s chest and its nose is cold on Arthur’s chin but warm drool drips down onto his neck. It should have his throat out by now but Arthur doesn’t dare hope that it won’t still.
He forces himself to look, really look at the wolf above him but at first can only make himself stare at the thick legs holding him down, and then its broad chest, hairs rippling slightly as it breathes. It’s long seconds and it’s still not moving, just breathing hot gusts over his skin and panting. He drags his eyes upwards and it goes against everything in him to meet its eyes but he needs to see. When his gaze moves up to the wolf’s face, it still takes him a moment to focus on its eyes -- its golden, intelligent gaze. It stares back at him and he’s pinned as effectively by its stare as by the sheer crushing weight of it.
But just past the wolf’s head he sees the sky, the stars, the perfect circle of the full moon. And hope blooms in his chest.
“Eames?” he says, barely a breath.
The wolf noses up under his chin, nudging it up; Arthur lifts his head a fraction, feeling more exposed and vulnerable then he ever has in his life. Every muscle in his body is squeezed tight, trying to pull himself as small as possible. And he doesn’t want to lift his chin, but that smell -- it’s so familiar and he’s sure it’s Eames.
He feels the wolf’s lip curl on his chin, that broad soft tongue, impossibly large, laps at his skin, soft smacking sounds loud this close to his ears. It's that more than anything that eases the paralyzing fear. But with the adrenaline leaving his body Arthur is suddenly acutely aware of the ache of his muscles and the suffocating weight behind those two paws on his chest.
"Eames I can't breathe," he chokes out. The wolf -- Eames -- steps off to the side and Arthur props himself up on his elbows.
“I guess you can’t change when the moon is full, huh?” Eames shoves his nose in the vee between Arthur’s thighs and stomach, and even though he knows Eames means no harm, it’s still alarming having a huge wolf head trying to get at his belly. Arthur tenses but tentatively strokes the scruff of Eames’s neck anyway.
“I’m sorry,” Arthur says, though he has no idea how much of his words get through to Eames when he’s transformed. “I was going to try to look for you out there.” Eames snuffles. “I watched for you, you know. Every day.”
Arthur doesn’t know if he hopes Eames does understand, or if he hopes he doesn’t.
“Are you going to stay here tonight?” he asks, but if Eames understands he gives no sign, just continues sniffing at Arthur. “Well either way, I still need to set up camp,” he says. When he gets up and dusts off his trousers, he says quietly, “It would be nice if you stayed.”
Eames lays down and rests his head on his paws, following Arthur with his eyes. Arthur finds it a little unnerving but does his best to ignore it. When he’s set up and has built himself a small fire, he wraps himself up in his blankets and lays down. Eames pads over, poking insistently at Arthur’s shoulder with his nose.
“Come on, then,” Arthur says, and arranges his blankets to have a good surface for Eames to lay on, and Eames does, settling his warm bulk over top of the blankets beside Arthur. Arthur turns onto his side, drapes an arm over Eames and moves his head close. The warmth, the coarse hair, the steady rhythm of his breath, all lull Arthur to a deep and restful sleep.
When he wakes it’s to a kiss on his shoulder and a weight at his back, but one that is distinctly smaller and less thoroughly toasty than the one last night. It is comforting all the same.
“Good morning,” Arthur hears right in his ear. He smiles broadly and tries to turn his face towards the ground a little to prevent Eames seeing, but it doesn’t work because he hears Eames chuckle before there’s a nip at his neck.
Arthur wants to turn over and kiss Eames, but he remembers suddenly the image of Eames walking out of their clearing without a word, remembers how he didn’t come back for weeks. He pulls his head away and shrugs off Eames’s arm. “You were gone a while,” he says, and doesn’t bother keeping the accusation and hurt out of his voice.
It takes Eames a minute before he answers, and Arthur half wishes he’d feel Eames’s hand on his arm, something, but Eames is perfectly still. “You made it quite clear I was a complication in your life.” His voice is quiet but Arthur hears something fierce underneath.
“Why did you come back, then?”
“I thought I might convince you still, but I see you’ve made up your mind to go on your own.”
“I did. But I guess now you can show me if pineapples are as good as our pears.” Arthur rolls onto his back, pressing his shoulder into Eames’s chest, and for a moment he looks at Eames’s arms, his chest, his lips. “And I wasn’t wrong; you are complicating my life,” he says. “But that’s good, I think.” Then he closes his eyes, rolls his head back and smiles. It spreads to a grin when he feels Eames’s lips on his neck, the tongue on his pulse.
“So how far is it to the World Outside?” Arthur asks and briefly wonders if the vibration of it registers on Eames’s tongue.
“Another half day’s walk or so,” Eames murmurs into his skin. “Plenty of time before we have to get going.” And he shifts to crawl under the blanket and climb on top of Arthur, playfully burying his face in Arthur’s neck and gnawing messily. Arthur laughs, sees the morning sunshine through his closed lids and is thoroughly distracted from any further musings.
Later, as they walk side by side down a part of the path Arthur’s never seen, he smiles at the crunch of the first fallen leaves beneath his feet, the cool breeze on his skin. With the occasional brush of Eames’s shoulder against his own, Arthur is full of thoughts of all the things he’ll see and do. When he looks up from his feet finally, pulling himself back to the present, he sees the end of the path, the edge of the forest, a broad expanse of fields beyond.
Arthur hoists his pack higher up his shoulder and gives Eames a sly little smile, but neither breaks stride as they emerge from the trees.