pg, 1184 words
in which arthur is the chemistry TA and eames is the student who comes to every single office hour. except... not really.
a/n: this is for meiface, who asked for arthur and eames and tutoring, among other things, :'). happy holiday, mei! I hope you like this, even if I have to apologize in advance for the ridiculous pacing of this whole thing, ;~;.
The fantastic thing about office hours during most of term, Arthur thinks as he works his way through another reference paper for his thesis, is that none of the students can be bothered to actually show up. Of course, it means that in the week leading up to exam period, his office is like a madhouse, and he has hysterical students asking the questions they should have asked a month ago coming out of his ears. But for the rest of the term, even the keeners would rather stick around after class to ask their questions to the professor instead of waiting for TA office hours. Which is perfectly fine with Arthur, since it means he has two hours every Tuesday and Friday where he's paid to sit in the office the university had assigned him and basically work on his own research.
Or at least, that had been the case up until two weeks ago.
"Arthur," comes a voice from his door, and there's only one person he knows who can say his name precisely like that, British accent curling over every syllable. Looking up, Arthur sees the familiar figure lounging against his doorframe. Speak of the devil.
"What can I do for you today, Mr. Eames?" he asks, keeping his tone level as he shuffles his own papers out of the way. Eames is strikingly attractive, there's no denying that - but he's also wearing a pink polo (his popped collar grates on Arthur's nerves) and khaki shorts and basically reminds Arthur painfully of the quintessential fratboy. Arthur valiantly reminds himself of this as he tries not to notice the way the corner of a tattoo is peaking distractingly out from under the undone top button.
"You could come have a drink with me after your office hours are over," Eames says, and before Arthur can figure out the most appropriate answer to that, Eames drops his messenger bag unceremoniously onto the ground and settles himself into the other chair. "But for now, you can tell me about next week's assignment."
"Mr. Eames, I've already explained the assignment to you when you came to my office three days ago. In detail."
Eames gives him what Arthur has deduced must be Eames' most charming smile - he concludes this because it is actually fairly effective, and he does always feel somewhat charmed when Eames decides to employ it. "Arthur, that was before the professor gave yesterday's lecture on phenol and aniline formation. It was very enlightening; I have a new perspective now - and more specific questions, of course."
Without waiting for a reply, he reaches over to dig through his bag. With a sigh, Arthur leans forward and steels himself as Eames produces a piece of slightly crumpled paper and points to the third problem.
As it turns out, Eames' question is actually surprisingly intelligent, and completely unlike what Arthur has come to expect from most second year general science students. Grabbing a spare piece of paper, Arthur looks up to doublecheck that Eames' attention is on him before beginning to sketch out the mechanism.
"So, how about it then?" Eames casually asks afterwards. Reaching down, he slides the piece of paper Arthur had been drawing on into a side pocket of his binder before swinging his bag back across his shoulders in one smooth movement.
"How about what?" Arthur says, raising an eyebrow.
"A drink, remember?"
It would be a lie to say that he's not interested. But Eames is a student, for god's sake. And don't forget about how that polo shouldn't be allowed to exist, his brain reminds him. Arthur deliberately schools his face into a blank expression. "I'm not sure that's a good idea, Mr. Eames."
Rather than be discouraged, Eames just rolls his eyes. "Don't be such a wet blanket, Arthur - it's Friday, and you're done with office hours anyway." His expression turns beseeching. "Come on, there's a pub right around the corner. My treat for taking up your time today."
"You don't need to buy me a drink for coming to office hour, you know. It's kind of my job," Arthur says, but finds himself getting up and following Eames out anyway. "Just one drink," he says insistently when he catches sight of Eames' delighted expression.
Three drinks later, Arthur is laughing uncontrollably at something ridiculous Eames has just said, even if he can't actually pinpoint exactly why it's so funny. He feels relaxed and loose-limbed, and a little as if he might melt into his seat. Eames is laughing too, his broad shoulders shaking and his eyes warm. His lips are stretched wide into a grin as he suddenly reaches out to wrap an arm around Arthur's waist.
Arthur lets him.
Two weeks later, he finds himself waking up in Eames' on-campus apartment curled up in Eames' not-quite-big-enough bed, and his head is pillowed comfortably on Eames' tattooed shoulder. Arthur's legs are tangled in what seems to be a small mountain of blankets, and for the life of him, he still can't explain how his life turned out like this.
Eames chooses that moment to shift and blindly press a kiss against the side of Arthur's face. "Morning, darling," he says, voice still thick with sleep, and Arthur decides that he really can't complain.
(Two weeks after that:
"Eames?" Yusuf says, when Arthur unthinkingly brings up his - well, boyfriend now, he supposes (as much as thinking about it makes him flinch sometimes because he's dating someone he's TAing and he's grading most of the midterms and finals, not to mention assignments, and if the university finds out, there could be so many fraternization issues, god. At least there's only a week left in the term - although now that he thinks about it, he hasn't actually marked any of Eames' work yet. This leads Arthur to conclude that for once, he's just ridiculously lucky and Eames' assignments and exams must have all gone into the 10% of the total marking that's done by the professor). "You know Eames?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Arthur asks, poking at his salad. "He is a student in the class I'm TAing, you know. But wait, you know Eames?"
Yusuf chokes on his burrito and Arthur has to pound him on the back for a few minutes. "Arthur," he says when he finally manages to recover. "No, he isn't. You do know that Eames is a grad student too, right?"
"He's the other TA for 4th year organometallic chem."
Arthur stares at him like he's grown an extra head. "... you mean that same course you're TAing?"
"Mhmm," Yusuf chirps happily, then cheerfully finishes his burrito.)
(And even later:
"Darling, I swear I was going to tell you, but you can forgive me, can't you? You were always walking around the student lounge with those glasses on - not to mention the dimpling - and I had to get your attention somehow." Eames gives Arthur his most charming and cajoling smile. His expression is deceptively innocent.
"I am going to shoot you," Arthur says.)
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