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02 August 2010 @ 11:15 pm
untitled (inception, arthur/eames).  
fandom: inception.
summary: a somewhat non-linear progression of related and occasionally inevitable events.
pairing: arthur/eames.
rating: r.
word count: 2391 words.

by the time he was fifteen, arthur was already stiff in the shoulders, all posture and poise like a boy his age had no right to be. there was something about the rigidness of his spine, the slight purposeful angle of his head that isolated him from the other boys-- something like condescension, or worse, intellect. or maybe it was the cardigan sweaters. in either case, puberty found arthur a spectator of his peers, surrounded and yet separate from them and the mundane day-to-day of their playboy magazines and pop records.

in a word, he was different.

(he feels the slight prick of the needle, the slow push of carefully constructed chemistry seeping into his blood. sleep pulls at him, and for a moment, he resists for the sake of resisting-- but there was always something about dreams he could never defy, and it had little to do with the drug.)

arthur grows into perfect windsor knots and slicked-back hair. vague condescension had matured into an outright disdain for most ordinary things; the slight anti-social tendency had not matured at all.

but what matters to the corporation that hires him is not pretension or the lack thereof. rather, he is hired on account of a degree from a prestigious college and the smart, crisp lines of his suit.

it's one of those dreams where he is running. and though he can neither recall when or why he began to run in the first place, every cell in his body seems compelled to push ions and hormones until he is convinced by his pounding heart and coiled gut that there is no choice but to run.

something is on his heels, he can't help but be certain of it. something reaching, twisting from the dark vastness of undefined surroundings, something just inches from breathing down his neck. closing in, faster, closer, faster, closer--


arthur wakes up in a cold sweat, unnerved for the moment it takes reality to settle back down on him.

(there is something to be said for his composure. he seamlessly belongs. the projections hardly notice him, at first.)

the building is a bank with tall glass windows. outside, an intricate and yet generic city stretches for what must be miles. his mind, he thinks, filled with someone else's structures. all of this, the great expanse of this place, contained in the flashing neurons tucked so tenderly between the soft folds of his brain. nothing but electric impulses, molecules in the blood. a convincing facade, fabricated by biology and chemistry. manufactured truths-- or lies.

knowing this doesn't protect him from dominic cobb. the man is a magician, and the company is happy to hire him, once he's proven himself in the dreamscape of their best and brightest.

cobb stays after to shake arthur's hand. not bad, he says. but i think you could do better.

two weeks later, arthur hands in his resignation and buys a ticket to meet dominic cobb in madrid. cobb is in need of a fellow with a meticulous eye for detail, and no one had seen head or tail of his last pointman for months.

(there's always that flicker of doubt. dream or reality, reality or dream? can it be imaginary, that feeling of a man's fist crunching into your skin, your bones, breaking vessels and flaring nerves?

it jars him. so vividly.)

arthur can't imagine how he was ever satisfied with his imperfect reality, so unbending and ordinary, so bound by the laws of physics. the days between cobb's phone calls are the longest. he spends them in the neat whiteness of the apartment he keeps-- a storage container really, for his things and sometimes for him.

a place to go to when there are no ideas to be stolen.

(he loses count of how many times he's been murdered by mal.)

there are times when cobb disappears. arthur is rarely surprised by it; the man is never really entirely there as it is. a fugitive or a phantom, in literal and metaphorical senses of the words.

he gives it a full three weeks before he takes a job alone. the flight is nearly nine hours, and on arrival, just slightly jet-lagged, he finds the kenyan heat poorly matched with his vest and collared shirt.

the extractor is nothing like cobb. he is unremarkable and vaguely amateur in a way that nags ever so slightly at arthur's patience. but the job is simple, the money is good, and either way, arthur isn't betting their success on the talent or lack thereof that the extractor possesses. he's done his homework. there is another element.

the man's name is eames. he has a cool grip and a smooth smile that arthur doesn't trust. deceptive and charming, arthur thinks. a dangerous combination.

(they've begun to stare. the mind will realize soon.)

the pianist on the stage plays bach. seated amidst the projections, arthur dwells on the lack of imagination in it all and doesn't realize who the leggy blond beside him is until she gives his thigh a firm squeeze and calls him darling.

(time slips by in an disorderly fashion.)

privately, arthur is conservative with his profit. there is always the risk that someday, he will find himself in cobb's shoes, and a mind as meticulous as his can't ignore that. he sets away his earnings, saves himself a small fortune from heists conducted on another plane of being. the only regular checks are for an apartment in london, written under another name, and the occasional plane ticket. there's little point in buying the unnecessary things.

the fact of the matter is he's rarely in one place long enough to enjoy them-- and either way, he's begun to see the rift between himself and the material. the only things, he realizes, that transcend between reality and dreams are ideas and people, who in and of themselves are sometimes the former.

but this doesn't stop him from ironing his fine suits and pressing his ties.

cobb calls. he always does, eventually.

there is money to be had. it is, essentially, the only reason a man is ever interested in the contents of another man's head-- at least in as far as hiring an extractor and his team goes. corporate feuds. arthur has seen it enough times before to be accustomed to the routine. he conducts his research several weeks before. late nights, the blue light of his laptop casting deep shadows into the sharp angles and hollows of his face. hazelnut coffee with just a touch of cream.

there's a complication. a snag, arthur explains to cobb. the mark is a private, eccentric, and paranoid executive-- which by itself is no real trouble. but the issue with the rich and neurotic is that they have the resources to indulge their eccentricities, and with dream-crime on the rise, the man had gone out of his way to be trained. this mind was an armed fortress. they would need leverage.

cobb isn't worried. leverage, he responds, is on the market. all it would take was a detour to mombasa.

(for a moment, he thinks he's drowning.)

the rainy season disagrees with arthur, but not as much as their forger does. days of preparation spent holed up in a basement in kenya breeds biting banter and bickering. arthur insists on the details, on the small things-- focused to a point eames called narrow-minded. micromanaging, sweetheart, he says.

well. not everything can be accomplished with a big gun.

in another life, arthur is a doctor. a lawyer. he lives an ordinary life with a substantial paycheck. he rarely risks his life. his routine involves no impossibilities, no mysteries, no penrose stairs. he satisfies his obsessive neatness by organizing the pencils on his desk, the ties in his closet. but that is another life.

the arthur of this life has not slept regularly for five days. but even now, with his patience worn thin and africa's humidity thick on his skin, he can't regret it. not really. this is more than a job.

it always has been.

(going under.)

the gentleman thieves make their move.

snow crunches under arthur's heel. he wonders if someone left the air conditioning on before they'd left.

the first time he'd been shot in a dream, arthur had been more surprised by the blood than the pain. the metallic smell of it, the uneven edge of the red soaking through the sleeve of his shirt. his body had been convinced-- it had been fooled, even as his fastidious mind denied the reality of it.

oh, for god's sake, he'd said irritably to no one. it's only a dream.

the twelfth time he's shot in a dream, arthur isn't surprised at all. it's more the inconvenience of it all-- the grudging thought that at the very least, his good clothes weren't ruined in the waking world-- and the fact that he can't very well hold a gun proper with a bullet through his arm. lovely, the way the dream world decides to act like the real one when he least wants it.

the lightheaded feeling sets in. it's all just biology, isn't it.

it only pains him a little to tear the sleeve of his shirt. vestigial attachment to the crisp ironed lines, the fine material-- secondary, he reminds himself, to staying alive. twisting the cloth tight around his arm, he becomes single-minded. the goal is survival now. the goal is survival because he didn't come this far in to fail half-way, and more than that, they need him.

he'll be damned if he endured that week in mombasa for nothing.

(going deeper.)

someone is saying his name.

he can't be sure how long his consciousness has been walking the precarious edge of unconsciousness. time is such a tricky thing in this place, and one's perception with blood loss can only be expected to be so reliable to a certain point. he is half-aware of the dull throbbing in his arm-- oh yes, that happened, didn't it-- and the darkness pushing at the fringes of his vision.

arthur. again. he hears himself distantly, asking if they've done it, if they'd gotten the job done.

a low chuckle. an arm sliding carefully under his, around him, making him stand.

darling, the voice says wryly. i'm offended you even had to ask.

(aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi--)

cobb leaves first. for where, arthur isn't sure. it's better that way, safer for cobb-- and safer for them, too, once he's gone. theirs is a business of risks, and the most dangerous time is immediately after, the period of high tension when the idea has been stolen and the culprits being hunted. a group of men traveling together would be suspicious. arthur will lay low for a few days, then he too will go.

they're lucky, in a way, that the rains are hitting mombasa so heavily this time of year. the streets are bad, and in the worst of it, nobody is willing to go looking for anyone, no matter how much they're wanted for. the unlucky part is being holed up in that basement again, listening to water pounding on the ground above.

eames tells him to stop pacing. you'll wear holes in the soles of your designer shoes, love.

tension can make a man primitive, and there comes a point at which the sex seems almost inevitable. it's a slow-motion asphyxiation, every push and grind of their bodies shoving the air up and out of his lungs on sounds that can't possibly be his. every centimeter of his skin feels hypersensitive, even though he can't see straight and his tongue is thick in his mouth--

the scratch of the old couch, the bite of springs through thin cushions.

the drag of blunt nails over skin, burning like acid.

the scrape of teeth and rough stubble.

his fingers scrabble over the back of the couch, clawing at loose threads-- reaching, reaching for his abandoned jacket, groping for the pocket with the loaded die he knows is inside, just to know, just to make sure--

firm hands catch his wrists and pin them back above his head. eames tsk-tsks half-amused in his ear and drags him closer, fucks him harder.

arthur misses his flight.

(the feeling of falling.)

eames has a tattoo. a small, inconsequential thing of questionable taste nestled just above the curving bone of his right hip. he shows it to arthur after, while arthur is busy doing up buttons and smoothing out wrinkles. the reward is a critical eye, a skeptical word.

i was young, eames explains. his shoulders give an easy, dismissive roll that has no right being so casually attractive. you were once too, darling, as much as you'd like to deny it.

the flight to europe is eight hours. they sit across the aisle from each other and pretend to be strangers.

(insides tightening in anticipation of impact; heart muscle contracting violently.)

six months later, dominic cobb goes home the way that arthur always suspected he would.

(the kick.)

it's only a matter of time before they find each other again. it's ariadne who calls them. the architect who is quickly becoming more than that. of all of them, she'd always been the one who was the most like cobb. and like the rest, she had found that the real world no longer held any real secrets or mysteries. it had stopped being about the paycheck or even the thrill. it was an inception of its own kind, the planted seed of obsession with the world of dreams.

it's only a matter of time then, because there is no pointman as thorough and detailed as arthur, and there is no human being on earth as disarming as eames.

there comes a point at which the sex seems almost inevitable.

afterward, he pulls on his layers, covers and composes himself to the sound of shower water in the adjacent bathroom. arthur begins to wonder if he's spent so much time living and breathing in dreams that he no longer remembers how connect with an ordinary human being-- the sort that has never been in anyone's imagination but their own. it is isolating, in its own way, their enlightenment. it separates them from the masses.

in a word, they're different.

eames is different.

(he awakens.)
Current Mood: working
Current Music: FRANCO DRAGONE ❝dreaming❞
navyclementine: dream a little bigger darlingnavyclementine on August 3rd, 2010 05:30 am (UTC)
completely and entirely beautiful. like, beyond belief.
❝lockwood❞: pic#103097007aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
thanks very much. :]
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 3rd, 2010 05:39 am (UTC)
Gorgeous. You leave me speechless and in awe.
❝lockwood❞: pic#103114723aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 06:06 am (UTC)
ah hah, that's a real big compliment for me, because i just read your stuff and it's really good. really exceptional, and almost ethereal. so thank you very much.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 3rd, 2010 09:02 am (UTC)
Wow, thank-you! :glows: What an unexpected place to find a compliment, haha! Have you written any other Inception fics, I wonder? If so, would love to read them. ♥
❝lockwood❞: pic#103097007aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
to be honest, i haven't written any other fics period! i'm a little embarrassed. but i'm definitely thinking about writing more, since this turned out better than i thought it would. :]
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 4th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Whoo, more Eames/Arthur from you? Would totally make my day. Thanks for reccing my fic, by the way. Much appreciated. Will defs return the favour ♥
❝lockwood❞: pic#103114723aatxe on August 4th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
no problem! my pleasure, really. everyone in fandom should give your stuff a read. :] it'd be criminal not to spread the word!

p.s. do you mind if i friend you? i'd love to keep up with your stuff.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 4th, 2010 08:07 am (UTC)
Go ahead! Will friend you back, dear. Ugh, I'm still spazzing because your style is so awesome. Is that your signature style, or do you (like me) like to experiment and write several different styles?
❝lockwood❞: pic#103097007aatxe on August 4th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
friended! :]

ah, geez, i'm really flattered! i'm not sure i have a signature style yet, but this is what's comfortable for me so far. i am thinking about actually capitalizing though! since someone mentioned the all lower case was distracting.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 5th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
What? No! The lower-case really gives the piece a floating, unique feel. If you capitalised, you'd be following the masses. And no-one wants to follow the masses. (We all want the masses to follow us, right? :grin:)

And seriously, if this is your first ever fic, then I'm dying to read more. (hint hint)
❝lockwood❞: pic#103097007aatxe on August 5th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
ha ha, i actually prefer the lower-case! i think it's just a little neurotic tick of mine. maybe i'll keep it then, if you like it. ;]

i maaaay or may not have started my next piece, so maybe something will pop up in the next few days.
ABC, her eyelids say.epistolic on August 5th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC)
【SLOTHBOB SQUAREPANTS】: ▍clubbed to deathstutterbird on August 3rd, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
brb marinating myself in this.
❝lockwood❞: pic#96932038aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 06:06 am (UTC)
go to bed, young laaaaady.
Becca the Wonder Penguin: Inception // Arthur and Eamessunnyrea on August 3rd, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Wonderful story, love your style with the sharper feelings in ( ). Love how the whole feel of the story is kind of floaty, like a dream. Love the 'tsk tsk' and Eames' words in italics. The form you have makes the story. Great to read!
❝lockwood❞: pic#103114723aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
i'm glad you liked the format. i sort of did it on a whim and i wasn't sure how it would go over! thank you. :]
(Deleted comment)
❝lockwood❞: pic#103097007aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
thanks very much!
it is sunshine and pineapples over there: arthur&eamesnova33 on August 3rd, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I really, really liked this - your ideas and the flow of your narration were gorgeous and fascinating. I love the bits in parentheses, because they felt like a different perspective, I guess, without jarring out of the actual story. I love this line: i was young, eames explains. his shoulders give an easy, dismissive roll that has no right being so casually attractive. you were once too, darling, as much as you'd like to deny it. Just how much characterization there is for both of them in that line is astounding.

I must admit, though, that the all lower-case was at times a little distracting.

Lovely fic.
❝lockwood❞: pic#103114723aatxe on August 3rd, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
ha ha, thanks. i actually appreciate you saying that bit about the lower case, because i was wondering about that, if it was off-putting? to be honest, i have trouble making my writing flow if i use upper case (i think i'm just neurotic like that), but it's definitely something to take into consideration.

thanks for reading/commenting. :]
radishfaceradishface on September 5th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
Lovely work, though I do believe that regular grammar and caps should have been used for the process-oriented bits to highlight the contrast between those sections and the internally-focused parentheticals. To me, the lowercase actually detracted from an otherwise solid fic. Seems I'm alone in that opinion, though.
❝lockwood❞aatxe on September 5th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
you're not! i hear that about a fourth of the time, and i appreciate hearing the criticism a lot. it's sort of a stylistic thing for me unfortunately, and i'm pretty attached to it. but i am working on some ways of making my stuff more "readable" without compromising my style, so hopefully we'll see how that goes in the future.
slanted_edges on September 10th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Okay so this was absolutely lovely. It's so smooth, in its style, in how the words and sentences flow into each other, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE your characterization of Arthur; all of the little details about him, the back story and how you chose to take these moments and facets from it to show him to us, are so so gorgeous and just. GUH. And GUH YOU HAVE THESE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING SENTENCES AND PHRASES. Like: "flashing neurons tucked so tenderly between the soft folds of his brain"? Oh my GOD I can't say how much I loved them.

Basically you are stunning and awesome, my dear. ♥

(ALSO. The non-capitalization didn't bother me at all. I thought it worked very well in the story.)
❝lockwood❞aatxe on September 13th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
ha ha, thanks! you know, i really, really feel happy when someone can appreciate the quirks of my writing. i know it's not everybody's cup of tea, but when it is, i get that warm fuzzy feeling. x] so, thanks very much. your comment made my day. :]