These were the days before grand romance was invented, but Eames wasn't going to let that stop him. He lived on a dairy farm whose cows produced the best milk in all of Florin, but even the creamiest, thickest milk could not match the smooth whiteness of his complexion. When he was fifteen years old, he ranked among the one hundred most beautiful men in the world (this was before GQ but after the invention of beautiful men -- dark times indeed, when beautiful men had no outlet for their beauty and would resort to duels and sometimes cracker eating competitions. Many died and it was all very tragic).
At fifteen, Eames' ranking was mostly on potential alone. For you see, he did live in a farm, and that meant a certain amount of riding and heat and general dirtiness (though this is by no means a slight on the cleanliness of farms -- the most sterile place on earth is actually a farm in northern Finland, true fact). So at fifteen no one was riding for miles to get a glimpse of him the way they would do when he turned seventeen or eighteen or nineteen. The only person to appreciate Eames' beauty was the family farm hand, who Eames called Farm Boy and sometimes That Priss, but whose real name was Arthur.
Not that Eames was aware of Arthur's attention. In fact, for many years Eames barely deigned to notice Arthur at all, except as the young man who brushed his horse and shined his tack. They were of similar ages but they might as well have lived on different planets. It might have helped if they spoke to each other more often. If they did, they would have discovered a shared interest in the production of milk, the playing of chess, and the purchase and operation of AK-47s. But scintillating conversation was not to be. Whenever they did manage to exchange a few words -- usually Eames giving an order -- all Farm Boy ever said was, "As you wish."
That was, at least, until the Countess arrived.
The Countess was the right hand woman of Prince Saito. Her name was Mal but no one called her that, not even Saito. She was simply the Countess, and she arrived on the farm to verify the rumours of the extraordinarily beautiful young man who lived there, who by now ranked among the twentieth most beautiful men in the world (though admittedly by a slim margin -- he was lucky that Brad Pitt chose not to shave).
The Countess fixed her rather intense stare on Eames, but Eames at this point had learned about the joys of flirting. He welcomed the Countess into his family home and chatted with her breezily, except that Farm Boy was already inside the house helping with repairs, and he couldn't help but notice the Countess' eyes sliding to him whenever there was a pause in the conversation.
Well, that was outrageous, Eames felt. Why would anybody stare at Farm Boy when his hotass self was around?
He looked at Farm Boy critically. It was true that Farm Boy wasn't ugly. He had a lean frame and good cheekbones, and he had taken lately to spending his paycheck on nice clothes. Probably better than what Eames himself wore, he realized with a nasty start. Which was simply wrong by all definitions of that word. Farm Boy was not allowed to be more attractive than Eames, and the more Eames stared at Farm Boy, the dizzier and angrier he felt. Goddamn Farm Boy for being so attractive! And what, what was he doing glancing back at the Countess?
That night, as Eames went to bed, he couldn't stop thinking about it. The Farm Boy and the Countess? Impossible! Besides, he'd heard that the Countess was already married. And even if she wasn't, why would her tastes run to impossibly good-looking menial labourers with muscles that glided under skin-kissed skin? Who the hell would go for that sort of thing?
Eames tossed and turned.
It didn't matter anyway, he thought. Let Farm Boy run off with the Countess! Eames didn't care; he would throw them a goddamn party even. And he would be witty and polite and not even say 'I told you so' when they inevitably broke up in a few weeks and the Countess left Farm Boy for even younger, handsomer men. Oh, Farm Boy would be pitiful then. He would beg Eames for comfort and Eames would --
"Oh shit," Eames said, and he sat bolt up in bed.
It was past midnight but he stumbled out of the house and into the shack where Farm Boy lived. The lights were still on inside. Eames banged his fist against the door until Farm Boy finally opened it. "I have something to say to you," Eames declared, trying not to look directly at Farm Boy's face for fear of being dazzled. "I know it must come as a surprise since I have done nothing but belittle and insult you, including that one time where I said your shirt made you look like a reject from a Mariah Carey music video, but darling, I love you."
Farm Boy shut the door in his face.
Without one word! Without one word!
"Fuck," said Eames. "You're such an ass."
Farm Boy opened the door again. "Excuse me? You're the one who made my life a living hell for the past ten years. And my name is Arthur, by the way, not ass."
"Could have fooled me," Eames said, and it was a good thing that Arthur looked a bit constipated when he was angry because there needed to be something to temper such awesomeness for the mortals, you know?
"You don't know shit all," Arthur said. "You say you love me? You barely even look at me! You don't even listen to me! All you care about is 'oh I'm so beautiful this' or 'I'm so beautiful that.' You teased me for only ever knowing three words, but you didn't realize that every time I said 'as you wish', I was really saying--"
"Yes?" Eames asked.
"Never mind," said Arthur. "Go to bed."
"Not likely," said Eames, who had the feeling that maybe he was going to have a grand romance after all. He stepped into Arthur's space and grabbed his shoulders, pulling him close for a kiss. Now, there have been five great kisses since the invention of history, starting when Adam and Eve realized that hey, they could do the hanky panky. Such kisses are inevitably measured on a system too complicated to replicate here, and while it would be nice to think that Arthur and Eames were so sizzling together that they rocketed to spot number one, it was not to be. It was an awkward kiss, truth be told, with too much spit and bad timing. But for Eames, it was perfect.
It turned out that 'as you wish' not only meant 'I love you', it could also apply to 'let me screw your brains out all night', which suited Eames' intentions fine.
But then Arthur had to go to Japan to make his fortune and die at the hands of pirates. The ass.
Saito, crown prince of Florin, was hot shit. Everyone lived in fear of him because it was said that he had the ability to infiltrate dreams and plant whatever thoughts he wanted into your head, which had led to some very embarrassing dinner parties and hasty marriages. He also owned everything in the kingdom. In fact, there was no concept of private or public property. It was all Saito's property. Whenever Prince Saito entered a room, everybody who wasn't strapped down had an immediate orgasm. Not to mention he could fix global warming with one phone call.
Aw yeah. If Arthur had to be dead, marrying Saito was not a bad choice, Eames thought, and then wondered if Saito had put that thought into his head. Damn, he was tricky!
Stuff happened. Saito bought Eames a turkey.
"Why would I want a turkey?" Eames wondered.
"No, not a turkey. Turkey."
"Oh," said Eames, kind of impressed. "Hey, can you make me a princess too? I think it's necessary for the purposes of the story, you know. Princess Bride and all that."
"Sure," said Saito.
Eames's pride was hurt by how easily he got kidnapped. He felt it should have been harder than that. But these three were clearly professionals from the enemy kingdom of Guilder, and when he came to, he was lying at the bottom of a boat out at sea.
"Oh good," said Ariadne. "I was beginning to feel kind of bad about using a princess as my footrest."
"Where are we going?" Eames asked fuzzily. There was a strange taste on his tongue. Poison?
Cobb pointed to the east.
"Not the Cliffs of Insanity!" Eames said.
"Indeed," Cobb said. "But I didn't take you for a coward, princess."
"It's mosquito season there. I hate being bitten," Eames said. "That summer I vacationed at the Cliffs with my parents, I dropped thirty places on the beautiful men scale. By the way, did you guys feed me something?"
"Just to knock you out," Yusuf said. "Sorry!"
If he had to be kidnapped by a trio of bandits, at least they were friendly. Well, maybe not Cobb. Cobb seemed kind of moody and angsty, and Eames suspected that were this story different, Cobb would be the hero and the story would be ten times darker and involve a lot more dead women. But as it was, Eames was the 'take life as it comes' sort. He'd survived the death of his beloved Arthur -- he could survive a jaunt out at sea.
When they reached the Cliffs and his companions started unwinding rope, Eames said, "Uh, how are we going to climb the rock face? It's never been done."
"Don't worry, I can manipulate time and space," said Ariadne.
"Sounds awesome. You'll have to teach me that trick."
Ariadne did her thing, and they were floating halfway up the Cliffs when Yusuf pointed downwards and said, "Not to be alarmist, but who is that guy following us?" When Eames looked down, he saw that Yusuf was right. There was a black speck steadily climbing the cliffs with no rope and no powers of time/space manipulation.
"Oh my god!" said Ariadne. "It's the Dread Pirate Darling!"
"How can you tell?" Eames asked her.
"I'm the president of his fan club," she said. "We're having a picnic later this year to raise funds for charity. You want to come?"
"Sure," said Eames. "If he doesn't kill us first."
"Oh true," she said. "The Dread Pirate Darling never takes prisoners. Shoot."
"Stop yapping and float faster, both of you," snapped Cobb, who was in a bad mood and would remain in one for the rest of this story (spoiler alert!).
They finally reached the top. Cobb looked down at the Dread Pirate Darling, who was proceeding at a rapid pace. He unsheathed his sword. "I'll stay behind and fend him off," he said. "You three go on ahead."
"Are you sure?" Yusuf asked.
"Go!" said Cobb, and they went. Yusuf and Ariadne grabbed Eames by both arms and tugged him down the path towards Guilder. Cobb readied his stance and prepared to face the Dread Pirate Darling. It was not a long wait, and Cobb was rather impressed in spite of himself. He was honourable enough not to take a swing at the Dread Pirate when his head first popped into view. He waited until the Dread Pirate heaved himself entirely over the edge and lay there panting before he spoke.
"I'll let you catch your breath," Cobb said.
"Many thanks," said the pirate. "Is it to be a sword fight then?"
"Not really," the pirate said. "I've been in weirder situations than this. At least we have gravity."
Cobb thought that was very profound and made a note to tell his children. He watched as the Dread Pirate Darling finally stood up and drew his own sword. It was a fine piece of craftsmanship but not as fine as Cobb's, which was made for a woman with six fingers and had a long, complicated history involving how his wife had died and now his life goal was to avenge her. Cobb lunged with his sword, intending to make a quick fight of it, but the Dread Pirate Darling was no slouch and defended himself gracefully.
"You're rather good," said Cobb.
"So are you," said the Dread Pirate Darling.
"I trained for twenty hours a day underneath a waterfall. I damn well hope so," Cobb said.
"I can't say I match your training, but I'm driven by the determination of true love," the Dread Pirate Darling replied. Then he winced. "That sounded awful, didn't it? I've become such a sap. Let's just fight."
They fought. It turned out they were both right-handed and not ambidextrous, which was disappointing in a narrative sense but probably better for their stamina. They were equally matched in strength and talent, but the Dread Pirate Darling was clever and had deduced that Cobb was in fact the long lost Count of Florin. So girded with this clever deduction, he very cleverly cried out, "Look, it's Mal!" and used his opponent's sudden disorientation to win the duel.
He tied up Cobb, apologized, and went off on the trail of the others.
He found Ariadne waiting for him in a clearing of rocks.
"Neither Yusuf and I were sure what to do," she said. "Cobb is sort of our boss. But we figured I should be the one to face you next. Yusuf can't do much but chuck poisons at you and drive really wildly off bridges, none of which applies in this situation."
"Step aside and I will spare your life," said the Dread Pirate Darling. "You are obviously young and raw. Maybe you don't understand the kind of people you have chosen to involve yourself with."
"What, you think I'm stupid?" Ariadne said. "The Dread Pirate Darling never leaves survivors. And you're not exactly in a position to talk about unsavory business practices." She twirled her finger. "Plus, you know, I can chuck rocks at you with my mind. It has something to do with dreamscape and unreality, but is probably too metaphysical for you, so I'll just say this: you're lucky that I'm so kind."
"Lucky? How so?"
"You think you're so smart, but I'm in fact much smarter than you. I know who you are."
"I'm the Dread Pirate Darling."
"Yes, I realize, and after this is over I'll ask for your autograph. But I know your real identity and I know why you're chasing after Princess Eames." Ariadne smiled. "I guess I'm a sucker for love stories. After listening to the tragic tale of Cobb and Mal ad nauseam, I kind of want a happy ending."
The Dread Pirate Darling regarded her coolly.
She stepped aside. "Go get your man."
He found Yusuf and Eames waiting for him in a grassy clearing. "I'll have you know that I've spent many years developing immunity to all the common poisons," he said.
"First of all, I'm insulted you think I would use common poisons," Yusuf said. "Secondly, Ariadne told me everything. You can have the princess. He's been complaining too much for my liking anyway."
"I was simply pointing out, love, the unlikeliness of you actually being from Guilder," Eames said. "None of you have a Guilder accent, and you're all dressed in Florinese clothes, so who was it that really hired you?"
"The Countess of Florin."
The Dread Pirate Darling narrowed his eyes at Yusuf. "You revealed that information rather easily."
"I'm on top of the Cliffs of Insanity. What's she going to do to me?" Yusuf shrugged. "It's nice here. I think I'll set up my lab and get some fresh air."
"You do that," said Eames. He pointed at the pirate. "As for you, don't think you're going to get inside my pants just because you're dressed in black and look sexy. Though you are sexy, and it's playing havoc with my ability to think right now. Okay, I've changed my mind. How about it?"
"Do you throw yourself at every man you see?" the Dread Pirate Darling demanded.
"Pretty much," Eames said.
"Have you never loved?" the pirate asked, voicing growing chilly and dangerous. "No, I don't think you have. One such as you cannot possibly know what it is like to care for another human being beyond your own self-interests."
"Now, see here, you ass," said Eames. "I have loved more deeply than a killer like you can possibly imagine."
"And that's why you're engaged to the prince."
"I don't love my betrothed, but there's no law that says I have to spend the rest of my life alone. Also, it's Prince Saito we're talking about. Everybody wants a piece of that."
"True!" said Yusuf.
The Dread Pirate Darling had to acknowledge the validity of that point. It is a little known fact that the word sex is derived from a cognate of Prince Saito's name. Before Prince Saito was born, sex was known as 'the great yodel' in such examples as 'Can I have a great yodel with you?' or 'You're so hot, let's greatly yodel right this moment!' You can see why the people of Florin were eager to jump on a new name.
Eames and the Dread Pirate Darling stared moodily at each other. The sea may or may not have risen and crashed in the background.
Then Yusuf threw up his hands and said, "For god's sake! This is your Arthur! There, I said it!"
And Eames replied, "I should have known that condescending tone anywhere. But seriously, Arthur, I thought you were dead. I cried."
"I guess I wasn't," Arthur said. "It's complicated."
"I'll just go wander away now," Yusuf said. "But uh, do you mind if I leave this camera right here? I think I could get a lot of money if I taped--"
"Sure," said Eames, who had no shame. He opened his arms to Arthur.
For a copy of the Arthur/Eames reunion sex scene, please contact:
90182-80100 Nyali Road
If you specify, Yusuf will send you the version that cuts off before Prince Saito and the Countess arrive to find the couple mid coitus. You probably don't want to see that part anyway. There's betrayal and tense jaws and Eames promises to marry Saito if he'll let Arthur free, which seems like a good deal except, you know, the part where Arthur is a wanted pirate and gets thrown in jail anyway.
"All I want to do is avenge my wife's death," Cobb said. "Why am I pushing around the body of a man who was foolish enough to cross Prince Saito?"
"True love!" said Ariadne. "You believe in true love, don't you?"
Cobb gritted his teeth and wanted very much to say no, except that he did in fact believe in true love -- the truest and most lovely there was. In fact, part of his reluctance to help Ariadne fetch Arthur's body was resentment that Eames and Arthur were getting more of a grand romance than him and Mal (this was after the invention of true love but before the invention of side plots).
"Can you really raise this man from the dead?" Yusuf asked. "I know you are very talented, Ariadne, but that seems like a lot to ask."
"Of course," Ariadne said. "I'm an architect and architects build. And bodies aren't that different from buildings."
"If you say so," said Yusuf.
"You're just sore because you think your sordid sex tape will get more attention if Arthur dies tragically young," Ariadne accused.
"I am not like that!" Yusuf protested.
"Then help me pry Arthur's jaw open."
"I don't know whether to be proud or deeply disturbed," said Cobb.
By now Eames suspected that Arthur was not roaming the seven seas and striking fear into the hearts of the badly dressed, as Prince Saito had promised. It was hard to think anything negative of Prince Saito -- it was hard to think anything at all sometimes, for when he stood near you your knees had the unfortunate tendency to melt -- but Eames knew through the power of true love that Arthur was dead. (That, and one of the servants had seen Ariadne, Yusuf, and Cobb wheel the body out of the Zoo of Death).
At 4:40, Eames had to look Prince Saito in the eye and say, "Love, you're hot and all that, but my heart belongs to another and is not mine to give."
At 4:45, he retreated into his rooms.
At 5:00, Arthur opened his eyes and gasped for breath. "Hooray!" said Ariadne and decided to pester him for an autograph later.
At 5:10, Arthur was able to move his fingers.
At 5:20, Ariadne, Cobb, and Yusuf wheeled Arthur through the gates of the castle with the help of Yusuf's Molotov cocktails and Arthur's pinstripe suit, which struck awe and terror into all the men who saw it, forcing them to lay down their swords and head immediately for the closest tailor.
At 5:30, Prince Saito went into his room to find Arthur lying on the bed. "Well, this is an interesting turn of events," he said, while Arthur bared his teeth and said, "I don't care if you're rich, handsome, and can make people orgasm by will. I will beat you."
At 5:32, Cobb ran into the Countess, who he saw had six fingers. He drew his sword and said, "My name is Dominic Cobb. I have two children, James and Phillipa. You killed my wife. Prepare to die!"
"You dolt!" said the Countess. "I am your wife!"
At 5:34, there was a passionate reunion on the pantry floor, but no one was there to film it so you'll just have to use your own imaginations.
At 5:40, Prince Saito raised one immaculately trimmed eyebrow and said, "If you want Eames, you can have him. I am, at heart, a romantic. When I'm not busy being an Olympic athlete and Nobel Peace Prize laureate."
"I didn't think it'd be this easy," Arthur admitted.
"You're trapped inside your body. You're helpless. You've gone to death and back. I know what it is like," Saito said. "Let me call a limo for you. I can recommend some good islands in the Caribbean where you can relax and regain your health."
"And you won't chase us to hell and back?" Arthur asked.
Saito laughed. "Please, check out the ego on this guy."
He would have said more but there was some furious, familiar knocking on the door. Saito opened it, and in stalked Eames, who immediately headed to Arthur and said, "Look at all the grey hair I'm getting because of you. Never make me worry like that again, you hear me? Never again."
And Arthur, the Dread Pirate Darling, the love of his life, smiled with what strength he had and agreed.
And they had great yodels for the rest of their lives.