With one thing and another -- and a very bad hangover in the morning -- Arthur found himself married.
Well, he thought, my mother is going to kill me.
Then he thought, But Cobb is going to do it first.
It was this latter thought -- because while Arthur's ma was frightening to the extreme, she lacked the ability to make both his waking and dreaming hours hell -- that galvinized him. Arthur swung his legs over his side of the bed and was about to slide out entirely when his newly wed husband grabbed his hip.
"Stay in bed, mmm, cozy here."
"Eames, it's half past noon." Arthur peered at the windows with their half open curtains. What country were they in? God, how much did he have to drink last night? He remembered hammering out the deal with Eames and driving to the closest legal authority, but beyond that not much. Did they even have sex?
He looked down at his bare thighs.
There were bite marks all over. All right, scratch that question off the list.
"We're married now," Eames said groggily. "Husband and husband, till death do us part and all that fluffy jazz. Can't you call me by my first name?"
"No," said Arthur. "And if you call me Mrs. Eames, I will stuff your dirty boxers down your throat."
"You weren't complaining about me being dirty last night," Eames snickered, finally cracking open one eye. "Come back to bed. I'll make it worth your time."
Arthur's back was ramrod straight, but Eames trailed his fingers over the curve of his spine, touching the bruises he had left last night. Arthur's tender skin shuddered as Eames' fingers inched upwards slowly. Finally Arthur acquiesed. He slid back under the covers after a glance at the hotel clock. They were supposed to meet...well, he wasn't sure who they were supposed to meet but it was someone around three. There was time, he supposed, for a bit of relaxation until then.
"You know I only married you for tax purposes," Arthur said. "It's because you're British."
"Yes, yes, I know. You had a spot of anglophilia and had to declare your undying passion for my tax return." Eames smirked and ran a finger across Arthur's nose. "It's so lovely and tight, my tax return. Think of what you can shove inside and--"
The bonds of marriage were powerful and sacred to be sure, but Arthur doubted even they were strong enough to erase the urge to shut Eames up. So instead he twisted himself a handful of Eames' hair and pulled him close roughly. Eames' eyes went bright and surprised. Then he smiled.
"Oh yeah. No more blushing bride, is it?" he said.
"Sorry if that's what you were expecting," Arthur said, "but it's not what you're going to get."
"Nah," Eames said. "Only thing I wanted was you."
Being married to Eames wasn't all that awful, as it turned out. Eames had a hitherto unknown streak of sweetness in him, and Arthur didn't mind having someone willing to run out and buy fresh bread just because he felt like having some. True, Eames generally expected sexual favours in return for his acts of kindness -- which made them, perhaps, not so sweet after all -- but it wasn't like it was a chore for Arthur to go down on Eames with the smell of bread and pastry hanging over his skin.
Arthur's mother forgave him eventually for running off and eloping. She may have been Catholic but, as she said cheerfully on the phone, she was a lapsed Catholic so it was all right.
Cobb, though. Cobb was a serious problem.
He didn't say so outright. Cobb wasn't that kind of person. When they went on their next job and Eames announced to the whole world that here was his lovely wife, everybody bow down and worship her, Ariadne had laughed and Yusuf had snorted his drink the wrong way, and even Saito -- why the hell Saito was there, no one knew, and no one dared to ask -- had started clapping. Cobb didn't join in. Arthur noticed one violent twitch of his eyebrow and then Cobb was changing the subject back to their mission.
Cobb was a not unimportant person in Arthur's life and Arthur didn't want this atmosphere of unease to continue where it might even affect their work. So he cornered Cobb in the warehouse at night, after sending Eames off to buy new sheets for their bed. Cobb was at his desk, sketching. He didn't look up when Arthur approached.
"Hey," said Arthur.
"What is it?" asked Cobb.
There were diplomatic measures that could be taken. Arthur knew how to chat people up. But he decided to go for the direct route this time, so he leaned over the desk and said, "Do you have a problem with me and Eames?"
Cobb snorted. "Until today, I didn't even know there was a you and Eames."
"The only reason I married him was because of taxes. I don't know if you've ever come across this problem, but working in an illegal profession tends to make dealing with the IRS extremely unpleasant."
"I'm well aware," said Cobb. "And I'm sure that you decided to run off and marry Eames because of...tax reasons." He looked up at the mark on Arthur's neck. Arthur had a sudden flashback to high school and trying to hide the evidence of his makeout session with Bruno Mackenzie. He was an adult now, damn it. He was not about to do the whole song and dance routine to explain his choices.
"Yes," he said. "Just to clear things up."
"I'm glad," Cobb replied, sounding like he'd rather chew nails. Arthur debated whether or not he should continue this conversation, but he decided that Cobb looked tired and they could talk about this tomorrow. But as he was walking away, he heard Cobb shuffle his papers and mutter, "I could have thrown you a wedding."
Arthur stopped in his tracks. "What?"
"Nothing," Cobb said. Apparently they were too manly to have this talk.
"If it really matters to you," Arthur said hesitantly, "I guess you could."
Eames was going to kill him for this.
Eames was overjoyed.
"I love weddings," he said.
"Really?" Arthur asked skeptically.
"Well, usually I like chatting up the bridesmaids with the nicest dresses and getting laid, but I wouldn't do that to you, darling. Besides, you'll have the prettiest dress of them all."
Arthur walked away. Unfortunately for the peace of his soul, he ran into Ariadne.
"Hey, so I heard there's going to be a wedding! Awesome," she said. "Cobb already asked me to help with the invitations. Do you think we should invite Fischer? He did, after all, bring us closer together."
"Don't you dare," said Arthur.
Yusuf bounded up to them. "I get to be in charge of the wine!" he said happily.
"I'm thinking about introducing my own concoction. I've been experimenting with it, you see, and I think it's just about ready for public consumption," Yusuf exclaimed.
"I am going to count to ten," Arthur said. "When I am done, none of this will be happening."
"Hello everyone," said Saito. "And Mr. Arthur, I must offer you my sincerest congratulations. I have already spoken to Cobb. He says you might prefer to be married in your mother's house, but I've bought out a small island for the reception."
"You are the best," Ariadne said, and then to Arthur's shock and horror, she and Saito fist-bumped.
Arthur walked away again.
"...no, really," he heard Yusuf explain. "Only one person passed out last time and he assured me there was a very pleasant fruity aftertaste."
"Even my taxes aren't worth this," Arthur said. "I didn't realize our inception team was secretly harbouring a desire to be a professional wedding company as well. I'll have to reprint the business cards."
"Poor baby," Eames drawled, his hand on Arthur's back. "We can always run off together again. I hear Gretna Green is lovely this time of the year. Or come to think of it, we haven't even had a proper honeymoon yet."
"You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"
"What, and you're not?"
"No comment," said Arthur, but he pulled Eames to him and down on the bed.