"Awww," Ariadne says, hands pressed together in delight, for something like the seven billionth time.
"You planned this, didn't you?" Arthur asks, coolly, glaring to the best of his ability. He tightens his arms around the neck of Bethany Reynolds as she spins in another wide circle and very nearly knocks his head into the high bedpost. He keeps glaring at Ariadne and Eames, using them as a fixed point so he doesn't get dizzy.
"No," Ariadne tells him, pressing her hands over her mouth in ill-disguised glee.
"This is so much better than anything I could ever have planned," Eames adds, rubbing at the giant print of a smiling sun on his belly. He leans forward from his perch on the dresser top, and Arthur hopes he falls. "Honestly, Arthur," Eames adds, voice filled with hopefully faked wonder, "this may be the single greatest day of my life, and I'm including the time in Berlin with the strippers and six pounds of Swiss chocolate."
"You guys are assholes," Arthur tells them, kicking his feet as Bethany spins again. This was so not better than Berlin.
"Jesus, Arthur, watch your mouth." Cobb pokes his head out from under the bed just to glare at Arthur. "I swear, one more time and I'm starting a swear jar."
"Asshole," Bethany says, laughing high and bright and loud. "Asshole, asshole, asshole."
Arthur should maybe feel bad about that, but it's sort of the bright spot in his long and humiliating day. Eames is howling in laughter, on the other side of the room. Bethany dips them low and presses a smacking kiss to the top of Arthur's head.
"Jesus Christ," Cobb mutters, before his head pops back out of sight.
Arthur makes a face, before he can stop himself, and Bethany laughs again, just as high-pitched and ear-drum-shatteringly loud. "You're so funny," she tells him, and pulls him into another hug that would be bone crushing if he had bones. Arthur pats her back awkwardly and tries not to squirm.
"No, really," Ariadne says, and—because she is a terrible person with all the soullessness of youth—smiling wide enough to make her look demented, "I didn't realize incepting foul language into a four-year-old was part of the job. Arthur, quit being a bad influence."
Eames looks like he'd probably be in tears from laughing so hard if he were capable of it. Arthur hasn't seen him this happy on a job since Yusuf found a scientific need to repeatedly tip over Arthur's chair. "I don't know, maybe if he teaches her a few more, Cobb will stop asking us to babysit."
"I'll just shoot you," Cobb says, muffled. He has one small, light blue foot sticking out from under the dust ruffle.
"Really?" Arthur asks, not really hopeful, as Bethany holds him at arm's length and eyes him in consideration. Arthur's entire professional career has consisted of taking one for the team, but he's pretty sure the way she keeps looking between him and the array of tiaras sitting on her book shelf could very well be the last straw.
"Not you," Cobb says, and rolls a pink crayon from under the bed. "You would have to stay here for another three hours. Real time." Arthur hopes he gets attacked by a wayward dust bunny.
"Look," Arthur tells Bethany, in the slightly-less-than-serious adult voice he'd been forced to master in order to carry on a conversation with James over the merits of washing his hands. Cobb was probably still bitter about how much better Arthur's methods worked in that regard, actually. He pushes her fingers away when she tries to tickle him under the chin. "I think Ariadne would really like to play with your princess crowns." He leans forward as much as he can within her tight grip. "She's feeling lonely, and needs a friend to play with."
"Oh," Bethany says, stopping suddenly. Arthur's eyes widen in fear. "We should have a princess tea party to cheer her up!"
Eames actually tumbles off the dresser top and onto the rocking chair with the force of his laughter.
This job was supposed to be easy. It was an almost legitimate job for some previously high ranking military dreamshare official who wanted to extract the location of his husband's new boyfriend's apartment from their daughter. Arthur never thought he'd see the day when they were working seedy custody battles, but apparently the desire to turn the entire team into Care Bears was too much for Ariadne to resist.
Arthur fears for the days when Cobb will have to deny his actual daughter something she wants.
"Arthur wants to be a princess," Eames insists, when Bethany tucks Arthur under her arm with a grip around his neck. He kicks out uselessly, and Eames and Ariadne cackle. Because they are assholes.
He is going to kill every single one of them. As soon as he has fingers to pull the trigger again.
Bethany laughs again, like Eames just told the best joke ever. Eames is beaming right back at her, even when she picks him up and carries him across the room by his arm. "You're so silly," she tells Eames, as she sits them around the Barbie play table. "He can't be a princess, he's a boy." She sits Arthur and Eames in the same chair. "He's blue," she adds, like Eames is an idiot.
Eames makes an unhappy noise, which doesn't go at all with his Funshine persona. "Now, Bethany, gender stereotyping doesn't make anyone happy in the end. Just because Arthur is blue doesn't mean he can't be a pretty princess, too." Bethany pauses, holding Ariadne to her chest and rocking her like a baby. She looks at Eames like he makes sense, and Arthur elbows him. It doesn't stop him, of course. It never does. "It's unfair to deny him the right to become whatever he would choose because of the way that you see him." Eames adds with some amount of finality and good cheer, "Perhaps inside, Arthur is a much prettier pink that our Ariadne."
"So Arthur can be a princess?" Bethany asks, head tilted to the side, like she's thinking very hard about the concept. Arthur kicks Eames really hard under the table where she can't see, but doesn't argue the point.
"Arthur can be whatever he chooses," Eames says, wrapping a fuzzy yellow arm around Arthur's neck. "Anyone," he says, correcting himself, "can be whatever they choose."
"Wow," Cobb says, peeking out from under the bed again, "we're just incepting all willy-nilly now."
Arthur looks at him in horror. "Did you really just say willy-nilly?"
Cobb, of course, is unrepentant.
Eames tsks at him. "We are performing a valuable service on the future of society, Cobb," he defends, and tightens his arm around Arthur.
"I want to be a princess, though," Bethany says, with a look on her face like she would like to stomp her foot but realizes she isn't supposed to. Ariadne looks comfortable where she's delicately cradled in her arms.
Eames tilts his head in consideration and pokes Arthur in the eye with is fuzzy ear. Arthur pushes him back by his heart-shaped nose. "I would like to be a pirate."
Bethany drops Ariadne in her sudden excitement and steps over her to make her way back to Arthur and Eames. It makes Arthur feel oddly better. "I want to be a pirate, too! I want to be a pirate princess!"
"An excellent career choice," Eames tells her, still beaming. He presses a kiss to Arthur's cheek. "We'll need eye patches," he says, very seriously.
Bethany claps her hands. "Okay! I'll find them and then we can go find the treasure under the X!" Then she proceeds to open what has to be an endless toy box and pull items out one by one, tossing them over her shoulder as she rejects them.
Ariadne climbs up into the low chair opposite of Arthur and Eames. Cobb finally emerges from under the bed, covered in dust and clutching a crayon-drawn treasure map.
Arthur glares at Eames, who is the personification of Webster's definition of smug. "I am going to kill you."
"You love me far too much for that," Eames insists. "Look, we're made for each other. I'm the sunshine to your gloom." He pats the raincloud on Arthur's belly.
"I hate you a lot," Arthur tells him, batting Eames' hands away and crossing his arms in front of his chest. "I want a divorce."
"There is no divorce in Incept-a-Lot," Cobb says regally, climbing up in the last chair at the table without a hint of a smile.
Arthur groans, at the pun and the renewed horror of his entire life.
Ariadne just raises a Beauty and the Beast style teacup with both hands in the direction of Arthur and Eames. "Cheer up, emo kid. It's your wedding day!"
"So, so much better than Berlin," Eames says, sighing happily and leaning into Arthur's side.