Arthur's smiling, really smiling, the smile that shows his dimples and illuminates his whole body. Eames wants that smile turned on him, but Arthur's looking at Cobb. Eames can't see Cobb's face from where he's sitting, but he's pretty sure Cobb's finally waking up, back from limbo, back from eternity. Better late than never. They've started their descent.
He waits 'til he can catch Arthur's eye, and smirks at him. Arthur's eyes narrow, but he's still smiling, and Eames can't wait to get him on his own. There's a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of miscommunication to correct, but for the first time in years he's starting to believe that he and Arthur --
The flight attendant -- Miranda, according to her nametag -- bustles past Eames, and he smiles reflexively up at her. (A little harmless flirtation never hurt anyone, never mind that sour-grapes expression that Arthur's wearing.)
"Excuse me?" says Cobb, waving at Miranda. "That gentleman there -- he doesn't look well."
There's something ugly, panic or worse, in Cobb's voice, and Eames' muscles are instantly tense with the dream-born urge to act. Across the aisle, Arthur's smile has twisted into that fearsome scowl. In front of Arthur, Ariadne's craning forward watching Miranda, who's bending down (nice arse) to shake the passenger in the next seat forward. Saito. Saito's in the seat in front of Ariadne, across from Cobb, and Cobb's visibly sweating.
Miranda turns to glare at Cobb. She knows, Eames reminds himself. Saito probably handpicked her for this shift: he definitely paid her enough to hook them up and press the plunger, to watch over them while they slept, and to keep quiet about it. She knows they were up to something; she knows, now, that something went wrong.
Everyone in the cabin knows what happened down there, how time stretched and warped so that they lived weeks between the click of the button and the moment of waking. Everyone, that is, except Fischer: and because Fischer's here, awake and aware and probably wondering what the fuck that weird dream was all about, none of the rest of them can say a word. If Miranda would just acknowledge that she's in on the game, maybe they could do something. But she's grim-faced, hurrying aft behind the curtain, returning in seconds with a first aid kit.
Fuck, thinks Eames. He can see Cobb's fist clenched on the armrest of his seat. He can't look at Arthur, because he's afraid of what he'll see. If Saito doesn't make it, then it was all for nothing. (Not quite for nothing, Eames reminds himself. They pulled off inception, after all. They're the first. They'll go down in the annals of dreamshare as -- what? Pioneers? Or pariahs?)
The PA crackles and hums. "If there is a doctor on board the plane, please could they make themselves known to a member of the flight crew?" From beyond the curtain, in economy, there's a murmur of alarm. But nobody comes forward.
"We'll be on the ground in fifteen minutes," says Miranda to Cobb. (Of course to Cobb: Saito, or his representative, would have told her who was top dog in this particular travelling circus.) "I'll have the pilot radio ahead: there'll be a medical team waiting." Her hands are busy with a defibrillator -- it's smaller and neater than the one he'd dreamt up in the third level -- but it's beeping. Eames can see Saito's hand, lolling like a corpse's against Miranda's nylon-smooth knee. He feels sick, and it's not just the change in air pressure or the slight turbulence as the 747 sinks down through the cloud layer towards America.
"Mr Eames?" There's a touch on his arm, diverting his attention. Arthur's reached over, and is speaking softly and quickly. "I don't think I'm going to be able to make that meeting."
Eames shakes his head. "No. Of course not." He hopes Arthur doesn't think so poorly of him as to imagine that their rendezvous is his primary concern right now.
"But you can reach me on this number -- here," and Arthur's passing him a scrap of paper torn from the in-flight magazine. Of course a simple business card would be far too much like commitment for Arthur, Eames reflects bitterly; then mocks himself because, as a matter of fact, he doesn't carry one either.
"I'll call you," he says. Can't even say, "Try not to get arrested helping Cobb," because it's obvious, and because Fischer's up there listening, and even if Saito's ambitious business strategy seems likely to be buried with him, Fischer can't ever know what happened down there.
Eames can imagine the headlines already. JAPANESE ENERGY MOGUL DEAD OF HEART ATTACK, it'll say on page four. And on page one, FUGITIVE DOM COBB ARRESTED AT LAX FOR MURDER OF WIFE.
As if murder was the worst crime they'd committed.