“What the hell do you want Eames?” Arthur snapped as he avoided the cemetery. His gun was drawn out to his side as his gaze shifted, looking for any sign of projections.
“Oh, nothing in particular,” Eames said with mock lightness. “I just want to know what the hell you got us into, love.”
“Me?” Arthur stressed as he turned towards Eames with a pointed glare. “You were the one who accepted this job. You assured me this would be a walk in the park. You…” Arthur stopped when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t hesitate to shoot. “You dragged me into this.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Eames said soothingly as he tried to calm down Arthur. He saw the deadly glint in Arthur’s eyes, which was always a bad sign. Arthur might turn the barrel of the gun toward him. He couldn’t resist anyways. “I thought you researched this bloke as a hunter.”
“Don’t say a word,” Arthur warned.
Eames knew when to keep his mouth shut. But after shooting at vampires, werewolves, and watching his bullets shoot through a ghost, he couldn’t hold back. “These are not normal projections.”
“You think,” Arthur yelled as they ran from the ghost. “The subject either has a really active imagination, or…this is what his subconscious is.”
“I feel like I’m in one of those bloody American video games,” stated Eames.
“That’s it,” Arthur stopped running to watch black smoke coming out of the young girl’s mouth. It was a disturbing sight to which he couldn’t avert his eyes. “This job is a wash.”
“Do you think, Jim or Bob…” Eames cursed under his breath as he watched the girl crumple to the ground after the smoke ejected out of her mouth. “…Our extractor has enough time to get what he needed?”
The team was separated the moment they went under. It was by chance Eames met up with Arthur who was being chased by a werewolf at the time.
“Doesn’t matter.” Arthur turned the barrel of the gun at Eames and pulled the trigger, aiming at a projection hovering over Eames’ shoulder. “We’re done,” he said in a deadly tone.
Eames sighed. He suspected the majority of Arthur’s anger was directed at him for not realizing what would happen when they entered subject’s mind. Nobody could predict this monstrosity of a war zone.
“You might be right. This might be a little much for me. Do you want to do the honor and do me, love?” Eames wiggled his brows at Arthur’s gun.
“God, don’t tempt me,” said Arthur in an exasperated tone. He turned his gun toward his temple and prepared to pull the trigger. His eyes never left Eames, which was why he paused when he saw Eames’ gaze fixed on something over his shoulder. “What is it?”
Eames wrinkled his brows in concentration. “Did our dear Ariadne plan to have the Hellmouth here?”
“What are you talking about?” Arthur lowered his gun and turned to find a yawning round chasm several feet away from him.
The supposed Hellmouth spewed sulfuric gas. An uncomfortable red glow radiated from the center. The chasm, unfortunately, continued to expand. It also appeared to be drawing in anything near the mouth, which included Arthur and Eames.
Both Arthur and Eames went down onto their stomach, being knocked down by a sudden gust of wind. They attempted unsuccessfully to grasp onto something stationary as they were pulled backwards into the yawning maw.
“This thing will most likely kill us, right?” Eames yelled over at Arthur.
“Most likely,” Arthur shouted back.
Eames winked over at Arthur. “Lovely. I’ll see you on the other side of hell then.” With that, he released the telephone pole to which he managed to cling and tumbled into the Hellmouth. He thought he heard Arthur swore into the wind before following after him. Eames felt the scorching heat against his back as he tumbled over the edge. He wasn’t too worried. They’ll wake up soon enough.
Arthur’s eyes snapped open as his chair tipped sideways. His arms flailed as he landed on something soft. His chest heaved as he tried to gather his bearings. Did someone wake him through a kick? That didn’t make sense though. They fell into a vortex of hell. Arthur should have woken in a lounge chair in an isolated rented home. He managed to roll onto his back. On the ground, he blinked at the ceiling where he found bright spotlights and…cameras?
“And…cut!” Someone shouted from afar. “Let’s try one more go at that, but this time I want Dileep to push Joe backwards.”
Arthur tensed as he felt his heart rate increase. Something wasn’t right. He felt many people moving around, a constant chatter, and equipment shifting. Then he saw Eames leaning over and looking down at him. The forger’s brows furrowed as he gazed at Arthur with concern.
“Alright there, Arthur?” Eames asked in a hushed tone as he extended his hand toward Arthur.
For some reason, seeing Eames calmed Arthur. They came through together. He accepted the hand and worked himself back to his feet. “Eames, are we…” Arthur stopped as soon as he caught the full sight of his surroundings.
Arthur and Eames were standing in the exact same warehouse Arthur leased in Paris for the team. The same warehouse Cobb and the others plotted for inception. However, something was terribly wrong. Only half of the warehouse was what Arthur recalled. The other half sported a crew of people with cameras at every angle. People were wheeling carts of equipment. There were separate stations where clusters of people stood around discussing and planning the next scene.
Automatically Arthur started to reach for his gun, but he found that it was missing. Eames reached out to grab Arthur’s arm at the bend of the elbow in warning. Arthur looked up at Eames to see him shaking his head slightly.
“Best play along and figure out what’s happening,” murmured Eames.
“I can tell you what’s going on,” hissed Arthur as he yanked his arm away from Eames. “This looks like we’re in a middle of a movie production.”
“Thank you for pointing out the obvious, Arthur,” Eames said drily as he glared down at Arthur. “I couldn’t figure that out on my lonesome without you,” he continued mockingly.
Arthur shot his own glare back at Eames. He was about to say more when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He tensed. Years of training had him reaching for the offence. Grabbing onto the hand, he bent the wrist, and turned his body while twisting the arm back.
The boy yelped in pain as he swore and tried to break free from Arthur’s hold. The teen was lanky, wearing clothes draped loosely around him. He had his headphones around this neck, and he wore a cap over a mop of hair. Arthur realized the boy wasn’t a threat and released him immediately.
“You’re attracting attention, darling,” Eames said softly with amusement.
Surely enough people watched them. Arthur had to somehow defuse this situation. He forced a smiled, trying not to look threatening. “I’m sorry,” he apologized to the teen. “I was just practicing.”
“Sure, sure,” said the teen doubtfully as he shook his arm from the pain. “Good one, Mr. Gordon-Levitt. I came to tell you that you’re needed at makeup.”
“Thank you.” Arthur kept his expression neutral at what the young man called him. He watched the teen bob his head, excusing himself. He swore he heard something about “stuck up actors” as he watched the young man leave.
Arthur turned to find Eames grinning widely at him. “What are you smiling at?”
“Better run along and put some more powder on your nose, love,” said Eames cheekily.
Arthur frowned with annoyance. “I don’t have makeup on.” He reached up to rub his fingertips over his cheek. He glanced down at his fingers. His brows furrowed as he rubbed his thumb over powder and makeup foundation. “Shit.”
Eames chuckled as he placed his hands on either side of Arthur’s shoulder and steered him towards the makeup station. “You run along now and get your makeup fixed.”
“What are you going to do?” Arthur shot back over his shoulder at Eames.
“I’m going to mingle for a bit to see what I can figure out.” Eames looked around at the rushing people, trying to figure out where to start.
Arthur nodded. That was a good idea. “I’ll see what I can find out too.”
Eames cocked an eyebrow at Arthur. “Try not to kill someone while you’re interrogating them.”
Arthur rolled his eyes and shrugged Eames’ hands off his shoulder. He marched over to a station where a middle-aged woman waited. She smiled at Arthur and indicated him to sit. The back of the chair had the name Joseph Gordon-Levitt engraved on the back. He stored that in the back of his mind.
A few stations over, he saw Yusuf sitting in a chair labeled Dileep Rao. Sensing someone watching him, Dileep looked up and smiled at Arthur. “Good show, Joe. There isn’t anything like being knocked around in the morning, yeah?”
Arthur’s lips twisted into a smile and nodded. He took a seat and glanced at himself in the mirror. He also saw the makeup lady hovering over his shoulder.
“Let’s put some touch-up on your face shall we, Joe?” She dipped her little finger in a jar and gently applied the foundation on Arthur’s face.
Arthur kept still, trying not to flinch under the women’s administration. Then he remembered he was supposed to gather information. “So…um…” He cleared his throat. “How’s your day?”
“Honestly, it’s too early to tell.” The women glanced at Arthur’s reflection before smoothing the smudges on Arthur’s chin. “You have a full day of filming, and it just begun.”
“Oh,” Arthur said for lack of anything else to say.
“Is something wrong, Joe?” his makeup lady asked with a slight frown of concern marring her lips. “You seem a little off today.”
“How so?” Arthur asked carefully.
“Well,” She prolonged the word in thought, “you’re usually more chatty than you are now.”
“Really?” Arthur logged that information away. His fingers twitched, wanting to reach for his totem. These projections, if they were projections, acted too friendly.
“Hey, are you worried about the next scene? Wait. Let me guess. You didn’t get all your parts memorized yet. Well, how could you? I mean…you just got the script this morning. Of course I would be frustrated too. But you’re so good at what you do that this is probably nothing for you.”
Arthur’s makeup lady glanced down at the table, bringing Arthur’s attention to a stack of papers. He reached for them and began skimming their contents. His eyes widened after reading several pages. He needed to find Eames.
“Places everyone!” someone shouted from somewhere behind him.
Arthur stood up and stepped away from his chair before he remembered his manners. “Um…thank you for…” He pointed generally at his face then turned toward the set, trying to scan for Eames.
However, before he could begin his search, he was directed toward the set. He was seated back in the stiff, high-back chair. When he looked up, his shoulder sagged at the sight of people lining up horizontally in front of him. There were about several sets of cameras and adjustable lights. They appeared to be waiting for something.
“You ready, Joe?” Arthur’s eyes located the man addressing him who was seated on the high chair. He figured this man was the director.
The director leaned forward in his chair. “Joe?”
“Yeah, I’m ready,” said Arthur. Everyone watched him and waited.
“Hey, act like you’re asleep,” muttered Dileep Rao.
Oh, thought Arthur as he took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest. Placing his hands on his lap, he tried to act relaxed.
“Rolling in three, two…”
Arthur heard a snap from somewhere and then moments later he felt a pair of hands on his chest. He was tipped and fell backwards into the mats. Opening his eyes he found Eames standing a few paces behind him, leaning against the table. Eames sported an indescribable expression.
“Joe,” started the director. Arthur twisted on the mat to see the man. “That was great, but do you think you can wake during the fall and act more startled.”
“Yeah, sure,” Arthur said neutrally as he picked himself up and sat back in the chair.
“Great, let’s try that again,” said the director. He waved his hand for the cameras to keep rolling.
Arthur pretended to be asleep in the chair and waited to be pushed. When he started to fall, he made sure his eyes snapped open with his arms flail outward in attempt to break his fall. He landed on the mat while hearing Eames laughing.
They had to take that scene several more times before the director, who Arthur found out to be named Christopher Nolan, was satisfied. He said he wanted options to choose from. Arthur complied, wanting to get this over with so he could drag Eames off somewhere private in order to figure how to get out of this.
Finally, Nolan was satisfied. Arthur took Eames off the set to somewhere quiet. “What did you find out?” Arthur demanded as he weaved away from the crowd of people. He reached into his pocket for his totem.
“We’re actors: Tom Hardy,” Eames pointed at himself, “and you’re Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We’re apparently filming some mega blockbuster movie.”
“Inception,” informed Arthur.
“I beg your pardon?”
“They’re filming what we’ve done a year ago.” Arthur stopped when he found a secluded area. He reached for his totem and palmed it into his hand. “Have you checked your totem?”
“You mean you haven’t yet?” Eames sounded shocked.
Arthur spared a moment to glare at Eames before ignoring him completely. He casted the die and then frowned at what he saw. He casted the die again and once more.
“By the troubled look on your face, you’re getting the same result I did.”
“This isn’t a dream,” concluded Arthur. “What is this then?”
“Well, I came up with a couple of ideas while you were being pushed off your chair.” Eames ticked the possibilities on his fingers. “We could be in hell.”
Arthur looked unconvinced. “Why would hell have us as actors?”
“You never know. This could be our personal hell,” said Eames seriously. “We did fall through a Hellmouth, didn’t we? All right then, if hell isn’t a possibility then that only leaves alternative reality. We fell through the rabbit hole and landed in a different world.”
“God, damn it,” Arthur punctuated. He couldn’t believe what he heard. “We’re not in fucking Wonderland, Eames.”
Eames crossed his arms, looking annoyed. “I don’t see you coming up with any other ideas, love.”
Arthur’s lips thinned into a straight line. “We just need to do a little research, find out a little more about this…” Arthur searched for an appropriate word, “situation, then proceed on getting us back to our reality.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan, but it’ll have to keep until we’re done here.” Eames nodded at something over Arthur’s shoulder.
Arthur turned and froze as he saw Cobb entering the set. “Cobb?”
“Careful, Arthur,” whispered Eames. “They are not who they appear they are.”
Arthur nodded as he watched Cobb, who turned toward them. People around him greeted him as Leo.
Leo approached them with a wave. His smile practically beamed. “There you two are. Ready to perform inception.”
Eames placed a calming hand on Arthur’s shoulder, trying to convey to Arthur silently that he would handle this. “Yeah, we are.”
Leo gave them an odd look. “You two look pretty intense there. Are you practicing or something?”
“Yeah, yeah, something like that. Very intense stuff we have here.” Eames smiled trying to look casual.
Leo raised his eyebrows and nodded, seeming to buy into Eames’ lie. “Oh, hold on.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and took a picture of both Eames and Arthur. He then started tapping on his phone. “Caught Tom and Joe practicing their lines.”
Leo waved his phone at Eames and Arthur before tucking it away. “Daily Tweets. Hey, I’ll see you in a moment.”
Arthur exchanged looks with Eames. “That was surreal,” Arthur stated once they were alone again.
“Tell me about it, love,” concurred Eames. “If ever I see Cobb smile at me like that, I’ll deck him.”
“Get ready, everyone!” Someone shouted on the set.
Eames grinned. “Looks like that’s our cue.”
Arthur nodded. A sudden dread washed over him. He stiffened. “I have to act.”
“It won’t be so bad.” Eames patted Arthur on the shoulder with reassurance. “Just be yourself, literally. They’re filming inception. How hard could it be to reanimate what we’ve done, hmm?”
“Just be yourself,” mocked Arthur as they finally left the set. It was dusk by the time they wrapped up. “That’s a bunch of bullshit, Eames.”
“I’m figuring this out along with you, Arthur,” Eames snapped back.
“Said the forger,” grumbled Arthur. “Acting should be second nature to you.”
“Said the point man who can recall in perfect clarity conversations you had a year ago,” argued Eames.
Arthur quickly found that he couldn’t act. Eames apparently couldn’t remember all his lines. Arthur suddenly felt put upon. “We both got burned with the positioning…thing.”
“Whoever thought of putting tape on the ground is a pillock,” complained Eames. “How can anyone find those pieces of tape where your feet are supposed to be without looking down?”
Arthur and Eames were finally outside wandering around the buildings. They didn’t bother asking for any assistance, lest they looked suspicious. After trial and error, they managed to find Tom Hardy’s trailer.
Arthur followed Eames into the trailer. He was certain his trailer was nearby; however, he thought it was better to stay together.
He paused once he glanced inside the trailer. The trailer wasn’t anything he expected from Eames. The interior looked formal. A leather couch lined one wall with a dark wooden coffee table set in front. An aquarium bubbled quietly in one corner. A massive flat screen covered the far end along with speakers. Arthur stood on plush Asian carpet.
By the look on Eames’ expression, Arthur figured this wasn’t his taste either. “This is all very posh,” Eames said with disbelief.
“I didn’t know you had it in you,” Arthur deadpanned.
“Piss off,” Eames turned for the cooler hoping to find anything with alcohol. After this day, they both needed something a bit stronger. “Drink?”
Arthur shook his head as he continued scanning the trailer. “Oh, thank God,” he breathed as he found a laptop. He tucked himself at the table and powered the laptop on. Arthur swore, “Damn, password protected.”
Beer bottle in hand, Eames peered over Arthur’s shoulder. “Move aside pet, and let me crack the code.”
Arthur looked dubious but shifted out of the way. He chose the moment to take a closer look around the trailer. His search led him to a selection of movies near the flat screen. He scanned the titles briefly: RockNRolla, Layer Cake, and Bronson. Curious, Arthur took out the DVD Bronson.
His eyes widened at the sight of the cover. There he found Eames posed under a spotlight, head shaven and muscle upon muscle on his upper body. Arthur found he couldn’t look away.
Arthur nearly dropped the DVD when he heard Eames swore. “How hard can it be to crack into an actor’s computer?”
“Have you tried leaving it blank and pressing enter?” suggested Arthur as he placed the DVD back on the shelf.
“That’s not gong to work…” Eames pressed the enter key with a click. He blinked with surprise as the home screen popped up. He shook his head and threw his hands up with disbelief. “What kind of bloody git leaves his computer unprotected like that?”
Arthur kept his lips sealed. He didn’t want to engage in a verbal barb at the moment. “Just find something useful,” he grated.
“Yes, dear,” Eames said sarcastically.
Arthur gave Eames a ‘you are pathetic’ look before working his way to the closet area. He raised an eyebrow at what he found. This Tom Hardy had style. Arthur didn’t dwell on that thought for long. He had work to do. He rummaged through the clothes until he found what he was looking for: a wallet.
Before he could open the wallet, he heard Eames’ chuckle behind him. Arthur looked up, curious. “What’s so funny?”
Eames looked like he was caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar. “Um, nothing that would interest you, Arthur. Just carry on with what you were doing.”
Arthur’s eyes narrowed with suspicion as he made his way toward Eames. Eames tried without success to cover the screen. Arthur’s brows twitched with irritation. “I thought you were suppose to research something useful.”
“This is useful,” argued Eames. “Finding out who we are supposed to be is very important so we can stay in character. I started by searching Joseph Gordon-Levitt. One thing led to another, and I came up with this little gem.” Eames gestured to the screen at the YouTube video.
“What the hell?” breathed Arthur, as he looked on, horrified.
Eames smirked, “That is you, my dear Arthur. Acting in a popular sitcom: 3rd Rock from the Sun.”
“A sitcom?” Arthur brought a hand up to rub his brows with incredulity.
Eames grinned, obviously enjoying Arthur’s discomfort. “Oh, yes. It’s about aliens coming to Earth to examine human behaviors by being human. Genius. This thing ran for six long seasons. You practically grew up on the show, starting out pretty young. Look, here you are having a baby spit up on you, and there’s one with your long locks braded into pigtails and dressed…”
“Enough.” Arthur had no words to describe how he felt at that moment. The long hair was another thing altogether. He pushed Eames out of the way and quickly closed out of YouTube. “By something useful, I mean anything that might explain where we are and how to get out,” Arthur grounded out through clenched teeth.
Eames laughed out right, easily moving out of Arthur’s way. “Okay, okay, don’t get your knickers into a bind. You do what you do best, and I’ll get out of your way, hmm.”
“Here.” Arthur slid the wallet across the table over to Eames. “It’s Hardy’s wallet. Maybe there’s something useful.”
Without missing a beat, Arthur concentrated on the computer screen. His fingers flew across the keyboard as his eyes quickly scanned the content he found.
Eames pocketed the wallet without comment and went back toward the closet. “Just a reminder, Arthur, we need to give our costumes back to the dressing lady.”
Arthur made a noise in acknowledgment but didn’t bother looking up from the computer. Eames smiled fondly at Arthur before he doffed his jacket and shirt. “Ah,” Eames became startled when he glanced at the mirror.
“What is it?” Arthur inquired when he heard Eames’ surprised shout. He nearly rose out of seat to investigate when Eames stepped forth, pointing at his chest.
“Do you see what I’m seeing?” asked Eames, still pointing at his bare chest.
Arthur raised he eyebrows, baffled. “Is there something wrong with your chest?”
“Bloody hell yes, there’s something wrong here.” Eames glanced down and then looked at his arms. He shuddered.
“Eames?” started Arthur with concern. He honestly didn’t know why Eames was stressed. “Explain. I’m not following you.”
“The tattoos,” Eames stressed.
Arthur blinked. He still didn’t understand what Eames was getting at. “What about the tattoos?” Arthur finally replied.
“What?” Eames brows furrowed at Arthur. “Arthur, I don’t have tattoos.”
Oh, Arthur never seen Eames’ bare chest before, therefore, wouldn’t know he had any tattoos. “Interesting.”
“Interesting? Is that all you can say?” Eames nearly screeched. He looked down his right arm before flexing it for Arthur to see. “There’s a wee angry leprechaun etched on my arm here.”
“I’m sure it meant something to Hardy.” Arthur’s eyes shifted over the rest of the tattoos on Eames’ body. He found his attraction peaked as he gazed at all the tattoos highlighting Eames’ toned biceps and chest. “They suit you.”
Eames paused in his triad to stare at Arthur. “Did you say these tattoos suit me, love?”
Arthur blinked, coming back to himself. He tore his gaze away from Eames to focus on the computer screen. Arthur waved his hand at Eames. “Put a shirt on, Eames.” Arthur forced himself to keep reading. His skin prickled as he felt Eames staring at him. He was certain Eames was smiling. Damn him.
Finally, Arthur heard rustling of fabric. He chanced a glance over at Eames. He let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding when he saw Eames changing into a plain shirt and simple slacks.
“Did you find anything?” asked Eames as he brought another chair over to sit next to Arthur. He set an elbow on the table and rested his chin in his open palm. He wiggled his brow suggestively.
Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes in exasperation as he resisted Eames’ flirting antics. “None of my sources are available. My numerous email accounts don’t exist here.”
“What does that mean?” Eames sounded serious as he peered over at the computer screen.
“Well,” Arthur typed something into the search engine. “It means that dream sharing doesn’t exist here.” He turned the laptop so that Eames could have a better view. “A general search on the PASIV only came up with information about the movie Inception.”
“What about the military? They use the PASIV for training purposes,” said Eames.
Arthur shook his head. “Not here they don’t.”
Eames slumped back in his chair, looking apprehensive. “What do we do now?”
Arthur frowned in concentration as he continued his search. He remained silent until he powered down the laptop. “I want to take a look at the PASIV stored in the set.”
“But you just said…”
“I know what I said Eames,” interrupted Arthur. “There might be a chance that the PASIV hooked to me when I first woke up here is real.”
Eames’ eyes brightened at the slight glimmer of hope. “Then what are we waiting for?”
Arthur sighed as he stowed the laptop in a pack. It was a slim chance, but he was willing to investigate. He slung the pack over his shoulder and prepared the leave the trailer. “Oh, don’t forget your clothes,” he said over his shoulder at Eames. “Cover story to return back to the set.”
“I figured that,” said Eames as he followed Arthur out of the trailer. “What are you looking for?”
Arthur walked as he searched. “I’m looking for my trailer. I need to change.” It didn’t take long for Arthur to find Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s trailer. He pushed the laptop case into Eames’ arms and said, “Stay here.”
“You mean I don’t get to see what’s inside your trailer, love.” Eames sounded put upon.
“No,” answered Arthur abruptly. “Stand watch.”
“Right, like someone is going to come and kidnap the great actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s probably not as popular…” Eames grumbled.
Arthur left Eames complaining outside his trailer as he quickly shut the door behind him. He was surprised how bare his trailer was compared to Eames – only having the necessities. Arthur shook his head, figuring Joseph was a plain actor. He made a
beeline path to his closet. He opened the door and was stunned at the selection of wardrobe he had to choose from.
He took a calming breath before reaching for his new clothes. As he changed, he made sure he didn’t have any surprising marks on his body: tattoos or funny looking birthmarks. Luckily there weren’t any major changes.
Dreading Eames’ reaction, Arthur stepped out of his trailer. He wasn’t disappointed. Eames took one look at Arthur before doubling over with mirth.
“Bloody hell,” Eames said between chuckles. “You look gorgeous.”
Arthur crossed his arms and waited for Eames to sober. He chose to wear a blue T-shirt that said “I ♥ NY” across his chest and dark faded jeans. Joseph didn’t have anything else besides T-shirts and jeans. “Are you done?” Arthur asked stoically.
Eames straightened and cleared his throat. “I have to comment Arthur. You look more intense wearing a tee than your three-piece. Maybe you should start wearing them more often.”
Arthur’s expression darkened dramatically, which only caused Eames’ smile to broaden. Arthur’s shoulder sagged. This argument wasn’t worth raising his blood pressure. He pushed past Eames. “Let’s get this over with.”
“After you, darling,” Eames said cheekily as he followed suit.
The set was dim, with nearly everyone gone for the night. Both Arthur and Eames went to costumes to drop off their “costumes” then went further into the set. It didn’t take long for them to find the props locked in a small room.
“Eames?” addressed Arthur as he studied the lock.
“With pleasure.” Eames knelt and made quick work of the lock and opened the door. “Well, look at this treasure trove of…”
“What?” Arthur immediately became alert as he tried to peer around Eames’ broad shoulders. Then his eyes widened when he saw what Eames’ saw.
Totems – lying in separate boxes were a few dozen totems: Cobbs’ top, Arthur’s loaded die, Eames’ chips and Ariadne’s chess piece. Arthur’s hand immediately went to his totem tucked in his jean pocket. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Eames do the same.
“Eames,” breathed Arthur. Their reality was about to be turned on its head. “Our totems are real,” Arthur said as much to convince himself.
“Right, right.” Eames tore his gaze away from the totems and started scanning elsewhere. “Now where’s that PASIV?”
They searched the room. After going through the boxes of plastic guns and notebooks, they found half dozen PASIVs. Together they opened each case to authenticate them. Unfortunately, all of them were fake.
“Damn it,” Arthur growled as he slammed the last case closed and shoved it aside in disgust.
“It was a good shot in the dark, Arthur,” Eames said, sounding deflated as well.
Arthur’s mind raced, trying to figure out their next step. His thoughts were rudely interrupted when he realized they weren’t alone.
“What are you two doing here?” questioned Nolan.
Arthur plastered a smile on his expression before turning to face the director. “I thought to return some stuff.” He took out his die and waved it at Nolan, hoping he’d let it be.
“Okay,” Nolan cocked an eyebrow over at Eames, “and you?”
“Me?” Eames brought a hand up to rub the back of his neck. He then stuck a thumb out at Arthur. “I’m making sure Joe here doesn’t get lost.”
Nolan scrunched his expression with uncertainty, but he didn’t question further. “Look, I’m glad that you two are getting along fantastically and taking your work seriously, but you boys call it a night, yeah. We’ll start again tomorrow morning.”
“Alright,” both Arthur and Eames responded together.
Nolan wanted to say more, but instead he shook his head and turned away from them. He might have mumbled something about actors.
Arthur let a sigh of relief before elbowing Eames in the side. “You, what the hell was that…I’m making sure Joe doesn’t get lost crap?”
“It was the best I could think up at the moment,” Eames stated as he rubbed at his sore side where Arthur nudged him.
Arthur shook his head as he exited the storage closet. “Let’s go.”
“And where pray tell are we going?” asked Eames.
“My place.” Arthur pulled out his wallet, which contained Joe’s driver’s license. He handed it to Eames. “I have a home here. We should go there to regroup.”
Arthur and Eames arrived at Joseph’s mansion via by taxi. Arthur was certain Joseph drove to work, but he didn’t want to bother finding his car and deal with other minor details.
Arthur thought there shouldn’t be any more surprises that night as he paid the driver. Both he and Eames walked the long pathway leading to the front door.
“To be young, rich, and famous,” Eames said wistfully.
“Eames,” Arthur started with irritation, “we are all of those things.”
“Yes.” Eames waved a finger at Arthur. “In the underground world. We certainly can’t flaunt our money in broad daylight like this.”
Eames had a point, thought Arthur as he fiddled with the keys and lock. “Oh god,” Arthur whispered as he stepped through the door. The surprises weren’t quite over yet.
The entrance hall was massive, with a high ceiling and spiral stairs leading to the second floor. The hallways were titled with colorful rugs running up the center. The atrium opened into three rooms: the entertainment room, the living room, and the kitchen.
What stunned Arthur was the décor. He saw several electric guitars, a drum set, and posters of various rock bands. There was a massive flat screen in the living room with several game consoles lined up. In the entertainment room, he noticed a pool table, a foosball table, and a couple of arcade games lined against the wall.
“This is bloody fantastic,” exclaimed Eames. His eyes lit up like a child in a toy store. “You have toys. I think I like this version of you in this universe.” Eames went straight into the entertainment room and began fiddling with…everything.
Arthur suppressed a groan as he followed Eames deeper into the house. He flinched when Eames turned on the stereo, playing loud rock music.
Eames bobbed to the rhythm, smiling broadly. “I didn’t know you love rock n’ rolla, love,” he shouted over the din.
Arthur managed to restrain himself from bringing both hands to cover his ears. He reached over and turned off the stereo. “That’s because I don’t, Eames…”
Eames was already moving onto the next thing that caught his attention: the pool table. “Hey, go a few rounds with me, Arthur.”
Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose with frustration before taking in a calm breath. He then efficiently yanked the pool stick out Eames’ hands. Subconsciously he held the pool stick like a weapon. “Eames, we don’t have time for this.”
“Spoil sport,” sighed Eames. He then straightened and went to the corner mini bar. “Sweetheart, at the moment neither of us have any idea how to get out of this reality. We’re not in any immediate danger unless we have to deal with the paparazzi. I say we should relax a bit. Let me make you a drink, and maybe an idea will come to us.”
Arthur settled onto the barstool and took out the laptop. Eames could do what he pleased, but Arthur was going to try to figure out how to get them back even if he had to…
An idea struck like a lightening bolt as he refocused on the computer. His lips twitched slightly upward as he refined his search. This might work, Arthur thought successfully.
Eames placed Arthur’s drink on the table as he took a sip out of his glass. “Looks like you found something. Care to share, or are you going to keep a bloke in the dark?”
Arthur spared a quick glance over at Eames before concentrating on the computer again. “How much time have you spent with Yusuf?”
Eames’ brows furrowed as he tried to piece together what Arthur was getting at. “Enough,” he said vaguely.
“Do you think you can recreate the compound?” Arthur could barely contain his excitement.
Eames finished the rest of his drink in one shot before answering. “I’ve assisted Yusuf enough times that I can…” Eames paused, staring hard at Arthur. “Are you thinking about doing what I think you’re doing, love?”
Arthur knew Eames wasn’t an idiot, so he confirmed his thoughts. “I’m planning on building the PASIV.”
“That has to be…” Eames narrowed his eyes. “Can you do that?” Eames watched one of Arthur’s delicate brows arched and sighed, “Of course you can. What was I thinking asking such a silly question?”
Arthur nodded. “I’ve managed the PASIV enough to get the mechanics. I need to know if you can create the compound.”
“Sure, sure,” said Eames. “I think I can pull it off, at least come close to what Yusuf mixes up. If not, the worst case scenario will be turning into a vegetable once we’re hooked up.”
Arthur gave Eames a patient look before reaching for his wallet. “Access to dream sharing will be our answer.” It was a wild guess, but it was better than nothing, thought Arthur. He pulled out several credit cards. One thing great about being an actor was the limitless amount of credit he could charge. He began ordering the materials online.
“You may need to create several different identities,” Arthur said as he continued his work. He needed to find a planner so he could organize and jot down his thoughts. “We can’t have the authorities tracing all of this back to us. We also need a different location where the mail can be delivered to avoid suspicion.”
“Easy.” Eames leaned his elbows onto the counter and leaned forward enough to peer around the computer screen. “You know this may take some time.”
Arthur frowned with displeasure. “We have to live as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy until this is done.”
“Oh goody,” said Eames, tone heavy with sarcasm. “More acting.”
@LeoDiCap OMG! I just saw Joe following Tom. He looks angry. http;//twitpic.com/4mi232
6 hours ago
@Junogirl Tom, what were you thinking leaving Joe’s trailer dressed like that? http;//twitpic.com/5my321.
3 hours ago
@Junogirl Look who I caught fighting on the set. http;//twitpic.com/3go868
30 minutes ago
“…Well I’m working on that,”
“Yeah, work faster. We need to get out of here before we’re completely boxed in.”
Arthur took up the plastic rifle, making sure he didn’t fling it in the air from the weight difference compared to the real one. He then marched over to the warehouse’s window, making sure he expressed tension. He pulled the chain, point, and pretended the shoot. He made sure his shoulder moved slightly back as if the gun actually discharged. This was his third or forth attempt, and Arthur didn’t want to go over it again.
Arthur found his foot placement, took two shots then took cover. It was hard not hearing the discharge and then having to react as if his life was in danger. To help, he drew upon his memory when they were trapped with Saito shot. Cobb told them about falling into limbo if they died. He remembered his failure in discovering Fischer had his subconscious militarized.
“Damn it.” Arthur’s shoulders tensed as he remembered that day.
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” Then Eames was beside Arthur, pulling that ridiculous grenade gun. However, what caused Arthur to furrow his brows and narrow his eyes at Eames was the use of darling. That wasn’t part of the script!
There would be hell to pay if Arthur had to do this over again because of the minor slip up. Nolan, however, didn’t say anything. The sequence continued. Arthur shrugged and pulled the doors open for the van to move out.
“Cut! That’s a wrap. Good work guys.” Nolan tapped his finger on his chin. “Tom, I like that little addition. Darling somehow completes the part.”
Eames grinned at the praise as Arthur tried not to roll his eyes.
“Security is gonna run you down hard.”
“Then I will lead them on a merry chase.”
“Just be back before the kick.”
“Again, still rolling,” shouted Nolan.
Arthur took a deep breath. This was the sixth time. What did Nolan want? He bent over Cobb and assisted him with the IV line.
“Security is gonna run you down hard.”
“Then I will lead them on a merry chase.”
“Just be back before the kick.”
“Alright, cut!” Nolan rubbed his brows as everyone waited silently for his next instruction. “Why don’t we take a break for a few minutes while I figure this one out.”
Arthur immediately stood up and stepped away from Leo. His legs began to cramp from crouching for so long. He distanced himself away from the rest of the group as he suddenly had an urge to bang his head against the wall.
“I know I’m suppose to act like I’m asleep,” said Eames from behind Arthur. “But I’m literally falling asleep just listening that line over and over again. It’s a good thing they only let us carry these plastic guns or I might get some fresh ideas about shooting myself.”
Arthur gave him a halfhearted glare. “That’s not how it happened.”
Eames paused. “What do you mean by that?”
Arthur, who still couldn’t believe he’s wearing makeup, resisted the urge to scrub his face with fatigue. “Don’t you remember, Eames?” Arthur hissed. “I helped you with the line, not Cobb.”
Eames bit his lower lip in thought as he tried to remember. “Now that you mentioned it, it does feel a bit off.” Then he smiled. “Arthur, I didn’t know you remembered such a smashing detail. Do you always remember all our times together, pet?”
“That’s…That’s not…” Arthur clamped his mouth into a thin line as he settled with glaring at Eames.
“I’m flattered,” Eames said with a grin.
“Tom, Joe.” Nolan approached the two, interrupting Arthur’s further denial. “Change of plan here. Joe I want you to help Tom instead of Leo. Tom you’re going to take Leo’s lines. Let’s give that a try.”
“Brilliant idea, Chris,” stated Eames who sounded too cheerful.
“You can stop grinning like an idiot now, Eames,” growled Arthur as they worked their way back to the group.
“Arthur, let me bask in the fact that you actually enjoy my company.” Eames lowered himself to the floor.
Arthur took some tape and a line from the PASIV before crouching next to Eames. He couldn’t believe how happy Eames appeared to be. “Did you actually think I hated to be around you?”
“Hate me? No.” Eames offered his wrist. “More like subtle dislike. You’re very standoffish, mind you.”
“I am not…” Arthur cut off when the crew started counting down. Arthur frowned while Eames continued to smile. This was going to be a catastrophe, thought Arthur.
“Security is gonna run you down hard.”
“Then I will lead them on a merry chase.” If Arthur said it a bit rough, nobody noticed, except for Eames, who appeared to be enjoying himself.
“Just be back before the kick.”
“Go to sleep, Mr. Eames,” Arthur said with a hint of annoyance. He nearly cringed because he knew that wasn’t in the script, but Nolan didn’t stop them.
Eames continued to smile as he rested back onto the floor and closed his eyes. Arthur went on with his part.
Arthur felt sore, not after a chase scene kind of sore but several heavy-duty workout session everyday kind of sore. He finished shooting the rotating hallway and the zero gravity. All that took several days to complete.
Arthur sunk into his chair in his trailer. He worked his neck and rubbed his shoulders trying to loosen the knots of muscles. A beginning of a tension headache nagged at the forefront of his brain. There was something for his headache, but that meant he had to get up and retrieve it. At the moment, it wasn’t worth the effort.
Arthur closed his eyes and leaned his head back. He took count what he went through that day. He had to give Nolan and the engineers credit for creating the rotating hallway. It almost felt like Arthur was back at the second dream level fending off the projections.
The worst was when he performed zero gravity. The rigs hooked to him helped, but he had to tense his whole body to make it look like he floated effortlessly. He sighed as he shifted his shoulder. Just thinking about it made his body twinge in pain.
He must have dozed because the next thing he was aware of was a pair of hands on his shoulders. His eyes snapped open, and he leaned forward trying to gain leverage. The hands on his shoulder tightened and pushed him back. Arthur had every intention struggling out of this hold until he looked up and saw Eames.
“Eames? Shit, what the hell are you doing here?!” Arthur snapped.
Eames gave Arthur an apologetic smile and shrugged his shoulder. “I’m sorry I startled you, love. I did knock.” Eames’ hands remained on Arthur’s shoulder. His thumbs began rubbing small circles at the base of Arthur’s neck.
“Eames? What are you doing?” Arthur was too tired to play Eames’ game.
“Don’t mind me,” Eames said as he increased the pressure into Arthur’s shoulder. “I’m just working on these pesky knots. Now would you just relax and let me do my magic.”
Arthur took a breath, trying to relax and not thinking about the fact that Eames was giving him a massage. This went on in silence for a couple of minutes before Eames broke the comfortable silence.
“That was great acting there, Arthur.”
“Hmm,” Arthur responded, finally beginning to relax.
“Why didn’t you tell me that happened to you while we were all down in the third dream level?”
Arthur tensed but Eames only dug into his muscles harder. “There wasn’t any need.”
Eames’ tone was soft. He didn’t miss a beat as he continued the massage. “I told you what happened on my end.”
“That’s because I asked,” Arthur said as a matter-of-fact.
“So let me get this straight. If I were to ask what happened to you, you would have told me?” Somehow, Eames sounded bewildered.
“Yes.” Arthur squinted back at Eames. Damn headache was going full swing.
Eames smiled down at Arthur with something like affection. He gave Arthur’s shoulder one last rub before stepping away from him. He went to the mini kitchenette, rummaged around, and returned back with a glass of water and two tablets.
“Don’t bother hiding it, Arthur.” Eames handed the items to Arthur. “You have a headache.”
Eames acted like he made a great discovery, causing Arthur to snort. Arthur took the offered pills and drank the full glass of water. He settled back in the chair and waited for the medication to take effect. Eames blissfully stayed silent until Arthur was ready.
After about ten minutes, Eames said softly, “Come on Arthur, let’s get home. You’ll regret it if you fall asleep here.”
Arthur waited a few more seconds before he roused enough to get onto his feet. There was more that needed to be done. “Did you get the latest package?”
Eames’ smile was positively mischievous. “Yes, but I’m not handing it over until that headache of yours goes away. That means sleep, sweetheart.”
Arthur growled, “Eames did you forget that I need to get the PASIV up and running, and you have to get the compound mixed.”
“Of course not.” Eames held the door for Arthur to exit. “Call it concern or self preservation. I don’t want you making mistakes while building the PASIV, which can potentially lead us to frying our brains into mush because you were too tired. We have the next few days off. You can work on it then ‘til your little heart’s content – within reason.”
Arthur walked toward his car. His sluggish brain attempted to wrap around the fact that Eames admitted he was concerned for his welfare out loud. Somehow that alone lifted Arthur’s spirit. Too tired to figure out what that all meant, Arthur stored that thought for another day to dwell on. For now, he tossed Eames the keys. “You’re driving.”
Arthur returned from the post office with the latest shipment. He nearly got everything in order and had been working on the PASIV every spare moment. He stepped into his home to find it dimmed. The flat screen was the only thing illuminating the living room. Eames sat on the couch, mesmerized. He was shocked to what he discovered.
"Eames, are you crying?" asked Arthur as he tried to peer around, studying Eames closely.
Eames quickly looked away, feeling embarrassed. "Not quite. This movie is fantastic." He directed Arthur’s attention to the screen.
Arthur glanced up in time to see the credits rolling. He frowned as he picked up the DVD case and glanced at the title: 500 Days of Summer. He quickly scanned the synopsis on the back. His heart sunk. "You've have got to be shitting me."
"Arthur, do you believe in love?"
"What…" Arthur’s frown deepened in confusion. "What does that have to do..."
"Please, I need to know your answer." Eames looked distressed. "In the movie, you had your faith in love dashed away. I can't bear the thought you still think that way, darling."
"Eames," Arthur said slowly. "You do realize that it's just a movie and that it's not really me acting, right?"
"I beg to differ," argued Eames. He pointed at a stack of DVDs on the coffee table. "In watching all these movies and so forth, I found there are similarities to who you are." He shrugged his shoulder. "In this world, we're doing a movie about inception. Who knows if these other movies are based on our lives as well."
Arthur brought his hand up and rubbed his brows. "That's ridiculous.” He waved the DVD in his hand at Eames before flipping it back onto the table. “I can tell you right now that this never happened to me in my lifetime. Ever. And why are you suddenly obsessed with watching films that I'm in? Didn't I tell you to research who you are?"
"Arthur," Eames said patiently. “I know you’re trying to change the topic here. I find this a great opportunity to find out a little more about you. You make it impossible to research anything legit about you back at home. You’re not particularly forthcoming when I’m trying to get to know you better. These,” Eames gestured at the DVDs, “are the next best thing.”
Arthur was slightly taken aback by the fact that Eames researched him. Yes, he made sure he kept any sensitive information difficult to access. Having information fallen in the wrong hands in the dream sharing business could be deadly. He glanced down at 500 Days of Summer and said, “That’s not me, Eames.”
Eames smirked in challenge. “Prove it.”
“I’m gay!” As soon as those words came out his mouth, Arthur paled. He had no reason to share that personal information with Eames. Yet he did. There was no time for regrets.
Eames’ eyes widened with surprise. “Arthur, then why…”
“Damn it,” Arthur cursed, effectively cutting off whatever Eames was about to say. He felt his face flushed and made his exit from the living room. He needed to be away from Eames.
Arthur climbed the stairs to the second floor to his room. He closed and locked the door. Joe’s room, Arthur found, was filled with more musical instruments along with poster boards and merchandise of something call HitRECord.
He dropped the package onto his desk, where the rest of the PASIV parts laid cluttered around. He took a calming breath before examining the blueprints. He attempted to take his mind off of Eames by focusing on something else.
Working on the PASIV only temporarily distracted his mind before his thoughts went back to Eames. Countless times, Arthur wanted to respond to Eames’ flirting, but either the timing wasn’t right or Eames himself ruined the moment. Besides, Arthur knew Eames’ history. Eames never took any of his relationships seriously. Arthur didn’t want that. However, he often thought if he had a simple fling with Eames, he could get it out of system and move on. If that were to happen, he knew he would want more. Something Eames might not be able to provide.
These feelings weren’t new. In fact, Arthur’s feeling for Eames flowed and ebbed like the tide. It helped when he spent time away from Eames, not seeing him for months at a time. However, in dream sharing, they were bound to run into each other eventually.
During a job, Arthur’s feelings of attraction would slowly grow but would never get out of control. He made sure of that. At the end, they would go their separate ways. Arthur would once again have something else to distract him until their next job together. It was clockwork. Arthur would be the first to admit it wasn’t orthodox, but he accepted that as fact.
Maybe the dimwitted romance movie was right on one account about Arthur. Maybe Arthur didn’t truly believe in love, but he was hopeful – always hopeful.
Snapping out his melancholic thoughts, Arthur looked over at his desktop computer. A thought suddenly occurred to him. If Eames had taken an interest in Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it was only fair that Arthur did a little research on Tom Hardy.
Arthur shifted over to his computer and ran a general search on Tom Hardy. He thought Wikipedia was a good place to start. He began to scan the page and found that Tom Hardy was born in London. Arthur smirked when he glanced over the filmography, trying to imagine Eames acting a part of an alien in Star Trek. Then he got to the personal information.
Frowning at what he read, Arthur attempted a more specific search. He came upon an image of the actress to whom Hardy was engaged. Arthur clicked on the link .
Arthur saw Eames dressed in a light pinstriped gray suit standing next to an equally beautiful woman wearing a rice-colored dress. They were at an event somewhere. Arthur thought they looked absolutely beautiful together, and it stung. Arthur printed out the page because he knew Eames wouldn’t believe him without proof.
Arthur completed his search and went back downstairs. He found Eames where he left him – on the couch. The TV displayed, to Arthur’s horror, that sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun. Eames had an amused smile on his expression, his eyes glued to the screen.
“Where did you get all these, Eames?” Arthur demanded as his eyes narrowed at the sight of several DVD box sets of 3rd Rock From the Sun.
“I found them,” Eames said as a matter-of-fact. Eames acted like Arthur’s early outburst never happened, which was fine by Arthur. “It appears you had a stash of all the work you’ve done. I have to say I’m impressed. You’re a versatile actor.”
“That’s not me, Eames,” Arthur stressed again. He rummaged through the DVDs and was relieved to see that he’d done more than romance and comedy.
Eames looked dreamingly at Arthur. “Arthur, why don’t you ever let your hair hang loose?”
Arthur quickly stepped away from Eames. “What?”
Eames picked up Lookout and showed it to Arthur. “You look absolutely fetching. You should let your hair down once in awhile.”
Arthur shook his head in disbelief. However, after the comment, he couldn’t help feel a flutter in his stomach. Arthur stood firm and kept his emotions in check. Nothing good will come out of this if he responded.
“Watching you so lighthearted makes me feel like you’re not such a stickler, love,” continued Eames. “There is hope we can wiggle that stick out of your arse.”
Arthur’s heart sunk slightly. Eames was expressing his attraction to the characters played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, not him. Typical. Of course, Eames wasn’t serious. When was Eames ever serious?
“I took the liberty to do some research on Tom Hardy,” stated Arthur as he sat down next to Eames.
“Did you now? Did you find anything interesting?” Eames turned off the TV so that Arthur had his full attention. He turned slightly, propping his elbow on the back of the couch. The side of his face leaned against the palm of his hand. He smiled at Arthur, looking absolutely predatory.
Arthur took a second before he could gather his thoughts. “You’re supposed to be recovering from alcoholism and crack cocaine.”
Eames raised an eyebrow at that. “So I’m part of the actor’s stereotype. I hope there isn’t anything else to my complicated life.”
“You’re apparently engaged,” reported Arthur.
“That…that can’t be right,” Eames finally said after a brief pause. “Arthur, I’m a poof. There’s no way I would be engaged….to a woman no less.”
Arthur handed Eames the picture he printed out. “Here, Tom Hardy’s sexual preferences are different. He doesn’t mind women. In fact he’d already been married, divorced, and had a longtime girlfriend before this engagement.”
“Bloody Hell,” Eames cursed as he looked upon the woman he was supposedly engaged to as Tom Hardy. “I wouldn’t know what to do with her.”
Arthur shrugged. “Let’s just hope she doesn’t come here for a visit. Our cover would be blown.”
Eames shook his head while looking down at the picture again. “This isn’t me. We have to get out of this world,” Eames said, his tone serious. “Unless we go public.” A slight smile tugged at the corner of Eames’ lips. “We can both come out together and say we’re gay. The media will love that.”
Arthur didn’t rise to the bait. “It gets better.”
“What can be worse than me being engaged to a lovely lady?” asked Eames.
“You have a son.”
Silenced settled between them for a few seconds before Eames started shaking his head in denial. “You’re pulling my chain aren’t you, Arthur?”
“No, I’m not.” Arthur rubbed his brows with weariness. “Eames, have you bothered at all to look anything up. At least tell me you’ve gone through Tom Hardy’s wallet for basic information.”
Eames managed to look chagrin as he started reaching for his back pocket. “I didn’t think it would be important. No one’s questioned us about it.” Eames pulled out the wallet. “Besides, I didn’t see you investigating about Joe.”
Arthur sighed. “I was born in L.A. I was involved in filming at a young age. My dad is involved in directing news of some sort. I took a break by attending a University and studied French lit. Afterwards, I went back to acting primarily in independent films.”
Eames blinked over at Arthur and snorted, “Showoff.” He flipped open his wallet and began flicking through various credit cards and identifications. Then he came upon a photo and pulled that out.
Arthur leaned in close to see the photo of Eames holding a baby boy. Their heads leaned against each other as they peered at the camera. The baby was naked, perched on Eames’ muscular arm. Side by side, Arthur could see the similarities. The baby definitely inherited Eames’ prominent lips and nose. The picture showed Eames looking happy and proud. It looked natural seeing Eames holding a baby.
“I’m a father,” breathed Eames. “I’m a dad in this world,” Eames said again as if saying it out loud will make it more genuine.
Eames’ expression had a mixture of wonder and maybe a hint of fear. There was also something else that Arthur couldn’t quite describe. Maybe longing.
Eames reached up and lightly grazed over the baby’s face in the photo. A small smile curled upward. “The little tyke looks like me.”
“I’m sure the mother contributed to some of his good looks,” said Arthur drily.
Eames’ smile turned into a grin. “Never…I thought possible…” Eames let out a breath and continued to stare at the photo.
Arthur sported a small smile as he stared at Eames. It was possible at this exact moment was when Arthur began to fall deeper for Eames. Arthur was in trouble.
Eames finished packing. He had prepared for a fieldtrip to the mountain where the crew would film Fortress Mountain – the third dream level. They would be filming there for a few days.
Arthur opted not to follow them to the mountain. He wasn’t in the scene, and he stated he would rather use the time to finish the PASIV. Eames had to admit he was slightly disappointed. He wanted to show Arthur what happened on the third level. For some reason, having Arthur’s approval seemed important lately.
Ever since Arthur admitted he was gay, things were slightly different. Eames always suspected, but after several attempts where Arthur never rose to his obvious flirting, he had doubts. He continued his antics because it got under Arthur’s skin. He couldn’t resist that.
Then Arthur confirmed his sexual preference, and Eames was at a lost. Was Arthur not interested, wanting to keep them only in a business relationship? That couldn’t be right. More than once, Eames caught Arthur ogling at him at one point or another. There was some attraction. That, Eames knew. Then why hold back?
Eames wanted to know the answer, but ever since that night of revelation, Arthur placed a wall between them. He distanced himself to the point where Eames hardly saw him. Bloody hell, they lived in the same house!
Eames thought he needed to give Arthur a few days, seeing the point man was embarrassing. He even pretended that nothing happened. That didn’t work. Well, the awkwardness was going to end now.
He climbed the stairs and went straight to Arthur’s room, where Arthur spent most of his time hiding. He knocked once before opening the door. The room was a mess with tools, wires, parts, and Eames’ chemical compound spread across any available desk space. Arthur sat hunched over the silver case, wire striper in hand.
“I’ll be heading out soon, Arthur,” Eames said as he leaned against the doorframe. “You sure you don’t want to tag along, see the sites?”
“No, I have too much to do here,” Arthur stated without looking up.
Cold, thought Eames. There was no use beating around the bush. “Why have you been avoiding me, Arthur?”
“I’m not avoiding you.” Arthur’s clipped tone implied differently.
“Then look at me,” dared Eames.
Arthur’s shoulder tensed, but he turned in his chair to look directly at Eames. He looked frustrated and angry. “Eames, I am busy. Now what do you want?” Arthur stated evenly
“Oh, nothing really,” Eames said lightly as he curved his own frustration. “I just want to know what’s going on between us.”
“There’s nothing going on between us,” Arthur said firmly.
“Don’t be daft, Arthur. It doesn’t suit you, love.” Eames pushed off from the doorframe and entered the room, coming closer to Arthur.
“If you’ve bothered to noticed, I’ve been busy,” snapped Arthur. He stood out of his chair, not wanting to be stared down upon. “Someone has to try to get us home.”
“This definitely feels like a lover’s spat we’re in,” said Eames, completely ignoring Arthur.
Arthur’s lips thinned into a line. His eyes narrowed into a glare. “We are not having a lover’s spat.”
“You’re right.” Eames rubbed at his chin. “We’re having a spat right now. How about we become lovers? Then this, whatever this is, can be an official lover’s spat.”
Arthur’s eyes widened slightly, but other than that, his expression remained neutral. “No.” Arthur shook his head. “No.”
Eames looked exasperated. “I’m not opposed to giving us a try, Arthur. In fact, I’ve been trying to get you and I together for quite some time.”
“I’m not one of your flings to conquer and be discarded,” Arthur suddenly spat out.
Eames looked confused and slightly hurt. “Whenever did you get that idea?”
Arthur turned away from Eames, silently telling him that this conversation was over.
“Is that what you think of me?” Eames demanded. “Do you think I’ll just lure you in, have my wicked ways with you, then leave you out on a limb?”
“There’s nothing that leaves me to believe you otherwise,” Arthur said quietly as he returned back to the PASIV.
A few tense seconds of silence lapsed between them before Eames threw his hands up in the air. “Bullocks! Fine, do you know what you are, Arthur? You’re a bloody coward.”
That got Arthur’s attention, which was what Eames aimed for. He was going to call Arthur’s bluff. “You heard me, Arthur. You’re a bloody coward when it comes to love.”
Without waiting for Arthur’s response, Eames stormed out of the room, retrieved his bags, and left the house. Maybe this was a good time to be filming up in the mountains. They both needed some time apart.
Eames spent the rest of his time focusing on acting. He and the crew made it on the site in the mountains. They didn’t waste any time setting everything and getting all their ducks in a row. Eames was impressed on the efficiency they displayed.
He even managed to let loose at times and started enjoying what was going on. They started with the snowmobile chase. Something he found relaxing. Eames even had a stuntman for some of the parts. That was new. If only his reality had stuntmen. But then, Eames thought, life would be dull.
Then there were moments where Eames was off the set while watching the others perform. Those were the moments where his mind wandered off to Arthur. A mixture of stubborn anger followed the thought. Then as the days went by, those feelings turned to guilt. Soon he found himself missing the bloody bastard.
Maybe his parting words were a little harsh. Arthur had been under a great deal of stress. Eames approached this situation from the wrong angle. He shouldn’t expect Arthur to leap into his arms. Of course, the man was going to be weary of him. He internally sighed, if Arthur could meet him halfway. If that happened, Arthur wouldn’t be the Arthur Eames was fond of. Eames often described Arthur as overly cautious.
Arthur thinking so little of him still irked Eames, but now that Eames had a moment to think. He was going to take up that challenge and convince Arthur that he was serious. Eames had to prove to Arthur he wasn’t the git he thought he was. Easier said than done. He hoped the time away from each other gave Arthur a new perspective, like it did for Eames.
After roughly four days, Eames returned with a speech in mind. He stepped through the door, expecting to find Arthur puttering around in the living area – no such luck. The area was quiet and dark.
Eames took a quick glance up the stairs before he took the stairs two at a time. He figured Arthur was in his room. “Arthur, I’m home!” Eames called outside the door. He actually looked forward into seeing Arthur.
Without waiting for a response, Eames reached for the doorknob. He frowned when he found the door locked. He then gave the door a firm knock. “Arthur?” Eames leaned closer to the door, trying to detect any noise. He heard nothing. “Arthur, give me a sign you’re in there.”
Worried, Eames searched his pockets for anything to help pick the lock. “Arthur I’m coming in.” After hearing the familiar click, Eames steeled himself before entering.
The room was exactly the same since the last time Eames came to visit. The only difference was Arthur rested in the chair, asleep. The PASIV hissed on the nearby table.
Eames walked towards the PASIV and peered at the controls. The clock stated that time ran out, yet Arthur remained asleep. He felt like ice-cold fingers were wrapping around his heart. Something was wrong.
Eames placed both hands on Arthur’s shoulder and gave him a quick, rough shake, calling “Arthur!” No response. Eames started to panic as he gave Arthur a quick slap across the face. Nothing.
“Damn it,” cursed Eames as he searched around the room for answers. He quickly reached for the covers on the bed and piled them behind Arthur’s chair. Without further thought, Eames pushed Arthur backwards, giving him a kick.
Eames held his breath as he watched Arthur landing on his back with a thump. He quickly knelt by his side in time to see Arthur blinking his eyes open and looking around slightly dazed.
Eames laughed with triumph and relief. He placed both hands on either side of Arthur’s head and did something he was never bold enough to do. He leaned in and pressed his lips to Arthur’s.
The kiss was chaste, just lips pressing against lips. Eames pulled back and rested his forehead against Arthur’s briefly before rocking back on his heels. “You stupid git,” Eames said without heat. “You nearly gave me a heart attack. What were you thinking testing the PASIV on your own like that?” His words didn’t come out as stern as he wanted.
“Eames?” Arthur’s mind was still reeling from being roughly awakened. “Did you just kiss me?”
Eames shook his head and chuckled, enjoying Arthur’s momentary confusion. “That, I did.”
Eames repositioned himself so he was sitting cross-legged next to Arthur. He looked down at Arthur with obvious concern. He noticed Arthur looking peek. He had dark circles under his eyes, giving him a hollow look. “Arthur,” Eames said, getting Arthur’s attention. “Let me ask you a question. How long were you hooked up to the PASIV?”
Arthur closed his eyes, trying to think. “I set the time for five minutes,” he responded slowly.
“The time expired,” informed Eames. “I had a hard time waking you. Do you know what day it is?”
Arthur’s furrowed as he tried to think. “The day…Friday. I knew you were coming back today.”
Eames nodded, slightly relieved. “At least you were in the right mind to try this stunt knowing I’ll be back today. So what happened down there?” Now that he wasn’t panicked, Eames realized that Arthur could have returned home without him. Before Eames could be offended by that fact, he pushed that thought aside and focused on Arthur.
Arthur shuddered. “Something went wrong. I went under and it was…wrong. The compound…you need to revise the compound.” Arthur tuned his head with effort so he glanced over at Eames. “Why did you kiss me?”
“You’re persistent aren’t you, love?” Eames realized this wasn’t the ideal moment to confess to Arthur his true feelings. Arthur lay sprawled on his back, looking terrible.
Eames had a speech! Aw well, he decided to forgo his plan and said what was on his mind. “I’m not going to leave you, Arthur. Even if you run away from this…” Eames gestured between them. “I won’t let go of you.”
Arthur blinked and looked searchingly at Eames. Five long seconds passed in silence. Eames knew because he counted, as he allowed Arthur to study him. He had nothing to hide regarding his feelings for Arthur. Finally Arthur closed his eyes and shifted into a more comfortable position. He gave up and stilled. “Eames,” he started softly. “This isn’t the time for you to proclaim your love.”
Eames smiled gently as he boldly reached out to sooth Arthur’s mused hair back, away from the eyes. He was surprised Arthur allowed the touch. He was even more surprised when he felt Arthur leaning into his touch. “I had a speech if you would like.”
Arthur responded with a weary smile.
“I don’t understand why you insist watching this show,” said Arthur has he stared at his younger self asking how sex was performed in high school sex edu. It was embarrassing.
At the moment, Arthur lay curled on the couch with an afghan over him, keeping Eames company. Eames decided to do a 3rd Rock from the Sun marathon. Since Arthur dozed in and out trying to recover from the PASIV test run, he allowed Eames to choose what to watch. Snacks and pizza were spread across the coffee table in front. Arthur’s head was pillowed on Eames’ thigh. Eames’ hand rested on his shoulder. Sometimes Arthur could feel Eames’ thumb stroking soothingly, lulling him back to sleep.
Something happened when Eames found him, like the wall between them was suddenly gone. Eames, in his way, managed to worm his way through Arthur's defense in his moment of weakness. The forger somehow managed to convince him to take a chance.
Eames chuckled somewhere above him. He glanced down at Arthur with mirth sparkling in his eyes. "I have to get my fill of this show. This stuff is fantastic, and I know we won't have this at home."
Arthur's stomach curled. Home – going home was becoming more like a dream. Arthur wasn't certain anymore. "Eames, what if we're stuck here? What if we can't get back to our reality?"
Eames reached for the remote and shut off the TV in order to give Arthur his full attention. "We'll make it work. That's what we'll do. That's what we've always done."
"Eames this isn't some job we're conducting," said Arthur, sounding exhausted. "This will be our lives if we can't get back. We'll be living as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy. There won't be dream sharing anymore. Even if we do get the PASIV and a compatible compound up and running, there wouldn't be any use for it."
"Now, now, Arthur. I've told you plenty of times before. You need to think outside the box." Eames smacked his lips at Arthur when he said box. "Have a little imagination."
Arthur’s brows furrowed with displeasure as he began to sit up. Eames stopped him by rubbing his hand along the length of Arthur's arm in way of an apology. Arthur sighed and shifted onto his back instead. He couldn't believe how much Eames' touch affected him.
"Listen, I want to get back home as much as you do, but if we can't, we can't. That's our reality. We can make this place our home. We don't have to be actors if we don't want to, though the money and fame are a bonus.”
Arthur snorted, but didn’t comment. He allowed Eames to continue with the possibilities.
“We could start a trend for the dream sharing business: actors by day and doing extractions by night. This world wouldn’t know what hit them.”
Arthur smiled at the thought of actually introducing the concept of dream sharing and extraction into this world. It would be like a virus, a foreign being that shouldn’t have been created in reality in the first place. Arthur didn’t know if he wanted to be responsible for that. Maybe dream sharing should remain in the movies. “We’ll see.”
Eames must have sensed Arthur’s melancholy because he was quick to reassure Arthur. “Things will turn out, pet. As always, we have control over our lives.”
“We have issues here in this world too,” stated Arthur, becoming moody again. “What are you going to do with your engagement?”
Eames shrugged. “Easy, break the engagement. I have no desires being with a woman.” Eames wiggled his brows suggestively at Arthur. “Unless you have a kink for cross-dressing, darling.”
Arthur shook his head, as he said firmly, “No.”
“One can dream.” Eames sighed, “I suppose that lovely bird will understand that I’m gay as a fruit basket.” He lightly nudged Arthur. “Hey, we can come out of the closet together. That would put everything at ease.”
Arthur shook his head. “That would be disastrous.”
“You never know,” said Eames cheekily.
“What about your son?” Arthur felt Eames tense. He knew Eames had grown attached to his son the moment he saw his picture.
“I’ll be there for him,” said Eames with determination.
Arthur wasn’t going to argue. He was thrilled to hear Eames wanting to be involved. Eames had always been great with children. “It’ll be like being with Phillipa and James.”
“You mean...you don’t mind?” Eames’ tone perked up significantly.
“Of course not,” Arthur was surprised that Eames would think he would avoid him. “I used to babysit Dom’s children often enough.”
Eames laughed. “Now I know another little fact about you. I can’t wait to discover more.”
“Shut up,” said Arthur with no particular heat.
“See, this isn’t so bad,” said Eames. “We could make this work.”
Arthur wondered if he meant staying and making their lives work here in this reality, or if he meant this new relationship would work. Arthur decided that it didn’t matter.
Stranger Things Could Happen
"That's a wrap everyone!" Nolan shouted. Everyone erupted in a cheer. Papers were thrown in the air, and people were thumping each other on the shoulder in congratulations. Arthur accepted a handshake from Leo and a hug from Ellen.
Eames came over and threw an arm around Arthur. He had a wide grin across his face. He looked like he was about to kiss Arthur, which Arthur hoped Eames would restrain from doing. Leo and Ellen already had curious looks shared between them.
Arthur smiled, trying to play his part in the celebration. "Congratulations Leo." Arthur found himself really meaning that.
"Thanks Joe!" Leo glanced between Arthur and Eames. "Listen, a few of us are going out for drinks. You're welcome to come along."
"Thanks for the invite," said Arthur effortlessly, "but Tom and I have other plans."
"Hmm," Leo hummed. "Maybe some other time then."
"So you two," Ellen gestured between Arthur and Eames. "You don't hate each other anymore?"
"Hate each other?" Both Arthur and Eames said together. Arthur wiggled out of Eames casual hold. "What gave you the idea we hated each other?"
Ellen shrugged. "Just the way you two act on the set. Look, it's nothing. I feel silly about it."
"And how were we acting that gave you this silly thought, Ellen?" asked Eames.
Ellen tried to wave the thought aside. "It's nothing really. Every time I see the two of you together, there's always this tension – kinda like electrical sparks. I know I tweeted my thoughts on this before. Both of you seemed to have a history with each other."
"Wait?" Eames balked. "Tweeted?" This wasn't the first time he heard that before.
"She means an online blogging site," explained Arthur. "What did you say?"
Ellen blinked in surprise. "You mean you don't follow my tweets?" Ellen suddenly looked embarrassed. "I sort of mentioned that you two have some sort of chemistry. You two click in some ways, even though you never worked with each other before. It's really neat to watch."
Arthur resisted the urge to bring his hand up to rub his brows in irritation. "Why were you blogging about us?"
"It's fun," Ellen said offhandedly, wondering what the big deal was. "A lot of actors tweet about their experience on the set and on what they're doing. The fans love that sort of stuff. It makes the fans feel closer to the actors. Leo does it too."
"You mean what you write can be seen by everyone," Eames proclaimed. He pointed accusingly at Leo. "And you're part of this madness too."
"I think what Ellen is trying to say," started Leo. "This isn't uncommon and is only something to feed to the fans. There's not any personal information there. The paparazzi do more damage."
Arthur brows furrowed at Eames’ obvious discomfort about all this. Arthur wasn't thrilled about this either. He supposed they didn’t blend in as well as they thought. Maybe he could hack into both Leo and Ellen's twitter and alter some of their posts or not worry about it all together.
"Eam...Tom, it's alright." Arthur reached up to pat Eames' arm before turning back to Leo and Ellen. He had to defuse this before they drew more attention to themselves. "Sorry, Tom is the type that doesn't trust online blogging."
That seemed to appease both Leo and Ellen. Ellen laughed. "I can relate. My mom doesn't care about it either. She doesn't approve that I put myself out on the web."
"Sometimes your mum could be right," Eames said with a strained smile.
Arthur knew it was time to leave. "Tom, we have an appointment to keep, remember?"
"Quite so. If you'll excuse us," Eames politely excused them.
As one, Arthur and Eames turned away from the others. Arthur thought he heard Ellen saying softly to Leo, "See I told you there's something up between those two." Leo responded, "Maybe you're right. They're having an affair."
Arthur groaned and shook his head in denial. He shot a quick look over at Eames to find the forger smiling. "What are you so cheerful about?"
Eames turned enough to wink at Arthur. "Funny that others noticed our suppressed feelings, and we're a few steps behind. I wonder if our friends back at home noticed."
"I doubt it," mumbled Arthur. "You just recently found out that I'm gay."
"A wager then," exclaimed Eames. "When we get back at home, we'll take a poll."
"That's if we get home," mumbled Arthur.
Eames nudged Arthur’s elbow. "You should be more optimistic, love. I redid the compound. We should be good now."
Arthur looked skeptically back at Eames. "Don't be surprised if I decide not to put my faith in your ability to be a chemist."
Eames raised his eyes. "Thank you for bestowing your confidence in me Arthur," he said with a dry sarcasm. "I still haven't scold you for that stupid stunt."
Arthur waved Eames off, hoping he could pass this conversation. "Someone had to test the PASIV."
"You could have waited," suggested Eames.
"It wouldn't matter," Arthur said offhandedly. "The results would be the same."
"Arthur, what you did was more reckless than usual," Eames said slowly. "You should have waited. I would have been there if anything would have happened, or in this case, I would have woken you sooner."
Arthur involuntarily shuddered as he recalled what he went through. Honestly, Arthur doesn't remember the details, but the feeling of dread and horror lingered. No words could describe what he felt. He refused to share his experience with Eames, and Eames thankfully didn't push the matter. Arthur was furious at Eames at the time. It was anger and annoyance that drove Arthur into making such rash decisions. Eames was right; he should have waited.
Arthur sighed, "You're right."
Eames made a show of faltering his steps. He placed his hand behind his ear. "I'm sorry, darling. Care to repeat that. I didn't quite hear you the first go."
Arthur snorted and walked on. "That's too bad."
With two large strides, Eames caught up with Arthur, walking side by side again. They walked the remaining distance to the car in silence. Arthur knew something was on Eames' mind, but he waited to see if Eames would bring it up. Nothing happened, and the uncomfortable silence grew. They were well on the road before Arthur snapped, "Out with it, Eames."
Eames took a quick glance at Arthur from the passenger's seat before turning to gaze out at the passing scenery. "It's nothing."
Arthur huffed unbelievingly, "Fine." Arthur could respect Eames' privacy.
"Well if you're going to be pushy," started Eames, shifting in his seat so he was facing Arthur. "There has been something on my mind as of late."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Alright," Arthur said calmly.
"Hypothetically," started Eames. "Say that the PASIV worked during your trial and you went home. Were you angry enough to leave me behind?"
Arthur's brows furrowed as he quickly glanced over at Eames before returning back to the road. Obviously, this was bothering Eames. " Hypothetically no, I had no intention in leaving you behind."
"I don't understand why you didn't wait, Arthur," said Eames seriously.
"Eames," Arthur wanted to explain. "Yes, my anger momentarily clouded my better judgment. If it had worked, I'm sure you'll follow me under to find me." Arthur briefly turned his head enough to lock gazes with Eames. "No matter where I go, you'll find me."
After a second or two, Arthur saw out of the corner of his eye Eames smiling. "Do you really mean that, Arthur?"
"In our whole working experience, when have you not been able to find me?" Arthur said as a matter-of-fact. "You're apparently a stubborn bastard and don't know when to leave things well enough alone."
Eames chuckled. "Finally! You got that fact through that thick skull of yours."
The corner of Arthur's lips twitched into a smirk. He pulled in the winding driveway and into one of the many parking slots. "C'mon, we have work to do," he said as he got out of the car.
Eames rushed out and jogged around the car. He reached out and grabbed Arthur's hand. Eames smiled as Arthur turned to glare at him. Arthur didn't pull away, causing Eames' smile to broaden into a toothy grin. "Just making sure you know I'm not letting go either, Arthur. You seem to need frequent reminders."
"You're becoming sappy, Mr. Eames."
"I don't see you complaining." Eames started swinging their joined hands. That was when Arthur pulled his hand away from Eames.
"Eames, I need you to focus here," said Arthur sternly. They entered the home and started climbing the stairs.
"Oh, I am focused," said Eames cheekily as he followed closely behind Arthur.
Arthur entered his room where the PASIV was set up on the desk. Earlier, Arthur disposed the extra equipment safely, making sure there wasn't any evidence leading back to them. "Alright, you'll stand watch, and I'll go under." Arthur pulled the line out of the case. He found Eames' hand tugging out the other line. "What are you doing, Eames?"
"This time I'm coming along," Eames stated simply.
Arthur stopped Eames. "Eames, we still don' t know what's going to happen."
"Precisely," explained Eames. "No matter what happens we'll be in it together. Who knows, we might open another dimension into another alternative reality."
Arthur gave Eames a look. "You've been watching too many episodes of that ridiculous sitcom."
"Bloody brilliant, I say." Eames frowned. "Though I didn't care much for the ending of the series. They went back to the home planet just like that. They didn't even take Mary."
Arthur had no idea what Eames was talking about. He hoped wherever they go there wouldn't be any other sitcoms he acted in. Better yet, he hoped they weren't actors.
Eames almost read Arthur's mind. "What if the next alternative universe we find ourselves as porn stars?" Eames chuckled at the thought. "We would be pressed to perform hot steamy sex in every scenario and position imaginable." Eames' eyes lit up with mischief. "After watching you perform that fight scene in that tumbler hallway, I'm beginning to wonder how limber you are. I have this lovely position I would..."
"Stop," snapped Arthur before Eames could finish that thought. He shifted, feeling uncomfortably hot.
"Better yet," Eames said in mock horror. "What if you're a lawyer and I'm your playboy you keep hidden in your posh flat. Or I'm a fireman and you're a nurse. How about sports? I fancy myself as a football player. We can shag in the locker room."
Arthur groaned, "Enough. We can role-play when we get home." He unreeled the line and settled into a chair. He watched Eames pulling a chair next to him. However, instead of taking a seat, Eames leaned over Arthur and stole a hard kiss.
"For luck," Eames said with a hint of promise.
Arthur licked his lips as he watched Eames insert the IV into his wrist. "For luck," he whispered as he reached over and pressed the button. The compound flowed into their veins. They closed their eyes...
"You were actors in an alternative reality?" Ariadne commented. "And you were acting in a movie named Inception. The same inception we did a year ago together?"
"That's correct," replied Arthur. He leaned back against the couch, trying to relax his tense shoulders. Eames sat closely beside him.
The job belly upped. Arthur, Eames, and Ariadne took their extractor and left their mark at the rented house. They thought it wise to split up, dumping their extractor at a safe location. Then the trio went to a secretly reserved hotel two towns over. Arthur switched cars in the town prior to cover all their bases. He ignored the snicker coming from Ariadne and the mumbled "paranoid" from Eames.
Ariadne shook her head in disbelief. "You two have been there for months?" She shook her head again. "I don't know what I would do."
"You were a very cute actress name Ellen," said Eames with amusement. "She did a fantastic job playing you, pet." He rubbed his chin. "You were addicted to this online blogging. For some reason, your main topic was us. Both you and Leo, the man who played Cobb, was determined in figuring us out."
"So you two..." Ariadne wiggled her brows at them in a suggested manner.
Arthur felt a sudden dread wash over him as he saw Eames grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He wished he could prevent the inevitability when Eames opened his mouth and said, "We're together!"
Ariadne didn't look surprised. "It's about time. God, just watching the two of you tease each other just made me want to knock both of you on head and lock you both in a room until something happens."
Arthur cocked an eyebrow while Eames raised both his eyebrows in shock. Arthur suddenly felt Eames nudging his elbow in good nature. "I won our little wager."
"What bet?" asked Ariadne, curious.
Arthur waved the thought aside, "This thing we have is still new. If Eames wish for us to continue, he will need to learn to keep information to himself." He glared over at Eames in warning.
Eames smirked, but flawlessly changed the topic. "Ariadne, did you know you had a thing with the man who played Cobb?"
"I did not," Ariadne sounded appalled. She began to fluster.
Arthur decided to jump in before they went further. "We're avoiding the most important question here. What transported us to that alternative universe in the first place."
Ariadne gave them a look. "I told you before, guys. I didn't design the Hellmouth. And even if I did, it wouldn't have the power to take you to another world. I don't know. I think something with more power is at work here."
"You mean something supernatural?" Arthur shook his head at the possibility. However, their mark didn't have a normal subconscious either. Maybe there was something else at work here. "No," Arthur didn't want to open that possibility.
"Come now, love," consoled Eames. "Some things in this world cannot be explained. Remind me again who our mark was, so I can steer clear away from him."
"Winchester, or something," filled in Ariadne. "We were supposed to extract some information on an ancient ritual."
Arthur rolled his shoulders and sighed, "This is the last time you're ever going to pick the job, Eames."
"Well someone had to pick the intriguing jobs," complained Eames as he reached up and started rubbing Arthur's shoulder, not bothered by Ariadne's presence. "We can't all choose to steal business acquisitions. That would be awfully dull."
A smile bloomed on Ariadne’s lips as she gazed at the couple. Then a thought suddenly occurred. "If the two of you were supposed to be these actors, what happened to the real Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy?"
Arthur tilted his head in puzzlement. "That's...actually a good question."
"Huh," Eames bit his lower lip. "With everything going on, I never thought about those two blokes." He shrugged nonchalantly. "I hope they get back alright because I would hate for them to stop producing movies. Tom has a family, you know."
Ariadne sighed. There wasn't anything they could do to help. "So will you tell me what else happened on your side journey?"
"Of course." Eames practically glowed with excitement. "There's this bloody fantastic sitcom..."
Two Weeks Later
Eames lay tangled in the light sheets. His dear Arthur laid sprawled on his stomach half on top of him. The window was open, letting a cool breeze from the Mediterranean Sea sooth their heated skin. Only in his wild dreams he would imagine waking up next to Arthur in a rented flat located in Greece of all places.
Eames nuzzled his nose in Arthur’s hair before pressing his lips on the crown of Arthur’s head. Arthur, still asleep, smacked his lips and tried to bury his head into Eames’ shoulder. Eames chuckled lightly as he ran his hand along the bony prominence of Arthur’s spine. Arthur, Eames thought, was absolutely adorable when asleep.
“What time is it?” mumbled Arthur without opening his eyes.
“Midmorning, darling,” answered Eames, equally as quiet.
“Hmm,” Arthur cracked open his eyes and craned his neck enough to kiss Eames on the side of his mouth.
Eames held still, not wanting to advance while Arthur was still muzzy. He learned that little fact the hard way when he tried to wake Arthur up with a blowjob and received a blow in the stomach for his efforts. He found that Arthur enjoyed waking up slowly and to be freshened up before doing anything naughty in bed.
Arthur hummed and detangled himself from the sheets and Eames. Eames pouted as he watched Arthur swing his legs off the bed, sitting at the edge of the bed. Arthur stretched, and Eames couldn’t take his eyes off of Arthur’s lean frame as the muscles rippled.
Eames never got tired of watching Arthur’s morning routine, no matter how often he witnessed the process. Arthur’s hair is mused and hung around his eyes. He was always a little groggy until he had a full cup of coffee in him. Eames shamelessly cherishes these moments. He figured that not many people were allowed to see Arthur this vulnerable. Maybe Arthur was right. He was turning into a sentimental sap.
Eames turned onto his side, supporting head with his arm. “You were up late. It’s a wonder that you woke up a little later.”
“I was working,” Arthur said drowsily.
Intrigued, Eames leaned in closer. “Working on what, love?”
Arthur looked over his shoulder at Eames with a small soft smile. “I’ll show you once I relieve myself.” With that said, Arthur went directly to the loo.
“Bloody tease,” Eames called after Arthur. He rolled back onto his back and flung his arms out the side, selfishly taking up the whole bed.
He didn’t have to wait long before Arthur came back to the bedroom. He looked more alert. His hair brushed back but not gelled. Eames suspected that Arthur let his hair loose because he knew Eames preferred it that way. In his hands, Arthur carried a sketchpad. He handed the pad to Eames.
“I didn’t know you doodle, Arthur.”
Arthur shrugged and gestured for Eames to take a look. Eames quickly flipped the cover over and was astounded at what he saw. Arthur drew, in pencil, an exact replica portrait of the picture found in Tom Hardy’s wallet: Eames holding his baby. Arthur made some modifications, focusing on their faces, but the detail was to the boot.
Eames sat up holding the sketch in his shaky hands. He knew he wouldn’t be a father in this reality. He blinked a few times at the thought he wouldn’t be able to see this child again. Here it was, a perfect sketch done by Arthur.
“There’s still some modifications that I need to do…” began Arthur, feeling insecure.
“No, it’s perfect,” Eames said quickly. Eames looked up at Arthur. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Arthur said quietly.
Eames carefully placed the sketchpad on the table before he drew Arthur into an embrace. “Funny thing about gifts, you see; I have something for you too.”
Eames stepped back from Arthur enough to take his shirt off. “I’m not turning myself into a bloody easel. However, since you fancy all those tattoos, I thought I might etch one on my arm.”
Eames turned so Arthur could see his right shoulder. It wasn’t the angry leprechaun, but it was an artisan design swirling around in an almost figure eight shape. The design reminded Eames of the flow of the wind or the licks of flames, depending on his mood.
Arthur reached up to lightly trace the pattern on Eames’ arm. “Is this why you wore a shirt lately?”
“Guilty,” said Eames. He shuddered under Arthur’s touch. He was still a little sensitive, but he could tell Arthur enjoyed the tattoo. There wasn’t any regret. “Isn’t this grand that we each have souvenirs from that other reality.” Eames then grabbed Arthur by the arms and tumbled them into bed.
“We need to eventually get out of this bedroom, Eames,” said Arthur as he relaxed against Eames.
“There’s nothing of interest outside this bedroom,” stated Eames as he nipped along Arthur’s neck.
“We need to look for a frame,” countered Arthur.
“Careful, pet,” warned Eames. “I fear we’re turning domestic.”
Arthur moaned under Eames’ ministration. “We also have to meet our new client.”
Eames paused for a second before pressing a kiss to Arthur’s collarbone. “Back on the saddle so soon, hmm darling? Well, the job can keep for the moment. This is more pressing.”
Arthur appeared to struggle with either wanting to get out of bed or giving into Eames’ antics. The struggle didn’t last long. He ultimately gave in, much to Eames’ persuasiveness. “You are going to be the death of me, Mr. Eames.”
“And what a way to go, too,” smirked Eames.
This was their reality, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N2: pictures and icons were found through a general Google search. And of course there’s YouTube.