When Arthur turns on the phone he linked to that night’s flights—after a seventy-two-hour complete lockdown in a warehouse in Duluth in fucking January because the mark’s security was fucking insane and in this case staying put was actually the safer choice—the first thing he notices is the series of increasingly urgent texts from the airline.
Flight delayed due to possibility of inclement weather.
Flight delayed due to inclement weather.
Flight cancelled due to inclement weather. Please contact an airline representative for assistance.
Please note that all airports in the path of Winter Storm Jefferson [see weather map here] will be closed until further notice. Thank you for your patience. Please contact an airline representative for assistance.
Wordlessly, Arthur passes the phone to Ariadne. It was just the two of them on location for this job, although they’re supposed to meet Eames and Yusuf in New York tomorrow morning for a debrief.
“Fuck,” Ariadne says, sliding the phone back across the table toward him.
“We’ll have to drive,” Arthur decides.
“We can’t drive in a blizzard!” It’s practically a shriek. “You do not drive in blizzards, Arthur. Do you know what happens when you try to drive in blizzards? You fucking die.”
As a SoCal native, Arthur has always been wary—if ignorant—of snow. Snow that accumulates, that is. (This is why Paris speaks to him: while Parisian winters are usually scattered with dustings of snow that make everything look even more charming than usual, they don't require shovels.)
After glancing at the security camera feed, Arthur makes his way to the main door and pushes it open. And immediately closes it again. The angle of the cameras obscured the build-up of the snow, but there are already at least five inches on the ground, and the piles are rising fast. Add in the wind, and visibility is less than a yard.
“Fuck,” he echoes, hastily returning to the table. “We need to get to New York.”
“We can’t get to New York,” says Ariadne. “Anyway, New York is going to be hit by this thing next.”
“We should warn them,” says Arthur.
“Eames and Yusuf haven’t been dark for three days. I’m sure they know,” says Ariadne. “But if you want to call Eames so his gorgeous British voice can talk you through your first blizzard—oh my god, you’re a blizzard virgin—”
Ariadne shrugs, unrepentant. “I’m just saying.”
“Can you not?” Arthur whines. He fiddles with the phone for another minute, hoping that the airline will miraculously send another text saying that the blizzard has been cancelled—then the friendly service bars vanish and fuck everything, who decided blizzards were a good idea?
Ariadne casts an eye over the warehouse. “Do we have any straw? Or hay. Is there a difference?”
“Any straw. Or hay.”
“For twisting into sticks, so we can burn them. For heat,” says Ariadne.
Arthur frowns. “We don’t have any straw, and our heat is definitely still working.”
“Well, this was poor planning on your part.”
“The blizzard is not my fault!”
“The lack of straw,” says Ariadne. “In the event of.”
“In the event of what?”
“In the event that our heat goes out and we have to survive like we’re in Little House on the Prairie,” says Ariadne.
“Oh my god,” says Arthur, because even though they have three backup generators, he is still filled with the inexorable sense that, “I am going to die in the American Midwest. What did I ever to do deserve this?”
Ariadne stands up from the table, stretches, and ambles over to the refrigerator.
“What are you doing?” Arthur asks. Most of their food is non-perishable, anyway. It’s more reliable. He checks the phone again; one bar of service.
Ariadne pulls out a six-pack of beer and returns to the table.
“That’s cold,” Arthur complains. “Why do you want to drink cold beer in the middle of a blizzard?”
“It’s New Glarus beer,” says Ariadne. “I picked some up in Madison on the way here. Can’t get more Midwestern than this.” She pauses. “Well, maybe if we had lutefisk, or some hotdish.”
“I don’t even want to know,” says Arthur. He checks the phone; no service.
“No, you don’t,” Ariadne agrees cheerfully, pulling the phone away from him. “Anyway, we’re going to drink this because the mark’s security thinks we’re in Argentina, but mostly because the cell phone towers are more or less down, so you can’t call the unspoken love of your life and lock him down, and instead you’re going to die in a blizzard in the American Midwest knowing that you never told him you want him to call you ‘darling’ every day for the rest of your lives. In bed,” she adds.
“If this blizzard doesn’t kill you, I will,” Arthur mutters.
Ariadne kicks at his chair. “Eames loves you.”
“Give me back the fucking phone.”
Ariadne rolls her eyes but pushes it toward him.
And then: Before he can talk himself out of it—and mostly just to make Ariadne stop talking—but also because what if the generators really do fail and he really is about to die on the western shores of Lake Superior—Arthur dials the number for Eames’s January personal phone.
“I’m sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed.”
Arthur stands, crosses the warehouse, and pushes open the door. He steps outside.
Fuck, cold. The wind cuts through his layers in about a second, and his hands are immediately almost too stiff to hit redial.
It’s so windy he can barely hear the ringing, but it is ringing.
(Shit. It’s ringing. What is he even doing?)
“Arthur, darling, is everything all right?”
“I’m going to die in Minnesota,” Arthur blurts out.
“What—” Eames begins, panicked, and Arthur hurries to cut him off.
“Not actually. Maybe. But probably not. Unless our generators fail and Ariadne can’t find hay. Which seems likely. Just, there’s a blizzard.”
There’s a pause. “Yes,” says Eames eventually. “It’s all over the news.”
“We’re stuck in it, so—oh! We’re stuck at the warehouse. We can’t get to New York.”
“So we assumed,” says Eames. “Are you all right?”
“I’m standing outside so I can get reception,” says Arthur. “I’m really cold.”
“Why don’t you go back inside and warm up, love?”
Love. Right, that’s why he called. The cold is messing with his mind. How quickly can one develop hypothermia?
“There’s no service inside,” says Arthur.
“You mentioned that,” says Eames.
“Yes,” says Arthur. His lips are numb. Fuck, maybe he really is going to die. “How do you feel about deathbed confessions?”
“Arthur,” says Eames sharply. “Is Ariadne with you?”
“Yes, yes, she’s just inside, we’re fine, we’re drinking Spotted Cow beer, I only came out to get reception,” Arthur recites. “Focus, Eames. Deathbed confessions, yes or no? Would you want to know?”
“Want to know what?”
“Just…” Arthur hasn’t thought this through very well. “I’m very cold right now. I would like to not be this cold, preferably ever again.”
“I’m sure that could be arranged, pet.”
“But,” Arthur presses on, a little desperate, because his fingers are starting to hurt. “If we were stuck together somewhere in the cold—not in the Midwest, please God, but, somewhere else—that might be okay. You would, um, make me tea, wouldn’t you?”
“I always make you tea.”
“But you would, in the specific instance in which we were trapped in a blizzard somewhere that wasn’t the Midwest?”
“That, in any location, regardless of blizzard,” Eames assures him.
“Right, exactly,” says Arthur, and, oh. Maybe Ariadne is right.
“I’m not quite following you, sweetheart,” says Eames.
“I want you. And your tea. But mostly you. Anywhere. Preferably not in cold places, but you’re English so you have a bizarre take on acceptable weather and I’m willing to compromise—”
“I love you, too, darling,” says Eames.
And then the line goes dead.