When Cobb found himself in Yusuf’s pouring-rain cityscape of a dream, he went in search of Arthur first, because it wasn’t like anything could get done until he got Arthur.
Arthur had his face scrunched up with displeasure. He was almost squinting. Which was stupid because what did Arthur have to be squint about? It wasn’t like he was being mind-stalked by the wife he’d driven to jump off of a building, leaving him separated from his children. Arthur was probably just worried about his leather jacket.
“Why would Yusuf put me in a leather jacket and also have it be raining?” complained Arthur as he got in.
Yup, leather jacket. “We have bigger things to worry about than your jacket, Arthur,” Cobb reminded him. “We’re trying to pull off inception. We need your head in the game.”
Cobb wasn’t sure Arthur looked suitably impressed over Cobb’s speech. Maybe Cobb should draw him a diagram about the importance of what they were doing. A nice exclamation point, and then an arrow pointing to it. That would probably help.
Arthur said, “We should pick up Eames next.”
“Oh, no,” said Cobb. “We definitely don’t have time for this.”
“Time for what?” asked Arthur, as if he wasn’t so obvious.
“Your Eames thing,” Cobb said.
Arthur looked comically offended. “What would that even be? ‘My Eames thing’?”
“Yes,” said Cobb. “Your thing for him. And his penis.”
“I don’t have a–What? I don’t have a thing for his penis. What? I said we should pick him up next because he’s the forger and important and he’s come up with this whole fucking plan and–what? I don’t have a thing for Eames’s penis. I never even think about Eames’s penis.”
“It’s in your dreams.”
“I DO NOT DREAM ABOUT EAMES’S PENIS.”
“Why are you yelling?”
“I’m not yelling.”
“I haven’t seen Eames’s penis in your dreams,” said Cobb.
“BECAUSE IT’S NOT THERE,” yelled Arthur, definitely yelling.
“But you put up paintings of British thieves in your dreams.”
“That was…That was a Francis Bacon painting! He’s an artist! That wasn’t Eames’s penis!”
“There’s Eames,” said Cobb, spotting him on the sidewalk waiting, looking much less frownier than Arthur had.
“Do not talk about his penis,” Arthur threatened darkly, still very frowny, as Eames got into the car.
“Hello,” said Eames cheerfully. “Pleasant weather, eh?” Nobody said anything. “Does Yusuf have you in leather, Arthur? Excellent.” Still nobody said anything, although Arthur looked like he wanted his gun. “Is there a reason everybody’s so dour and gloomy in this car? Has the job gone to hell already?”
“Arthur said we can’t talk about your penis,” explained Cobb.
“COBB!” yelled Arthur, still definitely yelling. “Oh. My. Fucking. God.” He punctuated each word with a shove at Cobb.
“Stop!” Cobb said. “I’m trying to drive. We’re doing a very important job here, Arthur. You’re jeopardizing this very important job.”
“I’m going to jeopardize your ass,” Arthur muttered, and then turned to Eames. “We weren’t talking about your penis.”
Cobb glanced in Eames’s direction. He was looking at Arthur in something like amazement. “It’s okay. We can talk about my penis if you want to.”
“I don’t want to,” said Arthur. “I do not want to talk about your penis. Okay?”
There was a moment of silence. “Okay,” Eames agreed gravely.
“Let’s all just sit in this car and not think about Eames’s penis,” suggested Cobb.
“Oh, my God,” groaned Arthur.
“Oh, look,” said Eames. “There’s Ariadne. She can come in the car and not think about my penis, too.”
“Eames,” complained Arthur, as Ariadne opened the door.
“Welcome,” said Eames. “We are all not thinking about my penis.”
“Does this have something to do with the dream?” asked Ariadne.
“NO,” yelled Arthur. “NOBODY DREAMS ABOUT EAMES’S PENIS.”
“Why are you yelling?” asked Eames.
“See?” Cobb said. “You are yelling.”
“I was just thinking that I guess the skyscrapers are phallic but you asked me for a city,” said Ariadne. “I really wasn’t thinking about Eames’s penis when I made all the skyscrapers.”
“Nevertheless, Ariadne, I am flattered,” said Eames.
“Can I die already?” Arthur asked.
“No, you’re my cab driver,” said Eames. “You’re going to drive a cab around for me. And, apparently, not think about my penis.”
“I really never think about your penis,” Arthur said.
“How can you not be thinking about his penis?” Ariadne asked. “Now his penis is the only thing I can think about.”
“Which is generally how I prefer things to be,” said Eames pleasantly.
“Everyone needs to be serious,” said Cobb, to refocus them all, “because we have a very important job to do here.”
“Serious?” said Arthur. “This is all your fault, you know.”
“I have everything under control,” Cobb said defensively. “Everyone just needs to stop thinking about Eames’s penis.”
“If only we had to incept Fischer with my penis,” mused Eames, “we’d have already done a smashing job.”
“You’re not incepting Fischer with your penis,” said Arthur.
“Jealous?” asked Eames.
“No. Fine. Incept whatever the fuck you want with your penis.”
“No,” said Cobb. “No incepting with penises. This is a very important job. This job is getting me home to my family. You need to be serious and stop screwing around.”
There was a moment of silence.
“I think,” Eames ventured, “Arthur would tell you that he absolutely never thinks about us screwing–”
“Shut up,” said Arthur. “I hope a fucking projection fucking shoots you and you bleed out in the back seat of my cab and I will not care, I will just let you bleed back there and just…not care.”
“Yes,” said Eames, sounding oddly amused and fond in the face of a death threat from Arthur. Cobb had surrounded himself with idiots for this very important job, thought Cobb sadly. “That sounds exactly like you,” Eames said, still all amused and fond and soft.
“And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?” demanded Arthur. “Why would you say it like that? That definitely is something I would do. I am a really horrible and mean person, Eames. I am awful. I would not care at all if you died.”
“But would you care if my penis died?” asked Eames mildly.
“I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PENIS.”
“Yes, Arthur, we know,” Cobb said. “You don’t like Eames’s penis.”
“I didn’t say I don’t like it.”
“So you like it?” asked Ariadne.
“I don’t…I don’t have an opinion on it. I mean, I am neutral on the subject of Eames’s penis. Because of how little I think about Eames’s penis. I neither like nor dislike Eames’s penis. And that is my final word on the subject of Eames’s penis.”
There was a moment of silence.
“For the record,” said Eames, “can we just make note of the fact that it is a very nice penis and if you thought about it at all–which you don’t–you would probably like it?”
“No,” said Arthur. “No, we can’t make note of that fact.”
“We just did,” said Ariadne.
“No,” said Arthur. “That’s not an official note.”
“What would an official note be?” asked Ariadne blankly.
“The official note from this conversation is that I do not want to have sex with Eames, okay? Has everyone made a note of that?”
“Honestly, Arthur,” said Eames, “who said anything about sex? Oh, look, there’s Yusuf.”
“So,” said Eames, standing way too close to Arthur while Arthur was trying to do something totally ordinary and normal like collect his bags from the baggage carousel.
“Are you trying to pick my pocket?” asked Arthur, moving away from him.
“No. I could never do that. Your trousers are too tight.”
“My trousers are well-tailored. You just wouldn’t know good tailoring if it bit you in the ass.”
“But I do appreciate how it’s bitten you in yours.”
“I know you think that was a good line.”
Eames considered, lifted a shoulder in a shrug.
“It wasn’t,” Arthur informed him viciously.
Eames had the gall to look amused in the face of Arthur’s disapproval.
“The ‘darling’ line was terrible, too,” Arthur told him.
“The ‘merry chase’ one was quite good, though,” Eames smirked at him. “Well done, you.”
“That wasn’t a line.”
“Why were you in the sketchy passport line? Is your passport forged?”
Eames looked offended. “Of course, but that’s not a sketchy line, that’s the line for non-US citizens.”
Oh, thought Arthur. Yeah, in retrospect, that made perfect sense. So he settled for a “Whatever” and pulled another piece of luggage off of the carousel.
“How much luggage do you have?” asked Eames.
“Enough,” Arthur responded shortly.
“Or are you just stealing other people’s?”
“I’m not stealing people’s luggage. Christ. Do you go around stealing people’s luggage?”
“Only when I need it.”
“Eames,” said Arthur, and looked at the one bag Eames had slung over his shoulder. “Is that your bag? If it isn’t, put it back, I’ll buy you some fucking clothes, Jesus fucking Christ.”
Eames looked delighted. “Are you going to take me shopping?”
“No,” Arthur retorted, annoyed that yes, he’d clearly offered to take Eames shopping. “I’m going to give you some money and then…not think about you again. How much money do you need?” Arthur reached for his wallet.
Eames continued to look at him with that odd smile Arthur could never interpret playing at his lips. Eames never looked at other people that way. It was fucking annoying. “Put your money away, Arthur, I’m newly flush from this job, remember? Although I’m charmed that you’d like to make me your kept boy.”
“I wouldn’t…” Arthur knew he was flushing. Arthur was really kind of done with blushing around Eames today.
“Is this an Arthur bag?” asked Eames, pulling a bag off the carousel. “Because it looks like an Arthur bag.”
Arthur stared in amazement. Because it was one of his bags. But Arthur didn’t know what about it made it an “Arthur bag.” And he didn’t want to ask, so he narrowed his eyes and took the bag and added it to his cart and said, “Have a good life, Eames,” and he thought that was a really dignified exit. All he had to do now was not trip on his way out of the baggage area. He’d leave Eames with what Arthur knew was the really incredible view of his ass in well-tailored trousers.
Except that Eames started walking with him. “Are you going to Chez Cobb to celebrate?”
“Christ, no,” Arthur said before he could help himself, and then winced.
Eames laughed. “Well, that’s a relief. Even Saint Arthur needs a break every once in a while from Dominick Cobb.”
“I am definitely not a saint,” grumbled Arthur, as they walked through the doors together, slamming into the wall of L.A. heat.
“I am really rather hoping not,” growled Eames, in an utterly different tone of voice that made Arthur miss a step and almost fall off the curb with his precarious pile of luggage.
As it was, he just stopped walking and gaped at Eames stupidly.
“Let me ask you something,” Eames said, still in that low purr that probably was illegal. Arthur actually looked around as if scared someone might call the police over Eames’s illegal tone of voice. Which was why he missed the moment that Eames stepped closer to him until Eames was right in his space, little brushing touches along Arthur’s front, and Arthur stared at him. “How’s not thinking about my penis going for you?”
Arthur looked down. Arthur actually fucking looked down. Arthur wanted to die right there on the spot. He looked back up and pretended he hadn’t looked down and said as breezily as he could manage, “Good. It’s going really good.”
“Hmm,” said Eames, looking unbothered, and took an impossible step closer, as if he hadn’t already been standing against Arthur to begin with. “Because I–” Eames leaned his head down to press just the tip of his nose under Arthur’s jaw, and that was all he did, and that felt suddenly like the fucking hottest thing anyone had ever done to Arthur ever, never mind in public. Arthur took a shattered breath and told himself to get a grip here and then Eames said, “–have not thought about your cock all day.”
Arthur’s breath stuttered again and he grabbed for Eames like he was going to fall over, like Eames had given him a physical shove off of his equilibrium. The tip of Eames’s nose pressed against his skin again, this time on his collarbone, under the collar of his shirt, and fuck, when had Eames loosened his tie and gotten access there?
“Mmm,” said Eames, a rumble that Arthur felt from Eames’s chest against his own, because that’s how close they were standing, and Eames drew his nose up the line of Arthur’s neck, and Arthur tipped his head back and shifted his hands from clutched in Eames’s shirt to clutched in Eames’s hair. Eames took another impossible step, one thigh now solidly against Arthur’s groin, and said against Arthur’s cheekbone–and Arthur could fucking feel the curve of his lips as he said it, “Yes, that cock, right there. Haven’t thought about it all day,” and shifted, just a bit, against where Arthur was undeniably, alarmingly, uncomfortably, ridiculously hard.
“Fuck,” said Arthur, and he wanted to sound annoyed but he sounded breathless, hands in Eames’s hair, eyes closed, lowering his head to line their mouths up, but he didn’t move in for the kiss, because he wasn’t going to do this if Eames was teasing, he wasn’t going to–
“Yes,” agreed Eames, hands under Arthur’s coat, onto Arthur’s hips, and he gave one sharp hard tug to adjust Arthur’s positioning and Arthur heard the groan he made and didn’t even fucking care because he felt like his entire body was shivering in anticipation and honestly he couldn’t remember the last time anticipation had been a good thing and he was really fucking sure, from the bite to Eames’s voice now, that he wasn’t teasing. “Definitely haven’t thought about pressing you up against any available surface and making sure that my cock is the absolute only thing you’re thinking about. The only thought in that gorgeous, infuriating head of yours. This cock. Right here.”
Eames dragged against him in tiny micro-movements that had Arthur panting. He wasn’t sure they were doing anything to attract attention aside from the fact that Eames had stupidly managed to shatter him in ten seconds flat just by standing right up against him.
“Shh, darling,” murmured Eames, his lips so close to Arthur’s that Arthur could feel them forming the words and Arthur just wanted to lean forward and swallow Eames whole but found himself waiting, waiting, waiting. “I want to make it so you can’t even remember anything but how much you want me, how much you want me to fucking destroy you.”
Arthur whimpered. Arthur shifted impatiently, in Eames’s direction.
Eames shifted, too, only away from Arthur.
Arthur’s eyes flew open, suddenly alarmed that Eames had been teasing, and Arthur was going to have to fucking kill him right there outside the baggage claim at LAX Terminal T.
But Eames looked as wrecked as Arthur felt, his hair sticking up all over the place from Arthur’s hands, his pupils blown wide and frantic and burning. “Say yes,” Eames said. “Tell me yes, darling.”
Arthur stared at him, and thought suddenly of all the things he would be saying yes to. Because this wasn’t sex, and they both knew it. This was yes to the million things they pretended to never be thinking about, when it came to the two of them. Planes and cars and people came and went all around them and Arthur thought of all the things he never thought about, like the way Eames smiled at him unlike the way he smiled at anyone else, like the way Eames’s voice said his name, like the way Eames’s voice called him “darling,” like the way Eames knew instinctively what Arthur’s luggage looked like, like the way Eames had taken impossible steps close to him to tell him all the things he thought about.
“What are you thinking?” asked Eames, studying his face in concern, as if there was the slightest chance that Arthur would tell him no, that Arthur wouldn’t follow Eames to every godforsaken corner of the planet after this.
Arthur closed his hands in the lapels of Eames’s jacket and tugged him forward and kissed him hard, kissed him the way he had never thought about kissing him, like a hello and a come in and a take your shoes off and a set up residence and a never ever leave never ever fucking leave.
Eames kissed him back the same way. Eames kissed him back and said, “Darling,” over and over, nibbling at Arthur’s skin and catching him up.
“I want you to know,” Arthur said, feeling warm and dizzy and stretched oddly and he realized abruptly it was because he was smiling, grinning, wide enough for Eames to swoop in and plant kisses against Arthur’s dimples, “I never think about you. Ever.”
“I know,” Eames said, sounding warm and fond. “You never track me down–” kiss “–or keep tabs on me–” kiss “–or know where I am at every moment in case I get into trouble.”
“I never do that,” Arthur said, wrapping an arm around Eames’s neck so he could keep his mouth right there, where it was in easy kissing distance.
“You never do,” Eames agreed, still smiling, still kissing. “It’s true. You never look at me like you want to climb me like a tree.”
“I never do that,” Arthur said.
“You never lean back in your seat and spread your legs and invite me to settle in and blow you,” said Eames.
“Oh, no,” said Arthur, “that I do all the time, you just never take the fucking hint.”
Eames laughed. Eames laughed and kissed him and then leaned back and straightened Arthur’s tie, as if putting him back together again, and Arthur’s heart flopped down at Eames’s feet so obviously that he was surprised people didn’t have to stop stepping around it as they dodged the pair of them.
Arthur said, “I have an apartment here. It’s got a lot of lube. Because of how much I don’t think about you fucking me through the mattress.”
“Oh, good,” said Eames, eyes dark. “I don’t think about that, either. How beautifully convenient.”
“We’re a good match,” said Arthur.
“We don’t think about each other the perfect amount,” agreed Eames.
Arthur took Eames’s hand. Arthur took Eames’s hand. Like that was a perfectly normal thing to do. And Eames didn’t even react. Like that was a perfectly normal thing to do. Arthur took Eames’s hand and kissed him and said, “Take me home and fucking destroy me so that the only thing I can think about in the entire universe is what a really spectacular penis you have.”
“So romantic,” said Eames fondly. And did just that.