He’s relaxing before their departure when he senses Eames behind him. Sure enough, Eames leans over his shoulder to peer at his reader. Arthur sighs. Despite a keen understanding of personal boundaries, employed with precision when forging, Eames generally ignores Arthur’s limits. It’s not exactly accidental.
“The Time Machine ? It’s been years since I read Wells.”
Arthur sips his doppio as Eames drops into a chair and signals the server. Apparently his sliver of pre-flight solitude is over. Of course, given that he’s sitting in Eames’ favorite portside cafe, Arthur will admit that isn’t actually an accident, either.
Eames taps the reader. “D’you ever wonder if that’s going on right around us? Time travel and what not?”
“You think we’re surrounded by time travelers?”
“Not precisely what I said, but why not?” Eames asks. “After all, wouldn’t most of this lot consider shared dreaming just as incredible?”
“I guess,” Arthur breaks off to nudge his chair over, making room for the Gliesian family behind him, “but there’s a psychobiological basis for lucid dreaming; there was a jumping off place for the research.”
He’s not sure why the thought of time travel feels so alien. He turns the idea around in his head while Eames orders and offers his eChit to the server hovering at their table.
Turning back, Eames says, “so you think we’re the only band of rogue covert technologists about?”
Arthur swirls his espresso as if searching the cup for words. “No,” he says. “I’m sure there are advances, whole fields of study even, that we’re not aware of, no matter how well-informed we are. But time-travel, I dunno, it feels like 19th century speculation to me.”
“Or 20th century?” Eames asks. “All those ‘impossible’ pulp predictions like faster than light travel, extraterrestrial life, and artificial intelligence.”
“Robots and ray-guns? Okay, yeah,” his smile is rueful as he smoothes his jacket over the plasma gun concealed at his hip. “I just want to believe that the past is immutable. We have such influence over the present and with inception...”
“Alright,” Eames accepts his synth-tea from the ‘droid gliding up beside him. “I understand your reservations but you have to admit that it would be bloody brilliant to see the future.”
“I think I’d rather be surprised,” Arthur says. “Drink up; our starcruiser is boarding soon.”
Eames lights up, “I wonder if there’s a secret teleport project out there?”