hermiones: (inception // team)
Cat ([personal profile] hermiones) wrote2010-09-08 12:38 am

Inception Fic: "The Sun Always Shines On TV" (Arthur/Eames)

Title: The Sun Always Shines On TV
Pairing: Arthur/Eames
Rating: R
Warnings: Rude language, rude content, slash, angst.

1. Pick a character, pairing, or fandom you like.
2. Turn on your music player and put it on random/shuffle.
3. Write a drabble related to each song that plays. You only have the time frame of the song to finish the drabble; you start when the song starts, and stop when it’s over. No lingering afterwards!
4. Do ten of these, then post them.

The Killers – Human
Let me know, is your heart still beating?

The advantage of working with the subconscious is that everybody sees your shit. No point hiding anything. No point developing a poker face.

Arthur has never denied what's going on but then nobody has ever had to ask. It's something that everybody knows about but nobody talks about. The first rule of Flight Club.

Dom invites them to the wedding on the same lily-white sheet of paper. They reply separately.

The wedding is so beautiful that Arthur almost feels he should've brought his totem. It isn't the chrysanthemums, the setting or the little French flower girls. It's about more than that and less than that.

The way Dom's face looks like the shadows can't touch it. The way Mal sneaks an indecently grateful look down at her hand during the speeches. The way they dance together and he leans in and says something – something that nobody else will ever know or have to. They way they move together like gods, like something supernatural.

The hotel room is looming and enormous. The sun lies on the bed like a lazy cat. Arthur regards himself in the bathroom mirror, the fragments of Eames moving in the bedroom. He watches him slide off his new leather shoes – the ones he hates, the ones he didn't bother to break in – until Eames looks up at him and the moment splinters.

Nobody knows that Arthur can't look at Eames, not when he's also looking at himself.

Muse – Feeling Good
When this day is done and this old world, is a new world.

He's only moved to Paris but the distance behind him feels like light years.

He makes an effort to assimilate; quickly harbouring a taste for black coffee, for all the tailoring his meagre riches can extend to and for not eating breakfast.

At night, he dreams and dreams in footprints of sound and colour, the free-wheeling clumsiness of a child.

Every morning, he crosses the Bir-Hakeim and feels preposterously happy. This is what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Not many twenty-two year olds can be certain about anything, let alone everything.

His classmates talk about the new craze of lucid dreaming as if it's something real, as if it actually matters. Arthur ignores them; the ludicrous joy of building actuality, things that feel under your shoes – all of it is more than he can dream of.

One day in April, a man called Dom Cobb arrives. The world quite literally turns upside down.

Hooters – Satellite
So jump in the river and learn to swim; God's gonna wash away all your sins. And if you still can't see the light; God's gonna buy you a satellite.

The thing about success is that it tastes – always – like the delicious cold bite of champagne. The incredulity spins through Arthur's mind and makes his motivations dangerous.

The Fischer job is without a doubt the most successful the team (the “team”) has ever been. Couple that with the stunned look in Dom's eyes as he wakes and Arthur is inclined to deem them all gods. He doesn't dare look at Eames.

He doesn't need to. He knows that Eames is tucking one worn leather loafer over the other, scratching the rough skin on his ankle as he does so. He knows that Eames is breathing hard, ten hours worth of carbon dioxide. He knows that Eames is tucking anxious fingernails under the metal band of his watch. He knows that Eames is merely pretending that the adrenaline isn't bubbling in his blood.

The thing about success is that it tastes – to Eames – like the delicious cold gooseflesh of fear.

Arthur waits until Dom collects his luggage, waits until he sees him through arrivals and into Miles' custody. Gives Miles a wave for old time's sake, though Paris feels like another person ago.

Then, he strides towards Eames. Dangerous motivations be fucking damned.

“Eames,” he says.

“I thought we weren't doing this anymore,” Eames says, a note in his voice that Arthur is too tired, victorious or horny to bother translating.

“Are you coming?” Arthur says. “Or not?”

The thing about success is that it tastes like a hotel room, like Eames' fingers fucking with his own, like the way their mouths slide together with one long shuddering gasp.

Or it used to.

Nat King Cole - Unforgettable
Like a song of love that clings to me. How the thought of you does things to me.

“If you were going to forge me,” Arthur says ('forge' isn't a verb, he thinks, but anyway) “how would you do it? Where would you start?”

Eames regards him with what Arthur would like to think is intrigue, but he rather suspects is amusement. “Forgery is a delicate business,” he says. “It's like architecture. It's more important to give an authentic general sense than a perfect performance.”

“Okay,” Arthur says, though he knows this already. “So. Where would you start?”

“Your most prominent attributes,” Eames says. “Impertinence and a sexy glare.”

“Hey,” Arthur says. “My glare isn't sexy.”

“Very little about you isn't sexy,” Eames says, cheerfully.

“Fuck you,” Arthur says. “And I don't think I'd buy that forgery. You don't know me at all.”

“Much to my chagrin,” Eames says. “I have to concede that point.”

“I'm not impertinent,” he says. “I'm not a child.”

“I didn't say you were,” Eames says. “You're just impatient. You want to know everything all at once.”

“That's my job,” Arthur says.

“You don't have a job,” Eames says. “Dom's still working out what to do with you.”

That hits home.

“No,” Arthur says. “No, he isn't. I am.”

“Hm. I don't think you're an architect,” Eames says.

“That doesn't mean I'm nothing.”

“I didn't say you were. Jesus, calm down.”

Arthur is stunned into irate silence for a moment. Then, his lungs fill with heat.

“How did you know forgery was your thing? You didn't just wake up in the morning and know what the hell you wanted to do, right? I was – in Paris, I knew. Here, I don't – I don't know. But I will. And I won't be nothing.”

Eames shrugs. “I like people,” he says. “I like knowing people. I like seeing them, inside and out.”

Arthur realises, some years later, that this is just one of many bald-faced lies Eames has told him. But then, he's stupid enough to be impressed by it and not-quite-straight enough to go to bed with it.

Vienna Teng - My Medea
For you I'd burn the length and breadth of sky.

In the morning after, Arthur thinks about the first woman he dated. The first woman he loved, in some adolescent approximation of what that meant. Her name was Charlotte and the best he can say of her is that she made his life feel simplistic.

Sometimes he would watch her in the way he tries to watch Eames. It never hurt him, the movement of her hands as she brushed her hair, dabbed her face with powder, ran the smooth lines of her dress down over her hips.

Eames stretches somewhere from the hip, his toes curling and unfurling, as if he's just thought better of turning over. Arthur's chest aches and he reflexively thumbs one of the cigarettes he bought for the wedding.

It isn't that Charlotte was a woman and Eames is a man. It isn't that Eames is aggressive with smiling, in a way Charlotte never understood how to be. It isn't even that Eames takes and demands, all in the same breath.

It's that Eames represents a decision Arthur has already made, years ago, without realising.

He packs in complete silence, pausing only briefly as he tries to remember which of the fucking toothbrushes is his.

Madonna – Like A Prayer
When you call my name, it's like a little prayer.

Arthur hates Cobb. He hates Cobb, a perfect metaphor for every nanosecond of his existence.

The problem with contempt is that you have to get over yourself, if you ever want to achieve something with what you find contemptible. Arthur at once loves and loathes the dreamscape, the idea of building something both fantastic and unreal. He hates how useless he is at something that doesn't even fucking exist.

And he hates having to get over himself. He spent enough time forming his opinions that breaking them is exhausting.

Cobb is slowly realising that Arthur is not built for this kind of architecture and his disappointment manifests itself in a mortifying kindness. With it he brings in an architect called Elva, charged with teaching Arthur everything that he knows.

Arthur doesn't learn half as much from Elva as from his friend; a man everybody knows to call Eames. They all do it with an overt sense of irony that's infuriating.

“With a name like Arthur, you shouldn't have that accent,” Eames says to him. His voice clips with the kind of pointless patriotism that Arthur always hears in the British accent. He feels immediately judged and resents it.

“At least it is my name,” he says, insecure and intimidated.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
And the holy dove was moving too.

Arthur doesn't need to tell Eames everything. Nobody needs to tell Eames everything; he's noticed this, over the years.

Whether Eames expected it (how could he?) or just isn't surprised, or just isn't – anything – Arthur doesn't ask. Even though not to do so is selfish and cruel, because Eames knew Mal in ways Arthur doesn't truly understand.

But Arthur stands in the doorway of Eames' hotel room and doesn't tell him everything and Eames just swallows, his eyes closing momentarily.

They drink. They don't sit. They don't speak. And then Eames reaches out a hand and Arthur takes it. He remembers the softness of the bed beneath him, the way the pillows curl under his neck like a part of his body. The warmth of Eames' hands on his cheeks, on his shoulders, on his hips, under his ass.

He remembers forgetting. An hour, maybe two of the most perfect forgetting. Nothing in the world but the strangely intoxicating colour of Eames' eyes when he's fucking, the way his breath stutters on a note and he can never finish the name.

The dark deep feeling of bodies pressed together and an urgency sharpened by a world so cruel as to separate Mal and Dom.

They fuck like they should have after the wedding; damp and close and stupid. Arthur tries not to wonder why they can only come together like this when there's death or destruction in the air. He tells himself that they aren't disgracing Mal's memory but promising never to follow her.

Lady Gaga – Teeth
I'm gonna love you with my hands tied.

The first time he goes to bed with Eames, he's twenty-four years old and he's just invented the concept of Point Man and Cobb is already having to ward off other extractors. He's on top of the godforsaken world and in the stupidity of his arrogance, a part of him feels that he's a trophy fuck for a guy like Eames.

Which is why he doesn't tell Eames that it is or it isn't his first time with a guy – doesn't tell him anything he thinks he needs to know. This isn't a relationship, this isn't a Thing; it's just something that Arthur wants, just something that a guy on top of the world should do. Eames should be grateful for it rather than asking questions.

Only there's a moment, a moment where Eames' fingers are wrapped in his and they're both grunting in a way that's gloriously undignified. A moment where Eames is buried so deep it doesn't make physical sense and there's pleasure rolling around in every last corner of his body and he thinks he just might die. There's a moment where he knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this is what he wants for the rest of his life.

It's like Paris, all over again, only he no longer has youthful invincibility on his side.

They lie together for a while afterwards, breathing in the dark. When Eames passes him a cigarette (now that one is a first), he takes it gratefully.

In hindsight, that probably told Eames more than he ever could in words.

Vienna Teng - Momentum
Of all the seasons, winter befriends me.

When Arthur wakes up, the ghost on his skin tricks him into thinking Eames is beside him. Opening his eyes, he realises that he's alone. He stretches into the empty space, craning his ears for sounds of life. Sounds of anything at all. It takes him a second and then the bewildering remembrance of Mal's death comes back to him, too.

Padding around the room, it's obvious that Eames has gone. He rings down to reception and feels a prize fool, asking whether he's checked out already. The man doesn't betray any confusion, merely confirms what Arthur already knows in an irritatingly cheerful tone.

He opens the empty wardrobe and sits on the bed, looking into the space. He's always known that Eames doesn't really trust him; they don't really trust each other and never have. But Eames is gone, which means that he doesn't trust himself either.

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin'
Your sons are your daughters are beyond your command.

Arthur knows that Eames can't stop thinking about Mal.

Everybody asks how he's doing because everybody knows that Arthur was the third wheel, the side dish to a marriage that laughed in the face of convention. Dom's work wife, as Mal liked to say.

People don't ask Eames because people don't know about Eames and Mal, don't know about Eames and the way he buries death in his bones because he can't, won't, cope with it.

Eames doesn't go to the funeral, which is about the third selfless thing Arthur's ever seen him do.

He calls him two days after and Arthur flies out to Mombasa. He's knee-deep in poker chips and fury, reinventing himself again and again and again. There's a hard set in his shoulders that belies the wildness in his eyes.

“How is Dom,” he says, over coffee. Arthur's too afraid to drink with him. Too afraid to ask why he abandoned him in the hotel room, too afraid to ask him why he can't trust himself.

“Holding together,” he says. “He has the kids. It'll be alright. At least, until – you know. She – she made it difficult for him to-”

“Yeah,” Eames says. He hasn't said anything about Arthur agreeing to come out. Arthur doesn't know whether he expected him to say yes, or whether he no longer cares about banal trivialities like emotional gestures.

“I booked into a hotel,” Arthur says, because he's too tired to dance around the subject. A part of him needs Eames to look at him like he did the night in the hotel room, like he was afraid to be without him. Like he was afraid of what his life had been before that moment of being inside him, being complete – like he'd finally discovered the secret to his own existence. Some shit like that.

“Alright,” Eames says.

“I can change that,” Arthur says, though he knows that if he has to press the point then he's already lost. Eames isn't stupid.

“No,” Eames says. “Don't.”

The Saturdays – Ego
You act like you're on fire, living your delusion.

The intensity of it is terrifying.

Arthur has never given consequence to emotions, the way he gives consequence to reason. That Eames should occupy so entirely his working life and his personal life leaves him at the mercy of emotional terrorism. It'd be unbearable if the sex weren't so good.

Only Eames, Eames is incapable of satisfaction.

“Have you noticed that we're always screwing in hotel rooms?” he says, shaving. Arthur hates it when he uses Americanisms on purpose. Hates it when he brings up emotional shit when he's shaving, like some kind of masochist.

He sits in the bedroom and shrugs at the wall, because there's no answer to that question except a nagging feeling in his gut, which he can't very well verbalise.

“Do you have an apartment?” Eames says.

Arthur looks up at the ceiling. The silence punctuated only by the electric razor, a sound Arthur suspects he will from this point onward associate with awkwardness and stale fear.

“I have an apartment,” Eames says. “If you're interested.”

Arthur remains silent. He wants to ask, 'what's wrong with just this?' but doesn't. He checks his watch, more out of reflex than anything. He wonders whether Eames thinks he's died, or something.

“Arthur,” Eames says, just a little louder than the razor. Arthur knows that he's going to have to do something.

“I heard you,” Arthur says.

To his credit, Eames doesn't ask anything more. He's not stupid.

“It doesn't have to be a big deal,” Arthur says. “This is – we need to be professional.”

There's a jut in the electric sound and Eames swears impressively. Arthur closes his eyes.

REM – Monty Got A Raw Deal
The movies had that movie thing, but nonsense has a welcome ring.

Arthur's first assignment involves a role he created. It doubtlessly amuses Cobb that he hired Arthur to create worlds and instead, Arthur created an entirely new job.

The performance, however, is perfect and the job? His.

It's then that he's introduced to Mal, who embraces him with an inclusive mischief that makes him feel incredible. They sit in the bar and they drink, and drink, and drink.

“Eames,” she says, much later on. “Eames is a man and he's also a woman. He's also other people. He's a little of everyone. Maybe now he's a bit of me.”

“What?” Arthur says, philosophy never having been his strong point and besides, fucking drunk.

“It's what he does,” she says, by way of explanation. “The forgery – it's a little of acting and a little of stealing. He forgets himself. He is a little like a hydra, I think.”

“Are you saying that we should chop his heads off?”

“No,” she laughs. “Of course not. How would you know which ones to chop off and which not to?”

Mumford & Sons – I Gave You All
If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won.

Arthur is packing to leave Mombasa when a call comes through to the room. The receptionist pronounces 'Eames' with a lilting affection and it makes Arthur's heart ache.

When Eames arrives at the door, he's drunk beyond any reasonable capacity. Arthur doesn't offer him somewhere to sit. He just kicks the door wide open with his heel and resumes folding his clothes. His favourite suit hangs in the bathroom.

“You're leaving,” Eames says, with a ridiculous tone given that they haven't seen each other in days and what was Arthur supposed to do in Mombasa anyway, if not fuck the demons out of him?

“Yeah,” Arthur says. He has nothing more to say. He doesn't ask how Eames found out.


Arthur shrugs. “Philly. Going to visit some friends.”

“Not Dom?”

“I don't know. Maybe. Not yet – I'm waiting for him to call me.”

“Of course,” Eames says, sourly.

“Yeah,” Arthur says. “Seriously, it's audacious of me, not barging in on him right now.”

“You have to be needed,” Eames says. “That's your problem. People have to need you before you go to them. You have to be asked.”

“I think that's called consideration,” Arthur says, his voice deliberately light. He can't win arguments with Eames when Eames is sober, let alone wasted. “Non-presumption.”

“Oh, piss off,” Eames says. “Your big words and your fucking – ideas, about decorum. Just-”

“I thought you thought Yanks were boors,” Arthur says, his blood quickening. “I thought the British invented decorum, along with everything worthy in the world. Make your mind up.”

“Not Yanks,” Eames says. “Just this one.”

“Right,” Arthur says. “Of course. Of course, just me. Look – why don't you go do whatever it is you do when you're fucked out of your mind? I didn't ask you to come here.”

“I don't wait to be asked.”

“Yeah, well. Maybe that's your problem. Maybe you're always making these – fucking assumptions about what people want.”

“I asked you,” Eames says and it isn't anger so much as anguish, a note so deftly hidden that it takes Arthur a second to place it.

“I asked you. Don't pretend you had any fucking idea what you wanted.”

They stand there with the door open, ridiculous and angry, their fists all in clumps and their hearts shaking.

“I did,” Arthur says. “I always knew. I just didn't want to want it. And then when I did, when I was going to come and tell you – she'd just, she'd just died, and you-”

Sisters of Mercy – Temple of Love
A gun for a lover and a shot for the pain.

Being with Eames again is surprisingly easy. When Dom brings him in on the Fischer job, Arthur makes a promise to himself to try to start anew. He isn't sure what sort of Eames Dom will bring back from Kenya. He's relieved when Eames walks in as though nothing has ever happened. Relieved and pissed, but the dichotomy has long since stopped concerning him.

Eames has put on weight since they last saw each other, lost some of the dark circles beneath his eyes. He looks less haunted. As though somebody has chopped off the grieving head and allowed a moderate version to regrow.

“So,” he says, when he lays eyes on Arthur. “You accepted a job that you don't think can be done?”

“Yes,” Arthur says. “If Dom says it can be-”

“No, I'm just surprised.”


“It's oddly imaginative.”

“I have many hidden depths,” Arthur says, archly. “I assume you're here to work, not just to-”

“I'm always here to work,” Eames says. “Though whilst we're on the topic, your arse is looking incredible right now.”

“If only that still worked on me,” Arthur says.

“Yes, isn't time a bitch,” Eames says.

“How did you get involved with Saito?” Eames asks, later. The warehouse is humming into emptiness.

“We were on a job,” Arthur says. “An extraction. Only we didn't realise he'd sussed us out. The job went wrong and he used that as leverage to get Dom onboard.”

“Hm,” Eames says.

“Mal showed up,” Arthur says. He's not sure why he says it, only – he doesn't want them to be people who can never say her name for fear of jumping too. Eames goes a little taut with shock but recovers easily. “As a projection,” he adds.

“Hm,” Eames says again, with more emphasis.

“She shot me in the kneecap,” Arthur says. “And revealed the plan to Saito.”

“Excellent,” Eames says. “I'm so glad to be back.”

“I don't think Dom's in his right mind,” Arthur says.

“I wouldn't expect him to be,” Eames says.

“Mm. Are you?”

“I don't think I even have a right mind,” Eames says. “But your concern is appreciated nonetheless.”

“In Mombasa-”

“Let's not talk about Mombasa,” Eames says. “Come on. Mombasa was – this is Paris. Paris isn't about Mombasa. Paris is about starting anew. You once told me that.”


“I'm fine,” Eames says.

Florence + The Machine - Rabbit-Heart (Raise It Up)
Midas is King and he holds me so tight, and turns me to gold in the sunlight.

They take a cab to the nearest hotel, Arthur failing to care how the driver is translating his request.

They glance at each other on the way, not even trying to hide what's going on. Eames looks like he's been awkwardly put back together after the dream, as if he's still shaking off sleep. A little vulnerable. Arthur knows how he feels. He runs his hand along the leather of the seat, rests it between their bodies.

It takes a few breaths, but then he feels the touch of Eames' fingertips on his.

They arrive at the hotel and Arthurs checks them into the penthouse, because they're both richer than god and twice as powerful – even though Eames looks nauseated and he feels kind of like he's been in a Greek tragedy.

He opens the door and the room is flooded with light, flooded with the sprawling bright mess of Los Angeles. Eames stands by the window and toes off his shoes as he looks out. Arthur can see the creases in the leather and it makes him remember the moments he's seen that have made up the life of a pair of fucking shoes. He wants to laugh at himself for being so ridiculous and so pitiful.

Eames looks at him in the glass, catches his eye. Arthur looks back. He looks and looks and looks.

“Lie down,” Arthur says, even though that's not why he came, that's not why he thought he was here.

Eames shrugs off his jacket, starts to undo his shirt. Arthur mirrors him and they never take their eyes off one another.

Eames lies down on the bed and Arthur gets in from the other side. The room is so bright that sleeping seems impossible, but the bed is warm and the pillows comfortable, even given Arthur's unreasonable expectations.

“If I go to sleep,” Eames says, his throat rough. “Am I going to wake up alone?”

“No,” Arthur says. “Not even if you ask to be.”

Eames closes his eyes.

[identity profile] glampop.livejournal.com 2010-09-07 05:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh. Oh this was wonderful :D

Also, mythological allusion - I see you!!
padfoot: (Default)

[personal profile] padfoot 2010-09-08 02:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! :) I love your icon, incidentally - it's gorgeous!

Hahahaha, glad you caught it. ;)

[identity profile] callmebombshell.livejournal.com 2010-09-07 05:59 pm (UTC)(link)
“If I go to sleep,” Eames says, his throat rough. “Am I going to wake up alone?”
“No,” Arthur says. “Not even if you ask to be.”

This, right here, just made this entire little series for me. The whole time they're dancing around each other, not really admitting things until it's too late and they've lost their opportunity. And then at the end, they both just give in and admit that neither or them wants the other to be gone. It's exactly the right note to end on. This is lovely, I really enjoyed reading it :D
padfoot: (Default)

[personal profile] padfoot 2010-09-08 03:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much!! I'm really glad that you liked it. Thank you so much for the feedback. ♥
ext_25147: (dream a bit bigger)

[identity profile] yourealwaysmine.livejournal.com 2010-09-11 04:24 am (UTC)(link)
oh this is lovely.

[identity profile] burritos.livejournal.com 2010-09-20 12:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you. :)
ext_1798: (Default)

[identity profile] wildestranger.livejournal.com 2010-10-05 03:10 pm (UTC)(link)
This is gorgeous. I love your Arthur and your Eames, and the way these snippets fit together to tell the story. Most enjoyable.