|A Matter of Secretary
Author: zephtastic PM
INCEPTION meets The Office. Jim/Pam dynamic for Arthur/Eames. Arthur hates being the secretary, Eames finds a way to fix it and get Arthur's attention.Rated: Fiction K - English - Humor/Romance - & Arthur - Words: 2,165 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-30-10 - id: 6192985
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I've actually got a degree in English," Arthur says. His eyes flick to meet the camera straight on before darting away and shifts in his seat. "But here I am. A secretary." He looks back at the camera again, mouth visibly tightening.
"You're capable of making copies yourself," Arthur interrupts, voice clipped but not exactly angry. He doesn't even look up.
Eames blinks, moves the papers in his hand to the other so that he can lean over better to look at Arthur. "But you're the secretary."
"I am not. The. Secretary." Arthur grinds out slowly. "I was hired as Cobb's assistant, Eames."
Their gaze is both drawn to the shut door of their boss' office. Eames turns back to Arthur, lips pursing. "Well, you can do me a favor then because, technically, this is for Cobb, in the end." Eames smiles charmingly and drops the papers at Arthur's elbow and walks off.
"Arthur is adorable, really. He's a bit of a tight ass, though, especially for a secretary." Eames smirks and shrugs. "We're friends." He pauses, fingers tapping a jittery tempo on his knee. "Besides, I don't think there're sexual harassment laws for imen/i."
"Ariadne, psst, Ariadne!"
The petite woman pauses her typing and looks around. Yusuf isn't paying her any mind, Saito is playing solitaire and Cobb's door was still shut. She turns slowly to look at Eames' desk beside her, which is empty.
"Ariadne!" That is definitely Eames. She presses her palms to the edge of her desk and pushes backwards on her chair, wheels rolling her far enough back to see Eames. Eames who was sitting half under his desk.
"Why are you under your desk, Eames?" Ariadne asks, amused. Eames scowls at her.
"Is Arthur looking over here?"
She looks up to the secretary's desk on the other side of the room, which is empty. "He's not at his desk."
"Not at his desk?" Eames repeats, incredulous before beginning to squirm to try and get out. "He was just-"
"What in the hell are you doing down there?"
Ariadne turns slightly in her chair to see Arthur standing behind her, a stack of papers under his arm. She smiles and tries not to laugh.
"I dropped all my pens," Eames replies, indignant as he gracefully pulls himself off the floor. "Are those my copies?"
"Yes," Arthur says and hands them to Eames, who watches Arthur walk away. He sighs and looks down at the stack of papers. What was he going to do with a stack of well written essays imploring Arthur to date him?
"Arthur's been making plans about getting Cobb to put a desk outside his office so that Arthur is more like the assistant he was hired to be," Ariadne says smiling. She leans back and digs in her pocket, pulling out a college-ruled piece of paper to show the camera. "This is the plan he made me draw up to show Cobb. Since we'd have to rearrange the whole office to accommodate the new desk." She snorts and looks at the paper. "He made a copy of it."
"Cobb," Arthur stands in the middle of Cobb's office, holding a large piece of white matte board. "I have a proposal for you."
Cobb leans back in his desk chair. "A proposal for what?"
"Arthur," Cobb breathes out staring at the drawing of the new office and then back up at the actual office. "This won't work."
Other people are staring at them now. Arthur is shifting impatiently from foot to foot. "Why not? It makes perfect sense; I'm supposed to be your assistant. Having me sitting at the front of the office makes everyone think I'm the secretary. I'm not."
Cobb just stares at him.
"You realize this right?" Arthur's tone becomes slightly desperate. "Right?"
Cobb frowns and pats Arthur's shoulder. "Of course I do, Arthur," he says reassuringly but his voice is too tight for it to have any real effect. "You repeatedly said you wouldn't take the job if you were the secretary when I hired you." There's a bark of laughter behind the camera, which swings around to look at Yusuf, who starts and stiffly leans back with his arms crossed. Cobb sighs and Arthur's shoulders slump.
"I know you're smart, I wouldn't have hired you if you weren't," Cobb continues and smiles at Arthur, who smiles back. It's awkward. "But if we just suddenly change the whole office layout, it will collapse the productive atmosphere."
Arthur stares at Cobb, dumbstruck. Cobb just hands him back his copy of Ariadne's blueprint and walks back into his office, door swinging shut behind him.
"I have no idea what he was thinking," Yusuf says, still laughing. "He has to realize Cobb only hired him to be the secretary. Of course Cobb agreed to say Arthur was his "assistant." Cobb was desperate. He would have said Arthur was the Queen of England if it meant he'd take the job."
"Guys, we have to help Arthur out," Eames says as soon as he's in the break room and the door is shut behind him. Yusuf and Saito are frowning into their coffee and Ariadne has a spoon of yogurt half way to her mouth.
"What for?" Yusuf asks, holding his coffee cup out at arm's length. "I'd rather help myself to a better cup of coffee."
Ariadne leans back in her chair. "It's like that because Arthur put salt in the grounds." She smirks as Saito and Yusuf hastily dump their mugs into the sink. "You deserve though, laughing at him for trying to make things better around here. He has a degree—"
"In English, yes we all know," Yusuf finishes for her, a dry look on his face.
"I agree," Saito says as he abandons his mug on the counter. It has Hello Kitty on it and is mostly purple. "Arthur shouldn't be forced to be the secretary, especially if that is not what he wishes to do."
Saito's calm, melodious voice seems to cause everyone in the room to begin to nod, eyes narrow as they stare distantly at nothing. Eames breaks their trance with a sudden flailing motion.
"I have an idea!" he cries, grin manic and he stares around at them in expectation. Ariadne drops her chair onto all four legs and makes an expressive gesture as if to impatiently prompt him to continue. "Why don't we find someone to be the actual secretary?"
The other three in the room make a chorus of agreeing sounds. Eames only grins wider.
"But wait," Yusuf interjects. "Just who would want that job?"
Arthur is silent as he sits more noticeably slumped than usual. There is a vague frown on his face as he stares off camera. He takes a deep breath as if to speak but then lets it out slowly.
Ariadne walks up to Arthur's desk. "Hey, Arthur," she says with a smile.
Arthur looks up and smiles back, but it's a little more forced. "Hello, Ariadne," he says back.
She looks him over slowly, beginning to frown before she bites her lower lip to stop it from forming. "I'm sorry Cobb didn't see your, er," she searches for the right word, "dream?" Arthur just shrugs listlessly. "But we're going to try and—"
"Arthur!" Eames suddenly loudly interrupts. "Did you get my memo?"
Arthur blinks. "Uh," he says looking down to his computer to check for the email. As his attention is drawn elsewhere Eames shakes his head vehemently at Ariadne who stares at him in alarm and then, slowly, nods in understanding.
"No, it's not here," Arthur says, looking back up.
Eames stills and smiles too wide at Arthur. "Oh well, c'mon Ariadne," he says too quickly.
"Wait," Arthur begins, "you were saying—" but Ariadne is already walking away. He shuts his mouth and sits back, watching them go.
"Ariadne is a great gal, really," Eames says, looking irritably at his nails. "Sometimes though, she just doesn't know when to shut up." He sighs huffily and jerks his hand away, looking up at the camera. "I want this to be a surprise. I want—" he stops, takes a deep breath and then continues, "I want to find the replacement for Arthur so that maybe…maybe he'll notice how much I notice him."
A week later Saito corners Eames in the supply closet. "I've found somebody," he announces with a proud tilt to his head.
Eames noticeably brightens, clutching the box of staples in his hand tighter. "Really? And they want the job?"
"Yes, I have already discussed the situation with them," Saito replies smoothly. "He's awaiting your phone call as soon as you've talked to Cobb about it."
"Why didn't you just go straight to Cobb…?"
Saito smiles. "I knew you would want Arthur to know it was all your idea."
As Saito leaves a slow, happy smile breaks out on Eames face.
"Something weird has been going on around the office," Arthur says obviously displeased. He's sitting straighter but it's too stiff. "Everyone is whispering about something and while usually I'm not involved immediately," his expression worsens at that, "I eventually get around to hearing what's going on." He meets the camera dead on. "Eames is behind it, that I do know."
"Another proposal?" Cobb asks incredulous as Eames' sits down in a spare chair. "They must be contagious…like ideas." He frowns at his desk, deep in thought.
"Oh!" Cobb's head snaps up and he gives Eames a quick, brief smile. "Right, your proposal?"
"We both know that Arthur really isn't your assistant," Eames says and holds up a hand quickly to stop Cobb's protests. "Seriously, Cobb, you hired him to be the secretary. We both know that he's qualified to do more than that. Is it really so bad to let him?"
Cobb frowns. "I understand your concern, Eames, but we need a secretary."
"I agree, we do," Eames replies easily looking smug. "Which is why I found a replacement."
"Robert Fischer?" Yusuf repeats completely incredulous. "Isn't he like the CEO's son or something?"
"The CEO's estranged son," Ariadne corrects. "It's brilliant, works out for everybody. Arthur gets a better job, we get our secretary, and this Fischer gets his misguided revenge on his father."
"As a bonus, by the time Fischer leaves, Arthur will have proven himself enough to stay as a salesperson and Cobb won't demote him," Saito says with a pleased smile.
Yusuf shakes his head as if he can't believe it. "Great work, Eames, great work indeed."
Eames stays silent, completely utterly smug.
Just outside the ajar door Arthur stands wide-eyed and slightly hunches into himself, ignoring the camera completely.
Robert Fischer frowns at the camera. "I just started here, what do you want me to say?" He turns his head around to look at the room they're in. "Why are we in the bathroom anyway?"
Eames is getting up from his desk to leave. Everyone else in the office has already left except for Arthur, who now occupies the previously vacant desk to Eames' left and is the farthest from the office's entrance.
As Eames turns Arthur is standing there, holding up a sheet of paper. Eames freezes as he eyes it and realizes just what it is. "Why do you have that?"
"I made a copy for myself," Arthur says and his voice sounds a little off, higher pitched than normal.
"And…why didn't you say anything if you knew what it was?" Eames asks slowly and is still clearly embarrassed.
"Well—I thought that maybe you hadn't meant to give it to me to make copies of and I didn't want to point it out to you to make it awkwarder than it already was," Arthur hurries to explain. "But then I thought maybe you had done it on purpose as a—really bad—joke or something? And I…"
Awkward silence descends on them. Eames just continues to stare at Arthur.
"You're the reason Cobb hired Fischer and promoted me, though," Arthur finally declares, voice more steady and confident now.
Eames starts and gapes. "Um, yes, I did but how did you find out?"
Arthur smiles and Eames makes a desperate sound. "I overheard you guys talking about it and if this," he gestures with the essay, "is true then I'd like to kiss you right now."
They step closer to each other. Eames reaches out to cup Arthur's jaw and just before their lips meet, Arthur's hand shoots up to block the camera.