Author: Fallowsthorn PM
Arthur is never intimate with Eames, outside of the dreamworld. During one of their dreams, Eames finds out why. Rating for on-screen sexuality and mention of STDs/STIs.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Arthur & Eames - Words: 2,491 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 35 - Follows: 1 - Published: 12-21-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6576127
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hello. Yes, I know I should be working. I am working. This is a oneshot written for the Inception Anonymous Kink Meme, which I promised to write about three months ago. *winces* I swear, I have Attention Deficit Creator Disorder. At any rate, I'm trying to go through my list of Things I Should Have Done A While Ago, and this was the first of them, in chronological order.
The prompt can be found here: http:/ /community .livejournal .com /inception_kink /9742 .html ?thread =19631374 #t19631374 (remove the spaces). I don't think it's necessary to read it to understand the fic, since the summary's probably good enough, but *shrugs* do what you will.
Warnings for slash (Arthur/Eames) and mentions/discussion of HIV/AIDS.
RAYOR, and enjoy!
Eames stared across the warehouse at Arthur, willing him silently to look up and see him. It was way too late at night – or rather, morning, he amended when he checked his watch – to be sitting around at a desk and not in a bed.
Arthur, eventually, did look up, and Eames got the moment he was waiting for, to let Arthur see the hunger in his eyes. He was bored, and there was work, and Arthur was so much more interesting than that. "Arthur," he said, an octave lower than he normally spoke. "Would you come with me to check on the, um..." Damn. Should have thought of something first.
"Oh, yes, that," Arthur said vaguely, after a slight pause. "Yes, um. Sure."
Eames could sense Ariadne and Cobb rolling their eyes behind him, but he ignored this in favor of following Arthur towards the other end of the warehouse, where the building contorted and they'd be out of view. As soon as they were out of sight, he grabbed Arthur's arm to stop him and fiercely kissed him, not giving the latter any time to speak. Arthur responded to the kiss, and didn't resist when Eames pressed their bodies flush together and backed Arthur into the wall so that he was trapped.
Eames ground their hips together, feeling both himself and Arthur getting hard, and he made to undo Arthur's fly. At this, Arthur did protest, catching Eames' hand and slipping out from his embrace. His expression was regretful, as well as betraying how much he wanted Eames, but he still said "No," as firmly as he could.
Eames blinked. What? "Why?" was what came out of his mouth instead, which was just as good. And, in fact, a hell of a lot more articulate.
Arthur looked pained. "I... I can't tell you. But we can only..." He gestured futilely, then filled in the blank with, "Go that far... in dreams. Not in real life. I've told you, and I'm sorry. But I just... I can't. I'm sorry," he repeated, at a loss.
Eames could tell something was off, that there was something Arthur wasn't telling him, because the anguish on Arthur's face was too magnified, too guilty, for a simple lifestyle choice. And Eames had a feeling that if it were a simple lifestyle choice, he'd have convinced Arthur of the reverse by now.
But then Arthur was staring at him, waiting for him to say something, so Eames shook it off and answered him. "Now?" he suggested. "Ariadne and Cobb aren't using it..." It meaning the PASIV. He accompanied the sentence with a wink, and Arthur smirked in return.
Afterward, they lay together in the lush bed Arthur had created for this. Eames figured they had about half an hour, dream time, before the projections found them, unless the kick came first, and as wonderful as it was in the afterglow right then, he didn't really want to spend half an hour sticky with cum. He had a strong suspicion Arthur didn't, either.
Arthur made a noise of protest when Eames stirred, trying to bury his face in Eames' neck again, but Eames swung his legs over the side of the bed, making sure they'd hold his weight before he stood up. Arthur looked up at him sideways through slitted eyes, not wanting to move.
One of the great things about sex in dreams was that there was no need for clean up, but Eames would really like a shower right then, and he said as much. Arthur merely "mmm"d at him and shut his eyes again, which Eames took to mean, "Whatever. Go ahead. Leave me in peace."
He padded to the connected bathroom, intending to turn on the shower there, but something caught his eye. The medicine cabinet had a huge padlock mounted in the door, in a cartoony over-approximation of keeping it closed.
It wasn't a safe. It appeared to be a normal medicine cabinet, mirrored front and wooden sides, so why was it locked?
"Arthur," Eames called into the next room, "what's this?" Arthur grunted in response, so Eames turned his attention back to the lock. It was a simple lock, needing only a combination to open, and Eames had become rather adept at picking said locks, so he pressed his ear to the cabinet next to the dial and listened for the clicks of the tumblers.
It didn't take long to open, and when it did, the hinges turned silently and smoothly, betraying nothing.
The medicine cabinet was full of... well, actually, what you'd expect a medicine cabinet to be full of: rows upon rows of florescent orange pill bottles, the kind you get at the drugstore. There was one difference, though, one unexpected thing: every single one of them was empty.
Well, not quite empty. But instead of being filled with various pills of a wide range of shapes and sizes (representing Arthur's immune system, Eames supposed), they all had a single pill inside, oblong and a sickly black color and printed with something on the front that Eames couldn't make out.
Ignoring the quiet pulse of the kick warning that had started in his head, as well as the louder voice of apprehension accompanying it, Eames took out one of the pill bottles – the common cold, according to the label – and shook the lone pill into his hand.
In the light, and not distorted by the transparent orange, the pill had changed from sickly black to an even more sickly green. The lettering on the top was visible, and when Eames read it, his voice of apprehension was too shocked to even slip him an I told you so.
The pill that had replaced the entirety of Arthur's immune system read, very clearly and in block capital letters, HIV/AIDS.
Eames turned to find Arthur standing in the doorway with a look of horror on his face. Arthur glanced at the pill cradled in Eames' palm and then up at his face, back and forth.
"What is this?" Eames repeated, whispering, at a loss for anything else to say, and Arthur sagged against the door frame, looking broken and hopeless and defeated. They both opened their mouths at the same time, but then the kick came, and the words go unspoken and unheard.
When he woke up, Arthur yanked the needle out of his wrist, hard enough that a spot of blood began to well. He ignored it and stood, trying to stride off out of the warehouse, paying no heed to the puzzled looks both Ariadne and Cobb were giving them, either.
Eames ruined his dramatic exit by grabbing his arm to stop him, having woken up a second or two before Arthur and taken the cannula out in a much less violent manner. Arthur looked back with a pained expression and Eames met his gaze gravely. "We need to talk," he said.
Arthur's shoulders slumped and the tension drained out of his body. He stared at the floor. "I know." His tone was quiet, and it sounded like he was bracing himself for something.
Ariadne stood and walked over to them, eyes narrowed in concern and suspicion. "Is something wrong?" she asked. Eames glanced at Arthur, who was looking anywhere but at him, at his hand still on Arthur's arm, and then back at Ariadne. "No," he lied.
Ariadne gave him a look that very clearly said, I believe that about as far as I can throw you. Eames amended, "We can work it out on our own."
She glanced at Arthur, who nodded, then shrugged and said, simply, "All right. But if you want privacy, you probably shouldn't have whatever conversation this is in the middle of the warehouse." Then she calmly returned to her desk, leaving both Arthur and Eames blinking after her.
"She's right," Arthur said, then trailed off. He looked a bit lost, as if he was sure there were some rules about this that he hadn't been told. Eames let go of his arm, then gestured to the staircase that led to the roof, which would give them more privacy that just standing around in the street.
They climbed in a silence that crouched above them, heavy and deadening. Arthur walked to the edge of the roof, keeping his back to Eames, and hugged his torso to keep out more than the cold. He heard Eames shut the trapdoor behind him, and waited.
Eames was the first to speak. It did nothing to dispel the crouching silence with its hands clamped to their ears. "How?"
Arthur took a deep breath. He owed Eames the truth, no matter how much it would hurt when Eames left him. "Four years ago or so, before I started working with Cobb and Mal, I ran jobs with another team – I think a lot of them were Russian, can't remember now. And we were good at it, I'll give you that. But their was one woman with us who was infected... and she knew, she was very careful about working with the PASIV... but she hadn't told any of us. I don't think even our extractor knew. And then one day... we had to pack up and switch locations quickly... it couldn't have been more than five minutes, and we all tried to find our same needles, and anyway we'd know each other long enough that we figured it would be okay..." His throat closed up and forced him to stop. Eames guessed the rest from there.
"And you and her accidentally switched lines, and you were infected. Oh, love, I'm sorry."
"Yeah, well, so am I. It hasn't developed into AIDS yet, but...
"Cobb knows," Arthur added abruptly. "And Mal knew. And Yusuf knows."
Eames apparently ignored the thinly veiled subject change, because a hand reached out and grasped Arthur's shoulder. "Come away from the edge."
"Why?" His own voice sounded hollow, dull. Dead.
"Because I don't want you to fall." The hand didn't stop its incessant tugging, nor did Arthur move.
He looked out at the street below and dragged the words up out of his throat. They burned and clawed at him, but they would make it easier for Eames to leave, as experience said he would do any minute now. "What do you care? All you're going to do is suggest that we 'take a break' or 'give us both time to sort this all out' or..." But while he'd been talking, Eames had pulled him back into a hug, both of them still facing the street.
"Never," Eames breathed into his neck. "If that's what the world does to you, then I will never let you go."
Arthur felt his heart miss a beat – literally, as if it was deciding whether or not to slip him a heart attack. Then he turned and flung his arms around Eames with enough unexpected force that Eames had to take a hasty step back to get his balance readjusted.
Arthur buried his face in Eames' shoulder. "Thank you," he said, and now his voice was not dead but raw and choked. "Thank you."
They stood there and breathed for a minute, and then Eames pulled away and looked at Arthur. "Now, most of what I learned about HIV was forgotten along with the rest of the crap from year 9, so you're going to have to educate me."
Arthur laughed shakily despite himself. Trust Eames to joke about it and not sound like an ass.
"Like, for instance," Eames went on, "can I kiss you?"
"God, yes," Arthur said, and did.
When they broke away, Arthur rested his head on Eames' shoulder again, and Eames looked out at the sleeping world. "The sun's rising," he said suddenly. Arthur tilted his head to see that while that was a bit of an exaggeration, the sky was definitely getting lighter in the right general area. "How symbolic."
Arthur snorted. "Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. Let's get out of this cold." At the vaguely awkward silence from Eames, he looked up. "Eames?"
"About that," Eames said.
Alarm bells started going off in Arthur's head. "What?" he asked suspiciously.
Eames looked anywhere but at Arthur. "We, ah, may be just the tiniest bit locked out."
Arthur stared at him in disbelief. Maybe it was the leftover stress, maybe it was the pent-up relief, maybe it was the sheer mundane-ness of it, but right then, he couldn't help it: he collapsed into giggles.
"Arthur? Come on, it's not that funny."
Arthur nodded gleefully. "Yes, it is, yes, it is. Ha!" The last was not laughter anymore but a shout, joyful and loud. "I love you, did you know that?"
"Yes," said Eames dryly, "but I would be a little more impressed with this announcement if you weren't acting like a five-year-old on caffeine."
Arthur took a deep breath and locked gazes with Eames. "I love you," he said, completely seriously, and then kissed Eames again, slow and sweet and like a gift.
And it certainly wasn't permanent there in the freezing cold; they would change, and grow, and learn more about each other and themselves, and someone would let them back into the warehouse, and maybe they grew old together and maybe they didn't, and that is beyond my power to tell.
Certainly there were many more questions to be answered, and truthfully, though those truths may not be the ones either of them were looking for, or wanted. But in the light of the not-yet-risen sun, the maybes were kept away, forced around an island of calm in a patchwork land, and, standing on the edge of a precipice, both men felt sure that if they were to jump off, they would not fall, but fly.