(A/N: I've wanted to do a story about Eames for while now, so here's a character study-ish story to fill your time with some joy!)

Forged

By Shembre

Another day of this hotel, and I'll feel like a goldfish frozen inside her bowl.

Ariadne was about as attached to an empty carton of juice as she was to the brief life she led between jobs, but she groaned when she saw the headline of the newspaper Eames was reading. More snow, it predicted. Arthur was out of the hotel room getting some air that afternoon. Ariadne sat on the opposite end of the brown-toned couch she was sharing with Eames.

"Eames?" Ariadne put down the book she was reading and pulled her knees up to her chest. "How'd you become a forger?"

Eames's eyes scanned his newspaper. "How'd you become an architect?"

"Hours of school and one incredible opportunity—did you have a teacher?"

"Perhaps." Eames turned the page.

"I'd like to learn to forge."

"Oh, really."

Self-consciously, Ariadne played with the paisley, tasseled scarf around her neck. "I'd be more useful if I forged, right? I mean, I can't run around with a gun like you two. Arthur tried to teach me. Cobb tried, too."

Eames lowered the newspaper to his lap and shook his head good-naturedly. "I'd be more than happy to teach you to properly shoot."

Ariadne measured two tassels against each other. "I'm not a Rambo type… But I know how to bend my surroundings like a god, so can you teach me? I'd be good at it, wouldn't—?"

"Being a forger, Ariadne, isn't all about being a god. It's not at all, in fact."

His blunt tone snapped Ariadne to attention. She opened her mouth to ask what he'd meant, but when the room door swung open, Eames sprang to his feet.

"Hey. I found some food." Arthur's coat and scarf were crusted with melting snow. He shut the door while balancing a cardboard holder with three paper cups. There was a damp paper sack in his other hand. Flakes of snow salted his dark hair. "The snow hasn't let up." He walked over to the small, round dining table near the couch where he set down the sack and drinks. When he looked up, he glanced from Eames, to Ariadne, and then back at Eames. He frowned. "What's up with you two?" He pulled off his scarf and soaked boots.

"Nothing." Eames rolled up and stuffed his newspaper under his arm. "I'm not rather hungry. I'll be downstairs in the bar— see where the night takes me." He quickly adjusted the collar on his button-up shirt before he made for the door.

Arthur watched Eames. "Sure that's wise?"

"Yes, quite sure," Eames got out before the door closed behind him.

Arthur shook his head as he placed his wet boots by the room heater. "Okay, I guess," he muttered.

The closed door taunted Ariadne.

"Being a forger, Ariadne, isn't all about being a god. It's not at all, in fact."

"Ariadne?"

"Huh?"

"I asked how day three in our hotel was, but maybe I should be asking about Eames?"

"Oh." She watched Arthur pull out two fat rolls from the paper sack. He put down two paper napkins. The bread smelled herby, and she caught the scent of coffee.

"So… What is up with Eames, dare I ask?"

"What's his deal?" Ariadne repeated. She stood up. "I asked him to teach me to forge and he didn't seem to like it."

"Hmm." Arthur pulled out one of the chairs for Ariadne before he sat down. "You want to forge? I mean, it doesn't surprised me."

"Yeah." She walked over and dropped down into her chair. "I changed one of my hands once, y'know," she said as she tore her roll in half. She wriggled the fingers on her right hand. "But that didn't last long. I think I'm missing something. I've tried watching Eames, but he moves too quickly."

"Just keep practicing."

"It would be easier if he taught me…" She paused before looking up at him. "Arthur?"

"Yeah?"

"Eames said something… odd."

Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Like what?"

"I was comparing being an architect to being a forger, and I said that I can bend my surroundings like a god, and then Eames told me that 'being a forger isn't all about being a god'. He seemed upset. He didn't flat out refuse to teach me, but it was strange."

"Hmmm." Arthur tore into his bread and took a large bite. He chewed while looking down at the crumb-dotted napkin before him. He picked up one of the paper cups and took a drink of his coffee.

Ariadne raised an eyebrow. "Ar-thur? Why would Eames say something like that?"

"Well, he— I think he probably wants to secure the secrets of the trade." He paused for another drink of coffee before setting the cup down and continuing. "Good forgers are in high demand because a bad one can ruin even the best planned job. It's competitive. And Eames is one of the best. He's the best. He's just brushing you off."

Ariadne was unsatisfied by this evasive theory, though it didn't sound totally out there. "So it's like an elitist… thing…?" she replied.

Arthur nodded vaguely as he finished his bread. He then looked in the paper sack and stared hungrily at the contents before he pulled out another roll.

Ariadne grabbed one of the paper cups. She tipped it back and warm coffee rolled over her tongue as she thought. She knew Arthur wasn't telling the whole story. She put her cup back down. "You're wrong. I think there's something going on with Eames. Why else would he say what he did? He's not just some bouncer for an exclusive club."

Arthur looked sidelong, his gaze unfocused. He sighed. "Eames turned this into a challenge when he left the room, didn't he?"

She couldn't lie. "Yes. Now tell me what you really think. I'm not that naïve."

Arthur straightened up in his chair. His tone was more certain and he actually looked at her as he said, "Ariadne, Eames keeps his secrets closer than most people, but you want a forger you can't easily figure out. He's the epitome of a walking contradiction, as a matter of fact. If there's something he doesn't want you to know, and you go looking for it, he will see you coming a mile away."

"Or in other words, don't go after him like I did Cobb," she replied, disappointed.

"Yes."

"So you have no idea what's wrong with Eames?"

"No. Just keep practicing your forging. Leave him to his privacy."

Ariadne slouched in her chair and took a sip of her coffee.

Yeah, right, Arthur. Like I'll sit by and let Eames keep his 'secrets' to himself.