Ariadne's mouth fell open. How long had it been since Arthur had brought up Cobb? She knew Eames had heard them plotting about how to get into his mind.
"Cobb had no excuse for what he did," Eames went on. "The man you call a friend, Arthur, was prepared to let you and everyone else live out the rest of their lives in perpetual damnation in Limbo."
"Why are you acting like this?" Arthur asked. "You're drunk off your ass."
Eames stared back at Arthur as if Eames were a cat deciding how to strike a bird. Then, he let go of the wall. His back fell against the wall and he slid down the length of it, his belt grinding against the drywall. He sat on the ground with his knees up, his face now blank. His arms were in his lap. His hollow, blood-shot eyes stared into space.
"Eames?" Ariadne pressed quietly. "It's okay. We understand that you are not Cobb, okay? We just wanna help. That's all."
Eames scratched the side of his nose.
"You wouldn't have come out of the bathroom if you didn't care what we thought of you." Ariadne turned on the bed and sat cross-legged. She put on a small smile. "Now tell us what's wrong." At first, Ariadne feared that Eames was going to close up, but when he sighed and started to talk, she relaxed and listened.
"There's very little private space left. We go into people's minds—prod them and dig around in their most sacred space. And we do it for pay. We're enabling this to happen to people." He looked away. "And there's lots of people I'd rather kill than work for, but at this point, I think it's a little too late for me to go home and retire on the farm unless it's in a pine box."
Eames nodded to himself then added somberly, "I don't think I know who I am anymore… It's easy to put on another face, pretend you're someone else for a while… Fun, too, sometimes," he admitted. "Like a little vacation."
Ariadne took this in. She swallowed, stunned and saddened.
Eames tilted his head to the side. "Don't you give me those puppy eyes."
Ariadne looked down. "Sorry. It's just… I guess I never gave much thought about what you do. Really thought about it."
Arthur cleared his throat. His tone was monotonous. "Guess I haven't really, eith—"
"You knew something was wrong," Eames interrupted. "I see it in your eyes when we get the extra spectacular jobs. You don't want to give me the jobs, but you do anyway."
Arthur got up from the bed and walked over to Eames. "You don't have to take those jobs anymore. I'll turn them away." He then stuck out his hand and waited for Eames to take it.
"Boy, did you think up that just now?" Eames didn't move. His voice was quiet. "You're going to pass up the money?"
"I don't do this for the money."
"So you do it for your personal enjoyment? Now that is sadistic."
"Sadistic?" Arthur retorted. "I've asked and you've never told me what was wrong. I asked Cobb, and he never told me what was wrong."
Eames looked down, but the anger didn't leave his face. "This wouldn't have come up if it weren't for Ariadne. We'd be in Limbo if not for Ariadne. You're a coward."
Arthur snorted and retracted his hand. His fingers curled into a fist. The muscles in his jaw flexed.
"What matters is that it has been brought up," Ariadne quickly reasoned. The heavy tension in the small room settled on her shoulders as she watched the Point Man and the Forger stare each other down. She didn't want this to come to blows. "This job— it doesn't bring out the best in everyone. You do learn things you would rather not know. We do things we'd rather not. And sure, you two treat each other like shit—"
The men halfway turned their attention onto her.
"— but you wouldn't keep working together if it was that bad… right?"
Eames and Arthur went back to glaring at each other.
Is all of this coming too late? Ariadne swallowed hard. She then asked, "Why do you hide, Eames? You said forging is like a 'little vacation'."
Breaking away his glare and staring into space, Eames replied plainly, "I hide because I don't know who I am. What I stand for." He looked exhausted and the rims of his eyes were pink. "I want to be more… than a thief."
"Eames, you're not just a thief."
"Take away the PASIV, Ariadne, and that's what I am… You must think I'm pathetic."
"You're not pathetic or a bad person. Why do you still forge?"
"Because I can't imagine not doing it."
Like the rest of us, Ariadne thought.
With a sigh, Arthur bent over and grabbed Eames by the elbow.
"Hey!" Eames struggled, but gave up after a moment.
Arthur pulled him to his feet and made him sit down on the bed where Ariadne was sitting. "I know who you are," Arthur began calmly. "You're stubborn, intuitive, and difficult, and you're a cocky trickster… You irritate the hell out of me—it's a talent—but you're hardly ever wrong about anything. You're the best forger I have ever met. You treat our marks with respect even when they don't deserve it."
Eames looked up. He raised a brow and muttered, "I didn't say stop."
Arthur smirked. "You know your limits, but you go above and beyond what you don't have to do. I'm sorry, Eames, for not trying harder to reach out to you. I… I couldn't."
"No, no, it was my fault. Should have sacked up and told you when you asked. But, we're both human, and I'd have to guess that's our problem."
Ariadne smiled. When she blinked, she thought she would open her eyes again and find out that she'd been dreaming. But when she looked, Arthur and Eames were really speaking.
Eames sighed and looked around groggily. "Well, enough sappy talk. I am ready to turn in for the morning. What is it, midnight?"
"It's almost four AM," Arthur reported.
Eames clumsily kicked off his shoes with his toes before he swung his socked feet onto the made up bed. He laid back and closed his eyes with his fingers laced over his chest.
"Good night, Eames," Ariadne said, touching his knee for a moment.
He cracked a lid. "Good night." He smiled and then closed his eye again.
Ariadne and Arthur went to the other bed. All the adrenaline was leaving Ariadne's body, and she could feel the heft of her eyelids as she crawled over to her side.
Arthur switched off the lights and got under the blankets with Ariadne. She moved into his arms and he rested his chin on her head.
He whispered into her ear, "Thank you."
She knew Eames wasn't going to wrestle with all of his inner demons in one night, but at least he had help now if he wanted it. And Arthur wasn't going to overcome his habit of leaving people to themselves all at once, but she hoped he would be more forward in the future.
"No problem," she whispered back.
I guess I didn't need the PASIV after all.
Three days later, the weather and Eames's mind both seemed to have cleared. Although Eames still held onto his secrets when he sobered up, Ariadne knew his fears weren't just a gift-wrapped present that she could tear into. She and Arthur joined him when he went to drink in the bar, and they didn't harass him to give up every detail immediately. Eames did at least seem happier.
Ariadne was heading back to Paris with Arthur, while Eames was waiting to board a flight to Australia. The forger's flight was departing first, and they were waiting with him.
"I think I might surf." Eames rocked on his heels for a moment. "Haven't done that before. Or I might give snorkeling a try."
Arthur snorted. "You? Snorkeling?
"Yes. There are some very beautiful fish there, Arthur."
Ariadne giggled behind her hand.
"Oh, I'm sure there's lots of fish, Eames," Arthur said.
"And kangaroos," Ariadne added.
The woman at the gate came over the intercom and announced that first class was boarding.
Eames hefted his carryon. "That's me." He turned to Arthur and Ariadne and shook their hands. "Maybe next time you'll see me at my finest rather than my worst."
"Take care, Eames," Ariadne said as he shook her hand. "Call if you need anything. Anything at all."
The forger smiled and let her hand go. He turned away and took several steps before he turned around. "Oh, and Ariadne…? Were you still interested in those lessons?"
"Lessons?" Ariadne blinked in surprise.
"You're sure? R-really?"
The forger nodded. "Really."
"Of course!" She walked forward to hug him in her excitement, but she stopped herself. "I mean…" She tried to look professional, and instead shook his hand again. "Are you sure I'm up for the pressures of forging?"
He nodded. "I think if anyone is, it's you."
"Thank you for the opportunity." She grinned wide.
Eames held her hand "We'll be unstoppable." He then let his arm fall to his side as he winked, turned, and walked towards his gate to board his flight.
Arthur came up behind her and hugged her around the waist. They watched until the forger disappeared through the gate. "I wonder what changed his mind?"
They strolled towards the waiting area by their gate on the other side of the airport. Ariadne smiled.
"I'm not sure," she said, "but maybe he doesn't want to be a lone forger anymore? He's human like us, right?"