Notes: Written in two days, spell-check brought to you by Firefox! No Beta, all errors are mine. Enjoy~
Eames was between jobs, but he hadn't jumped at Cobb's offer so readily just because of that, no he always liked working the Extractions the man orchestrated. They for one, were never dull, and Eames thrived on things not being dull. Secondly, they had Arthur, Cobb's waking shadow, and Eames loved goading the Point-man. Truthfully though, Eames loved doing more than that he loved just being around Arthur, a rather sappy change from their normal friendship. As if they'd even had a normal friendship to begin with, Arthur didn't seem to be the type to have many friends, or to even know what friendship was.
Which was amusing to Eames, it gave him something to try to do, teach him friendship, instead of loyalty. Oh yes, Arthur had plenty of that, just Eames only had the luck of having it when he was on jobs with Arthur. Eames could read Arthur well enough, take him apart, understand how he ticked, but only what Arthur showed on the surface. There were none of those tells that Eames relied on with the masses, relied on to learn his marks and their kin. Which was the basis for Eames' obsession with picking at the man. Teasing, prodding, doing anything he could to try and force a reaction out of Arthur, but it never worked. Arthur just rolled with it, or gave him that little look of confusion, as if he had an inability to understand social interactions.
Eames loved it anyway, even though Arthur was frustration and impossibility, he loved every second working these jobs with them. It also helped that Cobb tended to pick the jobs that didn't set off Eames' alerts, too much undercover, too much government work had left him with little peculiarities. Cobb had peculiarities of his own, and Eames respected that, knew to stay the bloody hell away from Mal in those dreams. If maybe Arthur would give him a bit more take in their interactions, he'd know what sort of ticks set the Point-man off too.
He stepped off the plane, jittery, too much time spent in such a closed location, he could deal with it on land, but in the air, it wasn't as if there was anywhere to escape to. Eames liked the freedom of the baggage check, sucked in stale recycled air, felt like a man again, instead of a caged animal. They were supposed to send a car for him, and someone to collect him, which was good, sense he didn't even have enough money on him to exchange in currency to even hire a car to drive him to whatever building Cobb had rented for the planning phase.
He would have had money, but there had been a casino in the airport on the other side of this little jaunt, and he'd gone to broke on the Blackjack tables. It had been worth it, having that pretty little thing sitting on his knee as he played the part of the high-roller. He always reveled in the emotions displayed on the faces of those women every time they figured out he wasn't a millionaire. When he cashed out dead-broke, and told them upfront he was destitute now. Only once, had they offered him a place to stay, he hadn't accepted but that offer had returned to him a little of his belief in the good-will of man.
His bag was relatively unharmed he noted, the worn leather still holding together at the seams when he fishes it out of the rotary luggage claim. The airport is huge, befitting the bustling city outside, Eames has always loved Brazil. So many people to watch, especially here in São Paulo. He liked the night-life, exploding with experimental music and avant-garde artists, enjoyed the base displays of human nature to be found where copious amounts of alcohol were served.
It wasn't night now though, even though his body felt like it should be. He was living in perpetual jet-lag most days, but he'd settle into the order soon enough. First he needed to make contact with his co-workers, which meant tracking them down in the huge expansive airport, or tracking down the contact they'd arranged for him. Of course if he'd saved some of his money, he'd be able to lounge around in one of the restaurants in the airport and do this the lazy way.
Meager luggage in tow, he shrugged out of his leather over-jacket, and set to work looking for a sign with his name on it, or a familiar face. It didn't prove too difficult after all, he'd managed to make a full circuit of the airport before Arthur found him, with a more neutral expression than usual, which meant Eames had probably given him some trouble in the hunt. This pleased Eames at least, giving Arthur annoyance was something he relished.
"You should have stayed near your baggage claim, I was prepared to pick you up there." Arthur snaps, at least as snappy as Arthur got. "Thought I'd take a walk, if you gave me a cell-number you know we wouldn't have these mix-ups. You could slip it to me on a napkin, I promise to be discreet about it." Eames teases, gets nothing out of Arthur as usual, he'll get the man's number later anyway. He doesn't ask questions yet, revels in the quiet drive through busy streets, watches Arthur's hands flex against the steering wheel. Arthur had beautiful capable hands, that Eames had scene take a gun apart in seconds, snap sights on, reload. Dangerously beautiful hands, sometimes he felt like kissing them, and then thought better.
Arthur was fun to look at, as much as he was fun to tease, just the type of man Eames liked to take to bed, when he thought to take a man to bed. Usually it was easier to get a woman, they just seemed more readily available, but Eames wasn't the type to complain either way. But Arthur was unapproachable, it wasn't that he gave off those no-touch vibrations, it was just that Eames had no way to gauge Arthur's reciprocation or possible acceptance of his offers. He was either clueless to the flirtation Eames was doing, or was returning it in his subtle way, but damned if Eames could read him either way.
São Paulo was busy as usual, and packed with commuters. The largest city in Brazil, it was all bright lights and loud noises. Even after dark it was loud, and even brighter, with the washed-out sun-streaked daylight gone it left a city of neon and strobe. Eames was looking forward to the trap of night-life, the personae he could put on in the dim gritty light. Hopeless business-men, looking for an outlet, starstruck celebrities, there was a whole spectrum to be used. Not to mention the masks he would wear for Cobb's use, so many possibilities.
"How have you been then Arthur?" He asks, small-talk, usually Arthur ignores him, too busy to dwell on talking that has no benefit to the job, at least that's what Eames thinks keeps Arthur from replying. There are only so many ways a man's mind can work, and out of the options, Eames finds Arthur's ego to be the most-likely outcome. "Well." The Point-man's reply is a start, no details on the jobs between their last one together, and this one. Nothing to tell him how many times Arthur had been held at gunpoint, hit by a car, set on fire, shot. He's worked with them long enough, done enough jobs to know that Arthur gets hurt, gets hurt a -lot- and never seems to show a single emotional response after the pain is gone.
It's not possible to just forget that pain, it's still a memory in the waking world, albeit a fuzzy one. In British Intelligence he'd seen more than a few men snap over the pain. Months, maybe years after it had ended, the memory just wouldn't go away. Maybe you loose your leg, bleed out in the dream, or maybe it's a slit throat, it's still there, just the wound isn't. So he knows Arthur can't just turn those memories off, the man has to be affected by it, Eames itches with curiosity to see how. But at the same time he doesn't want to, doesn't want to see how Arthur might be hurting so deep sutures or bandages couldn't stave the wound.
Seeing Arthur get hurt in the dreamscape kills him a little, maybe even more than his own wounds do. He cannot fathom how Cobb manages to put Arthur in those positions time and time again. He also knows Arthur had to be somewhere before his partnership with Cobb, that the Point-man puts himself in those positions all on his own. Eames doesn't think knowing why would relieve this worried feeling he feels any less, it would probably make it worse in fact.
It's a warehouse as usual, the windows have already been covered up with newspaper to protect against prying eyes. Arthur pulls the car right into it, by the time he is shutting off the engine, the garage door is sliding down. Eames leaves his luggage in the trunk, stretches his legs and studies their surroundings, slinging his coat across one shoulder.
By the grease stains and the remnants of hook-ups on the ceiling it appears their new work-place was once a repair shop of some kind. Now though collapsible tables have been set up instead. There are boxes all over the place, papers strewn on tables, and Arthur's work-station, as always, is the neatest table in the entire place. Eames purposefully lays his coat over the Point-man's desk, messing up the careful organizational work of print-outs, maps, and receipts. Arthur was also the book-keeper, a fact of which Eames was glad, Arthur never stiffed him on a check. The man also tended to make sure they got paid for services rendered, which meant a 100% pay-rate for jobs under Cobb.
A year or so ago, Eames used to compete for jobs with the duo, and whatever rag-tag team they had gathered at the moment. He'd always had a competitive spirit, fought bitterly for jobs till he'd been forced to actually work with them once. Eames was not above admitting when he'd been bested, and their mark would not have been a man able to take had he been going it alone. Cobb was indeed the best at what he did, for what it was he did. Eames admitted that readily, but Cobb didn't have the ability to Forge like Eames did. A unique ability in the dreamscape, there were not many who could take on the faces of other people, real people, not shades or fiction.
After that first job Eames doesn't compete, if they are fighting for the same job, if it involves Eames' unique capabilities, hits into the field he is so skilled at, Cobb brings him in with no dicking around. Arthur is the money-man, and Eames is positive Arthur does not even know how to dick around. A fact of which Eames is glad, since it means he always gets paid when Arthur is around, albeit he would like to get acquainted with a different dick in concern to Arthur.
He takes the time to make himself a little more comfortable, rolls up his sleeves, stretches his arms up fully to try and work his spine into submission, at least he'd flown first class. Arthur had disappeared down a hallway filled with branching rooms, probably former offices. Eames doesn't follow him, he knows all the work gets done here in this main room, which means Cobb has probably turned one of the old offices into his own. Eames takes a walk around his new working environment, studies the rough-drafts of levels strewn out on one of the tables. Any real meat would be on Arthur's desk he knew, but annoying the Point-man to the max took precedence over Eames' curiosity over their job.
It was the usual arrangement, a table for each station of the job, not all outfits were as set in their steps, but Cobb's jobs were always smooth in that planning phase, everything worked out to perfect precision. It was the part where they were actually in the dream when shit would go to hell usually. Either there would be some detail Arthur would miss (a rare occasion, and usually something that would not have mattered if it were not completely up-the-wall), something the Architect hadn't planned in (like an escape route in one case), or the kick wouldn't come in time and Eames would end up with something broken (usually his arm) in a few places.
Eames didn't mind usually, sometimes it would be something to set off a tick, but usually it couldn't be helped. Besides, there was no use getting angry, Cobb did enough of that for a whole group of people. Eames could understand it, having to live on an edge like that, he did not often have to do it himself, but there was a time in his life when he was not exactly on the same side as the law back in the UK. He was very rarely on the same side of the law now, but he had enough identities, and enough experience to have safe-havens this time, he was no longer the anxious young-man. He also didn't have anyone to go back home to, Cobb missed his family something fierce, his shade showed some of that.
He didn't know how Arthur could deal with that bitch's ire so often, he was glad he never much had to deal with her head-on. He didn't know the whole story there, and respected his former-rival enough to not go snooping into it. He knew basics, like why Cobb couldn't go home, he also knew how wrong they must be, there was no way he'd murdered that woman. Eames trusted Cobb with his back, it would have been hard to do that with the knowledge that a man had killed his wife, his soul-mate. It just wouldn't sit well with him, was one of those ticks, something you just don't do. He'd seen enough of that when he'd worked his first year at the 'Yard.
Everyone International called it the 'Yard, after awhile he did too, but really it was the Met, the office was the 'Yard, and after that first year working streets he didn't much go to the office. He remembered gritty xeroxed scenes, used to dream in black and white those first few months. Then there was blood, the man who killed his lover when she tried to leave him. The woman who threw her child off the bridge. The terrorist bombings, where anyone available walked perimeters. Eames had a lot of ticks, most of them could be tracked straight to his work for Britain. Governments aren't as soft-hitters as the civil-sector is, working for British Intelligence had been that much worse.
He's found a nice seat, a wheeled office-chair that had probably been vacated in the garage for years. The wheels are rusty, and when he leans back the springs in the spine croak from disuse, he'll hang his coat here when Arthur is done fussing about it. Scooting his chair closer to one of the currently unoccupied tables set up for a future step in the chain he puts his feet up on it and lounges. Down the dark hallway he can hear Cobb's voice, sharp and clear as ever, even though Eames is relatively sure the man has been jacked into the PASIV doing whatever it is he does in there when he's alone. You learn to snap awake quick after a few months working Extraction. After a few more you even learn to regulate your heart-rate to optimize waking performance, usually you snap out of the dream a wreck of nerves bolting like a lamb set for slaughter.
It takes years to come out not showing the signs of being haunted by the dream, to come out free of the tangles of your memories. Eames can tell how long a person has been working in the business just by looking at them usually. The newbies always have the same look, no matter how professional they want to appear. Out of the three of them, despite Arthur's youth, he'd say the Point-man had the most experience with PASIV technology. God only knows how, Eames would ask if he weren't quite so terrified of the answer. Arthur isn't military, he can tell it by the easy fluid movements, but former Intelligence, Eames couldn't hedge that bet to the negative. Arthur had that sly methodology, the OCD tendencies inherent in Government paper-pushers.
Arthur also had a wild-streak, to be slumming it up with Extractors, if he truly was former Intelligence. Eames doesn't really care either way, as long as Arthur is around now to push papers for them. Having someone else in Arthur's place, a different waking-shadow for Cobb, that just wouldn't sit right. No one alive could be quite the stick in the mud Arthur was, Eames liked it. It was infuriating, but he still liked it.
Cobb comes out fixing his tie, Arthur walking in perfect counter-step, it curls a little streak of jealousy through him, makes him wonder what all Arthur would do for Cobb. If he paid a little more attention to himself and less to the people around him, Eames would probably be a little disturbed by how simple walking could set off jealousy so deep, but he doesn't make it a habit to study his own emotions.
"Hello Eames, glad you could make it here so quickly, I would have come to ask you myself, but I've been busy. Glad Arthur could reach you." Cobb puts weight behind his words with a welcoming handshake, Eames makes it a point to stand, showing the proper respect. "What's the story then, no details in the email, just a plane ticket and confirmation of identity." Arthur had been a darling about Eames' orders, had done as asked with the web-cam, Eames has a recording of it just so the memory never fades.
"He did not make it easy." Arthur pipes up, has found Eames' present for him, and is trying to extract the coat without hurting the arrangement of his papers. Eames wishes he could give that his whole attention but Cobb has a dossier and is showing him pictures, he turns his attention to the job. "We've been hired to find the design plans for an experimental weapon, we have to go to the top this time, the people working on it are in too deep, too hard to get to." Cobb turns to a picture of the target. Young man, dark hair, dark eyes with a hard set to them that is typical to men who've been born into the weapons industry.
"This is Marcus Wake, he's on vacation here in São Paulo for another month, we have that as our deadline. While Wake Industries has an office here, he's only been there a few times sense arrival according to Arthur's sources." Cobb pages to the next pictures, Eames is willing to bet Arthur was also the one who had taken these, the man was an artist with the camera, something Eames had filled away some time ago.
It's a neon-saturated club-scene Wake is dancing with a pretty young-thing, a native by the cut of her dress and her tan. It's the same scene at different points from multiple angles, Eames isn't sure how the shots were so clear and yet managed to not get the photographer kicked out of the club. Paparazzi were not a wanted thing inside of these places, outside of course was another thing entirely. The photographer hadn't bothered taking pictures of the outside, everyone was contrived, postured on the way in, Eames knew these places well.
"We need you to get a feel of the Mark, an angle on how to best get this information." Cobb handed Eames the file to pursue at his leisure. Arthur had finally extracted the coat from his files and moved to hang it over Eames' chair as he'd wanted to do himself. There was no sign of annoyance, only a slight raising of the eyebrows when Eames smirks at him. Sliding into his procured chair he listens to Cobb's suggestions as he reads the documents they have on their mark.
But Eames already has his thoughts on how to get closer to their target. "What's the bankroll outside of our cut, I'll need to act a particular part to get close enough, and it will be costly." Eames can tell Cobb had figured on this with the way the man's jaw tensed at the statement. "After you have an idea of the background of the mark from those files, Arthur will drive you to pick up appropriate clothing to suit, and whatever else you think will be needed." Cobb is pulling on a coat, checking the wrinkles in his suit. "I've got some interviewing to do, we need to work as fast as we can here, as usual."
Eames watches him go out a side door, wherever he was going, it would be on foot apparently, leaving them the car. Unless they had another one stashed somewhere, usually they were more careful than that though, too many vehicles brought attention. Eames tended to just steal his, he wasn't likely to have a license accepted by the current country he was in anyway.
Eames lounges back out, gets comfortable in the chair, the sound of Arthur typing soothes him, this is how it usually is, Arthur busily working on the details of the work, Cobb out doing the foot-work to put the frame together. In the beginning, before Eames had to get into the field, get a handle on their mark, there was a lot of long stretches like this, but even with all that alone time with Arthur, he didn't know shit about the man's personal life. He was slowly starting to expect that Arthur might not even have a personal life.
It takes some time to read all the files, but Eames hasn't changed his mind about how to go at this, his instincts on par as usual. Somewhere into the first ten minutes, when Cobb was obviously not going to return, Arthur had set on some quiet music. Classical as usual, Eames couldn't ever pinpoint the exact titles, and the choices changed often. Eames' choice in music was something with a little more bite, and also a little more recent in terms of time. But asking Arthur to play some of the Sex Pistols or The Clash would probably be an exercise in futility. The stiff collared man probably didn't even like The Cure, Eames was willing to bet Arthur thought U2 was just a spy-plane.
Still though, the music was nice, something to fill in the space of silence that could stretch, Eames was thankful for it every time it started. He was willing to bet Arthur was the one to introduce Cobb to the musical countdown they used on their jobs.
Eames is on the last page of background, reading about the latest deals Wake's company are going through, when Arthur stands. He catches the display out of the corner of his eye, the slow stretch of arms upward, pulling the waist-coat up, revealing the tight stretch of a pale-blue button-up, the muscles laying beneath it. Eames is willing to bet that if he pressed his cheek there, the fabric would be softer than luxury bed-linens and so warm. Arthur's wardrobes always put Eames' to shame, but he still knew he cut quite a figure regardless. He also didn't have to deal with wearing a tie all the time, a cumbersome annoyance at best.
On Arthur it looked killer though, tucked into the waistcoat, bunching up a little as the man stretched. Eames licked his lips, ignoring the words on the page, studying Arthur instead. He was ace at this, watching people unnoticed, and he was assured that the subject of his fascination was clueless. It wouldn't do to let Arthur know the power he had over him, he wouldn't hold it above Arthur to use that slim pretty little body against him.
Pulling his waistcoat back down, Arthur's hands splay against silk, and Eames fixates on them again. He knows most of the time he looks like he's staring off into space, which is just fine, he'd rather people think him to be ignoring them, than for them to know otherwise. Such slender capable hands Arthur has, with such a gentle touch, and fuck now Eames is hard. Always Arthur does this to him, he knows it would probably be so much worse if he knew more about the man. As it is, this is hard enough, no pun intended.
Slim slender fingers, that could wrap and stroke, slide so soft against flesh. Eames has never felt Arthur's hands against his bare flesh, but he doesn't imagine there are many calluses to be found there, typing and gun work aren't as rough as one would be led to believe. Not to mention most of the gun-play was done in a place that left no lasting impressions on the physical body. Even rough would feel good, Eames doesn't really care, it would still be Arthur's hand around his cock, which is never going to happen.
"Ready to be my chauffeur darling?" Eames asks, finally looking Arthur dead-on, leaving the realm of fantasy behind. Arthur nods his acceptance, shutting off the music, giving Eames a nice show as he bends over his desk to do it. It's too hot outside to wear his coat, so he leave it behind, slung over his chair. Light has shifted towards evening, they'll have to work fast if they want to get Eames into the field tonight. It's silence between them till they are in the car. "There is something that isn't in the files Cobb gave you. While Wake does not appear to have been trained to protect against Extractors, we know his sister has been. There is some information hinting that his vacation here is not all pleasure." Arthur normally does not deal in rumors, if he's telling Eames this, it's all fact.
"He's being trained here in Brazil you mean?" Eames is watching out the window, understanding the true need to hurry, they needed to get this information out, before it became harder to access it. There was no way of knowing how many tricks Marcus Wake had already learned in order to trip up Extractors. "Yes, we do not know which group is doing the training, but it's a high probability that the longer we wait, the harder this will be." Arthur doesn't need to say it, Eames knows they are on a deadline far shorter than Cobb had told him.
"Thanks for the warning pet." Eames sighs, he doesn't let the shortened deadline weigh him down for long though, looking forward to the promise of a hand-tailored suit. He expected Arthur to just hand him a charge card, was pleased when the man followed him inside instead. Arthur had taste, Eames could not deny that, he just wished Arthur had the right taste in men.