Arthur, in all his suppressed frustration and pursuit of explanation, simply can't explain the dreams he's been having. They start off innocent enough but slowly, surely develop into something more that the point man can't say with enough truth that he regrets. In fact, he's surprised that he's even dreaming at all, what with how often he goes into the dreamscape, but on the other hand, it's satisfying and relieving and more importantly no one ever needs to know about it.
He isn't any more guarded than normal, however, when Cobb suggests they go into Arthur's subconscious one evening, and really, he can't think of any reason why he should be. It doesn't seem like it would be an issue (after all, Arthur does not mix business with pleasure... ever).
It's meant to be a simple exercise, a test both for Ariadne's new architecture layouts and for Eames's newest forgery, and, as usual, Cobb wants to be around to observe, and, really, Arthur is curious, too. The group of four settle into their warehouse lawn chairs and Yusuf presses the button on the machine as soon as they're comfortably hooked up. They're out at once.
It isn't long before they're in the dream: a beautiful fairground dreamt up by Arthur through Ariadne. It's nighttime and the bright lights of the rotating ferris wheel, arcade, and other various attractions shine in the darkness of the blue-black sky.
Arthur finds himself standing right outside of a long line of people waiting at a fresh cotton candy stand. Ariadne comes into the dream atop a brilliant white carousel horse as Cobb finds himself at the foot of the giant, ornate ferris wheel. All the while Eames wanders through the arcade, hands in his pockets, whistling.
He plays a game or two for fun and loses (he blames Arthur's subconscious) before finding a small building full of funhouse mirrors after a short walk. There, Eames takes the time to transform into a small child, the son of a wealthy CEO, the subject of their latest extraction. Perhaps it's low to try to influence a man through his children, as Cobb had argued but it's, as Arthur and Eames had agreed and pressed, also very effective.
Eames walks out of the funhouse ready to find Cobb and the rest of the team. But he isn't really in a hurry, and rather takes his merry old time walking through the path of rides and games, admiring Ariadne's handiwork. It's so authentic and beautiful. Arthur, Eames decides to include later in his compliment to the architect, would never have been able to create it on his own. Or at least he likes to think so.
He's slightly surprised when it doesn't take him long to find Arthur, walking very warily, covertlyalong the lit path until he follows an anonymous figure (a projection?) into a dark corner of the fairgrounds behind a fortune teller's booth.
"Arthur," Eames calls, momentarily ignoring the fact that he's masquerading as a child. Curiously, quietly, he follows the point man until time runs out on the machine the dream and it's suddenly over; they're all kicked out.
Eames watches Arthur carefully as everyone stretches and Ariadne receives compliments and last minute critiques on her architecture from Cobb. Eames plays with the idea of saying something, of even mentioning Arthur's strange behavior in the dream if only to ruffle his proverbial feathers and get him, at the least, mildly flustered. In front of everyone. Ooh, it's tempting.
But he doesn't say anything; he decides not to bother, merely wonders what it was that Arthur hadn't wanted to chance any of the others seeing. He's certain it's something private, and his suspicions are further increased as Arthur remains quiet in his spot on his chair. He seems slightly pale, but maybe it's the lighting.
Cobb turns to him with both concern and irritation.
"Is everything okay?" Cobb asks Arthur through skeptical eyes. "We woke up way earlier than we were supposed to. We didn't get everything done that we planned." He sighs and his voice falters slightly in exasperation. "Did you kill yourself?"
"I'm sorry," Arthur murmurs shortly, removing his own IV and beginning to put away the machine, "but really, everything is under control. It's fine." Arthur looks back at Cobb, but the glance is not convincing. Cobb lets the matter go anyway, apologizes on behalf of a stubborn Arthur to Ariadne and Eames and then leaves to discuss the latest sedative with Yusuf.
"The fairgrounds were, indeed, beautiful, Ariadne," Eames says after a brief moment as the architect stretches and begins to gather her things for the night, "Stunning work. You almost convinced me that dear Arthur has an imagination." His slight grin is teasing and smug. And for some reason, it causes Arthur to snap.
In fact, in a huff, the point man leaves the room with the PASIV machine almost instantly at the tease.
"I have work to do," Arthur explains dryly when Ariadne tries to get a better sense of what's wrong. She tries to persuade him that there's no way he can fool her that everything is 'under control' and 'fine' but she's waved off and ignored. Eames just watches until Arthur is out of sight and reluctantly Ariadne decides not to follow him into his workspace before turning back to Eames with concern still etched plainly on her face.
"Those appear to be some awfully pressing matters, Ariadne, I wouldn't be too offended," Eames tells her nonchalantly, finally rising from his seat. "Let him have his tantrum."
"Did you see anything?" Ariadne asks as though she already knows.
Eames glances at her, her gaze unnerving him slightly though he doesn't dare show it. He considers mentioning Arthur's careful, guarded steps and his disappearing behind the booth. The wary expression that had crossed his face just before he'd turned out of sight.
But he doesn't. Eames shakes his head at her solemnly before turning away. "But he'll be alright, though," he says after a moment, feeling obligated to say something.
Ariadne lets the issue drop, which to Eames is something of a relief.
"Well how did your part go tonight? Did the forgery work?"
"Yes, it went quite well, thank you," he admits, walking with her to the exit with no true intentions of leaving just yet, "I can't be completely sure, of course, but it should all go smoothly tomorrow. I'll be fine. Don't know about Arthur, though."
He was joking, but Ariadne stops, exchanges a look with Eames, who is smirking, and then begins to turn in the direction of Arthur's workspace.
"... Maybe I should talk to him..."
"Darling, it's fine," Eames insists, patting her on the arm to encourage her to go, "and you need your rest. I'll see to Arthur and he'll be good as new tomorrow. Promise." He flashes a grin at her that makes her smile and give in. And then, with a few short goodbyes, before Eames knows it, he's alone in the warehouse. Well, alone with Arthur.
Eames makes his way through the warehouse back to Arthur's specific desk and workspace. There, surely enough, he finds Arthur... fast asleep in his chair, hooked up to the PASIV device. His passive, relaxed expression far betrays the disarray and frantic behavior that Eames and the others had perceived earlier, and Eames just can't help but stare.
But then, taking a deep breath as curiosity gets the best of him, he slumps comfortably against the side of Arthur's desk, hooks himself up to the machine and is promptly out...
He wakes up in fairgrounds. Yes, it's almost the exact same fairgrounds from before. Eames wonders if it's Arthur's way of trying to compensate for ending the dream so early. In fact, to the forger it feels like a continuation of the earlier dream, even if little bits and parts feel different. Eames is back to being, well, Eames, and he finds himself landed on a completely opposite part of the grounds than he had been.
Eames curses under his breath and begins searching quickly throughout the unfamiliar end of the carnival for Arthur and his great secret. He isn't really sure if he can do any kind of extraction on his own, on such a practiced and informed individual, but everyone knows you can tell a lot about a person's current state of mind just from the simplest events in his or her dreams.
It seems like an hour has passed by the time Eames reaches the funhouse from before, the place where he had changed into the younger boy in front of the mirrors. He almost passes it quickly by when he hears a familiar voice coming from inside.
"E-Eames...!" It calls frantically, as though out of breath. Eames freezes up, both interested and terrified by the exclamation. Had Arthur seen him? Did he know that the forger had invaded his dream? He considers changing into someone else to avoid suspicion from Arthur and the projections, but the thought of being caught is also exhilarating and just as tempting.
Eames decides to enter the funhouse and find the source of the voice only to find that it's barred and barricaded off.
But it doesn't stop Eames who looks all about the building for an entrance, a window, anything. But Arthur, he concludes must have specifically crafted it so that there's only the one entrance. And so Eames begins to pull away chairs and tables in front of the door and eventually passes through with little trouble (and just a little bit of attention drawn from Arthur's arsenal of carnival-attending projections).
He can hear groans and curses, accelerated breath as he steps carefully into the labyrinth of strange mirrors. He also hears Arthur call his name again but this time it sounds pleased, relaxed... a sigh? Eames keeps to the shadows as he rounds a corner, eyes widening at the sight reflected in one of the mirrors at his side. "How interesting," he mumbles, settling himself down to observe in fascination..
In the next room over, Arthur is being roughly fucked by someone. The realization gets Eames's heart racing and he finds himself unable to connect what happened before to what's happening now.
The lighting is awry in the small building and with each movement of Arthur and the other more shadowed figure, Eames desire for an explanation grows exponentially. Sex, clearly, could be an obvious explanation, but is this what Arthur's been hiding? Something so irresistable it's been pervading his work dreams?
Eames accidentally makes a noise and the figure climbing predatorially on top of Arthur glances up and turns all around, looking momentarily for the dream's invader.
The forger looks at the man straddling Arthur and, to both his amazement and confusion, sees himself. He's awed into silence and can do little more than stare.
From beneath the Eames projection, Arthur moans for the motion, the gyration of hips, to continue after glancing around worriedly in a small bout of shared paranoia. And oh, Eames, can understand, after all, Arthur's basically abandoning all of his beloved control and professionalism. He's all shades of red and his three piece suits are long gone. The forger wonders, in amusement, if Arthur even entered the dream clothed.
Smirking in the corner, Eames simply can't help himself. Arthur, dear, uptight, stick-in-the-mud Arthur, clean cut and condescending is having sex dreams about him, of all people. Pretty prevalent and unavoidable dreams, it seems, too. Oh, and it's too good, really-unbelievable. Flattering.
Eames moves closer still so that he gets a direct look into the room, and it's astounding. Every movement, every body part and sigh is magnified and scrunched, exaggerated and slimmed through every single one of the various mirrors along the wall. Eames can see everything, even the bizarrely portrayed emotion on Arthur's face, and his inhumanly enlarged cock.
The mere reflections of the mirrors have Eames contemplating on merging in somehow and getting in on this but then he fears ruining the moment and having the twinlike projection turn on him. He doesn't want it to stop, though, and when Arthur gets down onto his knees before the projection's cock, mouth ready to take him all in Eames can't help but moan along with his lookalike, imagining the feeling, his hand beginning to snake toward the growing protrusion in his trousers as though in the hopes of simulating that feeling.
And then, on an impulse he decides Why not? and has soon shed just as much clothing as the projection. To Eames's great relief, it's easy to walk up behind them unnoticed in the mess of reflections and so he takes the chance of seizing Arthur's ass roughly from behind.
He gets a pretty good, surprised reaction out of that as Arthur's head snaps back to glance over his shoulder and sighs, "Oh. Yes," convinced that Eames isn't real, merely a duplicate of the projection, a twin... or at the very least a strange illusion of the funhouse mirrors. Regardless, to Arthur, the reappearance of another Eames is twice the fantasy and thus he gives one of the widest smiles Eames has ever seen before simply going along with Eames resting his cock along the opening of his ass.
Eames, the real one, kisses Arthur gently along nearly every notch of his spine, earning him a shudder and a blissful head toss before the point man returns to pleasuring the projection's throbbing member. The real Eames can't help but feel jealous, but doesn't want to return the projection's attention to him, so he settles with fucking Arthur from the rear as best he can. Despite being behind him, Eames still manages to catch every expression Arthur makes in the reflection of the surrounding mirrors, some so ridiculous and unlike Arthur that it makes Eames laugh mid thrust, throwing off his breathing and balance.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, he manages to wrap a hand around Arthur's own erection so that they can all climax at once. And Eames really wishes he could savor the moment in more ways than just pure ravishment and pleasure, but hell... he can't. He knows he couldn't even try if Arthur asked him to; he's just lost in the funhouse mirrors and in Arthur's body and in the pure idea of everything that's happening.
As the three lay spent and breathing heavily, Eames wonders how long such a good thing can really last and knows that he must shoot himself awake before the time runs out on Arthur's machine. But hardly five seconds pass before the projection has Arthur up again and is pressing him up against a large mirror, pinning him by the wrists. Arthur reaches forward to kiss him on the lips and the two just stand there for a moment. The real Eames isn't sure what to say or do, suddenly uninvolved and empty.
He gets out of his small stupor and crawls back to his discarded clothing where he quickly finds his gun by his pants. He holds it to his head, finger gripping the trigger but then watches as Arthur and the projection exchange some sort of snark and teasing before the projection releases Arthur's wrists and bends over, displaying his ass fully to the point man. Eames moans, imagining for a moment that he's the one who's there, but when he opens his eyes again, Arthur and the projection Eames are staring seriously at him and the gun he has pointed to his head.
"What are you doing?" Arthur asks, confused, trying to sort things out. Eames knows then that he doesn't have any more time, that it's ruined; that he needs to get out. Now.
He fires the gun and brings himself awake in a rush, breathing heavily. The pleasure from the dream still resonates deep within him but it's almost a guilty feeling and Eames can't help but quickly unattach himself from the IV and rush from the room. He tries to find a way to justify it, because it's definitely not something he wants to ignore. It's all too personal for him to have invaded in upon and to have taken advantage of of the other man's fantasy, but a part of him still relishes all that had happened and the twisted, strange expression of pleasure on Arthur's face. In the end, Eames figures it's better for him to know the possibility of what could happen in a less casual setting, say... during a job. Then he can be prepared.
Eames snorts at the idea although it's obviously not all that farfetched, and is far away from Arthur's desk by the time the disgruntled and confused point man does wake up...
But not before Arthur can catch a glimpse of him slipping out the door.