That fucking traitor.
That lying, dishonest, betraying, fucking horrible traitor.
...that wonderful, caring, brave, charmingly amazing traitor
"Fuck him," Arthur muttered into the shot of tequila, one of many he had stacked up over the course of the night in the dingy bar which he was currently residing. He knew no one was listening to his pathetic outcries, and even if they were, he wasn't sure who would care.
Cobb had a chance at happiness now. A chance to be with the children he had been forced to leave years ago. If he had even thought twice about returning home, Arthur would've thought less of him as a father.
And yet, there was that selfish glimmer of Arthur that hoped he would stay.
Call it hero-worship, call it a crush, or call it unrequited love. Arthur called it a lost cause. Cobb and he were some of the best, and in this line of work - especially with someone like Dom Cobb - it was impossible not to get caught up in the line of work and what your were doing. Spending enough time in a person's subconscious can do that to a person. After watching everything that Cobb had been through, watching him relive every agonizing moment with Mal - it just made Arthur want him more.
He slammed the glass down on the bar counter, effectively knocking a few of the others in the process. His limbs were moving slower than his mind was, his brain stumbling over sluggish thoughts. Getting intoxicated was never something he enjoyed. With it came a loss of control, which Arthur constantly needed to have.
But it also brought numbness. And there was one thing that Arthur would never have enough of in his life, it was something to dull all the fucking pain. When Cobb had left, he and Arthur hadn't been on the best of terms, and Arthur had been bitter and detached for most of the week before his trip back to the states. Cobb pretty much ripped his heart out and took it in his suitcase.
So yeah, Arthur needed this.
He motioned to the bartender, who for a long portion of the night, was the only other person in the bar. Arthur could understand why. It was a shithole, and if he didn't come here for any other reason to get utterly plastered, he would never even walk in a five mile radius of some place like this.
It was smaller than his room as a child growing up, maybe 25 by 25. The brick walls were decaying by the humidity of stinking air, falling apart and crumbling. In the back corner of the room, there was a better lit area (which was saying a lot, because he could barely see his hand in front of him) that resembled - and smelled - a lot like a bathroom.
A group of guys had come in a little while ago, beckoning to the bartender for a round of drinks before heading to a very sad looking booth in the back. Arthur didn't even acknowledge them, but the entire time he sat at the bar, he felt their eyes on him. Years of practice, and he practically knew when someone was so much as thinking about him.
The bartender walked over slowly, wiping his hands on the dirty dishtowel before pausing where Arthur was sitting. Arthur motioned to the pile of shot glasses, which had miraculously doubled in front of his eyes, before looking back up at the barkeep.
"Wow," Arthur mumbled, bracing himself on the counter as he was now seeing two of the man in front of him. He shook his head, trying to quell the spinning, but it just worsened.
"Nice try, kid. You're done for the night. Should've cut you off a while back there," the guy replied gruffly. Arthur harrumphed, that cold, reeling sensation of anger and despondence still settled in his stomach. No matter how hard he tried to drink Cobb away, it wasn't going to work. Cobb had been in his head, and it was like now he had become a part of Arthur. There was no escaping him, no matter how much Arthur wanted to.
Desperately wanting to convince the bartender that he was, in fact, perfectly fine and needed another shot or maybe four, Arthur didn't realize that someone was sitting next to him until a hand was wrapped around his arm. He almost fell off of his stool.
The man, who was one that Arthur had seen come in with the guys sitting in back, grinned at him. "You, uh, need a refill?" he laughed. Arthur swallowed, the hairs on the back of his neck starting to stand up. He tried to pull himself out of the grasp, but the guy was a lot stronger than he was. And from the way he was able to articulate his words, he wasn't even close to being drunk.
"Get your hand off me." Arthur tried to tell him with as much lethalness in his voice, but his words all slurred together, and with each moment passing, he began to regret every one of those shots.
"Come back and sit with me and my boys, and I'll get you that drink. Free of charge" He motioned back to the booth, where Arthur instinctively looked, and then immediately regretted. All of the men in the booth were watching the exchange between them. He looked back at the guy, who winked at him before squeezing down harder on his arm.
Trying once more to shake the man off, a voice in the back of his head was telling him idiot fucking idiot look at what you've done you stupid stupid idiot you're such a child. He could practically hear Cobb yelling those words at him. If Cobb was sitting here right now, he would be, but he'd have shot all these fucking bastards by now.
Cobb had abandoned him. And with good reason. Because Arthur was a child. Less than twenty-four hours without Cobb, and look what he gets himself into.
With his free hand, he started to reach around to the back of his waistband, where his gun was safely tucked. Not that he was planning on using it. It was more of scare tactic to get him out of here alive, because these guys were twice his size and mostly likely had guns as well... Him starting to shoot wouldn't help at all.
As soon as Arthur wrapped his hand around the handle, the guy's free hand grabbed onto his thigh before groping him through his slacks. It threw him so off guard that the hand holding the gun flew forward, smashing into the face of the man sitting opposite him and sending him onto the floor.
There was shouting and tables overturning and even more shouting, but Arthur was halfway out the door by the time he heard this. He was slow and stumbling, his senses dulled by the alcohol. Not to mention it was dark as fuck out.
Everything he'd been trained to do, everything that Cobb had trained him do - he had just thrown all of it out as soon as he stepped into that bar earlier. There was no sense of awareness or vigilance. He didn't even take time to figure out how many men there were. He was too busy acquainting himself with Jose Cuervo...
Hearing footsteps approach behind him and knowing what was going to come soon, Arthur couldn't help but think - was there a reason that Cobb left? If so, was that reason him?
Maybe it was.
Maybe it was because he just wasn't that point man Cobb had told him he always was.
Hands grabbed at him, fingers tangled themselves in his already mess of a hair, his whole body slammed into the wall by the bar, his cheek almost became one with the bricks. With a blur of fists and feet and knees, and him being held down, all he could do was take it.
He didn't yell. He didn't cry out.
He didn't deserve that satisfaction.
He took it, wondering if maybe this was a sign. A sign of what he truly deserved. Not Cobb, but this.
He felt the warm wetness everywhere; trickling down the side of his face, seeping through the rumpled mess of clothes he was wearing, tasting the coppery tang of it in his mouth. He closed his eyes, biting down on the inside of his cheek to stop himself from yelling at this point.
When he reopened them, he hoped that maybe he'd wake up, and this would've all been a nightmare. Cobb would've stayed, and he wouldn't be dying in a random alleyway alone. Instead, all he got was the edges of his vision beginning to blacken out. He felt himself start to slip away, and for a moment, was honestly okay with it.
Feeling a rough hand slide across his stomach, untucking the remainder of his shirt and start on the button of his pants, he drew in a painful breath, just wanting the end of it. At this point he could only hear the blood pounding in his head, but he imagined that someone was calling his name. It made him feel safe. Wanted.
From there, he knew he could let the blackness take him.
He had been expecting to wake up maybe in the warehouse, a IV sticking out of his hand and suddenly being able to remember what had happened before that god-awful dream. He wanted Cobb to be there next to him, grinning and telling him what a fucking crazy ride that had been.
If not that, he had been expecting to wake up in the alley. Alone and broken.
If not that, he had been expecting not to wake up at all. That might've been the best out of all the options...
What he hadn't been expecting was to open his eyes and find himself in a bed. A large, comfortable bed with huge pillows and an oversized comforter covering him.
He started to lift his head, wondering what the fuck, but his head started to swoon, so he laid back against the pillows. As he willed the pounding in his head to subside, he tried to concentrate. How did he manage to get from the alley to here? Unless he was dealing with some twisted people, there had to be -
"Well, aren't you just the vision of perfection, darling?"
Arthur closed his eyes, not wanted to have to face him. Even with his throbbing head, he had been able to notice that Eames had addressed him without that usual bit of mockery in his voice.
Groaning inwardly, he rolled over onto his back, which he immediately realized hurt like a fucking bitch. He hissed through his teeth, blinking until the black spots in front of his eyes disappeared. Eames was leaning against the door frame, his arms crossed and his lips set in a thin line. It was strange, seeing him like this.
He made his way over to the bed, where he sat on the edge of it, by Arthur's feet. Involuntarily, Arthur winced, almost beginning to shrink away from him. But instead of getting the snappy comeback that he had been expecting, Eames just looked at him, an expression of concern etched across his face.
This was Eames' bed. This was his house, it was his voice in the alley, it was all himhimhimhim. And as Arthur reached up to brush a wayward strand of hair out of his eyes, his fingers brushed against the roughness of medical tape.
His mouth parted slightly as he looked up and met Eames' eyes. He wanted to say something to him, but the words in his mouth wouldn't form. As he pushed the covers back and lifted the shirt he was wearing - which was different than the one he'd been wearing earlier - he ran his fingers over the bandages crisscrossing his abdomen. Never for moment did he take his eyes off Eames, who was now ducking his head, a pinkish hue creeping up his neck.
Arthur tried to form words again, but even if he could, he wouldn't know where to begin.
"What are you tryin' to do to me, pet? I come tryin' to find you, and when I do, you're a bloody beaten mess," Eames asked softly, reaching out his hand to touch Arthur's covered knee. Arthur closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. This shouldn't be happening, but it was. He shouldn't be feeling like this - like he needed Eames to protect him.
It should be Cobb here with him.
But it's not, his mind chided bitterly.
Clearing his throat, he opened his eyes, finally able to speak, albeit not very well. "How?"
Eames shrugged it off. "I gave Ariadne a ring after Cobb had landed, wanting to know where you had run off to. I was worried you would go off and get your pretty little head into some trouble, which I found to be true when she told me that she hadn't seen you since she dropped you off at some dump bar."
And through everything that Eames had just said - talking to Ariadne, Cobb landing, the whole bar thing - only one thing stuck out in Arthur's mind. He looked down at his hands, the right one bandaged around the palm, before looking up.
"You were worried about me?" he asked in a small voice, knowing that his facial expression gave it all away.
Eames let out a sharp, cut off laugh. He scratched at the back of his neck, before replying "Of course, love. Ever since we found out Cobb was leaving, I've been worrying about you."
Watching Eames, Arthur was trying to comprehend what was happening. No one had ever worried about him just for him. No ulterior motives.
With Cobb, it was 'worry about Arthur because if he screws up we all could die'. With Ariadne, it was 'worry about Arthur because if you don't, he'll die and Cobb will be sad and not want to sex you up as much'.
And that was it. Those were the only people he could think of, and they didn't truly worry about him, either. There was no one else.
Except for Eames. Who worried about him on the simple fact that he cared about Arthur. That he liked Arthur and wanted him safe and alive and still breathing. Not for anything that would benefit him. Just because he wanted Arthur to be happy. Eames squeezed his blanket covered knee, running his thumb in circles over his kneecap.
What happened next, Arthur continually tried to pin it on the hangover or a head injury or an alien invading his body as he looked back on it at a later time. But as he wrapped his fingers around Eames' wrist, pulling him forward, the wanting was burning through his veins. And it was something Arthur hadn't felt since - well, in a long time.
He wasn't about to let it go unanswered this time.
Curling his uninjured hand around the other man's neck, he felt himself tense inwardly, but he pushed that feeling away. Because this - this wasn't anyone. Not just anyone would search for you all over town and then save your drunk ass from getting beaten to a pulp.
Before he touched his lips to Eames, he whispered "Thank you" softly. And when Eames went in for the kiss, he swore he could feel Arthur smiling against his lips.