This was originally intended to be about 1 maybe 2 chapters long, but the story grew, and now it's looking like I'll end up at 5 instead. Should be all up within not too long, since it's mostly done already.
I do not own Inception and I do not own Eames and Arthur, but the taxi driver and receptionist are my own creations. As is the plot. It's rated M for security and it contains slash.
The title is inspired by the lyrics of a song.
Enjoy! All reviews appreciated, of course.
Fill My Time With Yours
He knew he shouldn't do it, knew that it was a bad idea through and through. But that bag, heading toward him on the carousel, it made him feel like he didn't have a choice, like it was the only sensible thing to do. Ridiculous, he knew. In fact it was anything but sensible; in fact it was highly irrational. So when the bag rolled past him he cast a quick glance down the line of people before he took a step forward and nonchalantly heaved it off. Proceeding down toward the luggage carts he felt the unfamiliar bag in his hands. Leather. Real, obviously. New from the feel of it. He dumped it on a cart, took off his coat and draped it casually over the black piece of luggage, then grabbed the handle and steered toward the opposite side of the hall, where he turned to watch the rest of the Sydney arrivals collect their belongings. A nice bag, actually, Eames thought to himself. A glorified sports bag made of leather perhaps, with a few straps and strategically placed logos, but nice nonetheless. And the cost of it astronomical, no doubt. Probably equivalent to the gross domestic product of a smaller country, he mused, wondering both why anyone would spend so much money on something so ordinary, but also how anyone even had that kind of money at disposal at any given time.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cobb heading for the exit, and as they briefly made eye contact upon passing, only the slightest nods of recognition were exchanged. As was customary after an Extraction, or in this case Inception, job, they always left the scene of crime separately and as strangers, only resuming contact at least a few days afterwards, preferably at least a week, schedules permitting. It was a matter of attracting as little attention to oneself as possible, and this simple safety procedure was part of that. A strangely pleasant shiver went down his spine as his thoughts returned to the bag in front of him. No, it definitely wasn't ugly, just so unmistakably Arthur.
The crowd slowly let up in front of the carousel as more and more people found their luggage and left, but Arthur was of course still standing there, staring with disdain at the hole in the ground, out of which now only few suitcases and bags ever emerged, tapping his foot impatiently on the tiled floor. Eames still stood, watching, pretending to be waiting for someone, which wasn't entirely untrue. He had seen all of them leave, even shared a few words with Yusuf. Going back to Mombasa, he was, wanted to know when Eames would return. He had replied with a shrug and mumbled something about the wind, adventure and California, and Yusuf had left. Ariadne would be going back to Paris, to continue her studies supposedly, but he knew she would be on their doorstep, wherever it turned out to be, as soon as Cobb made the next call. Saito would continue running his business as usual he assumed, no doubt with heightened spirits now that his main competitor was to dissolve his empire.
When the screen above him suddenly announced that all baggage from the Sydney flight had been delivered, Arthur stopped his foot tapping and gave the carousel a final, disapproving look (three apparently abandoned suitcases still doing the rounds). Eames felt an involuntary smile form on his face, but something kept him from fully appreciating this otherwise precious moment; possibly it was Arthur's frown, which hinted at some form of distress beyond mere annoyance, and Eames thought it was time to take action. He started toward his colleague, pushing the cart in front of him. Arthur rolled his eyes and turned to find the information, but stopped dead in his tracks when he saw who was approaching him from across the hall.
"Wha-..." He looked genuinely flustered.
"Just wanted to make sure you got out alright," Eames chirped, "lucky I stayed, huh?"
Arthur, still in shock, sounded somewhat hesitant. "I – I can take care of myself, lost luggage is hardly the worst obstacle I've encountered." His gaze turned down at the cart. "I thought you travelled carry-on only?"
"Usually. Decided against it this time. Might as well make a trip of it now I'm here, you know. Come on, I've got a cab waiting outside." He stopped, only a few feet away from Arthur.
"This is completely inappropriate, Eames," he said slowly, his voice barely more than a whisper.
"What's done is done."
After a moment's hesitation he conceded. "Okay, go wait outside, I'll get this luggage thing sorted. I'll be damned if I lose that bag, cost me a fortune."
When Arthur emerged from the terminal a few minutes later, Eames waved at him from across the plaza, maybe a bit too enthusiastically he would later conclude. Arthur seemed to think so at least, for he took sharp notice of their surroundings and sent Eames a piercing look before rushing across the pavement toward the parked car.
"After you," Eames said as he motioned for Arthur to get in the car with mock gentlemen's gestures. Arthur rolled his eyes in response, but Eames thought he saw the tiniest trace of a smile curl across his face before he ducked into the taxi.
"Where to?" the driver asked when they had both gotten seated, his heavy accent not instantly recognisable to Eames. He looked at Arthur, eyebrows raised.
"Well I was planning on heading on down to San Diego for a visit, then up to Seattle, but I guess I'll have to find a place to stay here while-"
"I've got a room all set up in East Los Angeles, you can just stay with me, darling."
Arthur glanced at the driver. "In your dreams, Eames," he mumbled, then, turning towards the front of the car, "Casa de Miranda in Downtown, please."
"Always so classy," Eames remarked, but Arthur ignored him.
They drove in silence for a while, looking at the endless sprawl that was Los Angeles whiz past them outside the windows. What a strange city, so dull and lifeless, like the blueprint of a dream. Eames inadvertently reached for his poker chip and felt the familiar weight and texture of his totem that reassured him that this was indeed the real world. Arthur noticed and cocked his head slightly, a curios expression on his face.
"Losing track of reality?"
"Better be on the safe side. This place is so artificial it just might be one of your scenarios on a bad day. Millions of people live here, yet it all seems so orderly, so constructed."
"It's no Mombasa if that's what you're getting at."
"That it ain't," Eames said. He turned his attention back to the world outside, mumbling to himself, "that it ain't."
Arthur changed the subject. "Eames," he said, "it really was inappropriate. Why did you do it?"
"Why did you wait for me at the airport? You know the rules as well as I do, you know we're not supposed to do that, it could have meant trouble for all of us. You should have waited, it's how we do things."
"It's obvious, isn't it?" Arthur looked at him as he said it, but did not respond. His silence indicated for Eames to continue. "I could have waited a week, but you would be long gone by then, in Seattle, Wisconsin, for god's sake you could be in Arkansas. And Cobb won't be interested in another job for a while, he's busy being a father up in Seattle. Don't worry, he'll be back," he reassured when he saw Arthur frown, "it just won't be for a little while. Could be months before he chooses to gather the team once again, and who's to say if he'll need a forger by then."
"A few months of lying low doesn't sound like such a bad deal to me."
"It could be."
"Well, for one, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye properly after we got off the plane," Eames said with a grin, "and you know me, I don't do goodbyes very well."
Arthur stared at him.
"Casa de Miranda," the driver announced, pulling over, letting Arthur get out. When he reached the pavement on the other side of the car, Eames had rolled down his window.
"Stay in touch, will you?"
Arthur looked down, opening his mouth as if to say something, though no words came across his lips. He hesitated. "Goodbye, Eames," he finally said, then turned around and went into the hotel, the name swung in delicate gold letters above the entrance.
So very Arthur.