A/N: I don't own Inception, or "Never Going Back Again" by Fleewood Mac.
He broke down and let me in...
Made me see where I'd been.
As Arthur stood watching his memories float by, he began to notice a creeping sort of pain that was quickly making its way up his neck, and permeating his brain. He was so distracted by the molten fire moving through him, that he didn't notice when details began to disappear. He gripped the sides of his head, and let out a small whimper. Clenching his eyes shut, Arthur fell to his knees. The memories around him glowed with the pulse of the pain, time lost all meaning, and then everything was black.
Arthur stared up at the beige ceiling of his apartment. A cool cloth was pressed onto his forehead. Arthur could only assume that it was Eames beside him. The blinding pain in his head had all but gone, leaving behind only a dull ache. He blinked, and turned his head to look at Eames. With a raspy voice he could only assume came from screaming while trapped in his memories, Arthur tried to speak his mind, "Eames... God. Eames, I'm sorry...so, so, so sorry."
At that, Eames face seemed to crumble. He crouched down next to the couch and grasped Arthur's hand in his own. "There's absolutely nothing for you to be sorry about, darling. Nothing."
Arthur shook his head in protest, but immediately regretted the motion. Sudden nausea pushed all other thoughts from his mind. He held himself completely still for a moment, and took a deep breath. "Eames... I remember. I remember it all. I remember the beach, and the fence, and the loft, and the kisses, and that scar, and your horrible cooking. I remember making love with you... But I also remember why I left you."
Eames sat, stunned, for a moment. "You didn't leave... not really anyway. Your dream simply ended."
Arthur shook his head more slowly this time. "No Eames. I left. I had found a way out, but there were extenuating circumstances- loose ends that I had to tie up before I could meet you in reality. Unfortunately for me, and for us, when I was able to tie them up, they changed me."
"Arthur, what are you talking about?", Eames' face had become a sort of stony mask.
"I wasn't who you thought I was... Well, not really" At the look of slight horror and confusion that was spreading across Eames' face, Arthur pressed on, "I had originally been sent into The Project to do a sort of recon on the recruits who were participating in the new study. I worked for the CIA. I had no idea of what The Project was, but I was good at my job, and so I took on the project, considering it a sort of promotion. Blending into the world of the military was a challenge in itself, one that I was only too happy to try. Since The Project was an international conference of sorts, The U.S. Army was concerned with the sheer number of international recruits who had been taken in for The Project. It was my job to simply gather intel on as many people as I possibly could. I rationalized that there must have been other spies in our midst, I tried to make myself feel better about it all. But then I met you..." Arthur trailed off, and for a moment Eames thought Arthur was going to fall back asleep.
"Arthur?" Eames squeezed the other man's hand for a moment, and then hurriedly let go. "What about me Arthur?"
"You changed everything. I had studied you when I was on the farm- well, your father really. He was a high mark on the CIA's watch-list before he killed himself in that bombing in London. And so the CIA had been watching you, trying to see if you showed any inclination of following in your fathers footsteps. When my boss found out that I had begun to get closer to you, it became my job to keep getting closer to you. I was passing information on you back to the higher ups on my food chain. But the thing was; you weren't doing anything wrong, or at least, not that I could tell. Every time I went to my boss, he was extremely flustered, convinced that you had to be doing something wrong; dealing with the wrong contacts, making some sort of malicious deal-something, anything. But each and every time I spoke to you, I could only ever find more things to like about you. I had worked for Langley for 4 years, and yet this one case was to be the end of my career as I knew it. I was simultaneously investigating and falling in love with you. It was driving me mad, living such a double life. But I knew something had to give, or else they would pull me from the project, as it was proving to be a dud- so I changed the game. It was worth it though, you were worth it."
"Worth what?", Eames was beginning to worry about what this was all leading up to.
"I started to lie. I lied about you. I told them secrets you had never told me. I made you into the criminal that your father most probably would have made you. I made it seem as if I was the only contact to you that the CIA would ever get. When the enormity of my lies began to reach a point of potential danger, they locked down your dream-state. They figured you wouldn't pose a threat if you couldn't escape your own mind..."
"But?", Eames could tell that there was something Arthur wasn't telling him.
"But as both self punishment and reward, I requested that I be locked down with you, so as to 'monitor and record the threat level you posed to society'. It was a load of crap, and I knew it, they probably knew it, but they let me carry on with the facade. The CIA had lost its use for me." Arthur looked up at the ceiling, away from Eames. He couldn't take the shame that was building in his gut. It was overwhelming, trying to piece back together the two lives he's lived. Having Eames here was both hugely comforting and extremely disconcerting. "I... I don't know what I thought I would do in the end. I was naive, and I am sorry for that."
Eames nodded mutely, and sat back on the floor, having squeezed himself between the couch and the coffee table. It was all so surreal. Arthur was here in front of him-the real Arthur that he remembered, but he was saying all of these things that didn't make much sense. "It's fine" he mumbled, more to himself than to Arthur.
Arthur turned his head sharply to examine the man sitting next to him. "What are you talking about? It's fine? No it is most definitely not fine. I made you out to be some sort of criminal. If you weren't going to be arrested before, then you really were after all of the things I said. It was stupid of me-immature. I wanted you for myself, so I turned you into someone you're not! How can you say that it's fine?"
Eames gave a wry grin, before stating what seemed most obvious, "But by doing all of those things; saying all of those lies, you did almost nothing to change who I am. I'm here now love."
Arthur was quiet. All of his guilt had blinded him from seeing what was right in front of him. Of who was right in front of him. Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he voiced the only question that had floated to the top of his head, "How are you here anyway?"
Eames gave a deep chuckle, and rubbed the back of his neck in an almost embarrassed manner. Looking up at the ceiling for a brief moment, he spoke, "Well, Arthur, I changed myself."
A/N: I have no idea of what kept me away for so long, but there you have it, chapter 18! Finally! There will probably only be a couple more chapters, but I think you'll enjoy them! Please review, and let me know what you think! (I know that there are lurkers, and I want to know how you feel about this chapter!)