The way Eames rolls Arthur's name on his tongue manages to drain all the colour from Arthur's face. — Arthur/Eames, if you squint.
"While I believe that Dominic Cobb is his real name, I'm starting to doubt that yours is Arthur and yours," Ariadne whirls around to face Eames, "is Eames. Correct me if I'm wrong. Although, given your respective natures, you'd both probably say I am, even if I'm not."
The architect looks like she's having trouble deciding whether or not she should bestow them the honour of a glower or a smirk. It leaves her with an expression that is rather mangled and deformed, something Eames finds a great amount of personal amusement in.
Yusuf, sitting in the brightest corner of the warehouse where he's been tinkering away at for days, frowns visibly over his collection of test tubes, conical flasks and Bunsen burners. "And what about me? You don't think I'm fully capable of carrying a fake name as well?" he asks lightly in a tone that suggests poorly hidden hurt and insult at being dismissed so easily.
Ariadne blinks, a little taken aback by her own lapse of judgement regarding the chemist.
Eames just continues to look amused and shoots a lazy half-smile at Yusuf. "No offense, love, but your line of work—while just as illegal as a forger's, I'll give you that—doesn't quite require you to take up an alias. Anyway, we all know your full name's far too long and complicated for anyone to rightly pronounce or remember, my good chemist," he drawls, languidly fingering two identical poker chips between thumb and forefinger. One (and only one) of them, everyone knows, is his totem. "Yusuf is an easy substitute. Of course, if you prefer us to rightly address you as Nadeem Yoseph El-Amin bin Tasawwar, please do let us know. Until then, Yusuf more than suffices."
Arthur manages a barely audible snort just as Yusuf's jaw drops in slight consternation.
"I can replicate your signature with my eyes closed, too," Eames cuts the chemist off smoothly. "Backwards." He tosses the replica non-totem into the air. "Not bragging or anything," he adds glibly, snatching up the chip in a nifty display of dexterity as it descends.
The dazzling smile he shoots everyone is enough to make both Ariadne and Arthur roll their eyes. Yusuf has to fight down the urge to open his mouth and interrogate Eames further on just why he seems to know so much about him and wasn't that the point man's job in the first place? But Ariadne starts speaking before he has a chance let his thoughts be known.
"So, Yusuf's name is really just Nadeem Yoseph El… El – ah, y'know…" she trails off, then looks up at the forger pointedly. "What's yours?"
"Ask our darling Arthur over there. He'll know," Eames nods in the point man's direction (to which Arthur responds by shooting him a rather poisonous glare). "He knows everything." There's a hint of mocking prejudice behind his words that Ariadne doesn't miss.
Arthur breaks eye contact with Eames and, unfortunately for him, catches full sight of Ariadne's pleading gaze. It is a tactic that has served the girl well.
He sighs and gives in.
"His name really is Eames," the point man says tiredly, bringing his fingers up to carefully massage his temple. "Well, his last one is, at any rate. That's all I can really give you."
"That's all you really want to give," Eames corrects him, grinning broadly. "Sweetheart, we all know you know the full names and background information of everyone in this room like you know your ABCs… and then some. Don't you, Arty?"
There's a prominent silence.
"Okay, I'm starting to see a trend here." Ariadne is quick on the uptake. "So, now I really want to know. Why won't either of you tell me what Eames' first name is?" she asks.
"It's not a matter of whether or not—" Eames is momentarily silenced by the sharp intake of breath that only he notices from Arthur and casts a quick glance at the point man. The icy glare that Arthur is sending his way makes him lift both hands up in surrender. "Okay. Okay, I get the memo, sir fancy pants."
Yusuf and Ariadne are both mighty interested in this odd display between the two men. There's something strange going on and they knew it.
"What, is your name so embarrassing that you can't say it?" Ariadne wonders aloud, smirking a little in an attempt to get a rise out of Eames, bring his defenses down if possible.
However, much to the architect's dismay, Eames just laughs. "Oh yes," he agrees, eyes glittering. "Highly embarrassing. But you know, it doesn't really bother me. Not in the slightest. Now on the other hand, Arthur absolutely despises my first name."
"I do not," Arthur retorts, and for some reason he sounds highly offended.
"You always were a bad liar, dear heart."
The name is said like a warning.
The way Eames rolls Arthur's name on his tongue manages to drain all the colour from Arthur's face. The point man is now pale and strangely quiet.
Eames catches on and ducks his head in apology, then glances at Ariadne.
"Sorry, sweetling. Can't tell you my first name. Made a promise I fully intend to keep."
Ariadne doesn't miss the way Arthur relaxes a fraction at the forger's words. She turns to the point man and blurts, "Okay then, is Arthur your real name?" in the hopes of catching him off guard.
"Yes," both Eames and Arthur echo in unison.
Arthur shoots Eames a dirty look and Eames just shrugs and mouths what else would it be? Emmanuello? And Ariadne looks highly sceptical at their unexpected (accidental?) demonstration of unanimity. As does Yusuf. 'Unanimity' is not a word that can be used to describe the two men before them.
At that moment, Cobb walks into the room, looking at the four of them with an eyebrow raised. The expression painted on his face is, for the most part, one-third irritable, two-thirds wary and one hundred percent curious.
"What's all the commotion about?" he questions with a discernable frown.
At least Ariadne has the decency to look a tad sheepish.
"I just wanted to know if Arthur's name is not just an alias. And if Eames actually has a first name. I mean, I'm pretty sure he's not just Mr. Eames. Unless his first name is Mister. Which I highly doubt."
When Cobb's brow creases, the girl before him begins to get flustered. "I just really want to know!" she defends her actions valiantly.
"Is there a reason?"
"No reason. It's just been bugging me, I guess."
"Oh." Cobb was never one for words.
"Do you know? I'm sure you do. What's Arthur's actual name?"
The extractor almost cracks a half-smile. Almost. "Hate to break it to you but, um, Arthur is his actual name."
Cobb cocks an eyebrow. "Yes, Ariadne. I'm positive."
"Told you so," Eames sing-songs.
Ariadne ignores the forger. "What about Eames?"
"Yeah, what about Eames?" the forger goads, casting an encouraging smile at Cobb and pointedly ignoring Arthur's murderous scowl.
At this, Cobb sends a look of apology over Ariadne's shoulder in the direction of his point man before looking back at his architect.
"Eames' first name is also Arthur."
How the extractor says this with an absolute straight face, nobody in the warehouse will ever know.
There is a long moment of silence in which Arthur tries desperately not to look mortified by Cobb's display of treachery, because Arthur is a professional, and mortified should not be in his repertoire of expressions in the first place.
"Arthur Eames?" Ariadne stares incredulously at Cobb, then at Eames, then unblinkingly at Arthur, and back at Eames again.
"Born Arthur Jonathan Eames," the forger confirms.
Yusuf cracks up laughing. Arthur, impressively, manages to look somewhat physically sick.
"The main reason we call Arthur by his first name and Eames by his last is really just to reduce confusion around the workplace," Cobb explains solemnly. "Initially, Arthur was the one who broached the subject. He wasn't comfortable with sharing names and intended to change his mode of address to Levitt—his last name. But when Eames heard—"
"I offered to change my name instead," Eames finishes. "After all, Arthur sounds like a typical point man name. Boring and unsophisticated. Forgers shouldn't be caught dead with that name." He taps a finger against his chin. "Well I wouldn't anyway."
Arthur makes a noise like he's being strangled. "Boring and unsophisticated?" he hisses, to which he gets no reply.
Cobb looks largely sympathetic. He's faced awkward situations pertaining to his name in the past as well. Dom Cobb does, after all, bear a phonetic resemblance to corn cob.
Yusuf is still busily chortling away, perhaps a little more vindictively than he should. But if the name Nadeem Yoseph El-Amin bin Tasawwa is anything to go by, he figures a little vindictiveness is fully justified.
Eames—Arthur Jonathan Eames—winks at Ariadne.
"Are you finally satisfied, dearest?"
The architect shrugs, visibly deflated and more than little disappointed at the revelation.
"I was hoping for something much more original and humiliating," she admits sullenly. "Like Sméagol. Or – or Theseus. Not another Arthur."
Eames' subsequent frown would quite possibly be visible to anyone standing a hundred miles away.
"Your name is Ariadne," he points out bluntly, as if needing to remind her. "That's as original and humiliating as it gets."
Ariadne stamps her foot indignantly. "It's not humiliating! It's Greek."
"And you're Greek, are you?" Eames asks mockingly. "I was certain you hailed from Halifax County."
"Oh shut up, Arthur," the architect snaps.
"Ouch." Eames looks over to his namesake. "Do put a leash on your testy little pup here, Arthur dearest. She bites."
Arthur groans and buries his head in his hands.
It's perhaps two hours later when the hype of the conversation has died down that Eames passes Ariadne's desk, the epitome of blasé innocence, and whispers:
"Whoever told you Dominic Cobb is his real name?"