Disclaimer: Inception is property of Chris Nolan, not me.
A/N: Originally written for inception_kink and crossposted to my journal there.
"Hello, Arthur. You've not had the pleasure of meeting me yet, but you will soon enough, because I'll be a groomsman in Mal's wedding with you. She requested that I call you so we can plan something delightfully wicked for the bachelor party. She said something about you keeping things from getting to out of control, because the wedding has sucked all the fun out of her, poor thing. Ring me when you can, my number is-"
(Arthur cuts off the stranger's voice, then systematically destroys his phone. A few weeks later, Mal shoots him a fierce glare when Dom finally appears at the church. The groom is squinting in the sunlight and looks ready to vomit. As he gets closer, Arthur realizes that his friend is covered in glitter and accepts the fact that Mal will probably kill him later tonight. The man who helped to drag Dom inside slaps Arthur on the back, grinning. "You missed a hell of a party, pet." )
"First of all, I want to say that no matter how much you want to claim your gun misfired, shooting another man in the bits is fundamentally wrong. And really, how is it my fault that Cobb never told you that I was a forger? I mean, it was all meant to be a bit of fun, darling, I never thought you'd actually let me kiss you. That's just bad form, getting friendly with the projections. Anyway, you really should think of it as something to build employee relations, Arthur. Everyone, at some point, should kiss a coworker. Liberating stuff, that."
(It was Arthur's first time sharing a dream with Eames, the first time they ever worked together. He'd only listened to the message all the way through because he was waiting for the apology that never came. Instead, there was a little more sexual harassment and he can just imagine the grin that had to have been on Eames face when he called. Arthur suddenly realizes that Eames will forever be That Guy. The one who flirts and may or may not grab Arthur's ass in the elevator. He's not sure how to feel about that.)
"Arthur, it's Eames. I know we've only met a handful of times, but I just can't believe you whenever you say you despise me. In fact, I think you rather like all of the attention, but that is a conversation that we should have a different day, perhaps over wine and- hold on a moment, love- Yes, this is a serious call, officer. A very dear friend of mine, but I had the misfortune of getting his voicemail. Of course, he'll be willing to post bail, would I have called him if he didn't? Alright, if you insist, I'll speed things up."
There's what must be an exasperated sigh, but on the recording it only sounds like static.
"So, Arthur, dear, you'll find me in the police station in town, I trust you'll either bring me money or come up with a plan to break me out. I look forward to either."
(The next time they meet, Eames tells Arthur about the handsy drunk that he had the pleasure of sharing a cell with that night. Arthur shrugs a little helplessly, a small grin on his face. "I couldn't figure out to bake the file into the cake. Terribly sorry about that.")
"I just heard about Mal. D'you remember at the wedding, how she pretended to slap me when I kissed her on the mouth? Mal was always beautiful, but that night the whole fuckin' sky must of jealous, because her smile alone…The guy who told me said that Cobb did it and I hit him for even darin' to think it. Now…now 'm not so sure."
(From that point on, the message is filled with the uncomfortable sound of Eames' drunken crying. Arthur forces himself to listen to it over and over, casting his totem at the same time. The die always lands on the same number, because this may be a nightmare, but that doesn't make it any less real. At the funeral, Arthur and Eames share a look, but neither one of them mentions the message. That night, they go out and get properly wasted as Dom flees the country. The night after, Arthur is gone too.)
"I know you've been sticking close to Cobb for awhile now, but I also happen to know that you're going to be in Berlin sometime this week. Don't fret about that little detail, darling, just chalk it up to my amazing intuitive skills. You'll get less gray hairs that way. If you're willing, I happen to be staying just across the street from a fabulous Indian place. It's a shame that work keeps two old friends like us from getting together every now and then, eh?"
(It doesn't even matter that Arthur never called Eames back, because the bastard still managed to break into his hotel room. His boots are dirty and on Arthur's pillow, and what has to be porno is starting up on the TV. Eames has the gall to wink before offering a half-eaten box of vindaloo, which Arthur grudgingly accepts.)
"Two things, Arthur. Ariadne is a chatty drunk and you, my dear, are a bastard for doing something that you originally shot me in the balls for. Though, I'm wondering how liberating it must feel to kiss two of your coworkers, you cheeky thing."
(Normally, Arthur is filled with the urge to strangle Eames at times like these. And as much as that option is looking as lovely as always, he can't help but feel that the bastard is actually right, though he's not sure what about. The very horror of the idea and the amount of liquor he bought following the Fischer job turns Arthur into a shut in for almost two days.)
"Happy birthday, Arthur! Hopefully, this year you'll finally stop getting carded when we go out for drinks and Yusuf will stop making all those jailbait jokes, delightful as they may be. If you want, I can get the team together for a proper celebration. If not, I hope you enjoy yourself anyway, pet."
(The message had been ridiculously tame and that should have set off all kinds of alarms in Arthur's head. But it's his first birthday dinner with his family in a few years, so as he walks home with a box of leftovers, Arthur's guard is down. So, when he opens the door to his apartment and is treated to a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' but what appear to be male strippers, all Arthur can do is wonder what a proper celebration would entail.)
"…Et des que je l'apercois. Alors je sens en moi. Mon coeur qui bat."
(Eames absolutely cannot sing and is French is a little clumsy, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because it's Édith Piaf and Arthur would still find the song gorgeous even if a chorus of construction equipment was performing it. Still, he tells himself that it's merely for blackmail purposes that he saves the message. Surely, plenty of people have gotten drunken serenades from Eames, but Arthur is confident that this one was mostly sober.)
"You really are fucking stupid sometimes, pet. Contrary to whatever theory that you've not only come up with, but shared with Cobb, I did not kiss you because I wanted to take the piss. Nor did I do it because you look terribly handsome after someone has ruffled your feathers a bit. I kissed you because I wanted to Arthur and clearly, you wanted to kiss back, because you left quite a nice mark on my neck, not that I'm complaining. Rather, I'm complaining because Dom Cobb showed up at my door and promptly punched me in the eye, because he thinks I just want to get into your pants. Now, I'd love to get into your pants. Multiple times even, but first I wanted you to know that I'd like some other things to come along with all of that. I know you're at home now, Arthur, because you only go two places when you're under stress and the warehouse is empty. Now, I'll give you an hour to ring me back. If that doesn't happen I am breaking into your house, brining along take out and some form of alcohol to woo you with. One hour, darling."
(Arthur spends forty minutes of that hour staring at his phone, a million things running through his mind. Finally, he turns his cell off and tucks in away in a kitchen cabinet before he starts to tidy up a little. After all, if Eames is bringing food and entertainment, Arthur can at least make sure there are clean sheets.)
"Turns out that I get to head home a few days early. I'm hoping that you'll surprise me by waiting up in the Paris flat the day after tomorrow, preferably naked. If this will be a conflict, somehow tell me where you are in the world. I'm quite good at naked surprises, you'll find."
(Arthur brings the carry out this time. The look on Eames face said that he obviously didn't figure that Arthur would take him seriously, because the other man is sprawled out Eames' sofa, grinning in a way that should be illegal. As it turns out, Arthur also has a talent for naked surprises.)
"'Lo Arthur. 'M not sure where in the world you are right now, but I know that you should be in m'arms or bed or somewhere that isn't wherever you are 'cos I miss you, yeah? Maybe I shoulda put a tracker on you, so then I'd never lose you again. Like, ever. Could chain you to m'bed even, we've gotta enough money to just go travelin' and stuff. Beaches. Mmm."
There are several vaguely pornographic sounds on the message following that, then Eames makes a sound of surprise.
"Pet! Where'd you come from?"
"The bar, Eames. It never fails to amuse me how low your alcohol tolerance is when it comes to tequila."
Arthur is clearly very amused, even after there's the sound of something hitting the wood hard and Eames' phone clattering to the ground. The voices are faint now, but still audible.
"Hey, Darjeeling. Oops, that's m'bad. Meant darlin'. Darling. Arthur."
"Yes, Mr. Eames?"
"That one thing. Y'know. The thing that makes Yusuf say we're big soddin' girls. With the hearts and kissin' and stuff."
"Your phone is on the floor, Eames. Really, must you be a sloppy drunk?"
"Tequila." Eames says merrily and there's the sound of something clumsy wrapping around the speaker. "But, yeah. That one thing, love."
"You know I despise that…special nickname."
"Nonono. Love. As in, love you, Arthur."
There's a short burst of laughter in the background. Then Arthur again, a little more quietly, but with a hint of a grin in it. "Yeah, me too."
Eames lets out a little whoop of joy and then there's a very loud and very moist sound. Following that are some catcalls that sound suspiciously like Ariadne and what can only be described as slurping. The phone clatters to the ground once more.
(The next morning, there is a twenty-minute message waiting on Arthur's phone. He and Eames exchange a look, but don't start laughing. They're far too hung over for that. Still, they find the energy after breakfast to make several different of sounds that really shouldn't be recorded on tape.)