This fic was written for the inception_kink meme on livejournal. The prompt being: Eames is color blind.
Do You Dream of Color?
For centuries a white feather has been a symbol of cowardice.
In British culture and traditions it only holds negativity.
Such a tiny, weightless thing holding such burden.
Eames knew all this but it never deterred him from keeping it close.
It wasn't his totem but he wanted it to be.
You can't have a feather as a totem.
It wasn't unique enough.
Why couldn't he have two totems?
Who made the bloody rules up anyway?
He treated it like a second totem though. It was so light that no one saw the impression it made in his trousers.
Unlike his totem the feather helped him remember to keep dreaming.
His totem helped him remember reality.
He needed that duality otherwise he was likely to slip precariously through the cracks
Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet…these are just words.
He knows what things are supposed to be…
Certain apples are red.
The sky is blue.
The grass is green.
He memorizes these things for the sake of memorizing but sometimes he does forget.
It's like Chinese: if you don't speak it every once in a while you will forget it, it's just a matter of time.
A matter of when.
But he practices. Makes flashcards.
Corn is yellow.
Fields are gold.
Dirt is brown.
He can't possibly make flashcards for everything right?
These are also words but these are the most important words.
He doesn't need to practice them or make flashcards.
These words Eames understands very well.
They are his world, his words.
He couldn't even pronounce it as a child.
He would just say: "I'm color blind". Whatever that meant and those sad little frowns would appear, eyes dropping, lips quivering.
Why did they feel sorry for him?
How does a person miss what they never had? He never had "color" (again another word) before.
It confused him, annoyed him.
Monochromacy. His condition. Rare. Genetic. Probably fewer than a couple thousand have it.
They should have a little club, a convention.
Eames would make them hats and they would take pictures and talk about how "They don't see color but don't see what all the fuss is about since they live more than half way normal lives."
They would chat about how hard it is to buy clothes without help and sometimes they miss references on the tellie but otherwise they are pretty happy.
Does he miss it?
Again, he never had it.
Does he cheesily wish he did? Sure. If only to feel slightly more normal. To know what the jokes were, what Suzie the weathergirl was actually wearing instead of her usual black drab, to know what all the fuss is about.
Dumping a large box of Crayola crayons on the floor was often a favorite childhood past time.
He would arrange them in a big pile and look at the foreign words on their sides and divide the big pile into two smaller ones
Teal? That just sounded obscene. What was teal? He thought gray maybe.
Chartreuse? An orange?
Sepia? A green perhaps?
Persimmon? Now that just sounded dirty.
"The colors he knew pile" would only be about a dozen and the other heaping pile was an enigma. But he liked to pretend.
He gets intrigued
It always starts with your first memory.
That's how it always starts right?
In his case an object.
His mother's necklace. A feather, dangling down. Always tickling his face, within his reach.
His mother didn't like it when he tried to put it in his mouth though.
The feather was true. Something that had one and only one color and would never change.
It was easy to perceive. Nothing else was simpler.
He loved it because everyone saw the same thing when they looked at it. It held no hidden meanings, no hidden colors.
It just was.
If you polled the entire world he was about 99.9% sure that most of the population would not say their favorite color was "white" but his was.
It was what he saw best. What he knew best.
And that's why he also loved snow, loved it when it blanketed everything. Again he knew everyone could see the same thing.
If only someone could see what he saw.
He gets frustrated
His father, his real father gave him his condition but no one knew where he was. He wasn't in his life.
His one real sister didn't have it. His half siblings didn't either.
The one person who had it was nowhere to be found.
But his family sympathized, tried to understand, his mother especially who felt guilty she bore him into the world with the condition.
There wasn't anything they could do. There was no cure.
"What is she wearing? What color?"
His mother and step father hated when he played this game when they were in public.
They told him it was rude to point, to ask.
But he wanted to know. To learn, to understand.
"You don't know what the colors mean anyway," his sister would say.
This was true but he still wanted to know.
He gets depressed
Other children make fun of him when they find out.
He tries to hide it but when he grabs things that aren't his they either bully him or just laugh harder.
"Yours is the pencil with green in it, this one is mine."
"Those aren't your gym shoes, yours are white, these are yellow."
"You're supposed to stand by the orange cones. Don't you see them?"
It embarrasses him, how feeble he is, how dependant he is on others, his teachers.
He would walk home crying.
Why couldn't he see what they saw?
A peek into their world?
He gets special treatment
He always gets more hugs, more sweets, more presents and more attention even though sometimes he doesn't want it nor deserves it.
His siblings always hate him for it; hold a grudge against him, blaming him for taking some of their precious youth and attention away since their parents were always fussing over him. He never lives it down.
He wasn't crippled or mentally challenged he just couldn't see certain things.
Couldn't someone show him?
He gets used to it
And by high school most people don't know him and some people even think it's cool.
"You're not missing anything anyway."
He blindly buys clothes on his own, sick of his mother picking things out for him.
People get used to him wearing mismatched items, it's his "thing" and again they think it's cool.
"It brings out your eyes."
"That blue sweater."
He looks down at it stupidly like he expects to know what color he's wearing, what they are actually talking about or wondering faintly if they're messing with him.
He's told he has grayish blue eyes. Told they are unique by lovers many a time. He wishes he could see them, see what they see, see how unique they really are but he takes their word for it.
He's told he has dirty blond hair. Again he takes their word for it. He knows what to put down on his identification and passports.
What does dirty blond mean anyway? He has no idea.
He always assumed it meant he was actually dirty, having to wash his hair multiple times until his step father picked up on it.
"You nutter it's a hair color it doesn't mean you have 'dirty hair'."
"They shouldn't call it that! That's way too confusing!"
Not "light" and "light."
He has his mother's eyes he is told.
Buying clothes was never fun but he tries desperately even though he can't tell what he's buying.
He goes out of his way to buy ridiculous things, loud prints and awkward patterns.
If he can't see them he might as well make his presence known in a way.
He doesn't tell people
Things get easier with age but he doesn't like to get into it.
Only his family and close friends know.
When it happens to come up, maybe with an overly curious or perceptive boyfriend he shies away from it, not wanting their pity, those sad smiles.
They always say: "I'm sorry."
And they can't give him a legitimate answer. He hates it.
When they press him asking what kind of color blindness he has he always says: "The worst kind" which usually shuts them right up, assuming the worst.
He laughs off the idea of a support groups.
He wasn't dying.
He laughs off the idea of therapists.
There's nothing wrong his mind, just his retinas.
He shrugs it all off.
There's nothing left to say about it.
No one ever wants to know what he DOES see and that's the hardest thing to swallow about the whole situation. They only want to know what he doesn't, focusing on the negative.
He is half way convinced no one really understands or ever will.
But he holds onto the feather in the wild hopes someone will understand, takes the time to find out what he does see.
And what does he see?
Light, Dark and in between.
Snow burying their small country home. The lush hills that he once didn't know which color they were now blanketed heavily in white, glistening in the morning sun like diamonds.
The dark night sky hanging low in the sky. Millions of stars and the moon carved into it looking milky and luminous .
The sky after a heavy rain: gray and still, threatening and angry.
And the feather which he kept after his mother passed away.
These are things that he sees and sees well.
He only wants to show someone so maybe they will understand.
This story has a companion piece called: "Black Moon" told from Arthur's POV. Both stories are from the same verse and can be read alone but encouraged to be read together as it will make more sense later. Both stories run parallel to each other.