A/N: This is my first and, I think, the last Inception story. I wrote it just because I had so many ideas I wanted to see in fanfiction and so I took matters in my own hands. This is the result.
I've never written fighting scenes either, I hope they turned out fine.
Beta: OneWhoSitsWithTheTurtles. I can't fully express how grateful I am for beta-ing my stories.
And you definitely should read her Inception stories, because they are the best I've read.
Projection of the Soul
Projections never held any interest for Arthur. He found them insignificant, secondary compared to what he paid attention to in the dream space. Of course there were times when they did get his full attention; difficult to ignore crowds of people hunting you down, trying to tear you apart. Most of the time it happened after the job was complete. Arthur made sure it would not happen before. It was only on some rare occasions when things didn't go according to his carefully constructed plan that he had to fight projections off. But even then they were of no importance.
Of course, the first time Arthur entered the dream space he was surprised to see streets of his consciousness flooded with people. They acted as normal passers-by hurrying to work, meeting each other, chatting carelessly as if it all was not a dream. But after all it was reality for them, short termed and about to crumble any minute when numbers will drop to zero, but a reality nonetheless. For Arthur it was a place so far away from daily life he could forget casual problems and boring everyday routine.
Projections were just a small unimportant part of this new world where everything was possible. Arthur tried talking to them. Just once, the same time he first noticed their presence, the same time he first entered a dream. They were nice, smiling warmly and willfully answering any questions – it was his subconscious after all. But he deemed this way of extraction not effective enough and thus disregarded projections without any regret. They were insignificant.
He held onto this belief for the five years he worked as Point Man with Dom Cobb; until they stumbled upon an impossible job. Inception. It was shocking for Arthur in more ways than one: he never truly believed they'd be able to pull it off. He had also never before been able to imagine that a projection could plague one's mind for years. Mal was not merely one of those faceless people, not a simple projection, but one created of a person's memories – a Shade. It was dreadful and fascinating at the same time. He was aware that she appeared in Cobb's dreams, met her, being shot by her more than once, but he never imagined that his friend's obsession with his dead wife could be this deep. Mal's projection was so different from the others. But she was an exception, Arthur persuaded himself, the very one that proves the rule.
And just along with his belief of Inception been impossible, he was proved wrong. Nearly a year after Fischer job, the team was together again getting ready for another task, not impossible this time but challenging enough to catch their interest. Cobb was strangely cheerful, almost all of the depressed air gone, replaced by a tiredness of a single father of two overactive children. He seemed content with his everyday life but of course couldn't live with a drive of being a dream worker. Ariadne was excited; she had not gone under for a long time either, preoccupied with her studying and not yet ready to work with new people she did not trust. Yusuf, the one always happy in their team was shining these days – he got married half a year ago, giving his bride a wedding she dreamed about.
Arthur observed them quietly, eyes trailing from one figure to another as they discussed the job. His gaze stopped on the last person in their small circle – Eames. The Forger had not changed at all since they parted ways in the Los Angeles airport. Mismatched trousers and jacket, which did not fit but still looked good on him, a purple paisley shirt – Arthur's eyes hurt even glancing at the ensemble. Still, it was nice to see him again, even thought the Point Man would never admit it.
Their first discussion went smoothly, with some teasing, some bickering, a lot of senseless talk and a couple actual work related ideas. It was the second day when troubles started. After noon Arthur stumbled upon a fact that vey quickly made the job more complicated than was originally planned. Their mark was trained. Thankfully, only a two level dream was required which meant they would not have to risk their sanity to complete the job. It was a calming fact, but because Arthur could see all the trouble closing in, it left him stressed twenty four/seven without a chance to relax.
On fourth day everything went to hell, for the Point Man at least. It was evening and Arthur was dead tired having not slept for more than four hours a night while trying to find a quick way to extract the target information before the mark's subconscious would tear them to pieces.
"Darling, I insist that you tell me why you rejected that little trick Cobb suggested. It worked nicely last time." Eames appeared before his desk; the fact that Arthur didn't notice him approach got on the Point Man's nerves.
"Because we can't be one hundred percent confident in this method. Just because it worked with Fischer doesn't mean it will fool this mark as well. I am not the one to tell you how different people are; their subconsciouses have their own unique reaction to such provocation." Arthur explained tiredly. They've already discussed this so many times. It was the first suggestion Cobb made as soon as the Point Man informed him of mark's protection against extraction. 'Mr. Charles' was an elegant solution but unreliable.
"I understand that perfectly, but we shouldn't abandon the idea completely."
"We have to make a new plan." Arthur replied sharply, not lifting his eyes from the papers on his desk.
Eames regarded him silently for a minute before putting both his palms on the desk and leaning forward, not quite invading Arthur's personal space yet.
"Exactly," he smirked." We have to. You don't have to do it alone."
"It's my job," the Point Man snapped, turning his cold, tired gaze at the Forger. Arthur was exhausted, angry at himself for almost making another mistake similar to the one that could have cost them their lives during Inception. He noticed it in time on this job and was working restlessly to avoid the oncoming disaster. Eames's persistent teasing was not helping the Point Man in his stressed state. No matter what the Forger had to say, it had only served to aggravate him more.
"Let me help you, pet," Eames murmured, reaching for the papers Arthur was holding in his right hand.
They were snatched back quickly.
"I don't need your help," Point Man snapped, tugging with a little too much force, making document crumple in his hand. "I'm perfectly fine without you."
It sounded harsh, and Eames probably didn't deserve it but Arthur couldn't care less at that moment. What did that man want from him anyway?
"No need to be so angry, love." Eames chided softly.
"Mr. Eames," Arthur said, emphasizing formality. He stood up, leaning forward slightly as well but in a way that was far from friendly. "I don't need you."
He stressed every word, putting all his frustration in a simple phrase. The smile slid from the Forger's face for a split second, before he replaced it with a grin, which was easily faked.
"As you wish, love," Eames spoke; his tone still soft. Then the man turned on his heels and walked away.
Arthur fell back in his chair, a sigh escaping his lips. He felt terrible.
That evening they went under: Arthur, Cobb and Eames as the dreamer. The Extractor suggested testing the new strategy Arthur came up with. He didn't manage to invent anything completely new, just developed a theory based on 'Mr. Charles'.
When Arthur opened his eyes in the dream, he found himself standing in a small closed space; it appeared to be a staircase with dirty grey walls and lamps dimly lighting a way up for Arthur to follow. The stairs going down were all dark. The Point Man wondered if the Forger's mood was as awful as his own. Not liking this in the slightest, the man made his way up. At the top of the stairs there was a door, iron with gray paint peeling off. He took a hold of the handle, cold surface scratching his palm unpleasantly, and opened the door. As the door opened, it appeared to lead him to the rooftop.
Arthur took a few steps forward, looking around at the dream city spread before his eyes. The first thing that caught his attention, apart from the whole gloomy atmosphere, was the architecture. It seemed like the person creating this dream- Eames- the Point Man clarified mentally, could not decide what he wanted at the moment. There were skyscrapers in modern design with perfect proportions and sleek lines, their tops disappearing high in the sky behind dark clouds. But among them Arthur could distinguish mighty gothic cathedrals, superimposed over the other buildings in their dark beauty; the man was sure that on the hill in the distance there was a mansion in baroque style. The world was absolutely chaotic but enticing in its own way.
Arthur wondered briefly how he was supposed to find his teammates here but dismissed the thought with a careless shrug and decided that they'd have to go under again, preferably with Cobb as a dreamer; the Extractor's subconscious was much more stable these days.
Arthur came up to the edge of the roof, leaving a few steps separating him from the unsteady iron fence, giving in to the temptation to inspect the view at large. Five minutes into sightseeing, the Point Man heard the door open with a creak. He turned around sharply and froze on the spot at seeing the person who had entered onto the roof.
"Eames?" He asked in confusion, looking over the newcomer from head to toe.
A perfectly tailored black suit was the first thing he noticed, a crisp white shirt and a red tie. A little too flashy for Arthur's taste but he had to admit that it worked nicely.
"Don't be stupid." The man replied, tone sharp and icy cold, perfectly imitating the one that the Point Man used earlier that day.
Arthur's brain shut down for a moment as he watched a perfect replica of himself step onto the roof, door closing loudly behind, and lift a gun to point it at Arthur's head.
"Eames? What is the meaning of this?" The Point Man asked, growing warier with every passing minute.
The barrel of the gun was steadily aimed at him; he understood that anxious hesitation was not the feeling holding the other man from shooting. Arthur's body was frigid and tense; he reached carefully for his own Glock 17, not taking his eyes from the replica.
The imitation of the Point Man chuckled, an ugly humorless sound making Arthur's skin tingle with a need to get away from this person, and fired. The shot missed its mark as Arthur ducked, rushing to the nearest cover; thankfully the roof provided some. The next second he was sitting with his back to a cold stone elevation of the roof, a gun in one hand, and firing back; answering gunshots exploded in the air mixing with the sound of the upcoming storm. Without any understanding of what was going on, Arthur just defended himself.
Why was Eames forging him? Why was he trying to kill Arthur? Was that just another joke? It surely didn't look like one for the Point Man as he shot one last time and bent down to avoid the raining gunfire. Then he rushed at his opponent with the full intention of bumping into the enemy and knocking him off his feet. Only when his little plan succeeded did the man realized that one of the many bullets had gazed his left shoulder. He disregarded it though and proceeded in hand to hand combat with practically himself. He managed to pin the replica down with his thighs, straddling him, while his hands reached for his shoulders or neck - he could not yet decide what he was about to do.
If it was Eames he wouldn't want to hurt the man; and Arthur always thought that the Forger felt the same, but then why were they doing this? A moment of hesitation was enough for the replica to push the Point Man off him, swiftly throwing his weight onto Arthur and delivering a punch to the other man's stomach with his knee. The Point Man struggled to breathe as the blow hit him, disorientated and unable to defend himself. His opponent was very good, strong and capable with defeating any enemy standing in his path, just like Arthur himself.
The man on top of him held him in place in the same fashion Arthur did when he had the upper hand just a second ago. The man's suit was still perfectly in place, jacket flying about him as he delivered another punch, dark hair slicked back without a strand falling into his eyes – everything so similar to Arthur except the hateful expression twisting the clone's features.
"Eames!" The Point Man shouted, his cry echoing across the empty streets of the dream city, easily recognizable over the rumble of thunder.
Long, thin fingers closed around his throat and Arthur choked back another cry. What was going on? That question ran through his head over and over again, but he forced himself to calm down and make a decision. It was all a dream after all!
The Point Man closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the rooftop, reaching his hand to the side, palm down as he searched for the gun that was not there when they'd started the fight but had to be there now. It was a dream, he repeated in his head.
When his fingers finally closed around the handle of a gun he was struggling for every breath. Arthur was suffocating and he even considered if it'd be a good idea just to die and wake up, but he couldn't give up that easily. The Point Man grabbed the handle, tightly concentrating on taking the safety off. Then, with a sharp quick movement, he pointed the barrel at the attacker's head.
At that exact moment an already familiar creak was heard along with rushing footsteps. Arthur bent his neck, attempting a glance at the newcomer while still keeping the attacker in his sight, which actually proved to be unnecessary as the replica stilled in his movements at the sight of the man by the door.
"Eames?" Arthur questioned, the pressure on his throat released.
Eames, the actual Eames, complete with a trademark hideous suit, stood there with an expression of concern, replaced the next moment with confusion on his face.
"Arthur?" He asked, not quite comprehending. "What's going on here?"
What's going on here?Arthur's mind screamed the same question. If the Forger was right there, then who was he fighting with? The first person who came to mind was Cobb, but the Extractor couldn't forge for the life of him. There was no one else in the dream! Ariadne and Yusuf were outside waiting for the three of them to wake up.
Very slowly, Arthur turned his gaze from Eames to the replica; his mind came to the only possible conclusion:
"A projection?" The Point Man breathed out as he stared into identical eyes.
"What?" Eames's confused voice sounded closer now as the Forger took two steps to the men still on the ground in a fighting position. "Don't think I'm dumb or anything, but I've got to repeat myself. What's going on?"
"Like I'd know!" Arthur shouted. "It's your subconscious after all. So it's up to you to explain why a projection of me is trying to kill me!"
By the end of the tirade Arthur was already up on his feet; the projection had released him when Eames was a few feet away from them and now just stood silently at the side, watching the other two men interact. The blue eyes of the Forger slid from one Point Man to the other.
"I'm not sure myself," Eames's gaze stopped on Arthur. "So you are the real one."
"Of course," two voices answered at once.
"I'd never hurt you," the projection continued while Arthur stayed silent.
The Forger stared at the projection in surprise, studied his face, open and calm, so different from a hateful expression he wore during the fight. Blue eyes widened slightly when Eames found what he was looking for but then clouded with an emotion Arthur couldn't understand. When Eames turned to look at the Point Man it was already gone from his eyes, replaced with thoughtfulness.
"We probably should get out of here," he suggested, gesturing with his gun vaguely.
"Not before I understand," Arthur objected. He put his gun away and busied himself with straightening his jacket, returning to his collected and presentable self.
"What is there to understand?" Eames looked away, viewing the city below instead of looking at the Point Man. "I guess I'm a little…unstable today. I'm sorry."
Arthur eyed the other man suspiciously, the projection forgotten, as he struggled to do what he was never good at – reading Eames. There was something else, more to this incident than the Forger was admitting. The Point Man felt like he was not grasping some important truth there, but given more time he could…he surely would…
He didn't have that time because in the next second the dream world disappeared, with all its chaotic beauty and grey sky rumbling with thunder. There was only a hotel room, the sound of glass vials clinking and Cobb muttering about how he could find neither Arthur nor Eames in the dream. From the corner of his eye Arthur saw the Forger stand up, giving some excuse to leave the room. The Point Man was left alone to explain why the Extractor was left wandering the crazy city without his team members. He came up with some explanation, which sounded believable for them, though the thoughtful look Cobb gave him left Arthur wondering about his lying abilities. After that Arthur exited the hotel room.
That evening Arthur couldn't calm his nerves or his heart down. He sat at the hotel bar, staring at his glass with his untouched drink before him. Eames's subconscious was under stress, that's why the architecture was so messed up, that's why a projection of Arthur appeared, that's why it attacked the Point Man. Eames was confused? Why? He was angry…obviously so. But then again – why? Trying to solve this riddle, Arthur carefully recollected everything the projection made or said.
"I'd never hurt you"
Does that mean that in reality Arthur had hurt Eames?
"But I didn't…" he murmured to his glass, not a tiny bit drunk but too exhausted to stay completely coherent. Just as he said this, his mind returned to hours before they went under; the moment when Eames approached him, offering help, played before his mind's eye like a movie. Arthur was too tired to be polite that time and the Forger's manner of speaking always agitated him. The Point Man didn't think his words would affect the other man like that.
With determination giving him strength, physical and emotional, Arthur slid from the bar stool and strode out of the bar to the elevators and up to Eames's floor. He stopped before the Forger's door, hesitating with his right hand in the air ready to knock. It was barely past midnight, unlikely that Eames was asleep, but it was too late for a social visit. But it wasn't a social visit, Arthur reminded himself and knocked purposefully. The door opened almost immediately, Eames greeting him with an uneasy smile. He let the other man in and they both stopped in the middle of the room, facing each other and not sure where to start.
"Eames," Arthur called softly, attracting the man's attention to him. He took a lungful of air and said as sincerely as he could. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Eames chuckled but it lacked the usual vitality. "It was my subconscious that attacked you. I should be the one apologizing."
"No," Arthur contradicted quickly. "I'm sorry for what I said to you earlier. I was so tired and stressed, I…I vented all of my frustrations on you. I'm sorry."
As Arthur repeated his apology, his voice gained more confidence and he found himself able to again look the Forger straight in the eyes without an urge to avoid his gaze. Another surprised expression transformed Forger's features, the Point Man losing count of how many of those he'd see through one eventful day. This one was different from the others though; it was a pleasant surprise and was followed quickly with a small, pleased smile.
"I didn't mean all those offensive things I threw at you," Arthur continued his confession.
Eames's smile grew and he took a step towards the Point Man.
"It's fine, love. I'm not angry," He stopped, close enough for Arthur to be able to see the smallest speckle in his grey blue eyes, invading the Point Man's personal space shamelessly like he always did, but this time Arthur didn't mind.
"But you were?" The Point Man asked almost sadly. Because both of them knew what the appearance of the projection of Arthur meant.
"I guess…" Eames let the sentence float, not wanting to destroy the mood with the reminder. "That's why I'm sorry."
"You are not angry any more?"
"No," Eames whispered softly, knowing that Arthur would hear. They were so close now.
"Good," and Arthur gave the other man a rare, sweet smile.
That night Arthur stayed.
Two weeks after that they finally managed to get close to their mark. The job was hellish. Arthur cursed every person who dragged him into extraction on the whole, Cobb taking first place while he, half hidden behind an overthrown wide wooden dining table, fired at the projections closing in on them. Ariadne was beside him, putting to practice all those shooting lessons Cobb had given her. She wasn't doing very well so most of the work was left to the Point Man. At least this time the dream was absolutely stable; Yusuf was watching their unconscious bodies one layer above. Cobb was on the last floor of the grand mansion that the Architect had developed, breaking into the safe, while Eames was distracting their mark.
Everything was going according to plan, and yet Arthur found himself confronting too much resistance to be able to effectively fight everyone off. The young Architect wasn't enough, projections were multiplying, appearing from additional rooms that had been created to complicate the maze; their own precaution now turned against them. The Point Man couldn't comprehend how there could be so many of them, but he left that problem to research later in reality.
Ariadne screamed at his right and the man, sending one more shot, hid behind their makeshift cover to inspect the young woman. She sported a big bloody bruise on her collarbone from where a stone thrown by one of the projections had hit her. Seeing that the damage was not fatal, Arthur tore his eyes away and returned back to the fight.
"Hurt much?" He asked, aiming his gun at the man on the balcony above.
"No, it's fine," The girl answered weakly. "How long before the kick?"
She reloaded her gun and wincing at the pain in her shoulder before turning around to shoot. Arthur allowed himself one glace at the big clock on the wall, miraculously still intact and ticking.
"Fifteen minutes," he shouted back over the sound of gunfire, and then added reassuringly. "Not much left!"
"Yeah!" Ariadne answered and then laughed. "A difficult job it is – being Point Man!"
"You have no idea!" Arthur replied with the same joking tone while his dark brown eyes scanned a troop of armed and perfectly trained projections; his mind screamed that there were too many for the two of them to handle. The rational part of his brain reminded him that Cobb should be done by now, but then why hadn't he appeared yet? And where the hell was Eames?
Arthur forcefully reminded himself that the Forger was playing his part the same way they all were. Everything was going according to plan. But Arthur's plan didn't include dozens of projections with the skill set of professional assassins.
Arthur didn't want to admit it but he was worried. Worried for the young girl beside him, trying and failing at helping him get rid of the danger; for the Extractor who should have finished stealing the information if he wasn't delayed by the same murderous security; for the Forger who was using his skills, playing the mark's brother to take the man's mind from the crime happening inside it.
Just because we are failing doesn't mean the other are as well, Arthur thought with exasperation and vented his frustrations on the projections. The two of them were surrounded.
"We should change locations!" The Point Man threw over his shoulder. "See that door in the right corner? Where does it lead?"
Ariadne glanced at it briefly, a whole map floating up in her brain momentary, while she threw her gun away. She refused to waste time on reloading it and snatched another one from the floor.
"Western corridor, then two doors: one leads to the stairs going up, another has the stairs to the first floor and then the basement."
"Run to that door on three, then take the stairs up. I'll go down," the Point Man instructed. The sound of wood breaking as bullets hit the table they were hiding behind almost drowned out the end of the sentence. He counted down and they ran, ducking under the bullets, the girl first as Arthur covered her. The Point Man shut the door closed behind them and jumped away before dozens of bullet holes appeared on the wooden surface with a loud cracking.
Ariadne was already rushing to the door on the other side, throwing occasional worried glances over her shoulder at the Point Man. Arthur froze for a second, closing his eyes and taking a slow breath to calm his wildly beating heart; then he took a moment to look around. It was a long, wide corridor, dark green wallpapers and mahogany planes decorating the walls, lamps were lit on each side. It was devoid of any furniture to make running around easier. There were many doors but they needed only the two at the end.
Concentrating on the situation again, the man looked at his watch and reloaded his gun.
The man's head snapped up at the sound of his name screeched in warning and saw Ariadne running back to him.
"They got there before us! We are cornered."
"Only ten minutes!" He shouted in response. Though this doesn't mean I want to die a painful death, he added mentally. Arthur took a step aside, gluing his back to the wall and slid down until he was standing on one knee, hand with the gun extended. As the door opened he took aim; at the same time a realization that they couldn't win against so many enemies came. Doesn't matter, he thought and fired.
The sound of raining gunfire deafened them; projections came and fell as soon as they crossed the door.
Ariadne wondered aloud in astonishment, glancing at a gun in her hand and then at Arthur – surely they couldn't kill all those projections.
"Can't leave you for a minute, darling. You always get into trouble when I'm not around." A smug voice said and both the Architect and the Point Man turned simultaneously.
There in the doorway slightly on their left stood none other than the Forger.
"But that door…" the Architect trailed off.
"Does not lead anywhere." Arthur continued for her, wrinkling his forehead while thinking.
The girl nodded and the other man simply smirked and, as new projections flooded the corridor, took care of them with all the professionalism inherent for the Forger.
"Who are you?" The Point Man asked with suspicion and aimed his own gun at the man. Eames was with the mark two floors above, he should not be leaving the man before the kick.
"Darling, I'm offended." Eames mock complained and smiled.
Something was off with this man, this obviously was not their Forger, Arthur would know if it was actually his lover. Because that's what they've become since that horrible-wonderful evening; their interaction changing only slightly with innuendos becoming more apparent and mutual. This relationship quickly became a beautiful routine, simple but challenging as Arthur tried to learn more about the contradicting persona of the Forger. This man before him was not Eames, he was able to recognize it from the first glance. His grey eyes lacked the constant mocking, his features were softer, his gaze filled with affection. It was the look Arthur loved the most. Which also added to his confidence that it wasn't Eames; he never showed that side of him unless they were alone.
Eames always said that Arthur should be more open-minded. It was not the original before them but a wonderfully made copy.
"Heh, a projection then?" The Point Man asked softly and took an offered hand. Eames helped him to his feet and with a gentle tug pulled the man closer.
"Told you I'll always come to your rescue." The projection murmured so that only the two of them could hear and Arthur was reminded of the facetious conversation they had three days prior. Eames's hand, the one not holding a rifle came to rest on the other man's hip, fingers tracing lightly up and down.
"Did I create you?" The Point Man asked curiously, touching the Forger's stubbly check with the pads of his fingers.
"Your subconscious, yes," the projection replied. "I'm flattered, you know. That in a moment of danger your very mind called out for me."
Arthur smacked him on the shoulder for the cheesy line.
"I'm not your damsel in distress." Arthur rewarded the Forger with a glare to intensify the effect and before the other man could retort with something Arthur surely did not want to hear said to the amused Architect behind them. "Ariadne, get into the room he came from. Five minutes left."
"As you wish," she giggled on her way out.
"Wanted some time alone with me? You should just say so, pet." Eames smirked, leaning closer to Arthur.
"It's safer there." The Point Man answered curtly, moving away a little.
"No 'Oh, Thank You My Hero' kiss?" Eames joked with a hint of sincerity, while his right hand holding the gun lifted up as if on its own and fired disorderly in the direction of the appearing security.
"No. Concentrate on the projections." Arthur scolded with a smile, not taking his eyes from the replica's gaze, trusting the man to take care of the problem. From the corner of his eye he could see them enter the corridor and fall dead right after that.
Eames pouted but accepted the rejection; he was just a projection himself after all. There was no persistence that drove Arthur mad sometimes, but which he also had come to adore. There was a pause in the shooting and the projection of Eames took a step closer, leaning in to whisper:
"In a reality or in a dream I'll always be there for you."
Arthur looked at the man as he pulled back and, looking into those honest beautiful eyes, started to reconsider his resolve about not kissing the projection.
And as a projection, created by his subconscious and led by his desires, was about to kiss Arthur, the dream world collapsed around them. The Point Man woke up in an uncomfortable chair alone, soft touches still ghosting on his skin.
He turned his head, muscles in his stiff neck aching unpleasantly, and caught sight of the real Eames. The Forger was looking at him, a small smile playing on his lips.
They were distracted by Cobb's orders to collect everything and get out before their mark woke up. In a hurry they left the Medical Centre where the mark was undergoing therapy and took three cars driving in different directions with a plan to meet up later in the evening. Arthur was driving, with Yusuf sitting beside him; they took all the breakable things with them, including the machine and a case with compounds. Eames was taking Ariadne straight to the airport; she needed to return home because she had an exam in three days. Cobb drove alone. The job was successfully complete.
Hours after that, alone in his hotel room, Arthur was finally able to relax. All the stress of the extraction was left behind, leaving a tired satisfaction in its place. He sat on a couch, head turned right to look out a window as he waited for Eames. The Forger was fifteen minutes late, which was not much, especially for Eames, but it annoyed Arthur nonetheless. And worried him, just a little. But then the sound of a door opening was heard, a rustling of clothes as the newcomer took off his jacket and threw it to the floor carelessly, and the one the Point Man waited for stumbled into the room.
"Evening, love." Eames greeted and slumped tiredly beside Arthur. "How was your day?"
"Wonderful," the Point Man replied sarcastically and allowed himself a small chuckle. He glanced out of the window again, appreciating the view of a city waking up for a lively night life. "Yours?"
"Oh, you know…spent my day chatting to a nice man." The Forger replied, referring to his time diverting the mark's attention from the extraction. "A pity he thought I was a woman, though."
Arthur chuckled again and fell back against the back of the couch stuffed with soft pillows; he threw his head back with a sigh of contempt. Eames was watching him, his posture the epitome of relaxed, his body sprawled over the small couch, pressed sturdily but not uncomfortably to the other man's side. Both men were silent, cherishing a rare moment of calm before a new job would come up, taking all of their time and throwing another backbreaking weight on their shoulders.
Time ticked away, unnoticed, while Arthur just laid there, eyes closed, half asleep, loving the way Eames held his left hand and played with his fingers gently. You could never tell from looking at the Point Man that he valued such moments so deeply. When the Forger turned his hand palm up and slid his fingertips over Arthur's as an innocent caress, the Point Man's eyes opened lazily and he looked at his lover. He had just remembered something important.
"Hmm?" The Forger was staring down at his lap where his hand drew misshaped patterns on the other man's palm.
"For what?" Eames inquired in confusion, lifting his gaze.
Arthur shook his head, refusing to answer. There was no way he'd be telling Eames about the projection that saved him. Not now. The man would see too much in it, thinking that Arthur's feelings for him were beyond a simple attraction. In other words, he'd understand the undeniable truth which the Point Man had admitted to himself only a few hours prior. Maybe sometime later though…
"Nothing. Just thank you." He smirked, and then his smirk transformed into a mischievous smile screaming 'I know something you don't.'
"I'm intrigued now, darling. Care to tell me what I did?'
"Sorry. No." Arthur replied and, exaggerating the effort he had to make in order to stand up, pushed his body into a standing position. "It's time to go."
His hand was still held in the Forger's and he tugged hesitantly, urging the other man to follow his example. Eames didn't succumb, instead sprawling even more on the couch now when he had it all for himself. Arthur tugged with more persistence.
"We'll miss the plane."
"You even have a flight planned?" Eames asked with a hint of amusement and disappointment mixed in his voice.
"I told you about it before." Arthur chided lightly. "We should leave this country."
"Oh yes…Of course, pet." This time the Forger actually got up. "So what now?"
"What now?" Arthur repeated. "We go to the airport and leave?"
"I know that, darling. I meant, where are you going? Where am I going?"
"Well, seeing how we have ticket for the same flight, I guess we are going to the same place?" Arthur replied, not grasping where Eames was heading.
"Oh…" Was all he got as a response. And a smile. "Good then."
"Eames?" Arthur eyed him suspiciously.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, I just thought…" The Forger murmured. "I just hoped you were not going to leave me all alone and fly away to a far away country."
"I was considering it." The Point Man admitted, his back was turned to the other man and he didn't see how Eames's eyes flashed at those words. "The far away country, I mean."
Arthur let go of the Forger's hand and came up to the dresser by the bed, taking a few pieces of paper from the top, they appeared to be plane tickets.
"I was thinking about a vacation, actually." Arthur admitted, turning to Eames again. A smile softened his features and a glint in his eyes made the man look even more gorgeous. "With you."
"That'd be wonderful, love." Eames answered with a smile of his own.
"Maybe we can go somewhere warmer…" Arthur mused aloud while packing his few possessions in a bag.
"Well, we always can-"
"No. Not Mombasa, Eames."
"Darling you are so difficult to please." Eames laughed, grabbing his partner's hand and spinning Arthur around.
"I'm sure you'll manage, Mr. Eames."
"Oh, yes. I will."
A/N: I don't know if I like or don't like this story. I loved writing the first fighting scene. I hope it turned out fine. Because, personally I think that Arthur fighting Arthur is hot. Very.
Well, please leave a review and tell me what you think. It'd make me very happy. Almost as happy as imagining two Arthurs fight does;)