Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations all characters find themselves in. Everything else belongs to someone else and that's just the way it's gotta be. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy.
Opened His Eyes
In some part of his brain Eames processed his surroundings, his training too ingrained for him not to even as his mind and body cried out in horrible, all consuming pain. He'd taken three bullets already, and when they caught him they'd add to that number. Or just one more to finish him off, the forger thought grimly as he struggled to keep moving through the gloomy, dank alleyways. There was really no point in running, he was done for and he knew it. But it went against his very nature to just give up and let himself be taken.
They would take his life, but damned if he wouldn't make them work for it.
Trying to use the pain to make him focus Eames continued to run even as the loss of blood drained him of his strength and will to go on. He felt like his whole body was filled with lead; just putting one foot in front of the other seemed an insurmountable task.
But he kept moving until he couldn't, finally falling to his knees and then his side with a low, bitten back groan.
So he would die in an alley, with the scents of garbage and filth in his nostrils, Eames thought as he started to fade further into unconsciousness. He would die alone but for the men who'd been paid to kill him, no one to hold or comfort him in his final moments.
The death he'd always imagined for himself.
If his body was found there might be a funeral, he thought with dark humor. His government might feel obligated to bury one of their former operatives in thanks for services previously rendered. Not that any government would willing admit to having ever paid him to use his considerable skills on their competition. But if they did have a funeral, would anyone come? Thoughts turning to the people who had played a major role in his life, Eames wasn't surprised that he could count on one hand the number of people who might, possibly, if they somehow found out he was dead, come.
The team he had completed Inception with.
Ariadne would come because she was still soft that way, and Saito out of a sense of honor and former comradery perhaps. Asians were funny about that sort of thing. Cobbs would come as his colleague probably and Arthur…Arthur would come because the man would think it the right thing to do.
His pompous, uptight, always right, fastidious dream man. The one man he'd never been able to forget or truly out run. The only man he'd ever run from. And how he ran, Eames thought as his heart ached from over exertion and grief. Greif that now he really would never know what Arthur would have said if he'd ever found the nerve to tell the man how he felt about him. He'd never know how Arthur felt about him or what could have been for either of them if they felt the same.
But he could imagine and see clearly the other man's face, and picturing his beloved in his mind's eye Eames relaxed, the rest of his body giving up the fight to function as he concentrated solely on remembering every look, touch, word he'd ever exchanged with Arthur over the years, savoring them like the finest of wines.
Lips curving into something resembling a smile, Eames didn't even flinch when he heard the approaching footsteps, didn't even bother to try to get up as two of his pursuers came to stand on either side of him. Even their words of dire intent weren't enough to rouse him interest. He'd rather think only of Arthur's voice and words.
Closing his eyes Eames welcomed the darkness, the sound of two gunshots echoing in his ears as the blood flowed across the cracked concrete.
When Eames opened his eyes again it was to see a perfect blue sky decorated with fluffy white clouds, the feel of warm sand against his arms and legs. Like something out of a dream, the forger thought, grinning as his mind realized that that was most likely the case. Trying to remember how he had gotten from a disgusting alley to a beach Eames drew a blank, though in the back of his mind, very vaguely, he could remember the sound of voices talking to him, the whine of sirens and machines in his ears.
He must have been found before he'd croaked, Eames realized as he sat up, taking in the stretch of deserted beach and water around him. No way would heaven ever take him after all and he'd always been fond of surf and sand. Of course there was no way they could save him, this was likely the last dream he would ever have. Even with the best doctors in the world, it was hard to believe those last two shots, no matter where they'd hit, hadn't pushed him into the beyond saving realm. So here he was, sampling his last taste of something good before the darkness took him. Dressed in a tropical, unbuttoned shirt and swimming trunks, Eames stared at the blue water that called to him so sweetly. But he didn't move towards the water, remaining where he was as he took stock of his surroundings more closely.
So there would be no one to share his last moments with, even in his dreams, Eames thought with a self deprecating smile, shading his eyes with his hand.
But even as he thought that Eames sensed that he wasn't in fact alone, honed instinct making him get shakily to his feet, his arms automatically wrapping around his waist protectively. He still felt weak, his real injuries bad enough to remain even in his dream. Looking around him the man finally spotted a figure walking along the shoreline, the solitary individual a blurred form to Eames's weak eyes.
And then the man was close enough and Eames felt his heart open and sing as it always did at the unexpected sight of Arthur, his favorite point man.
Grinning widely Eames wasn't surprised in the least to find the man dressed in perfectly tailored slacks and a dress shirt, the pant legs neatly rolled up so as not to get dirty. The man had even gone a little wild and had unbuttoned the first couple of buttons on his starched white shirt. Hair perfectly slicked back, not a strand out of place, shoes in one hand to keep them away from the elements.
That was his Arthur. Never short of pressed perfect.
"It's about time you woke up." Arthur called out to him, the man's free hand in his pocket as he came closer.
"I'm still dreaming, Darling." Eames pointed out, eyes hungrily drinking in the sight of the man he hadn't seen in almost a year.
"So you are. Though you might think it a nightmare before I'm done with you." Arthur informed the Englishman as he came to a stop directly in front of the forger, his eyes dark with leashed anger and disapproval. "What were you thinking, taking a job for Vance Cromwell? Of all the stupid, idiotic things you've ever-omph."
Not about to waste time, especially since he didn't know how long he had, Eames yanked the younger man up against him with one hand, the other cupping the point man's head as he kissed the man with a passion and skill to rival any love scene ever dreamed.
He'd kissed Arthur only once in real life, or at least he thought he had. He'd been terribly drunk at the time, celebrating their completed job, but he was still pretty sure it had happened. Not that Arthur had said anything about it later, but they hadn't met up again until the Fischer job. It probably hadn't mattered enough to the point man to remember, Eames thought as he traced the man's lips with his tongue.
He'd spent countless hours trying to recall snatches of that kiss.
But he'd kissed and made love to the man millions of times in his dreams, imagining what could be if only the man were to share his interest. It had never seemed so real as this, Eames thought as the American returned his kisses with equal passion, Arthur's hands fisted against his back, desperately clutching onto his shirt. Arthur's mouth had never tasted so seductive and inviting, so full of secrets that the forger ached to discover each and every one of them.
Pulling away Arthur gasped for air, clutching the man shoulders now for support. "Dammit, Eames, I'm trying to yell at you here."
"If I live that long you can punish me later."
Reaching down Eames got a good hold of either side of the man's shirt and ripped it open, too impatient to bother undoing the buttons. Ignoring Arthur's bitching about what he'd just done the forger turned his attention to ravishing the side of the man's neck, his desire growing with every ragged groan and breathy sigh he rung from the other man's throat.
"By God you're so infuriating." Arthur groaned out, unable to stop himself or Eames. "What am I going to do with you?"
Eames chuckles against the man's well bitten neck. "I have plenty of suggestions if you'd like to hear them, Luv."
"I'll just bet you do, you filthy minded ass." Arthur shot back snobbishly, even as he slid his hands under the forger's shirt to touch bare skin. "Not that you've ever had the nerve to say them to me outside your dreams. I'm wasting my time here really, you probably don't even have the guts to follow through here either. You'll run away like you always do, too afraid of what I make you feel to stick around. Just like that time in Prague."
Annoyed at his dream Arthur Eames's hands moved between their bodies so that he could undo the man's leather belt, his eyes hot and hungry as they stared into the other man's. "I'll show you how much a man I am, you prissy little perfectionist. By the time I'm done with you you won't be able to crawl away from me."
"I crawl for no man." Arthur shot back, his fingers encircling Eames wrists, preventing the man from undoing his trousers. "And I don't recall giving you permission to undress me."
"That's because I didn't ask for it." Eames hungrily pressed his lips against the man's again, using the hungry kisses to distract the man into letting go of his wrists. As soon as he was free Eames wrapped his arms around the other man and tipped them towards the ground, intending for them to land on the warm sand on their sides.
So it was with considerable surprise that Eames felt cool sheets instead of earth when they landed on their sides with a dull thud. Rolling them over so that he was straddling the man Eames looked down at the mattress that had appeared on the sand, the pillows and sheets standing out like neon lights against their natural backdrop. Shrugging off his shirt Eames tossed the brightly patterned material onto the sand, staring down at Arthur with a mixture of hunger and amusement. "You made the mattress appear so you wouldn't get dirty, didn't you?"
Reaching out Arthur ran his hands up the man's toned chest with sensual pleasure, licking his lips in anticipation. "So?"
"So…you are such a girl sometimes, Darling, really."
In a quick move that surprised the heck out of Eames Arthur reversed their positions in one smooth motion. "I'll show you who's a girl…Darling."
Opening his eyes Eames became of several things all at once. The aches and pains he felt all over his body to a brutal degree, the scents he associated with a hospital, the sound of Ariadne's voice, and the warmth and weight of her hand on his shoulder.
"Don't move, Eames." The girl said as she leaned over him, watching his dazed, drugged eyes focus in on her. "I'll get one of your doctors, just stay still, okay?"
"Alive?" He just managed to croak out, struggling to adjust to his painful reality, so very different from the perfect dream world he'd been living in for what had felt like weeks. Two weeks with Arthur, Eames thought longingly, closing his eyes as he struggled to deal. Two weeks of making love, talking, swimming, eating together. Two weeks of being just an ordinary couple vacationing on a deserted beach all their own. The two happiest weeks of his messed up, violence filled life. And now they were over. He was once again in the horrible reality that was his life without Arthur.
Ariadne smiled brightly as she nodded, unaware of his dark thoughts. "Just barely. They nearly lost you on the table six times. Your doctors have been patting each other on the back a lot today. They weren't sure you would make it through the night. Arthur knew you would though. He said you're too stubborn to die."
Her last words had Eames stiffening a little, taking her words to mean that Arthur knew about his current condition. Had Arthur…had Arthur come from the United States to see him? Did the man care about him enough to come?
"He's in the bed beside yours."
Immediately Eames tried to turn his head to look, too weak to even swear loudly when his body refused to cooperate. But luck was with him, Ariadne reached out and gently turned his head for him so that he could look at the bed beside his own, his eyes widening as his eyes hungrily stared at the man stretched out on the hospital bed beside his own.
Arthur was fast asleep, his one arm lying across his chest while the other lay at his side with…with an IV running out of it. But even as he thought that Eames recognized and realized just what it was that Arthur must be attached to. Eyes looking downward the forger spotted the machine, still whirling away between them so innocently. And knowing what he'd see Eames looked down at his own arm, where an identical line connected him to the machine.
"Why?" Eames croaked, more to himself than to Ariadne as he struggled to understand the implications of the machine binding him and Arthur together. The machine that would have bound them together in one, shared dream.
Not realizing he wasn't talking to her Ariadne still gave him the answers he sought. "Arthur made them let him hook you up to the machine after you coded out the sixth time. He convinced the doctors that by sharing your dream he could calm you down and keep you fighting while they operated. It worked too. You stopped coding and one of the nurses told me that it was amazing how quickly you rebounded once you two were sharing a consciousness. He's been hooked up to you since then; he's only gotten off for washroom breaks and to eat. You two have the doctors thinking seriously about trying this with other patients during surgery, they're talking about doing studies."
"How long…I been out?"
"About a day and a half. I got here about three last night and Cobbs arrived a few hours ago. He's getting food, he should be back shortly."
The girl blinked in surprise, absently adjusting his blankets as she spoke. "So you don't remember then. He didn't think you would. Arthur's the one that saved your life, Eames. He came here to stop you from taking your latest job, but there was a delay at the airport and by the time he got here it was too late for him to stop you from taking it. He found you just before they could finish you off in some alley, he said. He killed the men who were going to kill you and he's been by your side ever since. He…he's waking up." Ariadne realized, having caught sight of movement from the other man's bed.
As they both watched Arthur shifted in the bed before slowly sitting up as he sleepily oriented himself. Then the man stilled, his head whipping around to stare intently at Eames, the younger man's face giving nothing away as the two men stared at each other like the other was the only other individual in existence.
And then Arthur looked away, pulling the IV from his arm with practiced ease. Setting it on the bedside table the man rolled his shoulders, still not looking at them. And when he got his feet Arthur's focus was on Ariadne. "What time is it?"
"Lunch is on the way. It's almost two."
"Okay. Good." Arthur rubbed his eyes as he walked around Eames's bed, still stretching out the kinks as he ignored the man watching him so intently. "I'm going to freshen up a little. Be right back."
Arthur was almost at the door leading to the room's bathroom when Eames weakly called out his name. Just turning his head and speaking those words took all the strength he had at the moment, but somehow Eames managed to pull it off.
Pausing, and taking a needed deep breath, Arthur turned to look at the man questioningly, face still unreadable. "Yes?"
"Were we in my dream…or yours?"
Just the faintest hint of a smile crossed the man's lips as Arthur answered the man's question, his hands on the bathroom's doorknob. "That's a good question. Maybe by the time you're all healed I'll have an answer for you."