I Would Drive on to the End with You
Warnings: Slash, smut and a rather terrible attempt at making sure Arthur comes across as American (I'm British – that is my excuse and I am sticking to it).
Disclaimer: Inception does not belong to me, and I am not making any profit from this.
Rating: M for language and scenes of a sexual nature.
Summary: When Arthur gets lost in England, who can he call other than Eames? Shame Arthur happens to be hopelessly in love with the man but won't admit it. What will it take for Arthur to lose control and take what he's always wanted?
A/N: This has been the first fanfiction I've managed to successfully complete for going on three years now. A lack of motivation, plus that pesky thing known as 'life', has got in the way, but Inception has managed to cure me of my writer's block like no other fandom. This was going to be a small one-shot – you know, something to sink my teeth into – but 21,000 words later and I realise that plan failed. It's all technically one, long chapter, but I've split it up into parts so that it's not one huge block of text.
Part 1: Lost
You're sitting in a train carriage. It's completely packed with people and yet you feel completely and utterly alone – lost in your own bubble of solitude. No one seems to glance your way and, for a split second, you question if anyone notices that you even exist. You wonder whether or not anyone would turn and look at you if you screamed at the top of your voice. They're acting almost like projections, but you've checked your totem enough to know this is real. You stare back at your laptop before realising that, despite being on the train for over an hour, you have done no work at all; you just can't seem to focus. Everything and everyone distracts you. The businesswoman sitting across from you distracted you for a good five minutes whilst she shouted at someone down the phone, accusing them of being a 'worthless human being'. You feel a little sorry for the person who's on the receiving end of the woman's wrath, but you cling onto every word she says, curious to know how it will end. As it turns out, it ends with her hanging up after one final screech down the phone, muttering obscenities to herself long after the incident. Once again, you question why you're even here. You're here on a job – that much you could work out for yourself – but the job itself wasn't what interested you, oh no. It was the location – England, to be precise. You came here in some vain hope that it'll make you feel closer to man you've been obsessed with since the day you met him years ago. He would probably think you were pathetic for coming all this way because he used to live somewhere on this rather small island.
Staring out the window, you see nothing but fields, trees and sheep for miles and miles. Every so often, the train goes through a town and city, but it always ends up back in the countryside. Your destination is Stoke-on-Trent, a city in the middle of England. You'd started the journey in London – his hometown – and you've been sitting here bored ever since. As always, your thoughts go back to him and the last conversation you had with him, which was just a week ago, shortly after the Inception job.
You're too busy watching Cobb head out of the airport, with the biggest smile plastered on his face, to notice him come up to you.
"Hello, darling," he whispers straight into your ear.
You jump a little in fright before regaining control and turning to face him. "Hello, Eames." You keep your tone neutral, but your heart is racing. You take in his scent: cigarettes, cheap aftershave and a masculine smell that is so beautifully...Eames. You find the smell intoxicating and as addictive as any of the hard drugs – you always walk away wanting that little bit more.
"Care to go for a drink, Arthur?" he offers.
Your heart is screaming at you to say yes, but your head is saying no. You both know how the night will end – he'll have got what he wanted then and not need you anymore. Eames always has one-night stands. Always. Relationships are the last thing on his mind, which you'd seen firsthand as he blew off both men and women after adding another notch on his bedpost. For some stupid reason, Eames always insinuates that he wants you – probably to add to his collection. The fear of him wanting you once and once only was what stopped you every time. You'd rather never experience his body than lose him completely.
You realise that you never answered him.
"That's not protocol, Mr Eames, and you know that," you answer.
"I'm not hearing no," he teases.
Eames looks temporarily put out, but as usual doesn't give up; "C'mon, darling, we need to go out and celebrate! We did an amazing thing there – you particularly were fantastic!"
You desperately fight the urge to blush at his words. He's clearly lying – it was your fault that Saito almost got lost in Limbo. It was all your fault. The fact he's lying is another bullet point on the list of reasons why you shouldn't get a drink with Eames.
"I did what I had to do – that's all," you explain, shrugging. "If anything, it's my fault we almost didn't complete it." You're not sure what you decided to add that last part,
Eames steps even closer to you, right in your personal space, before muttering, "Not everyone would be able to come up with a kick in freefall, you know."
"Saito almost got lost in Limbo because of me." You don't want to hear anymore of his lies. You don't want him to make it sound like you aren't a failure when it's so obvious that you are. He's about to say something, but you stop him; "I don't want to talk about this anymore. I fucked up, end of story."
"Whatever you say, darling – I think you did a brilliant job." He has that adorable smile on his face. It's the smile that makes your knees weak and could persuade you to do almost anything.
"Either way, I still want you to come and celebrate with me," he says, that beautiful smile still on his face.
"It's not a good idea, Eames," you admit. "I just...I've got to go."
"Wait!" he begs, and you feel his hand on your shoulder. The sheer heat coming from the small amount of contact is ridiculous – no one's hands should be that warm. You can't ignore that tone of voice, so you turn around against your better judgement. You see him scribbling something on a piece of paper.
"In case you change your mind, here's my number." His tone of voice is playful, but you can see the small amount of hope in his eyes. He holds out the piece of paper, which you grudgingly accept. You know that you'll be spending the next god-knows-how-long trying to weigh up the pros and cons of ringing the number...
You were right, of course. The number is still in your suit pocket, but you've taken it out to look at it so many times that you're surprised the ink hasn't worn away. The writing is messy and all over the place, but this doesn't surprise you. That's just who Eames is. When he's not working, he always looks like he couldn't be bothered to get dressed properly, his hotel rooms were always a tip, and he never stays in one place for very long. You love him for all these qualities and more. He is your complete opposite in almost every way. He is all about losing control and using life as an excuse to experience everything, whereas you value having control at all times above anything else. You always say: if you've got control of a situation, you'll be okay. Your sheer unwillingness to let go and lose just a little bit of control is probably why you're alone right now. You've always failed at relationships and always will, unless you learn to just let go. That is one of the things about Eames that attracts you, isn't it? The fact that he is everything you're not. You can count the amount of sexual partners you've had on one hand, whereas it is impossible to comprehend just how many people he has slept with. He is everything you want to be. He is everything you just, plain want. You want him so badly that your heart physically aches. You have to remind yourself again that it would never work; he is too different to you. You'd end up driving each other mad. A small part of you still has hope, though – just a tiny, minute part of your soul. You wonder if Eames will ever grow out of his playboy attitude. You doubt it. Even if he does, he could have anyone he wanted – why would he choose you? Neuroticism isn't attractive.
"The train will be shortly arriving at Stoke-on-Trent," the sound of the bored train driver breaks you from your thoughts. "Don't forget your luggage, and please mind the gap."
You check that you've not left anything behind not once, not twice, but three times before you join the bustle of people that are getting off the train also. The station is tiny compared to the one in London – it looks as though there are only two or three platforms at most. The theme is red and white, and the building itself is rather nice. Shame about the ill-suited glass roof. You have no idea where the exit is, so you carry on following the crowd. They lead you down some stairs, then across a tiled corridor and finally up so more stairs. Once you've finally reached the entrance, you get out your phone and you don't dial the number you want to dial, but the number you need to dial. After a few short rings, your client picks up. You say you're at the entrance of the train station, and he tells you to look out for a guy holding up a piece of paper with your name on it. He then hangs up. The conversation lasts all of about thirty seconds. Following his orders, you look around the entrance for said person. It doesn't take you long, and you can't believe you didn't notice them before. Looking more confident than you feel, you head over there.
"Ah, ya must be Arthur," they say immediately. The person in question is a forty-something man with a large moustache and an even larger smile on his face.
"That I am." You say it pleasantly enough, but with a professional edge.
"I trust ya trip was nice, sir?"
"Oh yes, your transport system is incredibly effective." Wow, that sounds even more stupid out loud.
He merely chuckles at you, before saying, "it's not half bad, 'suppose. Anyway, sir, 'ere are ya keys."
You don't understand. Why do you need keys? The plan is that you get driven by the client – or maybe the man in front of you – to where you'll be staying. It's a simple plan, so why are keys involved?
"What keys?" you question.
"The keys to the car Mr Jones has provided for ya, of course!" The explanation is easy enough to understand, but you're still confused. The man obviously picks up on this because he explains further;
"A car and a sat nav are waiting for ya at Meigh street multi-storey car park, just opposite Hanley Bus Station – level two, space thirty-eight. The sat nav will take ya to Mr Jones, sir."
This is most definitely not a part of the plan.
"I assumed Mr Jones would be driving me; it was a part of the deal." Your irritation shines through in your voice. They don't expect you to drive around somewhere you've never been before, surely?
"Mr Jones is running late but has assured me that you'll be fine on ya own."
Apparently, they do. This has to be some sick joke. Not only do they drive on the opposite side of the road to what you're used to, but you're at the mercy of an electronic box that has been in the media countless times for being useless. This will not go well. You're tempted to admit to the guy in front of you that you honestly don't think you'll manage this alone, but your pride and professionalism stop you. You accept the keys with a thank you before politely asking how to get to Hanley. He explains that you get a bus on the same side of the road as the train station and that you ask for a 'single to Hanley'. He hands you some 'change for the bus' with a smile. He says that he regrets not taking you there himself, but he has to run some more errands for your client. You lie and say that it's perfectly fine – you'll be perfectly fine. You say it so convincingly, you almost believe it yourself. Almost.
With one last smile, he walks away from you, and you're now completely on your own. You take a moment or two to mentally prepare yourself before sighing and heading out onto the street, your suitcase in one hand and laptop case in the other. The most common English stereotype seems to have some validity because almost as soon as you step out, it starts to rain. Not too heavy, but just enough to completely ruin your hair. You take this as the tone for the rest of the trip and head up the street to the bus stop, feeling a little bit more irritated than you already were two minutes ago. Luck is on your side, for a change, as a bus that you assume is yours stops just next to you. You feel a little nervous as you step onto the creaking, packed vehicle.
"Does this bus go to Hanley?" you ask, feeling more than a little bit stupid.
The bus driver grunts in response.
You take that as a yes and ask for a single, handing over the correct change as he barks out a number. You grab the ticket and sit next to an old woman who smells of burnt rubber and lavender.
The journey itself takes no more than ten minutes. You step off the bus at what you think is Hanley bus station. If you're honest with yourself, it's a bit of a dump. It's all concrete, dampness and no beauty. It was as if the person who designed it just didn't care; you could design something better and more effective in your sleep. You walk past the various couples and groups of kids as you head down the bus station. The air is cold and slightly windy, and what isn't helping is that your clothes are slowly but surely becoming saturated by the rain, which is coming down heavier now. Even when you're at the end of the bus station, you don't see a 'multi-storey car park'. You start to worry now. The rain isn't going to stop anytime soon and now you can't find this stupid parking garage. You long for this day to end as you walk up to the only person standing alone. They turn out to be a teenage girl. You ask her if she knows where it is.
After a few seconds of silence, she answers, "It's just past the...theatre that's just over there. You can't miss it." Her voice is quiet and reserved – she's obviously shy.
You give her a genuine smile and thank her warmly before setting off again. As she said, it's just next the theatre. You find the public entrance and walk inside. It isn't much warmer in here, but at least you're out of the rain. You contemplate taking the stairs but decide against it, choosing to take the elevator instead – you have a suitcase, after all. As soon as the elevator door opens, the smells of stale urine and alcohol attack your nostrils. The fact that this only just registers on your radar of disgusting smells shows that you've spent far too much time in places that are much, much worse. You press the button that has worn away '2' on it. A minor feeling of claustrophobia sets in as the metal doors close and the elevator lurches upwards. You used to be crippled by your fear of small spaces, when you were younger. You couldn't even have your bedroom door closed without having a panic attack. You've improved since then, but every so often you'll be in a situation like this one, and you'll start to worry again. You can feel your heart clenching tightly in your chest. You breathe in and out. You remind yourself you're in control. You are in control. You sigh in pure relief when the elevator comes to a stop. Stepping out, you just stand there for a few seconds, feeling your heartbeat slowly return to normal. You hate yourself for having such a pathetic weakness. It doesn't even make any logical sense. It just sometimes feels as though the walls are closing in on you, and you can't handle that. With yet another sigh, you step into the garage and search for your car. You find it easily enough – there aren't many other cars on the floor – and with a press of the button on the keys, the car opens. It's an Audi of some sort. You know very little about cars. As long as it works, you don't really care. You open the trunk of the car and place your suitcase and laptop bag inside, but you don't close it just yet. You open up your suitcase and fish out a coat hanger before taking off your jacket and wrapping it gently around the piece of plastic. Your suit jacket may be wet, but you don't want it getting creased and it will start to smell if you throw it into a pile. Next, you open up the backseat door nearest to you and delicately place the top of the coat hanger onto the hook above the window. You make a mental note to avoid driving too fast, just in case you knock the suit off the hanger; a creased suit would just be the final nail in the coffin lid of this terrible day. When you feel satisfied that your jacket is as secure as it can be, you close the door and then close the trunk of the car. It takes you a second to realise that the driver's seat is on the wrong side. This does not help your confidence in your ability to drive in England. You get in anyway, ignoring the feeling that this feels incredibly wrong. The major plus is that it's an automatic, meaning you can now concentrate on just the road and not what gear you should be in. This is also the only plus side. Nothing is in the place where it should be. You start to question if you're going to meet your end in a bloody car accident. You hope not. Not because you feel your life is particularly important, but because you know your last seconds of life would be filled with regret – regret that you'd never told Eames the truth. You take the phone number out of your pocket once more, staring at the list of numbers that you know off by heart now. Once again, you decide against it and tentatively fold it up and place it back in your pocket like it's a priceless heirloom.
You spend the next five minutes getting a feel for the car, making sure you know where everything is. That's all the preparation you can do, really. You turn the sat nav that you find in the glove box on and put it to the only destination available, which is approximately 30 miles away from where you are right now. 30 miles has never felt further away. You start the engine and put it into reverse. When the car is out of the parking space and you haven't hit anything, you feel a little better. You follow the signs out of the rather confusing building, and it's all going well, until you reach the exit. Firstly, you have to stop yourself driving out the 'wrong' way. Secondly, when you're finally on the right side, a barrier goes down in front of you and you're not sure what to do. There's a machine next to you asking for a ticket. You search the car and find a piece of card that you pray is correct. When you place the ticket into the slot, the barrier goes up and you feel a momentary relief before you realise that you're now going to have to actually drive with other cars. Worrying that the barrier will go down again at any second, you drive through it before stopping again. The sat nav tells you to turn right, so you do. There are a few other cars on the road and, at first, it unnerves you that you're driving on the side of the road where traffic would be coming towards you, back in America. You slowly get the hang of it, though. Your first crisis is when you reach the most confusing traffic lights you have ever seen. The sat nav is telling you to go straight on, but you panic and go into the wrong lane. Your heart is racing and you will for the light to never turn green but, of course, it does. You now have to move forward because the person behind you is honking his horn at you. Your nerves frazzled, you drive forward and weave yourself into the correct lane. You manage to get through it without a scratch, but you definitely feel even less confident about driving. You carry on anyway, hoping for no more traffic lights.
It's an hour later and it's starting to go dark. You're still nowhere near your destination, and the sat nav is taking you down some bendy country roads. Every so often, a car will drive past you or overtake you, but you're pretty much the only car around most of the time. The sat nav keeps telling you to turn left or right, but there is no road where it's telling you to turn. You keep going straight on instead, and the destination time keeps going up and up. The rain is harder than ever now. Even with the window wipers on, it's hard for you to see sometimes. This just causes you more and more stress. You honestly don't think you'll ever get there. You begin to worry about the amount of gasoline – petrol, you correct yourself – there is in the car. If you run out, you really will be well and truly fucked. Your hands are shaking now, and your mind is buzzing with a million different, yet equally incoherent, thoughts. You feel like you can't breathe. You have to keep checking that there aren't someone's hands on your throat because it feels as though there are. You accept that you are in no fit state to drive, so you pull up on the side of the road, whilst making sure you leave your hazard lights on, and turn off the engine. All you can hear is the sound of the rain pounding against the outside of the car. You rub your temples – a headache is now starting to form. You feel useless and so very out of control. You grab your loaded die and roll it on the dashboard, sadly confirming that this is reality. There are tears rolling down your face now, which you don't even notice until a droplet lands on your hand. The floodgates suddenly open and you're sobbing for the first time in years. Crying has never been your thing – you were taught it shows weakness – and although you are filled with shame for crying, the tears just won't stop. Your headache is getting worse and the tears don't stop for a second. Do you have any control left at all? Finally, after what feels like hours, you run out of tears. Your throat is sore, and your eyes are red and puffed up. You take your phone out and, for once, you don't dial the number you need to dial, but the number you want to dial. Somehow, you manage to press the correct numbers first time, even with your hands shaking.
He answers after only a few rings. "Hello?"
You feel temporarily breathless. His voice always has that effect on you.
"E-Eames?" you manage out. You sound even more pathetic than you thought you would.
"Arthur, darling, is that you? Are you alright?" He sounds worried.
"I'm lost," you explain, before inwardly cringing. If he didn't think you were pathetic before, he certainly does now.
"Lost where, darling?" There was no undertone of teasing in his voice. In fact, you don't think you've ever heard him sound more serious than he does in that one, three-word sentence.
"I-in England." You hold back the sob that is desperate to escape. You refuse to cry down the phone, especially not to him.
There are a few moments of silence, although it could have just been a few seconds – time is a blur for you, right now.
"In England, did you say? The United Kingdom, England?" He definitely sounds worried now.
"Yeah, I'm...I'm in the middle of England, near Stoke-on-Trent? I'm here on a job."
"Fucking hell, love – no wonder you're lost. Those roads can be bloody lethal!" he exclaims and you can hear the familiar tapping of a keyboard on his end. "Do you know whereabouts you are exactly?"
You think long and hard for the last sign you passed. You think it may have said something like 'Alton' or 'Ashton'. Maybe.
"I think I passed a sign saying turn left for...Alton? It was around five minutes ago."
You hear more tapping of the keyboard. "Can you see any signs at all near you? Any landmarks, maybe? I think I know the general area of where you are, but something a little more specific might help." This is Eames in professional mode; there is something incredibly attractive about him when he's being serious. Shaking the inappropriate thoughts away, you look around. It is now completely dark outside, which certainly isn't helping your predicament.
"Eames, I think I'm going to drive around a little bit more, to see if I can see a sign. I will ring you back." You make sure you sound perfectly calm this time. The chances are that you won't ring back – you've taken up enough of his time – but he doesn't have to know that.
"Only if you promise to ring me back, darling. I know you and I know you won't, so I'll ring you back in ten minutes if you haven't rung me by then." He puts the phone down.
You curse at him for obviously knowing you better than you realise. You don't want him to think you didn't want to ring him back, so you start the engine straightaway and carry on driving. The sheer amount of concentration it takes to look for a sign in the rain makes your head throb, but you carry on anyway.
Mercifully, you reach a crossroads junction a few minutes later. The choices on the signs are Oakamoor and Freehay. The sat nav is telling you to turn right, but you aren't convinced. Once again, you pull up at the side of the road and, against your best wishes, you call Eames back.
"Ah, nice to see you're still alive, darling," he teases gently.
"Eames, I'm at a crossroads – left is Freehay and right is Oakamoor. Does that help you?"
"That's perfect. I'm going to find you a B&B to stay in, alright?"
After a few minutes of silence, other than the tapping of the keyboard, he begins to give you directions. He is patient, calm and helpful, which in turn helps you to feel the most calm you've been all day.
"And the little B&B should be on your left," he concludes. "Does it say that there are vacancies?"
You notice the sign saying that there are, and you tell him as such.
"Well, there you go then!"
You have never felt more grateful to see a building in your life.
"Thank you, Eames." You truly mean that and you hope he realises this.
"Don't worry about it. Get some rest, and we'll sort out how to get you to your proper destination tomorrow, alright?"
You thank him again and when the conversation is over, you already miss the sound of his voice. He has been a true life-saver, and you plan to think of a way to repay him.
You park the car you would happily never get in again in an available space, before grabbing your suitcase and laptop bag, and running towards the entrance. A kind-looking old woman is at the front desk.
"Do you have a room available?" you ask, politely.
"Ah, you're American, I see. Well, you're in luck, hon, I have a room spare," she answers. "We don't get much business when Alton Towers isn't open."
You nod, although you have no idea what she has just said to you. You give her your name, and she hands over a key. With a thank you, you head up the stairs in search of your room. Unsurprisingly, the room is small, but it has a homely feel to it. The bed is a double with a flowery duvet on top. There is a door on the other side of the room, which you guess is a bathroom. The cleanliness of the room is acceptable, and the vase full of fresh flowers on the window sill is a nice touch. You place your laptop bag on the table and your suitcase under the bed before sitting down. You're exhausted, but stopping your grumbling stomach is your number one priority right now. It's been hours since you last ate, and you're paying the price now. Despite the protests from your body, you stand back up again and head out the door. As soon as you get back to the front desk, you ask if there is anywhere nearby that does food.
"There's a restaurant just next door, sweetheart. The food is pretty decent and the company's nice. I think you'll like it," the old woman answers.
With a thank you, you're out the door and running towards the restaurant. You normally don't run anywhere out of the dream world – it's hardly professional, is it? – but you honestly don't care right this second; all you care about is staying as dry as you can. The place is about half-full, and you find a table near the door straight away. You're glancing at the menu when an overly cheerful waitress bounces over to you.
"May I take your order?" she asks.
"I'll have a glass of coke, please." You're tempted to have a glass of wine because you most certainly deserve one after the day you've had, but you decide against it. You've still got a job to do, after all.
"Coming right up!" Her squeaky voice makes you cringe, and your headache feel that little bit worse. You think back to your rather disastrous day. Nothing has gone right. The only positive thing to happen was your conversation with Eames, and even then you're worried that he thinks less of you because of it. You can't believe how pathetic you must have sounded to him on the phone. You're so deep in your thoughts, you don't notice that the waitress has returned with your coke.
"Would you like to order some food as well?" she asks.
You order a chicken dish with fries. As your stomach growls, you hope it arrives soon.
It's around forty-five minutes later and you're leaving the restaurant. You feel a lot better now that you've eaten, and the bed inside your room is calling out to you. Before you can go to bed, though, you need to ring your client. He's probably wondering where you are. As soon as you get to your room, you pull your phone out of your pocket and dial his number.
"Arthur, is that you? Where the fuck are you?" Your client barks out as a way of greeting.
You don't appreciate his tone. "I've spent the past few hours driving around, trying to find wherever you live. It is not my fault that the sat nav you chose is subpar, and I have decided to rest for the night in a hotel. I shall speak with you in the morning." Before he has the chance to reply, you put the phone down. You regret sinking to his level, but you're tired and irritable.
The effort it takes you to get undressed and into your pyjama bottoms is twice as much as it should be, but you get there in the end. You give up attempting to put your pyjama top on, and choose to go without. Climbing into bed, you feel the softness of the blanket relax your tired body. You're about to close your eyes, when you hear your phone vibrate. It's a text message. Grabbing at your phone and flicking it open, you read it;
'Goodnite darling. Sleep well x'.
You smile to yourself as you close your eyes. You're asleep within minutes.
A/N: There we have it – part number 1! I live in the area where Arthur is stuck and, trust me, those roads are brutal. There are loads of accidents around there. Anyway, I hope Arthur isn't too OOC. My interpretation of him is that, on the outside, he's calm, but there's a lot of inner turmoil going on underneath. Any constructive criticism is much appreciated, and the next part will be up within the next few days.