Arthur had always taken good care of himself. He took vitamins every morning, ate healthily every day, and even when he was on the most difficult of jobs he found time to exercise. Arthur did everything he could to remain a healthy human being.
But he couldn't help the fact that he had had asthma since he was a young boy.
He often carries his inhaler like a totem, sneaking quick huffs from it when no one is looking. Never has he had an attack while on a job or around others, and he wants it to remain that way. He would look entirely too vulnerable gasping for breath with wide eyes. Hell, no one even knows he *has* asthma. Things would just get too weird. Ariadne would flip out, Eames would make some ignorant crack, and Dom would act all fatherly.
An added plus to the dreamworld, his asthma never affects him there. He could run for miles if he wanted to, and his lungs would regulate normally. It's only when there is intense action in real life does he feel his chest tighten. But still, he's always managed to keep it under control, and keep it a secret from his team.
But he can't be helped when he and the team move themselves into a new temporary warehouse in Brazil, and it's made almost exactly to trigger his biggest nightmares.
As soon as they all walked in, the Point Man's chest tightened. "Good lord, when was the last time someone has been in here?" He wheezed, trying not to breathe in any of the dust fluttering around him. The place looked like it hadn't been touched in years. There were layers upon layers of dust on every furnishing in the small warehouse, and just opening the door made the top layer fly around in little particles. Dust aggravates his asthma easily, which is why Arthur often kept very clean and tidy, and was typically the person who made sure the warehouse was clean every day and night.
"Ugh, all this dust is going to make my allergies flare." Ariadne said, annoyed. She went to go open a window, which only made a big dust cloud. She coughed lightly before speaking. "At least now we're going to get some fresh air."
Arthur quickly threw off his coat (causing yet another storm of dust to arise). He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. His eyes were starting to water, and he let out a throaty cough. "I'll be right back." He told the team weakly before striding off towards the old, run down bathroom. Dom kept his eyes on the Point Man, feeling the slightest sense of worry as the door shut behind him.
Once behind the safety of the bathroom door Arthur turned on the sink with shaking hands. He fumbled for his inhaler in his pocket and quickly took two long drags from it. He closed his eyes and tried to remain calm, which is what a doctor had told him years ago. He tried to breathe regularly, but even after five minutes when he would typically feel relief, he only felt worse. Panicking slightly, he took another breath from his inhaler, hoping to god that it would help.
There was a banging on the door. "Arthur, darling, we've all been crammed in a van for six hours, and would like a chance to use the bathroom if you don't mind." Eames said impatiently. Arthur tried taking deep breaths again, thinking. He couldn't alert the team that anything was wrong. He would just have to keep taking swift breaths from his inhaler. He would be fine, if he just kept himself under control...
"Sorry," Arthur apologized as he opened the door to face Eames, "I guess I really had to go."
Eames crossed his arms as Arthur pushed past him, his wheezing getting louder. As Arthur gently settled himself at a desk, Ariadne walked over to him in a playful manner. "Geez, the closest cafe is nearly two hours away. The sacrifices we make for secrecy." She nudged him, but Arthur remained stiff. "Arthur, you feeling okay? You look a bit pale."
"I'm fine." He gritted out. "Carsick..." He could barely get the words to rise up in his throat. It felt as if his chest was about to cave in on him, and as soon as Ari walked away he turned to his inhaler once more, even though it obviously wasn't helping him.
Once out of ear-shot from Arthur, Ariadne approached Dom. "Cobb, does Arthur typically get carsick at all?" She kept her voice low, not wanting Arthur to hear their conversation.
Dom shook his head and snuck a glance over at the Point Man. He didn't look too good, and he almost looked to be trembling. "No, not in all the years I've worked and been friends with him has he ever gotten motion sickness. Arthur just doesn't get sick..."
"Well he's sick now." Ariadne stated before turning to look at Arthur again. He didn't know that they were looking, and he carefully took another huff from his inhaler. No help. His vision was starting to blur around the edges. He felt confused, no doubt from the lack of oxygen going to his brain. He was beginning to become so frantic he was completely unaware of Dom and Ariadne now approaching him.
"Was that an inhaler?" Dom asked softly, not wanting to stress Arthur. Arthur didn't answer; he was barely aware of Dom's presence at this point. "Do you have asthma?" Dom continued. "Phillipa has asthma, whenever she has attacks we would use her emergency inhaler. Do you have that with you?"
The Point Man wearily shook his head. Just then Ariadne gasped. "Christ, his lips! They're blue!" She pointed out hysterically. Sure enough, the Point Man's lips were an unhealthy shade of blue.
"Shit." Dom cursed as he walked around the desk to help Arthur. "We've got to get to a hospital before this gets any worse."
Ariadne gawked at him. "Hospital? Cobb, the closet hospital was the one we passed three hours away!"
"Better three hours away than not getting to one at all. Go get Eames, I'll get Arthur in the van." Dom ordered. Ariadne dashed to the bathroom, and Dom looked Arthur dead in the eye. "You idiot, why didn't you tell anyone you had asthma. We would have chose a more secure location. We're going out to the van, come on now." Dom pulled one of Arthur's arms around his shoulder and lifted him out of his seat. They began stumbling towards the van.
"I... I..." Arthur tried to speak but he couldn't. The act of speaking felt too painful. "I..."
"Stop it, you're just going to make it worse by trying to talk. We're taking care of you now." Dom told his Point Man as he helped him into the back seat of the van where he could lay down. Once Arthur was situated, Dom handed him back his inhaler. "Keep trying to use this; you could use any help you can get."
Dom started up the van and honked the horn, urging Eames and Ariadne to hurry up. The pair ran out of the door and Eames locked up the warehouse behind them. Eames slid in the passenger seat while Ariadne sat in the back with Arthur. "Great job, darling." Eames said to Arthur. "Just got out of this bloody van and now we get to ride in it three hours longer-"
"Shut up, Eames! Now is not the time." Ariadne snapped. She stroked Arthur's damp hair. She didn't like seeing their strong Point Man like this. Scared and sick. Ariadne noticed that his chest was barely moving anymore, and his wheezing had stopped. "Cobb, what does it mean if he's stopped making that wheezy noise? Is that good?"
Dom's grip on the steering wheel tightened. "No, definitely bad." Dom stepped on the gas and lurched them forward. "Keep him awake, don't let him fall asleep or anything."
Ariadne turned back to face Arthur, who's eyelids were actually beginning to flutter. "No no no." She said softly as she scooted closer to the Point Man. "Arthur, stay awake with me, okay? Stay awake... uhh..." She racked her brain for something interesting to say as a way to keep Arthur's attention. "Oh, okay. Um, when I was seventeen I was in a situation like this. I was at my friend's beach house in South Carolina, and we had some sort of shell-fish, I can't remember exactly what it was. Now, before then, and I know it's hard to believe, but I had never had any kind of fish in my life. Both of my parents hated the taste of it, so even when we would go to restaurants I wouldn't get it because it wouldn't even occur to me to try it.
"So, we had it and it was really good, and we were out night walking on the beach when of a sudden my throat starts to feel really funny. At first I brush it off, thinking that maybe I'm just getting sick. But then I can barely breathe, and I'm writhing in the sand, and my friend is screaming, and everything goes black from there. Next thing I know I'm waking up in an ambulance, and I still can't breathe. Then it goes black again." Ariadne paused, and reached down to brush Arthur's forehead again. She was glad to see Arthur looking up at her, listening to her story. "Well, turns out I had an extreme shell-fish allergy. I could have died that night, but I didn't. It's a shame, though. Because that one taste of fish I had was *so* good." She smiled and looked down at Arthur. "You're going to be okay, Arthur. Just hold on."
They rode in silence for awhile. Arthur was barely breathing anymore, which worried the three of them. Before long Eames had transferred to the back seat and told Arthur his own horror story. His wasn't health related, but he told of a time when he was shot out in the middle of nowhere and didn't receive medical attention for more than six days. Ariadne had her fair share of gasps during the story, though Arthur looked pretty unmoved.
They had been in the van for about an hour and a half when Eames cursed. "Oh fuck." He said shortly. "Cobb, his damn fingertips have gone blue."
Arthur was barely awake anymore. Though every time he began to drift, Ariadne put a warm hand on his cheek keeping him conscious. "We've got to get to the hospital, Cobb." Ariadne said, panicked. Only then did she think that Arthur actually might not live through this. The thought was almost laughable. The courageous Point Man that lived through all sorts of hell, only to die of an asthma attack. She couldn't let that happen.
They drove for another thirty minutes (now they only had about an hour left) when Ariadne let out a sharp cry. "No, god please no." She placed both of her hands on Arthur's face. He wasn't responding to her anymore. "Cobb he's not waking up!" She was in tears at this point. Eames pushed over to hover over Arthur.
"What the hell do I do? Do I give him CPR or something?"
"No, that would probably just make matters worse." Dom said, pushing the van's speed up to over 100 mph.
Eames hit the roof of the van. "Then what the fuck do we do? Just sit here and let him die?" He screamed. Ariadne was sobbing into one of Arthur's hands, mumbling something over and over again. "Cobb drive faster!" Eames continued to yell, feeling utterly helpless.
Dom managed to get to the hospital in thirty minutes rather than an hour. As soon as they were there he jumped out of the van and opened the doors, letting Eames (who was carrying a practically dead Arthur) out of the car with Ariadne following closely behind. Dom ran in front of them to open the doors to the emergency room and ran to the desk. "My friend has had a severe asthma attack, and now he's unconscious." He let out quickly. The nurse behind the front desk ran around to Arthur and quickly pressed her fingers to his neck.
Her eyes widened and she quickly began shouting. Doctors swarmed them, taking Arthur from Eames's arms. After the rush was over and the hospital staff had run off with Arthur on a stretcher, the three remaining members of the team stood in the middle of the waiting room, feeling broken.
"Oh god!" Ariadne let out as she collapsed into a chair, feeling overwhelmed. "Why didn't he tell us? The stupid bastard! Why didn't he tell us!" She cried, cradling her arms around herself. Eames sat down and wrapped a warm arm around her shoulders. He didn't know of any words of encouragement for the current situation.
They all waited in the waiting room for what felt like was hours. Dom never sat down, though. He paced back and forth, pinching the bridge of his nose and running his hands through his hair. If Arthur died, he honestly didn't know what to do. When Mal killed herself Dom had automatically turned to Arthur for support. Arthur had always been there for him, and if only Dom had taken the time to notice that his Point Man wasn't the perfect person he let on to be, they wouldn't be in this situation now.
A doctor walked out just as Ariadne had begun dosing off on Eames's shoulder. "Who is here with the asthma patient?" The doctor called out. Dom walked over immediately, followed by Eames and Ari.
"We are." Dom stated for the three of them. "How is he?"
The doctor smiled. "When he came in here he was very close to being a goner," the doctor started with a heavy accent, "but he's stable now. He's asleep right now, but he should wake in close to a few hours." The doctor put on a grim expression. "We're going to need him out by tonight, though. We got a call that a tour bus wrecked about four hours away and we're the closest hospital. I'm going to give you some medication, and we'll release him shortly after he wakes. What's the patient's name?"
"Gregory Thompson." Dom lied smoothly. He was inwardly appalled at the fact that they were kicking Arthur out so soon, but if they truly needed the rooms then they would leave when asked.
"Alright. It seems as if the thing that had triggered Mr. Thompson's attack was a reaction to something. Don't let him come in contact with that, have him use his inhaler frequently and take it easy over the next couple days. He should be fine. He'll just be a little fuzzy for a few days due to the lack of oxygen he's experienced." At that the doctor gave a warm smile and turned to walk away.
Eames stepped out. "Wait, can't we see him?"
The doctor chuckled. "Oh yes, of course." He motioned to a nurse to take them to his room. They followed the nurse to a small room labeled 103.
"If you need anything, call." She said before departing. They all nodded, and Dom took a deep breath before opening the door to Arthur's room. Walking in carefully, they took in the site of the Point Man lying still on the hospital bed. He had an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose, but other than that he seemed to be breathing on his own, which was a very good thing. Ariadne rushed towards him, reaching out to grip his hand tightly. Eames and Dom slowly began walking the same path, pulling up chairs to sit beside the unconscious Point Man.
Dom was on pins and needles waiting for Arthur to wake. What if the doctor was wrong? What if he was in a coma due to the lack of oxygen? He didn't voice his questions out loud. He didn't want to scare Ariadne any further.
It was almost a whole two hours later when Arthur began to stir. They all sat on the edge of their seats as they waited for him to completely wake. Finally, his eyes fluttered open. They darted around quickly, taking in his odd surroundings. "Where am-" he stopped due to the oxygen mask. He carefully pulled it off and let it hang below his chin. "Where am I? What happened?"
Ariadne didn't answer him, she just threw her arms around him and began sobbing into his neck. "Don't you ever do this to me again! I was so scared!" Arthur awkwardly wrapped his arms around her as well, trying his best to comfort her.
"Hey, hey, it's okay. It's alright." He assured. And he truly felt better. His chest was no longer tight, and he could make complete sentences. He felt a lot better than he did while he was slowly dying in the back of the van. "I'm alright." He whispered.
Ariadne pulled back and wiped her eyes. She was beginning to get a headache from all her crying. Eames was next in line, and he gave Arthur a thorough pat on the shoulder. "Glad to see you're still alive, darling." Arthur smiled weakly back up at Eames. The Forger was about to walk away when he leaned down and gave Arthur a quick hug. "I swear, if you ever pull something like this again I will kill you with my bare hands."
Dom was last. But he didn't reach down and hug his Point Man, he just stood there with his hands in his pockets. "Why didn't you say anything?" Dom said, finally. "This whole situation could have been avoided."
"I... I'm sorry..." Arthur stuttered. At this point, he honestly didn't know what else he could possibly say. Looking back in retrospect, he probably shouldn't have kept his asthma a secret from his team. "Dom, please forgive me." Arthur pleaded, his eyes watering.
Dom leaned down and then gave him a long hug. "Of course I forgive you, Arthur. You shouldn't even apologize! Christ, you're like my brother. If you would have died, I don't know what I would have done." Dom let out in one long stream of breath. "God, I'm sorry for never noticing. I'm so sorry, Arthur. I've let you down."
They embraced for a long time before breaking apart. The four of them sat in an awkward silence. Eventually the team told Arthur how they needed to be out of the hospital soon, due to overcrowding. Arthur understood, and he quickly began to collect himself. A nurse soon walked in with discharge papers. "Glad to see you're doing well, Mr. Thompson. If you can sign these and be on your way."
Arthur nodded and began filling out the papers with all of his false info. Eames was already on the phone setting up another warehouse in a more populated town. Ariadne sat on the bed with Arthur, poking fun at the fact that he was in a backless hospital gown. They laughed together, and Dom observed them all. Everyone was safe, and he felt at peace.
After changing back into his clothes, Arthur had politely refused a wheel chair, insisting that there were more people in need of it than he. The four of them walked out of the hospital slowly and carefully. "Can we stop and get some food or something? I'm bloody starving!" Eames complained as Ariadne helped Arthur into the passenger seat.
"Eames, I don't think now would be a good time to go in for a nice sit down chatty meal." Ariadne rolled her eyes as she closed the passenger door. "Let's just get our things at the warehouse and get the hell out of here. We'll worry about food later."
They started back to the warehouse then. Arthur had laid his seat back and was dozing on and off the whole trip. The team watched him with weary eyes, making sure he didn't stop breathing again. Arthur shifted under his seat belt so he could look out the window. He was extremely thankful for his friends, and glad that they had helped him and cared so much, even though he had kept such a large secret from them. They were his family to him.
The rest of the job went without incident, and Arthur never worried about his team seeing him take a breath of his inhaler again.
a/n: I'm so not happy with the ending of this story. it started out well, I thought... then it got... I dunno... boring. but, I was already halfway done with it when I started to notice this, so I continued. hoped you liked it!