A/N: Guys. Guys, I don't even know. My brain is being all cracktastic. But I think my Doctor Who kick and my Joseph Gordon-Levitt fangirling kind of mingled together, so the idea of aliens and Inception cropped up, and JGL just so happened to be in an amazingly hilarious show called 3rd Rock from the Sun in which he is Tommy Solomon, who is part of a family of extraterrestrials covertly living on Earth. So this fic basically had to happen.
Also, for the life of me I could not think of a good title. So please excuse the crappy title. Thanks.
The night was cool and starry, and Arthur found himself sitting on a roof. Three others sat besides him, gazing up at the stars thoughtfully. On Arthur's left side sat a squinty-eyed man in a horrible turtleneck; directly to his right, a beautiful woman with long blonde hair was hugging her knees. Next to her, a silver-haired man was twirling a telescope. He seemed to be in the middle of a rant.
"-and he said 'Tatooine'. Obviously he didn't know what he was talking about! That's not even in the right galaxy!" He huffed indignantly.
Arthur's mouth opened and he started speaking, and even though he had only a nebulous idea of who these people were and what they were talking about, his words made sense. "Dick, Tatooine is a fictional planet in a movie series called Star Wars."
"Star Wars? That's outrageous, stars can't engage in warfare."
The blonde woman stared at Dick. "You were just at a Star Wars convention," she pointed out. Then she grinned coyly. "Or were you too distracted by Mary's Princess Leia costume?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," sniffed Dick primly. Arthur and the two others snorted. Arthur stood up and stretched. "Okay, I gotta go meet Alissa to study for the test tomorrow."
The squinty-eyed man stood up as well. "I gotta go wash my pants." With that he hopped through a window and into the living room. Nobody commented on his odd reason for leaving; neither Dick nor the woman seemed to find it remotely strange, and Arthur himself supposed that doing laundry was as good a reason as any to go back inside the loft. He shrugged and slipped through the window, thinking of Alissa, when his foot caught on the windowsill and sent him pitching forward, arms flailing awkwardly and his long hair flying in his face (When did my arms get so scrawny, and why is my hair long? he thought absently), and the floor was flying towards him too fast for him to stop himself from hitting it.
Arthur woke up, an odd queasy feeling in his stomach and a faint ache in his head. He'd had one of those dreams again, where he was with those three people. He remembered their names now: Dick, Harry, and Sally. Arthur was always present in the dreams, but the others called him Tommy. Oftentimes in the dreams, they would simply be doing mundane things: eating dinner, sitting on the roof and talking, watching TV. Occasionally they would be doing something bizarre, such as waging war on Jell-O or freaking out about snow, or receiving a message through Harry from someone with the ridiculous name of the Big Giant Head. Harry, Arthur remembered vaguely, was a transmitter, and the four of them were extraterrestrials who had taken human form in order to observe how mankind operated.
What was even stranger than the premise of the dreams was the fact that he had only started dreaming recently. When he had started doing extraction with Dom, long hours spent sleeping with the PASIV had quickly robbed him of the ability to dream without the machine's help. Then, several weeks ago, he had randomly begun dreaming- without the PASIV's help- about being an undercover alien from somewhere near the Cepheus-Draco border.
Shaking his head, Arthur set about his morning routine. He was up early but didn't feel like going back to sleep, so he robotically dressed in a pressed grey suit and slicked back his hair. He put on his shiny black oxfords, straightened his tie, and sprayed on a dash of cologne, then grabbed his briefcase and was out the door.
Work wasn't particularly exciting; he did some research on the mark and accompanied Ariadne on a quick trip to see how her designs for the extraction were coming along. As usual, Eames was annoying, Ariadne was friendly, and Dom was in high spirits. By the time lunch rolled around, Arthur had all but forgotten his dreams, and he whistled softly while walking to a nearby cafe. He ate his food neatly then bought a newspaper and flipped through the pages, skimming the articles with practiced eyes, scanning for any items of interest. In the local news section, his eyes caught on a small section about fire alarms in schools. Apparently a local school had had a problem with students pulling the alarm when there was no fire, and recently, when an actual fire had started in the cafeteria, no one had initially been sure whether to take the alarm seriously anymore. It was not a particularly fascinating article, and not the type of thing Arthur usually took time to read, but something about it just caught him.
A memory hit him. It was a memory of one of his dreams; it had to be, because in it he was Tommy instead of Arthur, and he was talking to Dick.
"I got suspended for setting off the fire alarm," he was telling Dick, and he seemed proud of that fact. Dick looked affronted. "They suspended you? You saved hundreds of lives!"
Arthur rolled his eyes. "That's the best part. There was no fire!"
"Tommy, this is outrageous! The next time you set off the fire alarm, you'd damn well better start a fire first!"
Arthur chuckled, then realized he that he was in a public place and laughing at a memory of a dream. He silenced himself, folded the paper, and tossed his leftovers in the trash. He walked back to work slowly, thinking about the dreams. They seemed to be happening more frequently lately, and now they didn't leave him alone even he was awake. Maybe he should talk to Dom about it? He quickly rejected that idea. Not only would he feel ridiculous explaining these dreams to Dom, but he didn't even want to worry over the fact that he was dreaming. Ordinarily people dreamt all the time; it wasn't a bad thing to do. They were just normal dreams, that was all. There was nothing horrible or sinister about them. Deal with it, he told himself. It's nothing. They're not even real.
Arthur was in a gymnasium, dressed in a loose t-shirt and baggy short, and sitting on a bench on the sidelines. A few guys and several girls were sitting with him, and the pretty girl beside him was laughing, evidently at something he had just said. He grinned at her and she smiled back. Before he could speak again, he was interrupted by a red-faced balding man. "Mr. Solomon!" He barked at Arthur. "Get back out there!" He jabbed his finger toward the basketball court, where a haphazard game of dodgeball was taking place. Teenagers were stumbling wildly around, bending and leaping out of the paths of red rubber balls. Arthur groaned but complied with the order, trudging heavily over to the court. He stood still amidst the blundering, not bothering to move when a red ball sailed at him and hit his shoulder. He jogged back to the bench and resumed his seat next to the girl.
"Solomon!" The coach bellowed at him.
"What?" Arthur made his eyes round and innocent. The coach glared and pointed back at the court, clearly implying that Arthur was to get back in the game. Arthur cast a wary glance at the bumbling teens and the crookedly thrown balls. "But I'm out! I got hit!"
The coach was having none of it. "Get back out there, Solomon. Your physical well-being depends on it!"
"My physical well-being depends on how well I can throw balls at other guys? Sorry, coach, I don't pitch for that team, if you know what I mean."
A ball whooshed through the air at breakneck speed, rebounded off the wall, and bounced of Arthur's head. Dizziness swirled into his brain, and he closed his eyes and tried to make the wobbly feeling in his head go away.
Arthur opened his eyes. He was still in the gym, but his clothes were slightly different and there was no dodgeball game going on. A thick rope dangled from the gym ceiling in front of him , and an uneven line of boys stretched out behind him. The coach, arms crossed, was standing near him and rope, his arms crossed as he eyed Arthur critically. "Solomon, climb the rope," he ordered. Arthur glanced unenthusiastically at the brown cord in front of him. "What's at the top of rope?"
The coach glanced at the rope as if affirming that there was something at the top. "Your self-esteem."
"Now climb the rope or you get to go sit with the girls."
Arthur pretended to ponder this. "So if I don't climb the rope, I get to go sit with the girls? You're going to have to help me out here, I'm failing to see the downside."
In the end, he did try to climb the rope. About halfway up his hands slipped and he slid down, the rope burning his palms as he tried to catch himself. His feet slammed on the ground with enough force that his knees buckled, and he landed in an ungraceful heap on the wooden gym floor, his heart pounding loudly in his chest while his elbows scraped against the ground...
Arthur yawned, his head bobbing over his desk. He'd had two dreams last night, both about himself as Tommy. He had awoken early with a slight headache, as usually happened whenever he had the dreams. He wondered if the headache was a bad sign, but thinking about it just made his head hurt some more so he decided to try to ignore it. Arthur was very effective at ignoring things that displeased him. Instead, he stared out the nearby window and tried not to think. The sky was a forbidding grey, and a soft flurry of snowflakes had just begun descending on the city. Arthur stared at the swirling flakes and a memory tugged at his brain. Ignore it, he thought.
There was a rustle to his left, and a faint flowery scent revealed that Ariadne had leaned against the side of his desk. "It's beautiful, isn't it? I love snow."
The memory, determined to be acknowledged, tugged harder. Ah, he remembered now. "Albino brain chiggers," he muttered, remembering how Dick, Harry, Sally, and Tommy had initially panicked at the sight of snow and concluded that it was a race of albino parasites attacking Earth from the sky. This erroneous belief had eventually been corrected, but he remembered that snow had for a short time seemed utterly terrifying to the extraterrestrials.
Arthur blinked back to reality, realizing that he was at work and that Ariadne was staring concernedly at him. He hadn't been aware of speaking aloud, but apparently he had done just that. "Nothing," he said, making sure to keep his voice even. He stood up and shuffled his reports, straightening the edges so that the papers fit tidily inside their folder. He tucked the folder under his arm, intent to find Dom so he could discuss the report and go home. He wanted to go to bed early tonight. He needed to catch up on his sleep.
They were sitting in the living room, enraptured by Entertainment Tonight, which was playing at full volume. "Amazing!" yelled Dick over the noise, and then the loft started to shake. Arthur grabbed for the edge of sofa but the room was rattling impossibly roughly. Harry fell over, and Sally clung to the sofa next to Arthur. "Tommy!" she called to him. "Tommy!"
He was being shaken, but not by an earthquake. A hand was on his shoulder. "Tommy!" Arthur frowned sleepily. The voices from his dream sounded awfully realistic.
Another familiar voice interrupted. "This should work. They do it in movies all the time."
"Give it to me."
Arthur heard a soft rustling sound and tried to rouse himself. There were people in his apartment. Before he could open his eyes, however, his face was doused in icy water. The ice cubes stung his skin and the cold water seeped instantly into his hair, ears, mouth, and shirt. Gasping, he jerked upright, his eyes popping open, and he immediately noticed three figures surrounding his bed. The lights in his room had been turned on, and he stared in shock at the intruders. It was them. Dick and Harry and Sally were standing around his bed, looking down at him expectantly, and he needed his dice right now. He was obviously still dreaming...except the ice was too cold and the intruders too authentic-looking for him to be absolutely sure. He lunged out of bed, snatched his dice from the bedside table, and tossed them. They told him he was awake. He tossed them again. Awake. Again. Awake.
"What is he doing?"
Arthur whirled around, gaped at the intruders, swore, and passed out.
"Well? Anything from the BGH yet?"
"The Big Giant Head is unable to take your call at this time. You must wait until your call is answered in the order it was received."
"He's waking up!"
Arthur was confused. Who was in his apartment? And why was he in his living room? Two faces appeared above him, and his eyelids fluttered while his eyes tried to adjust. A blonde woman and a grey-haired man were leaning over him. Dick and Sally, he remembered, and he bolted upright. The two people above him were unprepared for the sudden action, so the next thing Arthur was aware of was a burst of pain in his forehead as he smacked into Sally. "Ow!" He clapped his hand to his forehead and tried to calm down. The aliens from his dream were in his apartment, and his dice had told him that he was decidedly not dreaming. "I'm insane," he concluded. That was the only possible explanation.
"Hmph. You're not insane," said Dick imperiously. "He's taking it worse than you did, Sally."
Sally rubbed her forehead and glared at Arthur, who was eying Harry suspiciously. Harry was standing unmoving beside the coffee table, his eyes closed and his arms held stiffly out. "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head," he said suddenly, his voice sounding strange and robotic. Without warning he leapt forward and seized Arthur's head. Surprised, Arthur thrashed around, trying ineffectively to remove the hands that gripped his temples. Images began to play in his mind, and he ceased his struggles. Images of another life- some of which he had seen in his dreams- were streaming into his mind, and he remembered the mission. He remembered who he was. He was not Arthur the Point Man; he was Tommy Solomon the Senior Information Officer, part of a mission to study the population of the third-rate planet Earth. He remembered how he, Dick, Sally, and Harry had arrived on Earth years ago; had assumed human forms, his being the form of a teenage boy; how they had intentionally had the memories of their alien lives blocked so that they might go their separate ways and individually live out normal human lives for ten years. He, Tommy, had become Arthur, an ordinary guy with fake memories and a fake life implanted in his mind. But Arthur's time was up; the ten year period was almost at an end, and soon they would be taken back to their home planet to issue their reports on their experiences on Earth.
Arthur-no, Tommy- was on his knees, his breathing uneven as the memories overwhelmed him. He didn't notice when Harry released his grip, or that the others were standing silently, waiting for him to regain control of himself. His breathing staggered back to normalcy, and he realized he was gripping the edges of the coffee table painfully tight. It was an unbecoming position for a Senior Information Officer, especially since he was the oldest and smartest of the crew assembled around him. Still shaken but no longer confused, Tommy stood. "I think I'm okay now."
"Good!" Dick nodded. "On Thursday a ship will come to take us back home. After all, there's no place like it." He clapped his hands three times.
"You're supposed to tap your heels together, not clap your hands," Sally pointed out.
Tommy had ignored this exchange in favor of mentally going over the instructions for the mission. While thinking he had been looking in Dick's general direction and noticed a telltale glint on the ring finger of the High Commander's left hand. One small question started nagging at him. "What happens to the people we worked with while we were on Earth? They'll notice we're gone."
Sally shook her head. "They'll forget us. It'll be like we were never here."
Dick glanced down at his wedding ring and frowned. "These horrendous emotions," he muttered, pocketing the ring. "I never quite got used to them."
Tommy looked away, thinking of Dom, Ariadne, Eames, Yusuf, and Saito. He wondered who would be their Point Man now. Would their memories of him simply vanish? He considered, briefly, staying on Earth. He had liked being Arthur. As Tommy, he had been to many galaxies, explored many constellations, but as Arthur he had wandered through dreams, dreams just as endless and beautiful as the starred universe visible through the window of his high-end apartment.
And yet...no, he couldn't abandon the mission. And now that he thought of it, he had missed the home planet. He hadn't seen it in over a decade, which was admittedly a short time in their alien lifespans, but nevertheless, it would be nice to be home again.
Thursday came, and the four of them were waiting on a hill outside the city. Harry had sent the coordinates to the vessel coming to fetch them, and it would be arriving in a few minutes. Tommy looked over the city, but it wasn't just one city he was looking at. He was seeing Paris, Mombasa, Buenos Aires, Lima, Chicago, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Tokyo, each one overlaid over the others, reminding him of the surprising diversity and fortitude of the Earthlings. As the lights from their ship flashed overhead he silently wished a last farewell to the extraction crew. Perhaps, he thought, they wouldn't forget him completely.
Perhaps, sometimes, they would still see him in their dreams.
A/N: Holy freaking flapjacks. I was all set to write a humour fic and it just did not happen. This was way more bittersweet and a lot less crack-y than I intended it to be.
Some of the dreams/memories I made up, but some of them are from the show. The fire alarm, rope climbing, and albino brain chigger things were from the show. The others I made up, in case that wasn't evident from the not-being-as-funny-as-the-ones-from-the-show thing.