Title: Grumpy and Unloved

Summary: Eames attempts to use his matchmaking skills - such as they are - for good rather than evil, and Arthur wants to die. Hints of Arthur/Ariadne.

Notes: Possibly the obsession with all films Nolan should come to a halt round about now-ish...


Arthur gets pretty annoyed when Eames doesn't understand words like 'specificity'. Or 'planning', or 'organisation', or – his own favourite at the moment – 'personal space'.

He would like it on record that he is, on balance, a patient guy. He can trawl through plans, diagrams, notes on marks, all without ever getting bored. But there is nothing that manages to grind away at his patience – not to mention good mood, sanity, will to live – as Eames. Or, more particularly, Eames sitting in a swivel chair, swigging out of a cola can and humming along to his Ipod very loudly, and very out of tune. And poking him, in the arm, with the business end of a biro.

He knew it. He just knew there was going to be trouble. Right from the moment when, in the middle of checking over the equipment, the doors to the warehouse burst open with a clang, and a very English and very unwelcome voice rang out, 'Good God, this place is all bare walls and straight edges! It was picked by Arthur, wasn't it? It had to be! It's too bloody tidy for anyone else! I'm an artist, it need to be messed up a bit more!' And Eames had scattered all his nice, neat piles of notes everywhere, and Cobb had laughed, and Arthur had kind of wanted to kill someone.

Rather despairingly – note the word despairingly, it's not like he's sort of kind of been wanting to glance over there for a while, not like he's sort of kind of been thinking about her ever since Cobb told him how the girl flipped an entire city on top of itself in her first dream, no sir – he glances over at Ariadne and rolls his eyes. She looks up from her reading and grins; he grins back.

"You liike her."

Definitely. Make that definitely want to kill someone.

He can feel the slightest of twitches start up somewhere behind his left eye. Not a complete spasm, just a little twitch, indicating Headaches and Heart Seizures and Other Bad Things if Eames doesn't Leave Him Alone.

"Beg your pardon?" he replies slowly, and through gritted teeth.

"You heard me." Eames grins and starts poking him again at double the speed, and if he ends up getting a bruise from this encounter he's not going to be responsible for his actions. "You. Like. Her."

(For the record, it's not as if he dislikes Ariadne, because Ariadne is smart, gutsy, and has the really entertaining habit of telling Cobb when he's being a complete jackass, which Arthur cannot get enough of, if only because when he tries to tell Cobb when he's being a complete jackass it never quite works. So yeah, he likes Ariadne, but like doesn't mean like-like, and yeah, so maybe the way her eyes light up when they're exploring a new dream makes him smile, but so what? He likes teaching. Enthusiasm equals good. He's just glad she's paying attention.)

"For God's sakes Eames, what are we, five?"

Eames pulls a face at him. And mercifully falls silent.

Thank-you God. Any spare thunderbolts whizzing around up there, just direct them at him. No-one has to know.


Damn it.

"What are you going to do about it?"

Why did the silence have to leave? On second thoughts, how about putting me out of my misery?


"Oh, come now Arthur. Alright, so you're grumpy, unimaginative and a compulsive neat-freak, but that doesn't mean no-one will ever love you."


"Eames. Go. Away."

Eames (of course) ignores him, leaning back in his chair as if he doesn't have a care in the world. "You know, if you just had a bit of imagination you could really sweep a girl off her feet with some handiwork in the dream department. You know, a Can You Feel the Love Tonight moment – although I'm not quite sure you fit Simba's character well enough. I've always seen you as more of a Zazu."

Arthur leans his face into his hands and drops his head to the desk. The keen observer might be able to hear the distinct groan of 'Oh dear God, please make him stop!'.

That being said, he's always had an admiration for Zazu. So all at once he's flattered, and twisting in Gehenna.

It's not fair. He always tried to live a good life, be polite and respectful to little old ladies, not litter, try not to harm anyone he comes across. Honestly, if one forgets the whole life-of-crime-through-stealing-information-from-people's-dreams aspect of his career, he really doesn't deserve this kind of negative karma the universe appears intent on flinging his way.

"Why," he mutters, "would my potential love life have anything to do with you?"

"Well, for starters if you don't get your act together I'll be stuck with you here all the time moping. As usual."

"I don't mope."

He is…serious. Dedicated. A consummate professional. He doesn't spend half of his time faffing about and insulting other people and kicking them off their chairs without provocation, but that doesn't mean he spends his time moping. Arthur folds his arms and tries desperately not to look like a toddler in the middle of a full-blown sulk.

"Will you read my lips? I'm not interested. I don't care what deranged fantasies you've concocted in your mind. And I don't want you trying your hand at match-making, particularly not on me."

Eames merely taps his nose with his pen. "Ahh, come on now, even a grumpy stick like you deserves love."

He makes it sound as if Arthur should by all rights be holed up in the tower of Notre Dame to be pelted at with fruit by the commoners. Instead of kicking that chair out from under him – and don't get him wrong, he's fully tempted to do so - he chooses to merely glare. "Eames. Leave me alone."

The man sighs, and then – mercifully, finally – shrugs. "Fine. Stay alone and miserable for the rest of your life." He grins, and moves over to ruffle Arthur's hair. With both hands. "You old grouch."

Arthur doesn't say anything, mainly because he's clamped both arms over his head in self-defence.

The Englishman tosses the pen deftly to him, and then moves over to where Ariadne is curled up on her chair, reading some book on mythology. Arthur can hear the added injection of typical English charm into his voice when he speaks.

"Ariadne, darling, how would you fancy a basic lesson in the incomparable art of identity forgery?"


"Oh, sure." He grins back at Arthur with all the cherubic innocence that one might attribute to an angel, or possibly a criminal mastermind. "Should probably give you a brief rundown of all the basic skills you need for a job like this."

She shrugs and then nods. "Ok." Together the two of them move off towards the apparatus, laughing over some wisecrack that Eames makes. For a second the man glances back over his shoulder, and then Arthur is almost positive that his hand presses for just a touch too long between Ariadne's shoulder blades as he prompts her to a seat. You know. Lingeringly.

For one fleeting, blissful second Arthur seriously contemplates jamming the pen into Eames' vertebrae. Not to cause any serious damage, you understand, it just seems like a really, really good idea.

The two of them spend at least an hour under, and emerge still chuckling over some shared joke; they then spend the rest of the afternoon working dedicatedly over Eames' maze. Arthur spends the rest of the afternoon grinding his teeth together until he can taste enamel.

When they all go out for a drink at the end of the day Eames hangs back so he has to sit next to Ariadne – read: hangs back and then pokes Arthur constantly in the ribs until he has no choice but to move ahead of him – at their table. Which he doesn't mind, actually, because she asks him some question about how far one can push the physics of the dream, and before you know it they're both deep in detailed conversation until closing time. When he glances up he catches Eames grinning at him, and studiously ignores it. It's so much easier to fall back into their conversation.

He still takes the time to dedicatedly glower at the back of Eames' neck on the walk home, however. It just seems important that he does.


possible sequel already in the offing...