Just a one-shot about the friendship between Arthur, Eames and Cobb.
To Friends, To Breakfast, To Distractions
A knock on his door brought Arthur out of the trance he had been in for a time he couldn't remember. He glanced at the clock, noted the time was far beyond midnight and reached for his gun in the drawer of the coffee table. He tucked it in the waistband of his black trousers and pulled his vest up and over it to conceal it since his suit jacket had been placed on a hanger in the closet hours ago.
He slowly began making his way across the apartment so as not to make a noise until he knew for sure who his unwanted guest was. He reached the door and glanced through the peephole and clenched his jaw when he realized who it was. Letting his forehead rest against the door, he sighed deeply and ran a tired hand across his face.
"Come on, Darling. Open the door. I know you're in there. Your negativity is seeping through the cracks."
With one last sigh after hearing the voice, he pulled his head away from the door with a firm shake of it wondering why the universe had to be so cruel at a time like this. He opened the door with his regular scowl marred by the week's events.
"Ah, there you are." Eames greeted in his chipper mood that was always like nails on a chalk board to Arthur's ears.
Arthur gave a single laugh that held no humor, just plain disbelief. "How did you get here?"
"Let me see, hmm? Jet pack? No." He shook his head as if really contemplating the question. "Perhaps I flew here with my cape? No, I don't think I did that either. Maybe I took a cab or possibly did this ridiculous thing called walking."
Arthur's glare deepened while his jaws protruded just a bit more as he clenched his teeth together. "What are you doing here?"
"Is that really any way to treat your guest? I've known you to have a stick up your ass, but not ill mannered." Eames smirked when he received no reply and mocked a bow as the point man stepped back from the door to allow him to enter the apartment.
"Empty as always, Arthur. I couldn't expect anything less if I wanted to." Eames scanned the living area noting the empty wine glass and what would sure have been an empty bottle of wine if he hadn't shown up. He turned back to the younger man who was watching him carefully with worn out features. "Have a drink or two, have you?"
"Last time I checked, that wasn't a crime and I'm certain my liver is in perfect condition compared to yours."
"There's nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks now and then...for the right reasons, of course."
"Of course. I'm sure you know all about those reasons. Now why are you here?"
"Get your coat. We're going out."
"Geez, I know you're stubborn, but I didn't think you were deaf. Now get your jacket. You're coming with me." Eames repeated as he moved back to the door and waited for the younger man to follow. Arthur still stood in place, stubborn as usual.
"I'm tired, Eames, and we have an early morning tomorrow. I do not wish to join you on your little venture." Arthur replied while scrubbing his hand down his face for good measure.
"Let's be honest, you weren't about to go to sleep on your own accord. You'll want to join me. I promise. Now get your jacket."
"Oh, well by all means, if you promise." The point man shot back with an ounce more of sarcasm that Eames would appreciate if it were under other circumstances. He grabbed his suit jacket from the closet and slung it on, before making his way to the door.
"You won't be needing that gun of yours that's tucked away in your waistband. Feel free to place it back in the drawer of the coffee table before we leave."
Arthur stopped dead in his tracks dumbfounded, though he shouldn't be, that Eames knew where he kept his weapons.
"Don't look so surprised. Hurry now, it is starting to rain."
Eames tore his gaze away from the window, from the stormy world on the other side of the glass, to settle it on the man sitting across from him in the booth at the diner they had been sitting in for half an hour. It was like looking at a picture. Arthur sat there with his elbows resting on top of the table, shoulders hunched, hands resting against his mouth just under his nose. Eames studied the point man, the stillness in his frame, the lack of color in his face and the blank look in his eyes. It was just like a picture. Arthur never moved and whatever he was seeing, he was the only one who could, but Eames had a pretty good guess.
Thunder started to yet again rumble, the windows shook ever so slightly with its presence, before a streak of lightning flashed bright into the diner causing the only other people in the diner, a young man and woman sitting on the other side of the establishment, to gasp. Eames never took his eyes off Arthur. Arthur never blinked.
The forger swiped a hand over his mouth as if it would scrub away some of the exhaustion that settled there. It didn't and he sighed heavily. Pulling his arm off the back of the booth where he had had it stretched out, he placed his arms on the table and leaned forward to try to catch the point man's gaze.
"Are you just going to ignore me all night?" He questioned with a forced air of lightheartedness.
He wasn't expecting a reply so when Arthur's brown eyes met his for a fraction of a second before returning to their designated spot on the table, the corner of his mouth began to lift on its own accord. It wasn't much of a reply, but at this point for Arthur, it was as close to a conversation as he was going to get.
"I'm just asking, because if it's going to go like this I'm going to need a hell of a lot more coffee and maybe some breakfast." Eames stated while setting his empty coffee mug on the end of the table and opening up the menu. "You want anything?" He knew the lack of reaction he received was Arthur's way of telling him no, and a part of him missed the younger man's scowl that was usually directed his way.
The waitress came and refilled his coffee and took away Arthur's cold, untouched mug while replacing it with a fresh one. "You gentlemen want anything to eat now?"
"Yes, um, I'll have the meat lover's breakfast and he'll have the..." Eames scanned over the menu until he found his mouth once again turning up. "He'll have the happy face pancakes."
"Sir, that's only for kids." She replied, glancing cautiously at the man who she had yet see move since he sat down.
Eames forced a charming grin. "Can't you make an exception, love?"
She wavered a few seconds before writing something down on the ticket then nodding her head. "Sure."
The forger watched her go. She was attractive for an older woman. He preferred the young ones.
He turned back to Arthur, but said nothing.
The waitress placed their food down on the table, Eames' plate right in front of him, Arthur's just off to the side. The forger thanked her, this time without watching her leave, and focused on Arthur. He picked up the point man's plate and sat it down in his line of sight, the face made out of fruit and yogurt smiling up at the younger man.
Eames knew exactly when Arthur realized what was in front of him because dark brown eyes widened slightly, before narrowing down into a much more characteristic glare. The point man moved for the first time since he had sat down.
Arthur sat back and dropped his hands in his lap, glaring at Eames. The forger stabbed his fork into a sausage link and took a dramatic bite out of it before grinning at his teammate around the meat in his mouth.
"First," Arthur's voice was rough. "That's disgusting." He motioned towards Eames' mouth. "Second, I'm not eating that."
"First, you speak! And second, Why? Because it's happier than you?"
"No. I'm not hungry."
"That excuse will only last you so long before starvation kicks in."
Arthur rolled his eyes and looked out the window. Eames knew it would only take a matter of seconds before the point man checked out once more.
"What time is it?" Upon the look from Arthur, he shrugged his shoulders and shook his wrist with his watch. "Dead battery."
Both knew it was a lie.
Arthur looked at his own watch. "Almost two in the morning. Why did you drag me out in the hours of the night to bring me to a diner?"
"Cobb should be here any minute." Eames replied looking towards the door. "Speak of the devil." He waved the extractor over and took a bite of his bacon.
Cobb walked over while taking off his raincoat and sat down beside Arthur in the booth, gave a cautious sideways glance at his unresponsive friend and faintly smiled at Eames with a short nod. "How long have you guys been here?"
"Half an hour."
"Sorry. The rain was making it difficult to see." He picked up a menu from the table. "What's good to eat here?"
"I recommend the meat lover's, but don't ask Arthur about the pancakes."
This had the forger's desired effect, pulling Arthur's attention from the window, from wherever he was in his mind, back to the table with a glare that suited him so well.
"Eames ordered them. You can have them if you want. I'm not going to eat them."
He told Cobb while still scowling at the forger.
"You may change your mind." Cobb replied, knowing full well it wouldn't happen, but still hoping it would. "I'll just order the special."
The waitress came. Cobb ordered coffee and the special and watched her go, before turning back to his team. He and the forger made small talk for a few minutes, before Arthur interrupted.
"Can you let me out? I need to go to the bathroom."
"Yeah, sure." Cobb replied already scooting out of the booth. He watched Arthur walk to the bathroom, while sitting back down. "Is he doing alright?"
"Well, he's being Arthur, just a bit more quiet. I always thought that would be an improvement, but honestly it isn't."
Cobb nodded, falling into silence until he spotted the untouched happy face pancakes. He let out a soft snort of laughter. "Did you really order those for him?"
"I had to do something. That stick in the mud was beginning to drown. He was completely checking out."
"I can't imagine him being to happy about those."
"Not even the slightest." Eames grinned triumphantly. Cobb shook his head, though he didn't expect anything less.
The waitress brought Cobb's coffee and food, causing the extractor to look at his watch. "Arthur's been gone a long time to just be in the bathroom."
"Maybe it takes princess a while to get the river going in public?" Eames teasingly suggested.
"Almost ten minutes?"
"Maybe we should have taken him to a doctor, instead." Eames' grin dropped from his face upon the look from the extractor. He looked towards the bathroom. "Ah, there he is."
Arthur slowly made his way back to the table, his head bowed as he rubbed at the corner of his eye tiredly. He silently waited for Cobb to stand and let him back in the booth to sit.
He glanced up at them when he felt their eyes on him. "What?"
Cobb's reply of 'nothing' was cut off by Eames. "I was beginning to think I would have to come in there and turn on the sink or sing a song about waterfalls. What took you so long?"
"I think the real question is why you two obviously felt the need to drag me to a diner at two in the morning."
"Isn't this a lot better than sitting in your empty apartment drinking away your sorrows?"
Cobb looked between the two of them waiting for the inevitable bantering to start.
"My sorrows?" Arthur questioned with a glare as if the forger was making things up. "What is this? An intervention? Because if we're doing those, I would like to start one for you, Mr. Eames, and those horrid things you call shirts."
"Easy, darling. I did order you those pancakes."
"That I'm not going to eat."
Cobb cleared his throat before things got out of hand. Taking his coffee mug by the handle he held it up in a toast gesture. "To friends."
Arthur and Eames went still and silent, until the forger picked up his own mug holding it against the extractor's. "To breakfast."
They turned their attention to Arthur who stared at the for a few moments before reluctantly grabbing his own cup and tapping it against theirs. "To...distractions."
Small smiles spread around the table before they each drank from their coffees, all holding back grimaces of the horrible taste until Arthur coughed and spluttered. "That's nasty!"
"Eat your pancakes and you'll forget about the coffee." Eames shot across the table as he went back to all but devouring a piece of sausage.
"Like a trip to a diner at two in the morning will make some forget about the horrible job we just pulled?" Arthur shot back while pulling a stack of happy face pancakes towards himself with a disgusted look.
"Exactly." Cobb supplied, taking a bite of toast, while the three friends settled into companionable silence.
Cobb pulled out his wallet as he stood in front of the register preparing to pay the bill. Eames stepped forward, bumping into Arthur on his way to the register. "No, no. I said I would pay for it." Eames said, pulling out a wallet to retrieve a few cash bills and handing the money to the cashier.
"I'll get the tip." Arthur stated while patting the pockets of his pants, then his jacket. When he came up empty, he immediately looked at Eames.
The forger took the change from the cashier and tucked it back into the wallet. He picked up a toothpick and held it between his lips while turning around to Arthur and grinning.
"Thanks for breakfast, Arthur."
Eames tossed Arthur his wallet. The point man stared at him.
"What? You didn't think I'd actually pay to spend time with you did you?" The older man slung an arm around Arthur's shoulders and guided him towards the door, knowing that Cobb had went back to cover the tip. Arthur shoved him off, causing Eames to laugh and hold up his hands in surrender.
"Alright, alright. I'll get the bill next time, with my own money."
Two months, Arthur walked into the diner almost completely deserted due to the time of night and made his way over to Cobb and Eames. He sat down beside the extractor and gave a small nod and a faint smile in both men's direction. He glanced at their food. Cobb had the special. Eames had the meat lover's. Both were drinking coffee.
The waitress came to the table. "What can I get for you princess?"
Arthur shot a glare at Eames knowing full well he was behind the nickname she had used.
"I'll have the uh... the usual."
"The happy face pancakes?"
Arthur coughed and sat up straighter. "Yeah."
Without even saying it was just for kids, the waitress wrote it down. "What do you want to drink?"
Arthur tried to hide the grimace he felt. "Coffee."
Cobb held out his coffee mug. "To friends."
"To breakfast." Eames held up his own.
Arthur did the same. "To distractions."
They all took a sip, all grimaced and the point man stated how awful it was. They went back to eating in silence, as usual, until Arthur surprisingly broke it.
"Oh and Eames, before you try to lift my wallet to pay for the bill for the fifth time, I'll inform you that I left it at home."
Eames grinned around the bacon in his mouth, reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out Arthur's wallet. "I know."