Disclaimer: Inception does not belong to me. Setting: London, 1890s
Arthur shivered as he stepped outside, and reflexively pulled up the collar of the great coat. He frowned as a couple of children walked past, almost stumbling into the road. "Watch out!" he shouted, as they wandered haphazardly out of the way of a horse and dray cart.
Eames shook his head. "Forget it, Arthur. You can't stop them doing that."
"Well, they should learn to look then," he snapped back, irritably. "And not walk in front of-"
"Arthur." Eames looked at him, and frowned slightly. "Those children are in no fit state to see anything." He sighed. "Gin for breakfast, probably."
"What?" Arthur looked at him, shocked. "Gin?" He looked after the small figures, becoming quickly enveloped in a haze of fog and filthy smoke erupting from the back of the shops. "Not water? Or even, milk?" He looked at Eames, a frown undercutting his handsome features. "Eames, those children - their parents-"
"We are currently standing in one of the poorest boroughs of London," Eames reminded him. "Most of the parents here can barely afford bread for themselves, let alone milk, as you seem to think." His words were swallowed by the rumble of wheels, as another dray cart hurtled by, splattering the two men lightly with mud. Arthur tutted with disgust.
"Get used to it," Eames said cheerfully, and turning his head, nodded towards the building behind them. Frowning, and looking with disgust at the light staining on his tawny overcoat, Arthur followed him into the large, smoky, booze-soaked building.
"Have a seat," Eames said, affably, pointing to a chair. Arthur seated himself, drawing his legs in. He pulled his coat around him, and studied the clientele. They were of all ages, seated, standing, laughing, talking, and he noticed, all accompanied with glasses of liquid. He swallowed. The appetite of the citizens of this city for alcohol was beyond anything he'd ever encountered.
"All on your own?"
Arthur blinked, and looked up. A woman, her face so heavily painted he could not discern her age, was standing next to him, smiling in a manner that was almost a leer. "Because if you are-" the comment was delivered suggestively, accompanied by a flirtatious wink.
Arthur stiffened. Just what sort of place was this?
The woman turned, her stiff red skirts rustling, and her face drawing down into a frown. Eames was shaking his head. "Please leave my colleague alone," he said, politely. "Or I can guarantee you will get into trouble."
Scowling, she began to move away, but turned back to Arthur as she did so. "Offer's still open!"
"Thanks," Arthur mumbled, turning a light shade of crimson. Eames shook his head at the woman as she left. "Bit of an occupational hazard, Artie. Need to be careful. But, you turned her down, so that's good."
Arthur swallowed. "Well, I-" he stopped, concerned he was appearing more naive than he was. Of course, she was a prostitute. Or tom, as he'd heard them referred to. He rubbed his face. New York was better than this, he thought, frowning angrily.
"Here you go!" Eames said, cheerfully, plonking two glasses on the table. Arthur pulled one towards him. "What is it?"
"Scotch. Good quality."
"Eames, just Eames," he said, firmly, shaking his head. "No Inspector here, please. As soon as they find out -" he swallowed, and leaned forward - "you might end up with more than you bargained for." He picked up his scotch. "I'm not calling you Lieutenant, am I?"
Arthur stared gloomily into his glass. "Well, I-"
"Oh, I know." Eames nodded. "Sent here from Chicago - you think you've been sacked. Well, you haven't, you're here to help us. That's why we asked for you."
"You did?" Arthur swallowed. "Well, thank you."
"Look." Eames leaned forward, his face serious. "We have a problem in this city, Arthur. A big problem. Young women are disappearing, and no-one is sure why, or what's happening." He sat back, and took a swallow of scotch. "And when they do re-appear, they're-" he twitched, and looked round.
"Go on," Arthur prompted, fingering his own glass.
"Dead." Eames spoke with finality. "And often - mutilated." He shook his head. "No idea what kind of sick bastard is doing this, but its got to stop. And because of the success you had in Chicago -" he looked at the other man - "we thought 'let's get him over here, join the peelers.'"
"Peelers?" Arthur looked confused.
"Sir Robert Peel, founder of the police - Peelers," Eames explained. He yawned. "And tonight, you're in for a treat."
"Really?" Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Which is?"
"Whitechapel. Thought we'd watch, and wait."
Arthur shook his head. "That's too obvious. We need to be more careful." He picked up the glass, and finished the scotch. "How else do you think we found Henry Holmes?"
"So what do you suggest?"
"I suggest we go, and look back through the evidence you have so far." Arthur put the glass back on the table. "Back to the station."
"All right." Eames began to get up, and frowned at him. "Let's go."
"Well, I'm sorry I'm interrupting your drinking session," Arthur almost snapped, "but young women are-"
"Shush!" Eames hissed at him. "Do you want the whole pub knowing our business?"
Arthur shook his head, slightly embarrassed. "No."
"Learn to keep your voice down, then." Frowning, the older man began to move away from the table, and out of the door. Arthur followed, accidentally colliding with a figure on the street.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" He exclaimed, bending down to help pick up the things she had scattered. He looked up, and realised he was looking into the face of a young woman. She frowned. "Thank you."
"Are you allright?" he asked, courteously. She nodded, and taking the packages, placed them back in her basket. "Thank you."
Arthur nodded. "My pleasure." She hurried away from them, and he stood, watching after her.
"Arthur," Eames spoke suddenly. "Come on. We need to get back to the station, right?"
Arthur, still watching the retreating figure, nodded. He shivered as the cold air began to creep across, and noticed the darkening sky was being lightened by the gaslights. "Yes. Come on."
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