Three fics written for the Inception kink meme, none of them even remotely kinky.
BECAUSE THAT'S HOW I ROLL. IN AN EXCITING, PG-13 OR LOWER KINDA WAY.
Title: Mushrooms From Toadstools
Rating: PG-13 (for language)
Spoilers/Warnings: Very, very general spoilers for the movie.
Summary: “It is possible I never actually understood what hatred was until I met you, Eames,” Arthur says, trying his best to mean it and getting almost halfway there. From the prompt, "5 times arthur thinks eames couldn't possibly be the love of his life and that one moment of clarity when he realizes that he simply is."
Disclaimer: Absolutely not mine.
Notes: Title is from a Katherine Mansfield quote ("If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools"), which I have appropriated partly because I thought it was fitting, and partly (or maybe largely) because I was dying to use the word "toadstools" in a title for something. ANYTHING.
Arthur meets Eames in the moments directly after at least three cars have exploded, which means that neither of them is particularly inclined toward introductions.
But after Arthur has taken care of the pair of snipers on the roof opposite them and Eames has somehow managed to blow up two more cars (which, it would later turn out, were full of subconscious security with massive guns, and therefore actually needed to be blown up after all), there are exactly five minutes of time for idle conversation.
In those five minutes, Eames tried to ruffle Arthur’s hair, called him pet (twice), love (twice), and darling (five times), accused him of being a stick-in-the-mud, told him he had eyes the color of particularly bitter dark chocolate, and questioned his professionalism, his age, and his sexuality.
“Who the hell is this asshole?” Arthur demands when he wakes up, seething, and sees Eames blinking to awareness next to him. Cobb shrugs.
“Back up,” he says. “Thought it'd be good to give him a trial run in dream space. He’s going to work with us for the next little while, so don’t burn too many bridges.”
“What?” Arthur says, making a conscious effort not to gape, and Eames smirks.
“Don’t look so thrilled, pet,” he says. “I’m the love of your life, of course, but we mustn’t give too much away too soon.”
Mal hides something which sounds suspiciously like a chuckle in the crook of her elbow, and Arthur seriously considers giving up extraction in favor of waiting tables.
“Hello sweetheart,” a low, husky voice says, and Arthur feels long, slender fingers on his knee before he can turn around. A blond-haired, blue-eyed, stereotype of a woman has slid onto the bar stool next to him and is meeting his eyes with a ridiculously blatant “come to bed” look.
“Sorry,” Arthur mutters, jerking his knee away, “I’m working.”
“Working?” The woman says. “You’re in a bar at two o’ clock in the morning, gorgeous. What kind of work are you getting up to, hmm?”
Arthur frowns into his drink and thinks, Well, actually, I’m waiting for my best friend and his wife to reappear in the bar, because that will mean that they’ve finished interrogating the mark, which will mean it’s time for me to duck out the side entrance, climb the fire escape, and tell William Luther that I’ve been sent by his company to counter the opposition’s suspected efforts at espionage and kidnapping.
“Waiting,” he says.
“For what?” The woman asks, practically purring now, and Arthur can feel himself blushing, and not only is this a massive inconvenience, but the “gorgeous” from earlier is echoing in his head, because he’d swear there was something about it, something--
“Jesus, you really don’t believe in fun, do you?” Eames mutters, looking genuinely perturbed.
“I just want you to know that if you weren’t an absolutely necessary component of the plan I would shoot you in the head right now,” Arthur says.
“They’re children, Eames,” Arthur says.
“Your razor sharp observational skills have once again prevailed, darling,” Eames says, which he somehow manages to make sound infinitely filthy in front of the Cobbs’ children, who are seated at the table, waiting for their dinner.
“Their arteries aren’t supposed to be that badly clogged for another thirty years, at least,” Arthur protests, preparing to engage in a knockdown, drag out fight with Eames for control of flatware and trying very hard not to think about the fact that his Friday so far has consisted of a) entering dreams, molding entire worlds to his will, and defying the laws of physics, and b) babysitting with Eames.
“French fry and mayonnaise sandwiches are a crucial part of the childhood experience,” Eames says.
“What kind of childhood did you have?” Arthur demands. Eames grins, places one hand on Arthur’s hip and shoves, hard, guaranteeing himself unimpaired access to the children’s plates.
“A fun one,” he says, and then, almost apologetically, “sorry love. You set yourself up for that one.”
Arthur very manfully resists the urge to tell the forger to fuck off, and instead steps on the other man’s toes, hard.
“Fuck!” Eames says, showing absolutely none of Arthur’s fortitude, and then, loudly, “You oughtn’t be so clumsy,” speaking over Arthur's semi-frantic attempts to explain to James and Philippa that they are never, never going to use that word in front of Dom and Mal, because Eames is a bad man who uses bad words, and--
At which point Eames calls him “darling” again, reproachfully, and catches him against the edge of the table and honest to God kisses his cheek. Which is just-- Jesus, the definition of taking things too far.
“Fuck!” James says gleefully, banging his spoon against his high chair.
“It is possible I never actually understood what hatred was until I met you, Eames,” Arthur says, trying his best to mean it and getting almost halfway there.
“Uncle Arthur, that’s rude!” Philippa says, aghast, and forces him to apologize.
Things Eames loves: the Hard Rock Cafe (particularly in New York), paisley, car horns that play “La Cucaracha,” huckleberries, the perfect hand in poker, understanding someone because of the way they scratch behind their ear, bright red Corvettes, anything by Michael Chabon, and the music of the Beatles.
Things Arthur loves: coffee shops that don’t believe in whipped cream, black ties, the Discovery Channel, perfectly timed decrescendos, always being one step ahead, Mercutio, pumpkin pie, the New York Philharmonic, subtle intelligence, and the music of the Beatles.
Really, Arthur thinks, gritting his teeth as Eames misspells “covert” again, really, it’s no fucking wonder he can’t stand the man.
Really, the problem is that he’s rude. Or possibly that he’s unfailingly late, no matter what the occasion, or maybe that his tie is a shade of green that is gnawing at Arthur’s skull.
There’s definitely a problem. Or several.
This morning, Eames smells like liquor and smug superiority and perfume (the perfume seems to match the tie, somehow-- garish and bright and sharp), and it’s all very much a problem.
“Coffee,” Eames says, setting a steaming mug of the stuff on Arthur’s desk as he brushes past. Arthur grunts something exhausted but, he’s relatively certain, properly appreciative, scrubs a hand over his face, and takes a long drink. It’s black, and strong, a kind of amused, affectionate, wake-up-you-idiot-we’ve-got-work-to-do coffee.
Arthur frowns to himself for a minute, and finds his gaze sliding sideways to Eames, who is leaning back in his own chair, hair mussed, his suit an absolute disgrace, fingers steepled in that way which means that at the team meeting in an hour he’s going to be the one with all the best ideas.
Oh, Arthur thinks, and then, oh.
Well fuck, he thinks, except that he can’t really work up that much panic, or shock, or even exasperation (and anyway, it’s been ages since Eames smelled like perfume, garish or not). He takes another drink of his coffee, and reads the court transcript from their mark’s second divorce trial, and then walks over to Eames’ desk, leans his hip against the corner.
“Thanks,” he says, probably meaning for the coffee, and he knows his smile is just a little wider than usual, but that’s okay.
Title: To be honest, I've got nothing for this one. It's Untitled Inception Daycare AU, that's what it is!
Characters/Pairings: Keep in mind that everyone here is under five, so things are awfully platonic! But even so, there's a bit of Arthur/Eames and Cobb/Mal (plus the entire ensemble).
Spoilers/Warnings: For the movie, yes.
Summary: “Children!” Yusuf says, “Truly, it is time for lunch! Lunch! You know, the time of day when you eat delicious foods and then get very sleepy and nap until your parents arrive?” From the prompt, "A beleaguered Yusuf runs a daycare where all the Inception characters are preschoolers or younger."
Disclaimer: Absolutely not mine.
Notes: I think Ariadne also wears this a lot.
ETA: cellophane_ria drew Arthur and Ariadne and legos in the comments and they are adorable. :D
“Alright,” Yusuf says, mentally bracing himself, “it is time to eat!”
Today, just as on every day before it (and every day after, Yusuf thinks, seeing his life stretch before him, a blur of generally impossible preschoolers), there is instantaneous pandemonium. A crowd of three- and four-year-olds make their chattering way, en masse, toward their cubbies, eager to retrieve their lunches. As always, of course, there are a few holdouts.
“No,” Ariadne says simply from the corner. She is wearing her “I’m a little hipster” shirt today, the one her mother thinks is so amusing, and she has barricaded herself in with various lego constructions, some of which look stunningly complicated. Yusuf knows from experience that they will be ridiculously difficult to pull apart. Ariadne doesn’t quite have a handle on the laws of physics, yet, but her creations are bizarrely resilient. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...”
There is a sort of sing-song rhythm to the refusals now, one which Yusuf will find himself humming at three in the afternoon, he knows. Ariadne happily adds a series of blue legos to the top of what is almost definitely a skyscraper.
Meanwhile, Saito is standing in the exact middle of the room, hands on his hips. “I don’t want to eat lunch now,” he says.
“Well it is time for lunch,” Yusuf says. “So it does not matter if you want to eat. You are going to eat.”
Life should be so simple, he thinks to himself.
“No I’m not,” Saito says, and then sits down in the middle of the floor and grabs great fistfuls of the carpet, apparently ready to attempt the spoiled, four-year-old brat’s version of a sit-in. Or a sit-out. Or-- Yusuf can feel himself getting a headache.
“Oh really?” He asks Saito who nods, firmly, still gripping the carpet for all he’s worth. “Robert is eating lunch, you know. Robert is being a very good boy and eating his lunch, and I would hate to have to tell your father you didn’t behave as well as Robert when he comes to pick you up this afternoon--”
He is wasting his breath, talking to an empty patch of floor, because Saito has already run-- practically flung himself-- across the room. By the time Yusuf has caught up with events, Saito is calmly seated at the head of the table looking more inscrutable than any four-year-old ought to, announcing that today he will be buying pudding and selling graham crackers. There is a cheerful group of toddlers surrounding him who are, apparently, being introduced to the wonders of capitalistic society. Ah, well.
Yusuf turns back to Ariadne, who has somehow roped Arthur into her project. He is hovering at the edge of her lego city, looking nervous, muttering something about “lunchtime” and “breaking the rules” and “very important to follow the timetable.” Ariadne giggles, shakes her head, throws a lego at him (mussing his hair in the process, which sends Arthur’s hands flailing up to his head to repair the damage), and demands that he help her build a bridge.
“What kind of bridge?” Arthur asks warily, still glancing toward the lunch table.
“UPSIDE DOWN BRIDGE,” Ariadne crows, clapping her hands together.
“Your hair’s messy,” a gleeful voice informs Arthur, and oh dear Lord in heaven, Eames. Yusuf represses the urge to groan out loud.
“Arthur,” he tries, speaking as fast as he possibly can, “it’s time for--”
“Is not,” Arthur says furiously, reaching up to his head again.
“NOT!” Arthur says, and to be honest, the entire encounter looks like it’s edging rapidly toward physical violence. Yusuf has seen Arthur get into fights before-- considering how well behaved he generally is, and how small he is for his age, Arthur has developed a truly impressive headlock.
“Children!” Yusuf says, “Truly, it is time for lunch! Lunch! You know, the time of day when you eat delicious foods and then get very sleepy and nap until your parents arrive?”
“No we don’t,” Arthur says, baffled.
“I was not being literal,” Yusuf says, and then remembers that he is talking to toddlers. “Never mind. Arthur, Eames, go sit down and eat your lunches. Now, please.”
Arthur obediently sets off, and Eames immediately follows, cheerfully telling the entire room that Arthur is going to sit next to him today (“Am not!” “Are too!” “Am not!” “Are too!”). Yusuf takes a deep breath and thanks his lucky stars that Arthur does not have pigtails for Eames to pull.
“Now, Ariadne,” he begins, except all Ariadne does is grin up at him with an expression which falls squarely into the “mischievous” category and do something strange to one of the skyscrapers so that it twists at an angle he’s pretty sure doesn’t actually exist. He blinks. Twice.
Yusuf is about to wade into the maze of legos in an attempt to extract his budding Frank Lloyd Wright when he spots Cobb approaching from across the room. He and Mal have been finger-painting all morning, but they’re both incredibly smudge-free now. Just one of their many talents, he supposes.
“Cool building,” Cobb says quietly to Ariadne. The expression on her face in reaction is what Yusuf would call absolutely and entirely adorable, except that he is a manly man, and therefore entirely immune to such things. She beams, throws several legos into the air in what is apparently celebration, and develops a spontaneous case of the hiccups.
“We gotta go eat lunch now,” Cobb informs her solemnly. Ariadne immediately nods, stands, and removes herself from the jumble of legos with hardly any trouble at all. Yusuf has absolutely no idea how she did it.
Cobb takes Ariadne’s hand and leads her to the lunch table in a fraternal sort of way. Ariadne turns her head, gleeful, and sticks her tongue out at Mal, who smirks (smirks! Yusuf would swear that many years ago, before all of this daycare nonsense, he’d thought human beings under the age of five were meant to be innocent), sticks her own tongue out in reply, and kicks over three lego buildings in one fell swoop.
“Mal!” Yusuf scolds half-heartedly, wanting nothing more than a nap of his own. “Come on, it is time for lunch.”
He extends a hand toward her, which she does not even dignify with a glance.
“I can go by myself! ‘M not a baby,” she declares, just short of petulance, and marches off, head held high.
Yusuf sighs. Some days, he wishes he could just sedate the lot of them.
Title: High Lonesome
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for the movie, yes.
Summary: I'm going to build you entire worlds, he wants to say, just so I can watch you explore them. From the prompt, "'You're waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can't be sure. But it doesn't matter - because we'll be together.'Five times Cobb said this to Mal and one time she said it back to him."
Disclaimer: Absolutely not mine.
Notes: The title is the title of a song by The Gaslight Anthem, of whom I am very fond.
"You're waiting for a train," Cobb says.
She looks up from where she is sitting, perched on his suitcase, her dark eyes filled with that inquisitive look he hasn't quite yet told her he loves.
"You're waiting for a train," he says again. "A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can't be sure. But it doesn't matter -- because we'll be together."
Mal laughs, and tells him he's ridiculously sentimental, tells him that he's the one getting on an airplane, anyway, tells him he's silly and sweet and melodramatic.
(But she also reaches out with careful, warm fingers and catches his wrist, traces his pulse point. I'll miss you, she says, which is almost everything he'd wanted to know.)
It's a long, long summer spent on the wrong side of the Atlantic, but she meets him at the airport at the end of it, so that's alright.
It's Mal's father that teaches him, of course, who takes him aside after the final class before the winter holidays and says, "There's something I'd like to talk to you about."
When Cobb wakes up, shaking and exhilarated and terrified, he can still feel the shape of the world bending beneath his fingernails. He exhorts a cab to illegal speeds in his rush to get home, to get to her.
Her eyes widen when he bursts through the door, but they close when he presses her against their dented, student-budget kitchen counter and kisses her and kisses her.
Flushed and smiling, one hand on the back of his neck, she demands to know what's gotten into him.
I'm going to build you entire worlds, he wants to say, just so I can watch you explore them.
"You're waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away," he says instead, breathless, into the shell of her ear.
"I want to marry you," he tells her.
He's been trying to know how to say it for weeks, searching hopelessly for the right words. He knows there must be some perfect combination, some verbal sorcery that will guarantee yes, and he has chased it, waking and dreaming.
Only just then, when she rose from the couch and stretched in long, fluid lines, her hair in muddled disarray, he'd opened his mouth to ask her what she wanted for dinner and, helpless, said something else entirely.
She turns to him, blinking, her face lit by shock and what he thinks-hopes-thinks is joy.
Only instead of saying "yes," she says, "Why?"
He loses his footing entirely, scrambling for something, anything, and is so preoccupied with the immensity of his own disaster that it takes him a moment to see the gleam in her eyes. Of all the times to tease, he thinks, but he cannot even feign annoyance.
"Because I'm afraid of the day when the real world isn't good enough for me," he says, and she blinks, surprised, and takes a step closer and then another, until her hand can rest on his shoulder. "I've been afraid of that for ages. And I know that you'll always-- Nothing I can create, nothing I can dream, will ever be anything like you, and I--Mal, I've never--"
She is smiling at him. Or, more than smiling, really-- she is beaming at him, glowing at him, and somehow he can look at her face and see that her heart is in her throat. She is shaking her head, and he knows he doesn't have to explain, but he wants to.
"You're waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can't be sure. But it doesn't matter," he says. The hand on his shoulder has tightened to the point of near pain. "Because we'll be together."
"Yes," she says.
Babies are incomprehensibly, overpoweringly small. Mal is cradling Philippa with a muted sort of terror. Her eyes have never looked so warm; her arms are shaking.
Cobb is on the edge of his viciously uncomfortable chair, a hospital cliche he's far past noticing. There is a kind of quiet in the room he has never encountered before-- it is thick and soft and gentle and thoroughly exhausted.
"We're going to take care of you," Mal whispers suddenly. Her voice is hoarse, and scared, and one of the many mysteries Cobb will never unravel is how she manages to sound so sure of herself regardless.
"I'm going to teach you how to look out for yourself. How to look out for yourself and how to know when other people aren't, and how to make the best lasagna anyone's ever tasted."
She pauses and slants Cobb a sly, sideways glance, her mouth twisting up at one corner.
"What he's going to teach you, I've got no idea," she says, and Cobb feigns wounded indignation, one hand over his heart. She gentles her voice again to say, "Except there's something about trains."
So he leans in, and smiles, and says, "Philippa, you're waiting for a train."
"You're waiting for a train," Mal says.
Her eyes are sharp and wary, and it is terrifying to understand how much he loves her, even now; it makes something twist and ache behind his eyes.
"You're waiting for a train," she says again. "A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can't be sure. But it doesn't matter."
The expression that twists her lips has forgotten how to be a smile. She shakes her head.
"It doesn't matter," she says. "It doesn't matter."
Because we'll be together, he thinks, tries to say. He opens his mouth and finds he cannot make a sound.
"It doesn't matter," she tells him, her voice climbing relentlessly toward hysteria, "It doesn't matter!"
He wakes up alone, already fumbling for his totem, and cannot breathe for missing her.
Feedback is, as always, much appreciated. Also, in case anyone was wondering, Inception is eating my brain a bit. Goodness.