jeankyzar: (Arthur)
[personal profile] jeankyzar
Title: Hello, My Name Is ARTHUR
Author: [livejournal.com profile] carekogunyel
Type: gen
Word Count: 1800
Characters/Pairings: unrequited!Eames/Arthur (technically)
Warnings: Light violence.
Summary: Arthur's unruly projections and reluctant trip to his high school reunion.
Author's Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] inception_kink for this prompt.



"You can't be serious."

"I wouldn't even bring it up, but... Arthur, this has to stop."

"I don't see how your ridiculous suggestion will help."

Cobb nervously eyed the agitated teenagers in letterman jackets and cheerleading uniforms gathered by the magazine rack of Ariadne's quaint café and bookstore. "I do know a little something about closure."

"Closure," Arthur repeated in a blank-faced monotone that still managed to convey his scorn. "Subjecting myself to more of the same will bring me closure?"

"You aren't 18 anymore."

"K-I-L-L-A-R-T-H-U-R!" The cheerleaders erupted into chant." K-I-L-L-A-R-T-H-U-R! Who do we want to kill? Arthur! Whooo!"

The boys formed a huddle, muttering excitedly and throwing hateful glances at Arthur. Arthur's gun hand twitched. He probably would have shot Cobb if he exhibited the slightest bit of amusement--Eames hadn't lasted five minutes the last time Arthur's fan club appeared--but Cobb just felt disturbed.

Arthur rubbed his temples. "Apparently, I am young at heart...or the subconscious."

Cobb sighed. "Ever since your mother forwarded that damn invitation... Look, Arthur, just go to the reunion, see all the beer guts, talk about their fascinating jobs in sales. You'll be fine and maybe we can get rid of them."

He eyed the boys, now arraying themselves in a line-up, all facing Cobb and Arthur.

"I have a better idea." Arthur produced an automatic weapon from behind the coffee pot.

"It'll only be temporary," Cobb reminded him.

"But satisfying." Arthur opened fire.

***

"I'm going with you."

"Like hell."

"You're going to take me."

Still not bothering to look at Eames, Arthur repeated, "Like hell."

"Do you want to go alone?" Arthur looked a mite queasy. "Then who will you take?"

Eames followed the progress of Arthur's thoughts. The awkwardness of taking Ariadne--their split was friendly, but still recent--or one of their colleagues, each more colorful than the last or, god forbid, Cobb. The fact that Eames was the safest option really said something about their line of work. Arthur opened his mouth, but he stopped, closed his mouth for a moment, then grudgingly said, "Fine, but if you tell anyone about how we met, I will kill you."

"Fair enough." It was a rather embarrassing story...for Arthur.

***

"Arthur."

"Arthur...?"

"Just. Arthur."

The unfortunate greeter looked down, away from Arthur's implacable gaze, and wrote "ARTHUR" on a name tag in an awkward silence. As she held the name tag out to him, her face suddenly brightened. "I remember! Arthur..."

Arthur snatched the name tag from her hand. "Yes. Pleasure to see you again, Molly. I hope you enjoy your evening."

Eames used the distraction to write his own name, gave Molly a cheerful salute and followed after Arthur's chilly wake.

***

"I can't believe I don't remember you. We had class together?"

"I was your lab partner."

"Oh. Ooooh. You were a bit thinner, right? And a bit shorter. And maybe a bit..."

"Right. Sure." Arthur's eyes cut to Eames and Eames belatedly realized he should tone down his glee. Arthur was armed, after all. "That was me."

"Well," the former lab partner said, "you grew up nice."

Two other female heads (and one male) bobbed in stunned agreement. Arthur threw Eames another glare. Eames had decided he could coax the most entertainment from the evening by insisting he was not Arthur's date, simply a coworker and friend.

Three types of people approached Arthur's defensive position, a.k.a. their corner table. Those who never noticed Arthur's existence in high school, the few who had been friendly with him, and those that made Arthur's shoulders tense and his lips thin (all involved pretended nothing happened between them in school).

The friendlier ones wanted to catch up, but the others wanted to flirt or network with the handsome, well-dressed, self-assured man Arthur had become. Arthur politely declined offers to dance, felt out potential contacts and found none worth keeping (though only Eames could read the lack of interest in Arthur's polite response), and told old friends the PG version of his life.

At 10:45, Eames excused himself to set his secret plan in motion. As well as charming Arthur's schoolmates, he had spent the evening identifying the people who appeared in Arthur's subconscious with the most frequency and the most clarity. He had no problem with the changes caused by aging. Studying faces was part of his job.

Eames slid through the crowd, lifting wallets, memorizing addresses, relieving them of a few bills and tucking the wallets back into place. As he sidled up to the bar, right up against his last mark, he puzzled over his motives. He could admit he was attracted to Arthur. Eames wouldn't let a silly thing like gender narrow his options. But Eames was attracted to a lot of people and found many of them to be more pleasurable company. He wouldn't accept an invitation to their high school reunion, though, much less invite himself. But Arthur...

No one else was quite like Arthur.

And if Eames owed anyone, it was Arthur--if Eames was ever foolish enough to acknowledge a debt to anyone, even in his own mind.

Eames shook the thoughts off, tucked the last wallet back into place and found a cozy nook to scribble the addresses down. He had highly entertaining plans for the names on the list. He wanted to brush up on some of his cons. That was all the reason he needed.

He turned back to the table where he left Arthur to find him missing. A quick scan of the room and he caught sight of Arthur's back as the exit door was closing behind him. A man caught the door and motioned for two others to follow him. Eames recognized the men. He quickened his pace, but was delayed as a woman cut in front of him, unhurriedly following the men.

***

"Are you going to answer that?"

"Could be important."

"You're avoiding someone, aren't you?"

Ignoring the inane babble, Arthur waited for the pattern to be completed. Three rings, one ring, three rings. Caller ID: Cobb. Code: emergency. Arthur was well-known for letting any other call go to voicemail. With a sharp "pardon me", he stood and headed for the banquet hall exit, not bothering to find Eames. He'd probably have to grab his wandering coworker and leave right after the call anyway.

A shoulder banged roughly against his. Arthur didn't budge, knocking the bulkier man off stride.

"Watch where you're going, runt!"

"Tim Lyder," Arthur identified, tonelessly, before turning back towards the door.

A large hand grabbed his shoulder. "No, you don't. I saw what you were doing back there."

Arthur cocked an eyebrow.

"Trying to get with my girl, just like back in high school."

Arthur's eyes narrowed in annoyed exasperation. In high school, he would have been afraid. Tim wasn't much to deal with alone, but Tim was never alone. Now, though, before he was even consciously aware of it, Arthur had identified everyone in the vicinity and knew exactly how to get past anyone between him and the door.

"I saw you drooling on her. You might be all dressed up like you're something, but you're still a pathetic little piece of shit," Tim ranted. Arthur noted the words dispassionately, his attention split between wondering what Cobb had called about and the precise application of violence that would incapacitate Tim.

Arthur jerked his shoulder away from Tim's hand. "I don't know or care who you're talking about, but I've been at the same table all evening. If she was at my table, she came to me." He shrugged. "Take it up with her. I have a call to make."

Arthur slammed through the door with more force than necessary, but by the time his call connected, the incident was all but forgotten.

Cobb greeted him with, "Mitchell Romali offered a reward for our heads."

"I thought that business was settled." He began to make plans.

"I thought so too. I'll get it settled. Just watch your back."

Arthur felt rather bereft. "Cobb, I can deal with this."

"You're busy. Besides, Muiko owes us for the job in Hong Kong. He has the pull to deal with Romali. I'm safer here; you're safer there. Let's stay put."

Arthur's dreams of getting out of the brunch on Saturday went up in smoke. "Fine. Call me if the situation changes."

"I will."

As Arthur slipped the phone back into his jacket, he heard the scuff of shoes behind him, trying to be quiet. He spun, took a fraction of a second to identify not-Eames, then his fist connected with the closest, stunned face. The man dropped. Arthur's other fist caught the next man in the gut. A third man reached for him. Arthur grabbed his hand and twisted, kicking the man's knees out from under him as he went with the twist. Arthur had his gun at the back of the man's head before the information he'd seen caught up to his instincts.

***

"Tim?"

"Tim."

"Tim, is that...? Oh, god."

The woman in front of Eames came to a dead stop, her breath harsh with fear. Arthur's growled echo of her inquiry, underlying her quiet exclamation, still rang in Eames's ears.

Everyone was frozen in place. One on the ground, a hand cupping his jaw. One leaning against the wall, arm loosely wrapped around his middle. And one at Arthur's not-so-tender mercy. The woman looked like she just found out the boogeyman was real.

He didn't blame her. Arthur looked downright murderous.

"Arthur, darling, let's take our leave now, shall we?" he offered, lightly.

The anger drained from Arthur's face as he slowly released his captive and slid the gun back into his holster. He sent an irritated look in Eames's direction. Eames's heart actually picked up speed before he realized Arthur was annoyed with himself.

Bloody hell, Eames grumbled to himself. It's just Arthur.

"Good idea, Mr. Eames."

As if that were permission, Arthur's classmates scrambled back through the banquet hall door. Tim reached the door first, rushing through without a backward glance.

***

"I can't believe after all that and this is still happening."

"They do look a little less cocky."

"And better armed."

"And fatter," Ariadne concluded helpfully. Cobb glowered at her.

Arthur ignored them both. There were fewer of the teenaged projections now. The ones Arthur had had a real, if strained, conversation with at the reunion no longer bothered him and offing the remainder had almost become fun.

Eames waited for them topside with a stack of files and a truly evil gleam in his eyes. He handed Arthur the files with a wink and sauntered off.

The top file had the name "Tim Lyder" on the tab in Eames's surprisingly elegant handwriting. Curious, Arthur opened the file.

Arthur's unwanted projections were never seen again.


Date: 2012-08-01 07:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] labseraph.livejournal.com
So cute!

Thanks for sharing!

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