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Next Best (Inception, Arthur)


Owlinatree

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written for the prompt: “(but tbh allergic!arthur who struggles with it during an extracting job with amused/soft eames is 10/10 would recommend) (just throwing ideas out there) (i love my sons)” 

I might continue this?? but my brain has not been brain-ing as well as i’d like. enjoy 1.5kish of arthur being prickly and proper in the face of DUST *dramatic cue*

It’s very pretty, Eames notes, how the late sun gets caught up on each dust mote that crosses its path. He’s caught up in tracking various whorls and glimmers, so he almost doesn’t notice when Arthur stops very suddenly.

“Any reason you’ve decided to become a roadblock then, Arthur?”

“Hang on,” Arthur breathes, “m’gonna snee…ihXCHT-chuh!” It’s contained, cordoned off and sorted like any other problem to be dealt with. “Paid someone to clean this place every few years. Wasn’t due for another week, so I guess, the dust, I’ll—” He crumples into a quiet fit of three sneezes, with only the barest indication before and nothing to belie the event after.

“Are you sure you’re reacting to the dust already? We’re not even in the door yet.”

“It’s all,” Arthur shudders, “can’t you see it? Makes me itchy just thinking about it. Can’t fucking stand dust.”

“You,” Eames posits, “are going to be very fun to work with for the duration of this job, aren’t you?” Arthur blinks several times, finally narrowing his eyes at Eames and crossing the threshold, a soldier stepping into the field.

———

The job had originally taken place in the usual sort of Arthur-esque warehouse, spotless and well-lit, built finely, pert arse and—well. That may just have been Arthur himself. Eames has a bias, you know.

The point is that the initial location had met Arthur’s standards, which meant it was perfect, and the present one does not which means it is not perfect, so Arthur will act like it’s a shack sitting ten feet from the lip of an active volcano. The job will still go well, because it’s Arthur, but Eames is prepared for the bitching that will take place in private, or possibly in public, depending.

Their client is the head of design at a cutthroat tech company, whose graphics department is feuding with the IT department and in possession of enough money to keep the whole thing interesting. He’s desperate to find something to use for blackmail against the head of IT, whose life is so inescapably boring on paper that the options were either hacking his computer or mind heist. Enter, the rare circumstance where extraction is actually simpler than regular recon. The client’s company-issue phone had been bugged in the process, though, and the team’s location was subsequently shared. Some hotshot IT intern had posted their warehouse on Google Maps and Zillow—

“What’s that?” their chemist, Daniels, had asked.

“Tinder for real estate,” answered Edith, their architect. Eames high-fived her while Arthur pondered that, eventually allowing a reluctant nod of approval.

—labelled “sneaky hideout Mr. Bowers disappears to instead of working, like the IT department does every day to keep the company running.” So the intern is fired, Arthur gets their employer a new, identical phone, and he secures them a new warehouse, a few towns over—

“Why does it always have to be a warehouse?”

“Your average abandoned warehouse is not on google maps, is it, Mr. Eames?”

“This one seems to be.” Arthur makes a rude sort of hand motion that Eames doesn’t quite understand, but which is definitely impolite.

—so the entire affair is shifted over a hundred miles and pushed back a day. And then, this.

———

“Excuse me.” Arthur holds a finger up and takes an exact quarter-turn away from Daniels to direct a sneeze into his cupped hand. His eye twitches noticeably at the “bless you” offered in response; Eames can see Arthur deliberating whether to assure him that there’s no need or whether to ignore it altogether. He probably doesn’t even realize he acknowledged the sneeze with his “excuse me” in the first place.

Daniels wanders back to his table, and Arthur scoots his chair covertly closer to the window as he pulls it out to sit.

It’s the little things that always impress Eames about Arthur; today, it’s that he is doing every Arthurian thing he normally does, but all surreptitiously focused toward minimizing the dust-generated distraction. Arthur angles back in his chair as usual, pushing his head closer to the open window, normally neat desk now a fully wiped-down workspace.

Eames wonders at how Arthur just makes things happen, how the windows are all painted shut, and how he never saw Arthur cleaning anything, how he’s inexplicably fond of his man and he never noticed it happening until they fell into living side by side.

Eames levels a deliberate gaze at his partner, raising his eyebrows meaningfully. Arthur scrunches his face for a moment and shrugs expansively, as if to say ‘what can you do?’ He’s not on the defensive, and he takes a few exaggerated, slow, deep breaths, shoulders remaining loose, so that Eames knows his breathing is fine, that this is superficial and annoying and Arthur will probably be miserable, but it’s all manageable. Eames mouths ‘thank you’ to Arthur for placating him just this once, and Arthur rolls his eyes before palming his nose roughly and then reassuming his previous impassive mask.

———

“Are you not sneezing into your elbow?” This has been bugging Eames; Arthur always sneezes into his elbow, conscious of his mess but still satisfyingly unrestrained. Today he’s pinching off most sneezes, covering the rest with his hands, always with as little motion as possible. But Eames has seldom seen Arthur sneeze at work, so he thinks that this, too, might be a facet of the professional Arthur experience. Eames and his very empathetic eardrums prefer the style of their personal Arthur.

“My hands are less expensive to clean than this suit.”

Eames gapes, outraged just a little bit. “You yelled at me just a month ago for doing the same thing when I had a sinus infection! And we were at home!”

“I’m not contagious, and I’m still covering.” Arthur looks a tad annoyed, so Eames capitalizes on this, affecting his most infuriating smirk.

“Bit hypocritical today, aren’t we?” Eames leans over the table, looking steadily into Arthur’s red-rimmed eyes, which narrow in response.

“I will buy you chrysanthemums.”

Eames gasps in mock horror. “Think we know a bit too much about each other to engage in that sort of business, love.” Arthur “Mm”s in response, poking for a minute at the salad he’s ostensibly eating and then meeting Eames’ gaze again.

“I wouldn’t.” He says this solemnly, like he’s righting a grave wrong.

“Sorry?”

“I wouldn’t get you chrysanthemums, or daisies, or chamomile tea, or a cat, or anything just to make your life worse. I wouldn’t.”

Eames lets go of his smarmy expression. “I know. Darling, I know, and I didn’t think you would.”

“And I know you wouldn’t, either. I’m not—fuck, now? hhih-ISCH! Snff!” Arthur scrubs at his nose with the napkin from his salad, looking adorably irritated. Eames is suddenly overcome with affection, so he stretches out and kisses Arthur on each cheek, right where an embarrassed flush has risen.

“Hush. Go forth and be frighteningly competent, and also find a better way to cover your sneezes, because you’re going to dry your hands out Purell-ing them so often.” It’s true; Arthur has sanitized his hands after nearly every sneeze, negating the whole inconspicuous thing he’d been going for.

———

Arthur has procured a box of tissues, and pulls out a sheet every so often to worry at his nose, which has a soft sort of redness to it, like it would be warm to the touch. Eames tests this theory; it is, in fact warm, but the look Arthur sends him before falling into a desperate sneeze is absolutely sub-zero.

———

“You’re being understanding. Why’re you being understanding?” Arthur’s face is doing some sort of pointy thing that is probably supposed to look like suspicion, but which does nothing to hide his imminent sneeze.

“It’s not like I haven’t been there before,” Eames says, tapping the side of his own nose knowingly.

“Nnrgh.”

“Let it happen. It isn’t going to just go away, and you might as well minimize the spectacle.” Arthur’s expression wavers, just for an instant. “There’s a love.”

“M’not sneezing becaus-heh! you told mhh-me to.”

“‘Course not.”

“So that’s-iihNGXT! clear.”

“‘Course it is. Don’t stifle.” Arthur attempts to impale Eames with the force of his glare. The effect is rather ruined when he has to sneeze again right away, but Eames mimes being stabbed anyway. Arthur resurfaces looking rather pleased with himself.

“Can you two stop with your weird theatrical foreplay?” Edith hollers across the very open floor plan.

“Kindly fuck off, yeah?”

“Would if I could, Eames.”

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Ohhhh this is very good. Arthur suffering gamely through allergy-inducing circumstances, a bit grouchily, showing Eames he really can breathe (Eames is low-key so worried! does arthur have asthma?) is all just A+

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This is lovely!

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“You,” Eames posits, “are going to be very fun to work with for the duration of this job, aren’t you?”

LOL

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“Tinder for real estate,” answered Edith, their architect. Eames high-fived her while Arthur pondered that, eventually allowing a reluctant nod of approval.

Brilliant!

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Eames wonders at how Arthur just makes things happen, how the windows are all painted shut, and how he never saw Arthur cleaning anything, how he’s inexplicably fond of his man and he never noticed it happening until they fell into living side by side.

Awwww.

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Eames levels a deliberate gaze at his partner, raising his eyebrows meaningfully. Arthur scrunches his face for a moment and shrugs expansively, as if to say ‘what can you do?’ He’s not on the defensive, and he takes a few exaggerated, slow, deep breaths, shoulders remaining loose, so that Eames knows his breathing is fine, that this is superficial and annoying and Arthur will probably be miserable, but it’s all manageable. Eames mouths ‘thank you’ to Arthur for placating him just this once, and Arthur rolls his eyes before palming his nose roughly and then reassuming his previous impassive mask.

I love this.

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“Are you not sneezing into your elbow?” This has been bugging Eames; Arthur always sneezes into his elbow, conscious of his mess but still satisfyingly unrestrained. Today he’s pinching off most sneezes, covering the rest with his hands, always with as little motion as possible. But Eames has seldom seen Arthur sneeze at work, so he thinks that this, too, might be a facet of the professional Arthur experience.

I like this idea.

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“I will buy you chrysanthemums.”

Eames gasps in mock horror. “Think we know a bit too much about each other to engage in that sort of business, love.”

LOL. These two are so cute.

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Arthur has procured a box of tissues, and pulls out a sheet every so often to worry at his nose, which has a soft sort of redness to it, like it would be warm to the touch. Eames tests this theory; it is, in fact warm, but the look Arthur sends him before falling into a desperate sneeze is absolutely sub-zero.

Cute!

 

14 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“M’not sneezing becaus-heh! you told mhh-me to.”

“‘Course not.”

“So that’s-iihNGXT! clear.”

“‘Course it is. Don’t stifle.”

Freaking adorable.

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On 5/6/2018 at 11:30 AM, queenie said:

Ohhhh this is very good. Arthur suffering gamely through allergy-inducing circumstances, a bit grouchily, showing Eames he really can breathe (Eames is low-key so worried! does arthur have asthma?) is all just A+

thank you!! Eames is a low-key worrier! I don't think he normally would display his concern for anyone, but Arthur is special. As to your question, the version of Arthur I write is asthmatic (he's got it super controlled, because arthur is that one asshole who never forgets to take his meds at the same time every day, regardless of circumstance.) It's not canon, though!

On 5/7/2018 at 0:44 AM, AngelEyes said:

This is lovely!

As always, thank you!! your reviews make me so happy omg

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