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21 September 2010 @ 11:35 pm
[INCEPTION] no such thing as your side of the bed, PG-13, Arthur/Eames  
Really this fic should be called THE ONE WHERE ARTHUR IS A PAPER DOLL BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE ANYMORE, ARGH. I am very very conflicted about this piece (some bits I love, some bits I verily do not) but because I need to feel like I've been producing something -- anything -- I'm posting this. So I will be motivated fo finish my help_pakistan fic! Which is currently at ~4300 words and still going. Um, yeah, not going to be cross-posting this. Feel free to ignore! Thanks to intomorning for her earlier insight and feedback, but please do not at all hold her responsible for anything you are iffy about in this fic. That is all on me.

no such thing as your side of the bed
Inception, Arthur/Eames (very minor Arthur/OFC, Arthur/Mal, Arthur/Dom), PG-13, 1860 words
The one where Arthur goes to sleep and wakes up a lot, but everything changes in between.

Arthur used to go to sleep beside a girl named Elisabeth, who spoke French and Italian and wrote scraps of poetry and daily musings in little journals. He met her in university, back when he was young and didn’t know what he wanted out of his life, but didn’t have to. His future was a canvas he could cover with dreams that made no sense, dreams he could change at will. “A doctor,” his mother pleaded; a musician, he thought sometimes to himself. “A travel journalist,” said Elisabeth breathlessly, who had studied abroad in Rome last year.

Elisabeth couldn't cook but she loved food, hated coffee despite herself, painted her nails and said all the answers to Jeopardy! out loud, making faces when she guessed wrong. She liked it when he kissed her neck, liked to hook a foot high in the small of his back. She collected postcards and always forgot to recycle her bottles and Arthur used to think he was a little in love with her, but mostly he liked to kiss her neck and feel her arch, heels digging into him.

If he were honest with himself -- and Arthur never was, not when he was young and reckless and had the luxury of lying to himself -- he mostly liked Elisabeth because he liked having someone to hold, going to sleep next to someone and waking up to a tumble of hair and a curve of bare shoulder.

But things change because that's how life goes, unapologetic as it unrolls the future with little fanfare. They graduate and they kiss for the camera and they separate. Elisabeth leaves for Florence with her camera and Arthur leaves for Brussels to study art. They exchange emails for two months and, once, he receives a postcard from her, a tacky touristy photo of the Cathedral, with scribbles on the back about how much she loves Florence. Arthur tucks the postcard between the pages of his book on René Magritte and forgets to write back. The messages slowly die off and for five months, Arthur’s dreams are hazy around the edges, incoherent half-rememberings of soft moans and the burn of bare skin.

In Brussels, Arthur meets a girl named Mallorie, whose dark hair is nothing like Elisabeth's golden curls, who kisses him once, slow and sure. She tastes like nothing familiar, as exciting as this foreign country he’s still adjusting to, searching for the inner balance that keeps him from careening into an unpredictable future. Mal throws him further off-kilter, taking him to her tiny apartment and meeting him for coffee, talking about her music to him in French and seducing him with her smile, dark and warm like chocolate.

She says his name like a sigh and he falls in love with her, the way her hands move over the piano, the way joy lights her eyes when she laughs. He doesn't sleep with her, doesn't learn the cradle of her hips or the silk of her thigh, doesn't even kiss her more than that one time, but Arthur loves her more than he ever loved Elisabeth. He dreams of her, of walking through endless garden mazes and reading her poetry and her hands stroking his hair, murmuring things like “wait” and “it’s all right”. He wakes up alone, but he never feels lonely. Mal is like a mother, an older sister, an idol Arthur worships at the feet of, a hundred thousand blessings to know she loves him in return, obvious in every sigh of his name. Arthur.

Her fingers skim his cheek, his lips. “Arthur,” she says, “come to Paris with me.”

Arthur meets Dominic in Paris and stumbles upon dream-sharing and world-building, feeling like a discoverer of a New World with an endless expanse of possibilities at his feet. Where once his future seemed unmapped, unplanned, in a way that resembled freedom, now Arthur understands what freedom really means.

“I’ve been studying dream-sharing for five years,” Dom says, almost sheepish like it’s embarrassing to own up to something so incredible. “I’ve been working with Professor Miles. Mal's father.”

Mal, who introduces him to Dominic with one of her knowing smiles. Who hums and flutters over her piano while Arthur and Dom sit in her father’s house and debate philosophy, arguing existentialism and moral codes and whether empiricism had any application within a dream. Arthur begins to study architecture with a new critical eye and experiments with an upheaval of physics in his dreams. He learns what it means to be intimate in a way that surpasses his physical body, an undeniable warm flush of satisfaction when Dom turns impressed eyes on him.

They don't kiss. They barely even touch, aside from the way their gazes collide and lock, searing heat up Arthur's spine. Arthur goes to sleep alone. Dom, hand on Mal's elbow, skin tanned against her paleness and lips grazing her ear, doesn't.

Then things change again, sudden but inexorable, like being hurtled off a cliff. Arthur didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Dom's gaze turns haunted, a new weight in his eyes when he looks at Philippa and James. The weight only grows when he can no longer see them, dark eyes ringed with dark circles as he forgets how to sleep while Arthur learns to buttress him with details and plans. They slide into the work like they have no other choice, friendly debates left behind over cold coffee cups, every argument now edged with something more desperate, because everything is a risk. Everything is different.

They work all hours of the day, whenever is convenient to the mark's schedule. They dream when they have to, leaving their waking hours to pore over their plans, a blurred reality of investigation and compartmentalization. Arthur buttons himself up tight, barricading himself from the changes in the world behind bespoke suits and silk ties. He doesn't sleep alone anymore; these days, he falls asleep attached to a machine and at least two other people. He wakes up to them, two blinks to alertness, because you can't afford to remember what sleepy Sunday mornings were like in this line of work.

Sleep doesn’t mean what it used to: work, now, rather than rest. Dreaming is more wearing than being awake. Going to sleep with someone beside you, waking with someone beside you doesn’t hold the same significance it once did.

Everything is different.

In Vancouver, Arthur meets Eames for the first time. He gets under Arthur's skin without even trying and leaves Arthur unsettled and uncomfortable. He snaps back, criticizes Eames's work, and walks away from the near-failure of a job with a bad impression. Little mistakes, careless mistakes - none of them are acceptable, Arthur tells himself, banishing the part of him that points out that no one is perfect. They run in a risky profession: perfection is necessary.

Still, for all of his faults, Eames is nothing if not quick on the uptake. He learns too fast that he can make Arthur bristle, make Arthur flush, make Arthur laugh, even, involuntarily and guiltily. Arthur can’t even smile at Eames without knowing in the back of his mind why it’s such a terrible idea, but still Eames plays his advantage like an ace up his sleeve, every excuse to get closer to Arthur and to an end Arthur can’t allow.

Yet Arthur learns, almost against his will, that Eames hates Darjeeling but loves Earl Grey, takes his coffee with two creams and one sugar, thinks that shoes say a lot about a person. He learns that Eames's wristwatch is cheap and bought from a black market in Thailand, knows that the pocketwatch Eames keeps tucked close by is a gift from his father, old and polished silver. He learns that Eames is as well-versed in pop culture -- “got to be, love” -- as he is in moneyed pursuits -- “yachting’s not all it’s cracked up to be, really”. He doesn’t learn the taste of Eames's jaw, soft where it curves into his neck, or the weight of Eames's hips pinning him down, or the whiskey sour on Eames's tongue against Arthur’s. Arthur dreams these things, creates them in his imagination, and pretends he knows what it might be like to wake up with an arm slung heavy over his waist.

He tries not to let it show, but his mind betrays him even if his body heeds his every demand to turn away, take a step back, not look, not see, not want. Wanting is sublevel thing, beneath his conscious will, a marriage of curiosity and wistfulness that gives Arthur away once they're asleep. His projections stare, which is par for the course, but that is all they do: long, piercing stares -- evaluating; damning. Eames doesn't die, and Arthur doesn’t kill him, and together they wait for time to tick to an end as music swells around them. Arthur wakes up next to Eames, who looks at him like he wants to say something, ask something -- know everything.

Arthur says no. Eames takes his hand, holds him there.

"You don't have to go to sleep alone, Arthur," he says and Arthur laughs at him.

"I don't." He looks pointedly at their surroundings, at the PASIV device on the floor between them. At Eames, beside him. Arthur is not alone.

Eames weighs his words for a moment and then: "You don't have to wake up alone either."

Arthur wants to say he doesn't, Eames is there, Dom will be there. In the future, others will be there. In the past, others have been there. Elisabeth was there, golden soft and as normal as Arthur's life has ever been, making beautiful noises that he loved more than he loved her. Mal was there, soft smiles and dark romance, someone he'd loved and let go twice over. Mal, lovely; Mal, lost.

Everything is different.

Arthur pulls his hand away from Eames and stands, straightening his waistcoat. "I do," he says. "I have to wake up."

Things change. Things don’t carry the same meaning they used to. Arthur is no longer the boy who drifts into wakefulness still hazy and disoriented; he no longer has necks to kiss and bare shoulders to greet his morning. Arthur shares dreams for a living now. He never sleeps or wakes alone anymore.

Still, he has to wake. That is a truth he can’t tuck away, a secret left to be forgotten. Eames would keep him asleep forever, trapped in a surreal version of reality.

"I think I should be flattered," Eames says, dry, but his expression is unreadable. “Too good to be true.” It’s a mockery.

Arthur turns away and Eames calls out to his back, "You're in the wrong line of work if you're afraid of dreaming, Arthur." But he doesn't know about Mal, who never woke up. He doesn't know Arthur, who traded in the past for the present. It's not Eames that Arthur doesn't trust; he's not the one who might want to dream forever. Hand clenched around his die, Arthur walks away.

Tonight, he will go to sleep alone.


Tomorrow everything might change again.


Started: 2010.09.18 | Finished: 2010.09.21
Current Mood: discontent
mr. presidentherocountry on September 22nd, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {kpop} 희철: sadfacemeiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
But there are no sandwich-making scenes in this fic. THIS IS PRACTICALLY GLEEFUL IN COMPARISON.

Fucking sandwich-making scene. One day I'll make it past that.
(no subject) - herocountry on September 22nd, 2010 04:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - herocountry on September 22nd, 2010 04:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - papered on September 22nd, 2010 04:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - papered on September 22nd, 2010 04:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - regicidaldwarf on September 22nd, 2010 09:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meiface on September 22nd, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - herocountry on September 22nd, 2010 04:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
没有你日子很黑白papered on September 22nd, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
why do you break my heart mei ;___;

asdkjsadkj arthur.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {misc} skandar: D:meiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
Excuse me? Can we talk about what you just posted? Pot, kettle. :|
(no subject) - papered on September 22nd, 2010 04:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meiface on September 22nd, 2010 04:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - papered on September 22nd, 2010 04:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
丁零当啷 ♪suxing on September 22nd, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
this is so pretty and quietly sad :( not like... oppressive heart-shredding angst or anything, but a more subtle kind of hurt. and oh arthur bb, why are you like this. ;~;

your writing may not be perfect or effortless or what-have-you, but is still one of my favorites. and i don't care if you think i'm biased, it's truuuuuuuuuuuue~~ okay. ♥
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} the forgermeiface on September 22nd, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
you are super biased, darling, but I love you! ♥ It is so strange to me that I can only ever write from Arthur's POV and yet...I am always on Eames's side more. :( I am tired of Arthur's angst! I want happiness and Eames!
enlightenedaprettyeternity on September 22nd, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
*comes out of lurkdom once more*
(lovingly) stfu you can write and this is heart-breaking and beautiful.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/eames: ♥meiface on September 23rd, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
You are terribly kind. :( I'm glad you enjoyed this! Hopefully it will lead to more writing I am happier with!
rara rawr!: Inception {this is a kick}black_goose on September 22nd, 2010 09:07 am (UTC)
me, on waking up to this: YEAHHHHHHHHH :DDDDD
me, on reading this: DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:

...now I'm scared to read Liz's.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/eames: fooling aroundmeiface on September 23rd, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
SORRY! Liz actually got them together though! So there is that. :)
Remula Wazokanaremula on September 22nd, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)
I really like the feel of this -- it's just so quiet and subtle and heartbreaking.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your headmeiface on September 23rd, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
It was going to be less heartbreaking originally, but this fought me every inch of the way. I'm glad you still like it though!
Chelsea: Joanheartstencil on September 23rd, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. This was great. I especially loved this line: "Going to sleep with someone beside you, waking with someone beside you doesn’t hold the same significance it once did." *Ruminates on this line*
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/ariadne: dreamsmeiface on September 23rd, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
Isn't it interesting how dreamsharing would strip that kind of intimacy away and provide new forms? Now it's almost less about physical and more about the mental -- or maybe it actually enhances the physical because mental = dreamsharhing = work. WHO KNOWS.
(Deleted comment)
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/eames: ♥meiface on September 24th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
ahhh I hope it helped you sleep? Lack of sleep is a horrifically sad thing. And you are too kind but thank you!
cobweb_diamondcobweb_diamond on September 24th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
MAL MAL MAL. why so lovely.

and why do you want me to be sad? i loved it.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your headmeiface on September 24th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
I love how fandom has made Mal so much more than the movie made her! Thank you, that one line of Arthur giving us the road to make her into so much loveliness. :D

Do not be sad! Be happy!
Ifrit.weatherfront on September 24th, 2010 07:19 am (UTC)
God, this is so beautiful (and I am so late---)

-----I think what I want to hold on to is tomorrow. Because things have always changed for Arthur in sleep, and things will continue to change in sleep-- and it's time that things changed for the better (and I am so optimistic).

♥ Make them happy.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} dream teammeiface on September 24th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)

The problem with trying to reply to comments in the morning is that I'm too busy thinking about what I should eat for breakfast.

I would like to be optimistic for them too! I cannot bear the angst in this fandom. :(
&helena;uminohikari on September 24th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
asdfjkl; This was lovely! I really liked the wistful tone.. It's not really sad as you read it, but when you think about it, it actually is!


Dreaming are more wearing than being awake.
I'm really confused by this sentence?

Eames plays his advantage like an ace up his sleep</i? sleeve, not sleep
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/ariadne: dreamsmeiface on September 24th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
UGH EVERYONE SHOULD POINT OUT THESE ERRORS haha tyty. It is supposed to be "dreaming is more wearing than being awake". Why on earth I wrote "are" I'm not sure.

In conclusion, writing is hard! orz
horse justice: on pointliketheroad on September 25th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
OH GOD. This was painfully gorgeous. Wow.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} jgl: fuck yeahmeiface on September 25th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
akdfh thank you!
be patient I am getting to the pointairgiodslv on September 28th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic, brilliant work.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your headmeiface on September 28th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
Omg thank you. :( I really wanted to flesh it out into something longer but it was just not happening. I'm glad you enjoyed what there was!
Meamesphotoclerk on October 7th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
That was beautiful. <3 and sad. I loved it.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your headmeiface on October 7th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
goodbye2theskygoodbye2thesky on December 17th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
I have no words, seriously. It's absolutely gorgeous, Mei. I think I'm still shell shocked at the moment, but I'm going to go look for the Kleenex box now.

Again, simply gorgeous, dear.
it's weird to have a vibrating cat on your head: {inc} arthur/eames: go to sleepmeiface on December 19th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU LOVE, IT MEANS A LOT. Gosh it's been so long since I've even looked at my Inception fic, but I am glad they apparently hold up to late readings? :D