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[[ rocks fall. everyone dies ]]


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all my bridges have been burnt
icon by dandelion, art by ursula vernon
_regarde
Title: all my bridges have been burnt
Author: hikaru
Fandom: Inception
Pairing/characters: Arthur/Eames, Eames/OMC, Eames/OFC
Rating: Adult
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Prompt:  Five times Eames wished he was in love, and one that he actually was.
Warnings: Largely non-graphic depiction of sex between a 15 year old and an 18 year old.
Notes: For inception_kink. Title is from Mumford & Sons' "Roll Away Your Stone".



Claudine.
She’s his first, and he’s fallen for her, hard and fast. She’s eighteen, blonde and gorgeous and trouble from head to toe. She smokes too much, drives too fast, curses like a sailor. He only had eyes for her from the first moment he saw her. Claudine is perfect for him, he thinks, and he’s sure that he’s about died and gone to heaven when she stops teasing him about how young he is and starts teasing him in other, more delicious (deviant, desirable) ways. He’s fifteen and convinced that he’s all-powerful, that they will be together forever, because they’re perfect, and that’s about all the rational thought he can muster as she sinks down onto him, hands spread flat against his chest.

He groans lowly and tries to count to one hundred, to think of dead kittens, his grandmother, the Queen naked, anything to avoid focusing on the way her hips are circling, the way she feels so tight and warm and wet around him, with her eyes closed and head tossed back, hair spilling down over her bare shoulders. It occurs to him just about fifteen seconds too late that he probably shouldn’t have lied to her, probably shouldn’t have said that he’s done this lots of times, because eventually, even mentally replacing Claudine with the Queen can’t stop him from wildly bucking up against her, coming with a groan, half pleasure and half shame.

He tells himself that he shouldn’t be surprised at her disappointment, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling a little heartbroken whenever he sees her the next week, kissing another boy from down the street.

Steven.
He should love Steven. Being with Steven so far has been unlike any relationship that Eames has had before. Granted, most of his previous relationships have been more of the fuck-and-run variety rather than the actually-get-to-know-each-other type. Steven is sweet and caring and can drink Eames under the table and, most importantly, doesn’t ask any questions.

The last bloke, Timothy, was full of questions. How’d you get that nice car, Richard, when you don’t even work? Why’re you off to the airport again, Richard? Why did I find three passports in three different names in your suitcase, Richard? He was great in bed and had a wicked mouth, but Eames got tired of lying. But, see, maybe that was the thing. Timothy was too curious, and if they stayed together, it probably would have gotten them both killed. But Steven apparently doesn’t give a shit about Eames’s strange habits, his coming and going, his penchant for returning from a business trip and immediately spending a ridiculous amount of money on something totally unnecessary.

Eames can’t explain why, but he wants Steven to be curious. He doesn’t want to give the man straight answers, of course, but he wants Steven to ask him why. Eames leaves passports out in the open: an American one for David Anderson, an Australian one for Thomas Ellis, a Bulgarian one for Aleksandar Markhov. Steven finds them and simply arranges them in a neat pile on Eames’ side of the bed. Eames doesn’t bother to conceal his handgun when he’s home. Steven reminds Eames that he’s not even supposed to have one, strictly speaking. Eames buys Maserati after a job for the Colombian government. Steven just nods and asks if Eames would ever consider buying a Bugatti with all of that money. (He wouldn’t; he wouldn’t want to live in constant fear of crashing the most expensive car in the world, or of being known as the bloke who shot a couple of wanna-be carjackers in the head. The car wasn’t worth the notoriety.)

Eames leaves London to take a job in Canada for lasts four weeks. When he comes back, Steven’s moved out, and Eames doesn’t bother to try to find out why.

Helen.
That’s his ring that she’s wearing on her finger, and she’s talking about dresses and china patterns and setting a time to go and meet with the vicar, and he should be listening, but all he’s thinking about is the fact that he’s going to be leaving in three days for a job in Burma of all places, and she doesn’t even know that he’s going. (Eames still has no idea how he’s getting to fucking Burma, or why he’s even going in the first place, but Cobb assured him that everything will work out fine, and Cobb is never wrong.)

He’s tempted to not even come back from Burma. No better way to break an ill-advised engagement than by running off to third-world countries. His poor dead mother would be spinning in her grave at the very idea of it.

“Helen,” he starts, leaning forward in his chair, elbows planted on his knees. She doesn’t hear him; she’s too busy flipping through bridal magazines, in search of the perfect three-tiered cake to show to the bakery. “Helen, love,” he says, a little more forcefully as he reaches out and plants one hand over top of the magazine.

“What is it, Alex?” she asks gently, resting her hand on top of his. The diamond glints underneath the light and it occurs to him that she doesn’t even know his real name, and that she never will.

“I’ve something I need to tell you,” he says softly. He’s going to break her heart, but his hardly even aches.

Arthur, at first.
He’s bloody beautiful, the point man with the West Point education and astounding ability to maintain a perpetual scowl whenever Eames is in the room. He’s everything that Eames ever wanted in a man: brilliant, efficient, gorgeous, deadly. There’s something a bit of a turn on about knowing that the man you’re bedding could kill you with his bare hands.

But he isn’t bedding Arthur, because Arthur is too busy being irritated with Eames’ very existence and Eames is too busy wishing that things were different.

Cobb didn’t even want Eames and Arthur working the same job, but they needed a forger and there’s no getting around the fact that Eames is the best. Eames and Arthur have crossed paths before, working with other extractors, and things never ended well. They argued over technique and tactic, and it usually ended with Eames stepping just a bit too far over the line and Arthur storming out. Oh, Arthur would always come back to finish the job, he was far too responsible to abandon a mission. But sometimes, when the job was done and they wanted to kick up to surface before the timer ran out, Arthur looked just a bit too eager to put a bullet between Eames’ eyes.

With Cobb, both men are on their best behavior, although that’s debatable, with Eames pushing too hard and too fast and Arthur’s condescension cutting like a knife.

“Feisty,” Eames says, arms folded over his chest as he watches Arthur, who’d just told Eames exactly how miserable he was making this job.

“Go to hell,” Arthur mutters, snapping his folder shut, jamming it back into his messenger bag. “I’m out of here.”

“Love you too, darling,” Eames calls after him, sly smile sliding across his face. He tips back in his chair, kicking his feet up onto the desk as he watches Arthur go, and muses that it’s so easy to say those words when he doesn’t actually mean them.

Pranidhi.
He’s been in Mumbai for eight months. A job went bad and he ran, and Mumbai was where he wound up. It’s the longest he’s stayed in one place for years and years, and he’s surprised every day that he doesn’t feel that crushing weight of suffocation he usually gets when he’s been in one place for too long. Eames supposes that it helps that he can count on one hand the number of people who know how to find him here. He can work as he pleases, but he doesn’t need the money and instead spends most of his time gambling and sightseeing and seeking out new connections to exploit in the future.

Pranidhi helps, too. He’s not even supposed to be spending time with Pranidhi. Her family hates him, the rich white Brit who drinks too much and smokes too much, who is corrupting their little girl.

But he’s not corrupting Pranidhi, and she’s hardly a little girl. She’s nearly as old as he is, and he’s not even sleeping with her, anyway. One could even argue that he’s wooing her the good old fashioned way. Eames doesn’t even know if that’s what he’s doing, but he finds himself taking walks with her in her family’s garden, telling her stories about his childhood, listening to her talk about going to university in London, discovering all of the places they’d both loved.

He loves her small, soft hand in his; he loves the way she teases his pathetic attempts at learning Marathi; he loves the fact that she’s not nearly as innocent as she seems. It’s the strangest relationship he’s ever had, and he spends an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why. The realization wakes him in the middle of the night, and he bolts straight up in bed as he finally gets it: what they have isn’t a relationship, he doesn’t love her, and he won’t ever love her.

Eames loves the idea of her, Eames loves that she represents a life that he can never have, a life that he gave up when he took up petty thievery on the damp streets of London as a boy. Pranidhi deserves better. She deserves a man whose true name she can know, a man who doesn’t make a mockery of justice and science and honesty. She doesn’t deserve a con man who gets a rush out of being shot in the head just to wake up.

At least with Pranidhi, he has the decency to tell her that he’s leaving before he heads to the airport. Eames is flying standby today. He doesn’t care where he lands; he just needs to get the hell out of Mumbai.

Arthur, at last.
The phone rings, and Eames is tempted not to answer it until he realizes that he can count on one hand how many people know where he is at the moment, so he thinks that perhaps it’s important.

“Turn on the news,” the voice at the other end says, firm and no-nonsense as always.

“Well, hello to you, too, Arthur,” Eames says, suppressing a laugh as he reaches for the remote. He flips to one of the horrendous 24-hour news channels that the Americans love so much. Arthur, he knows, is waiting patiently on the other end of the phone.

“Up next,” the chirpy reporter says, “Robert Fischer, son and heir of Maurice Fischer, has announced plans to break up his father’s empire by the first of the year.” The screen switches to footage of Fischer, standing at a podium, addressing an audience. The reporter talks over the footage, but Eames wants her to be quiet, wants to hear Fischer’s own words, to know it’s true and real. “Fischer has begun by selling off the energy conglomerate’s subsidiary in Australia, and is currently in negotiations with buyers for subsidiaries in China, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia.”

Eames puts the television on mute; he’s heard enough. “Well, fuck me,” he says, and is surprised when Arthur’s laughter joins his own on the other end of the phone.

“It really did work,” Arthur says when he’s stopped laughing.

“It really was real,” Eames counters, and that almost means more to him than the fact that the inception really did take.

“Mm.” Eames can’t see it, but he can practically feel Arthur nodding his head in agreement.

“I think this calls for a celebratory dinner,” Eames declares, scooting back to stretch out on the plush hotel bed. Arthur doesn’t respond. “Celebratory drinks at the bar?” Arthur makes a noncommittal noise. “Celebratory bloody Starbucks? Come on, work with me here, Arthur.”

“I have plans,” Arthur says, and Eames can’t help but let a frown flicker across his face. If Arthur were there in front of him, it would probably be a full on pout.

“Plans better than celebrating the world’s first successful inception with me?”

“Marginally,” Arthur responds, and Eames can hear ambient noise in the background. Half of his mind concentrates on trying to determine where Arthur is; the other half concentrates on coming up with witty retorts.

“I suppose ‘marginally’ is better than ‘would rather be dead’,” Eames concedes. “Well, you know where to find me if your grand plans go awry.”

Arthur laughs quietly, and Eames smiles despite himself. “You know me better than that. My plans never go awry.” Eames could point out the militarization of Fischer’s subconscious, but he’s not feeling up to being such a bastard at the moment. “Have a good night, Mr. Eames,” Arthur says, and before Eames can respond, the other man’s already hung up.

“I guess I’ll just celebrate by myself, then,” Eames says aloud to himself before dialing room service.

Half an hour later, there’s a knock at the door, and it’s about goddamn time, because Eames had been getting impatient, waiting for room service to bring him his overpriced and likely mediocre food. He checks the peephole before opening the door and is somewhat surprised to see Arthur there, champagne in hand. It’s not room service, but he won’t complain.

“I thought you had better plans,” he says as he opens the door, ushering Arthur in.

“Marginally,” Arthur says, stepping out of his shoes and leaving them at the bottom of the closet. He walks into the room as if it was his all along, heading straight for two of the unused glasses sitting on the dresser.

“Your marginally better plans fell through?” Eames asks as he relocks the door, lifting up the glasses for Arthur to fill with champagne.

“I came up with a better idea,” he says simply, carefully opening the bottle of champagne and filling their glasses. (Eames is certain that Arthur is the only person on earth who wouldn’t get any pleasure out of creating a spray of champagne whilst opening the bottle.)

“Care to enlighten me?” Eames asks. Arthur clinks their glasses together, then takes a drink.

“You already know,” Arthur says, meeting Eames’ eyes for just a split second before setting the glass down. Better to be rid of it now, before Eames knocks it from his hand in a rush. (That happened once, in a hotel in Dubai; Arthur only had a few moments to be bitter about the red wine destroying his crisp white shirt before Eames utterly distracted him.)

“Should I, now?” Eames can’t help but look smug as he reaches out, fingers curling around the other man’s two hundred dollar tie to pull him closer. (Arthur will be irritated about that the next day when he realizes that the tie is infinitesimally stretched out of shape; to make up for it, Eames will send him a whole box of two hundred dollar ties and all will be forgiven.)

“Yes,” Arthur says before leaning forward, closing the gap between them and pressing his lips to the other man’s. Eames forgets all about his overpriced steak en route from room service and concentrates instead on feeling, even if just for a little bit, completely content.

This is how things always are between them these days. When they’re not working, they are rarely in the same city for longer than a few days. They don’t live together and never will. Arthur doesn’t know Eames’ middle name and Eames still isn’t sure that he knows Arthur’s true last name. There’s no need to ask questions about the other’s eccentricities because they already know the answers. Arthur doesn’t ask about the passports or the handguns or the Maserati and Eames doesn’t ask where Arthur gets the money for his closet full of impeccable bespoke suits. They don’t hold hands and wander through gardens, they don’t stare longingly at one another in candlelight, and there is absolutely no talk of bloody china patterns.

Eames knows that he would die – and, in truth, has died dozens of times – for Arthur. There are no declarations of love. They don’t need them. They both already know.


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Aww, thank you!

I'm not sure what part of my brain she came out of, but after writing it, I was like, wow, she's sort of brilliant and not at all as dysfunctional as the other people in this story!

No, she was all - like one of the heroines in one of those books about "journeys" and "self-discovery" (really not being mocking, I swear) and Eames could have been the catalyst that set her on her adventure, most likely even going along with her.

Lol I want Eames/Pranidhi: The Novel Edition now!

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