ainsoph15 (ainsoph15) wrote,

Inception fic post

Yeah, I went and did it again. 

Title: Daedalus, fallen
Author: AinSoph15
Pairing: Arthur/Eames
Rating: R
Words: 4016
Disclaimer: It's all from Christopher Nolan's amazing brain, which I would nom delightedly, were I a zombie.
Summary: Arthur’s mind is terrifying in its ability to control things. His subconscious, then, is yet more powerful.
Notes: I gave in to my overwhelming love of mythology and this is what happened. Unbetaed. Any mistakes and mythological fuck-ups are my own.

Daedalus, fallen

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth.

Arthur doesn’t remember the last time he felt afraid. He’s embraced pain more times than he can count. In dreaming, he’s overcome agony, mastered it, ridden it down with a hundred projections at his back and a hole in his belly and survived to ride the kick; in reality, he’s been stabbed, shot, and nearly blown up. His bullet never misses. Death rides on his shoulder like a familiar. He’s sewn himself shut, the stitches neat and formal across his split skin, sealing himself in under bandages, shirt, waistcoat, jacket. The walls grow high and thick; his head, lifted proud, ready for whatever comes next.

Sometimes at night, he’s still able to dream. Blood on the floor and dark, dark, and he knows it’s just the fever that makes him wake up shaking and sweating. A breath, in, out, his die in his hand, and just like that he’s fine. He can get through it.

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth, and his name is terror.

The funeral is a challenge.

Dom is a dead weight against him, and Arthur holds him up, holds him still, so that he can stand strong for the children as they gather by their mother’s grave. It is raining. The crowd of faces blur around him as he stares straight ahead. He’s staring straight at Eames, standing opposite him, solemn and strange in mournful black. It’s only a few years since they’ve met and Arthur’s still wary of him. Eames holds his gaze and Arthur is grateful that for once there is no lie there, no glamour or charm or flirtation. It is a bulwark holding him up against the cold air above the coffin. Eames bows his head as the liturgy begins, and Arthur feels suddenly paper-thin, intangible as a leaf skeleton.

Afterwards he finds the nearest warehouse, closer than a hotel, less complicated than going back to Dom’s. He hasn’t slept for three days straight and the Somnacin offers him a respite to keep going for as long as he needs to to get them all through it.

He plugs in and goes under. These are not the controlled dreams that he has perfected for working. When he dreamshares, everything is precision and order and straight lines. Alone, he allows himself this chance to let go, to spin into infinite possibility.

But no, not this dream, no, he doesn’t want this, he knows this dream. He tries to shape it, to make sense of it. Arthur’s mind is terrifying in its ability to control things. His subconscious, then, is yet more powerful.

He is in the dark, and it is wet under his feet and smells like blood. He knows these walls. He knows the way they twist and turn as he puts his hand out to feel his way along inevitably, inexorably towards the centre of the maze. There is no way out but forwards.

He does not know he is being followed.

He’s at the heart of the Labyrinth, his back pressed against the wall, watching the thing there that paces to and fro, swinging its massive head and lowing. It’s no threat to him, he knows that, has met it before countless times. The huge horns which swing at him leave no mark, the hot breath which snorts into his face as the creature stares him down barely ruffle his hair. He hates to look at it, yet whichever way he turns or moves, always his back is pressed against the crumbling stone walls, facing this nightmare beast, and his eyes cannot close, no matter how hard he wills them shut. Part of the roof has crumbled away and it bars the creature in gold light and black shadow where the hot Cretan sun pierces the stone. Arthur can only wait for the drug to run out and wake him up into another hell.

The monster’s head snaps up suddenly, the huge trapezius muscles of its back bulge and its fists clench. There is a noise in the corridor.


The thing is weaving from side to side, and it dips its head low as Eames stumbles through the entrance.

“What the everloving fuck?” is his articulate response as he sees what is charging at him.

“What are you doing here! Get out!” Arthur shouts, fury and betrayal cold inside him. He cannot move, even if he wanted to.

Eames is armed, of course, and shoots the beast right between the eyes as it bears down on him. A thick spray of blood spatters the wall, and the creature shakes his head to clear it, and it roars, gaining ground.

“Arthur, what -” Eames says, then shoots at it again, this time in the chest, between the pectorals. The impact jerks through the beast but it does not stop, it only lowers its head, and Arthur watches helplessly as Eames’s eyes widen, and the huge horns puncture through his ribcage and stomach. The monster lifts its huge head and tosses Eames’s body against the wall like a broken doll. Arthur chokes, and even through the bitterness and anger he feels some small relief that Eames is not moving, and has no doubt woken up and made his escape.

The beast paces towards Arthur, its hands and muzzle covered in gore, and Arthur tries to turn his head away as the thing smears his face with red, its huge eyes unblinking and without mercy.

He wakes up. He is not alone. Eames is sat on the floor watching him with an unreadable expression on his face.

“That’s a very interesting version of Knossos you’ve got in your head,” he says quietly. Arthur notices that he pronounces the Greek correctly, clipping out the ‘k’ and the ‘n’ as two separate letters, and placing the stress on the last syllable.

“Why the fuck did you think it was okay to go into my head without permission?” Arthur says, and the steel in his voice slices through the air.

“I thought you could use the company, after today,” Eames says with a shrug, knees drawn up tightly.

“Get the hell out,” Arthur says, ripping the line out of his arm carelessly and drawing blood.

“What is that thing? I mean, I know it’s evidently the Minotaur, but - it’s not a projection, is it.”

“No. I don’t know what it is. It won’t die,” Arthur says through gritted teeth. “But I’ll make sure you do if you don’t leave right now.”

“Yes, thank you so much for not shooting me and letting me get gored to death instead. I felt like I was in Pamplona,” Eames says, as though Arthur hasn’t just threatened to kill him.

“I can’t move, when its that dream. It’s... different. And you got what you deserved.”

Eames stands up and dusts off his suit. He’s looking at Arthur with what looks suspiciously like concern.

“Let me help you.”

Arthur looks at him like he’s mad. There’s venom in him so hot that it burns his throat.

“Why,” he says viciously, “would I want your help? I don’t want you anywhere near me, do you understand?”

Eames shoves his hands into his pockets and leans down a little closer.

“You couldn’t have done anything, no matter how hard you tried. None of us could. Not even Cobb.”

Arthur really does think he’s going to kill him then, but the exhaustion is so complete that it’s all he can do to stay sitting upright.

“Just go,” Arthur says hoarsely. “Just let me be alone, will you please?”

Eames stands there a moment longer, and Arthur will not look at him, will not break, will only stare at the floor as he clenches his fists, the edges of his die digging into the tendons inside his palm. He hears a sigh, then footsteps retreating, a door creak and bang far away. He is shuddering, and mouthing to himself over and over, ‘It will be ok. It will be ok.’

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth, and his name is sorrow.

Time runs like sand, like water, straight and true as an arrow; time passes; time spins cobwebs over wounds that don’t heal.

He hears that Eames has said he lacks imagination, that he’s a stick-in-the-mud. And he knows that it means Eames has never breathed a word of what he saw to anybody. He tries so hard to hate him, the glib smile and offhand seduction, but the man’s work is unremittingly professional; he delivers the results, and is flawlessly competent. Arthur doesn’t want to admit it, but over the years, he’s become almost fond of Eames.

Are you all right?

Arthur can hardly stand himself to know that he made the mistake which could have got them all dragged into Limbo.

The rest of them are jubilant when the plane lands, and it makes Arthur angrier with himself when he sees the joy on Dom’s face, knowing how easily he could have quashed that last hope.

He’s standing in the line for a taxi when there’s a silky voice at his side.

“Leaving so soon?”

“I want to get home,” Arthur says, hoping Eames will take the hint and leave him be.

“Well, that’s handy, because I’m pretty sure I’m going your way.”

Arthur is about to protest, but he feels jagged and raw inside, most likely an after-effect of the heavy sedative on his nervous system.

Eames pops his head into the open window of the next cab, and says something to the driver that Arthur can’t hear but it’s probably a hotel address. Eames pulls the door of the taxi open and ushers Arthur in first.

Arthur is silent as the car winds through the streets.

“I would have thought this occasion called for a more celebratory mood,” Eames says into the tense atmosphere.

“It was my fault we nearly all ended up in Limbo,” Arthur mutters darkly. “I missed it - Fischer’s training. How could I have missed something so obvious?”

“But we’re all right,” Eames says, and he makes it sound so simple. “We made it. We’re here, and most of us are still relatively sane.”

“We might not have made it. It could have... I fucked up,” Arthur says, grinding his jaw and looking at, not seeing the trees and buildings moving past them out of the window.

“Let it go, love,” Eames says softly.

“I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t.”

Arthur contemplates opening the door and shoving Eames out of the moving car, and how difficult it would be since Eames is wearing a seatbelt, but then he feels Eames’s hand slide over on top of his. It is so warm, and the press of the fingers around his is oddly comforting. Eames does nothing more, just sits there holding his hand in the back of the taxi, as heat rushes through Arthur’s body.

This has been a long time coming.

Arthur feels like he’s in his maze again, being drawn towards an inevitable conclusion. They get out of the taxi together and Arthur opens the front door.

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth, and his name is guilt.

“Who are they?” Eames is asking him, peering at a black and white photo on the eggshell pale walls. The picture is of a younger, smiling Arthur, flanked by two men who are both sporting impressive facial hair only found on academics.

“David Lewis and Saul Kripke. My last year at Princeton,” Arthur answers. He’s holding two glasses of wine and feels uncomfortable standing there in his own apartment, while Eames looks so at home, leaning casually on the furniture to scrutinise the photograph. Arthur stares at the paisley of Eames’s shirt as his tired eyes perceive the pattern dissolving into fractals.

He would write all his papers in formal logic, each little symbol so neat, so exacting. Proofs of statements; elegantly concluded syllogisms; balance and order on either side of the equal sign. The theories on the plurality of worlds as a means to an end - a way to trammel up and hem in the facts about this world. A way to solidify this reality as the only one. There is nothing fantastical about it. There is no room for imagination in epistemology, or else it quickly becomes mysticism.

Arthur has never believed in god.

Conditionals trouble him, though. The hook bites into his mind, a u-turn of uncertainty. ‘If... then... If... then. Then what? What might happen?’

He sees worlds created by the mind in dreamsharing, things wondrous and terrible. He creates; he builds; he soars over impossibilities.

Reality is always consistent, always the same. A follows B follows C. Time is linear. Causality is predictable. Beauty is in the mind, not the eye.

Therefore, he is not surprised when Eames turns with a heartbreaking grin, takes the glasses out of his hands and puts them on the table, and pulls Arthur close. So, Arthur must kiss him, and he does, and it’s deep and fierce and takes his breath away.

“Arthur,” Eames says, and Arthur shivers as he sees that close up, Eames’s eyes are the colour of rain, “darling, you are exquisite.” Arthur kisses him again, backing him up against the wall, and the passion, the wild need is almost unbearable.

Logic comes easily to him. Emotions are difficult, unquantifiable.

Arthur needs his totem to feel real again.

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth, and his name is doubt.

Eames stays.

Eames makes Arthur laugh. He makes them breakfast and tries to persuade Arthur to eat Marmite, which doesn’t end well for the Marmite. He smokes in bed and Arthur loathes it, but still steals a drag or two off him. He has excellent taste in books and music and can quote poetry at the drop of a hat, and sings lustily in a sweet baritone. He opens Arthur up and makes him come again and again, then turns and asks him ‘Please, I want you.’ And Arthur shudders to be in him so deep, to see him twist in a grimace of pleasure, and Eames says, ‘Yes, yes, like that,’ and the swell of his mouth is enough to drive Arthur crazy.

He makes Arthur remember how it is to be human.

He stays for weeks, and Arthur thinks perhaps they are both crazy. Because it can’t last; it can’t, because Eames is Eames and Arthur is... he doesn’t know what he is, and he hates nothing more than uncertainty.

Arthur wakes up one night drenched in sweat and shaking, and his die is already in his hand when he feels a muscular arm slide over him. Eames pulls him close, smoothing his damp hair back from his forehead.


Arthur nods tightly, and Eames says, ‘Shh,’ the rocking motion almost imperceptible as he holds him to his chest. Arthur wants to push him away, to tell him he’s not a child who needs coddling, but it’s nice. He breathes. He feels his pulse slow down and lets this happen, until he has to get up and go to the bathroom. The tiles are cold under his feet, and the glaring light reflected in the mirrors is still not bright enough to chase away the last of the dark things lingering inside him.

He steps back into the bedroom and is about to switch off the light, but instead he finds himself looking at Eames who’s fallen asleep again, cast into relief by the glow from the bathroom, his head buried into the pillow, eyelashes dark against his cheeks and the sheets rumpled around his legs. Arthur stands there, staring, his eyes trying to seek out every detail, every inch of skin, and finds the comfort he needs. There’s an odd feeling in his chest which has nothing to do with the way his heart expands, contracts, sending the blood through his body on a skittering path. It hurts. It feels good.

Eames opens his eyes and sees Arthur watching him from the doorway. He props himself up on one elbow, and the smile he gives Arthur is something new, something he hasn’t seen before.

“This is your first time, isn’t it,” he says, his voice a low murmur.

“What? Don’t be an idiot,” Arthur says, snapping off the light and sliding back under the warm covers. Arthur’s had many lovers, women and men. They don’t stay. They don’t share his bed.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what are you being so cryptic about?”

“If you don’t understand it yet, you’ll figure it out soon enough. I have faith in you.”

“Well, that makes one of us,” Arthur says with a snort.

“That thing is still inside you, isn’t it,” Eames says tiredly, tucking his face into Arthur’s neck. He’s asleep again in moments.

Arthur lies awake, rolling his die between his fingers and staring at the ceiling.

There is a monster in the heart of the Labyrinth, and his name is fury.

“So, are we going to keep avoiding this - I hesitate to say elephant, in the room - but that’s close enough.”

They’ve been dancing round each other for days, and the apartment is large but Arthur feels hemmed in. He’s been waiting for the other shoe to drop. More than likely this will be what gives it the final shove. He tries to say no, no not that, but he can’t. If Eames is so determined to force this to a head so he can find a way out, Arthur’s in no mood to stop him.

“Is that what you want?” Arthur says. He’s standing in the kitchen and Eames has his arms round Arthur’s waist. Arthur’s whole body is drawn tight as a bowstring, unwilling to relent to this.

“Yes, I do,” Eames says, and Arthur sees the solemnity in his eyes and thinks of funeral wreaths.


Eames takes Arthur’s face between his hands and kisses him gently.

“What are you so afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid,” Arthur replies, eyes hard. There is a churning feeling in his stomach that he can’t stop and he wants it gone.

Eames laughs softly, knowingly.

“Then show me.”

As Eames stretches out on their bed and Arthur hooks them up to the PASIV machine, he thinks it might as well be a lethal injection.

The dark of the Labyrinth surrounds them, and Arthur’s behind Eames, guiding him forwards with his hands on his shoulders, guiding him towards blood and execution and he can’t turn back now, even though every part of him is telling him to stop.

They enter the innermost chamber, and in the same way it always happens, Arthur’s immediately dragged against the wall and held still by an unseen force. But this time Eames is ready, and he does what he does best. His form shimmers, shifts, and then there’s two of the creatures, pacing around one another warily. Arthur sees how the body of one of the beasts is still marked with Eames’s tattoos, and his throat feels tight like he’s being strangled.

“Arthur,” Eames says, and he’s not addressing him, not even looking at him. He’s talking to the thing in the middle of the cave, somehow contriving to make his voice, calm and certain, come out of the bull’s mouth he’s forging. The beast takes a pace towards him, shaggy head lowered, horns tilted in readiness to gore and maim.

Arthur,” Eames says again, and there’s a hint of reprimand there, a flicker of weary disappointment. He holds out his hand, though not in a vain attempt to stop the charge. His palm is raised up in invitation. The monster snorts hard, blowing through flared nostrils, its chest rising and falling, and it stops still.

Arthur is frozen to the jagged wall of the cave, the sharp edges of the stones digging into his back as he watches Eames and this thing, this beast in his mind stare at one another, every muscle in their bodies drawn tense.

Eames takes a single step forward, reaching out his hand closer, almost close enough to touch it.

“Come with me,” he says, the whisper echoing softly around the cavern, and the stone seems to vibrate with his words, a low hum which sets dust motes dancing in the dappled shafts of sunlight.

It happens suddenly. Arthur feels a rush which starts in his feet and travels up his body like lightning on water, prickling all the way up to his scalp. The perspective shifts, and for a moment he’s high above them, drifting untethered and without form, and then he’s drawing in a laboured, ragged breath. Eames is standing in front of him, his hand stretched out, horned head dipped in entreaty.

It’s worse than dying.

He feels it all, all at once, the pain and grief and rage, everything he is not, has tried not to be for his entire life. It makes him want to rip open the stomach of the monster in front of him; his mirror; his lover.

Eames takes another step towards him and Arthur is going to make the blood run from his every pore. He will force him to feel even half of what this thing feels, this abomination that has swallowed him whole and hangs heavy around him, the great animal head of a god gone mad on his shoulders, filled with thoughts of murder and torment.

“I’m not leaving without you,” Eames says, form shifting again until he is once more himself, standing there bare and vulnerable and just as bullishly stubborn as before. There’s a shard of light coming through the ruined vault above Eames’s head, and it kindles half of his face into brightness, hair and skin touched by Midas and one eye blue like sun on water. The rest of him is thrown into shadow.

Arthur is going to rip Eames’s head off with his bare hands.

“Run,” he chokes out around the thick animal tongue in his mouth.

“Never,” Eames says, sure and steadfast. “Don’t you understand yet, love?”

It is such a burden, the weight of this huge and terrible skull on his neck, the suffering like being flayed alive.

“I’ll kill you if you stay,” Arthur says, and his voice is an alien sound, dreadful and rasping.

“Well, if you insist on melodrama, darling, then I’d rather die by your hand - or horn - now, than spend a lifetime with only half of what you are.”

Eames takes a last step forward, and the touch of his hand is shocking and heated against Arthur’s chest.

“That’s only a shade of you up in the real world lying next to me at the moment, so tell your - admittedly terrifying - id that I want all of you. I want the worst of you as well as the best. There’s no part of you I won’t have.”

Arthur finally understands.

It’s the beast which leads them through the Labyrinth. This is Arthur’s maze in Arthur’s mind. He has built it. He has held himself captive inside it. He knows now there is a way out of it, and he needs no silken rope to guide his way, sped on instead by the constant, reassuring grip in his hand of his unlikely Theseus.

When they stumble out of the crumbling entrance, blinking in the warm sunlight, the shadow cast onto the dusty ground is of two men. Their heads are held high, unfettered.

The dark shapes stretching out over the dry earth shift, mould, become one.

Daedalus has flown.
Tags: e/a, fic, inception
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