Disclaimer: I don’t own Inception.
Pairing/Characters: Arthur/Eames, Phillipa, Mal, James, Cobb
Summary: In which the Phillipa dreams, James is a chocoholic, Eames gets a new nickname, Arthur chokes, and Cobb is adamant.
Author’s Note: I totally just got back from Inception. Omg, still so good. =) I'm literally floating about on an Inception induced cloud. I think I could probably see this movie a hundred times and stil come out with questions.
Previous Series: Yellow One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven
Previous Parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
“Uncle Arthur?” James asks. He doesn’t look up from kicking at the fallen leaves lining the sidewalk. The wind ruffles his hair as they make their way to the park exit.
“Yes, James?” Arthur replies when it doesn’t seem like James has any intention of continuing. He shifts the soccer ball to his other arm.
“Boys don’t cry, right?” He doesn’t wait for an answer. “Girls cry, Phillipa cries a lot. But boys don’t cry cause they’re tough, right?” He pauses for a breath. “But Daddy cries. And Daddy’s not supposed to cry.”
Arthur stops him, kneels down on the sidewalk and turns James until they’re facing each other. “James, it is perfectly acceptable for boys to cry, especially when they lose someone they love. If you want to cry because your mother is gone, that’s okay.”
“Mommy’s not coming back, is she?”
Arthur drops the ball, pulls James in. Despite what he just told him, he fights back tears. “No, James, she’s not going to. Your mommy is dead now,” he murmurs. James sniffs loudly.
“Who’s gonna make me sandwiches and sing songs in the car?” James questions.
Arthur swallows. “Your daddy will.” He stands, ruffles James’ hair. “Maybe Phillipa will sing with you, if you’re nice to her. And I’ll make you a sandwich if you want when we get back.”
James fetches the ball and holds it tight against his stomach. “I want more ice cream,” he announces.
Arthur chuckles. “You had some already.”
“But I want more. We can get one for Eames too so he won’t be mad at me anymore, okay?”
“Eames isn’t mad at you,” Arthur responds. But he finds himself turning toward the ice cream shop anyway.
Eames fell asleep sometime after the girl chipmunks did their version of Hot ‘n Cold. Phillipa was stretched out, head pillowed on Chenille, already sound asleep. He wakes to the menu playing over and over, the squeaky voices singing. But he can’t hear the singing. All he hears is the screaming.
Phillipa thrashes on the sofa; the caterpillar is on the floor now. Her hand glances off his stomach and he has to catch her before she joins her toy. “Phillipa,” he calls. His head aches with the high pitched screams. “Phillipa. Pippa, Phillipa!”
His hands grip her shoulders and she sits up, eyes wide and face wet. She gasps and chokes on air and then she’s burrowed into his shoulder. His shirt is soaked with tears once again. “Phillipa,” he whispers. His hand reaches up to uncertainly rub against her back, to tug at her hair affectionately. “It was only a dream, nothing can hurt you.”
It’s true, and it’s not. He’s had lots of unpleasant experiences with dreams. But she’s four and she shouldn’t have, she won’t realize he’s lying for years to come. He hopes anyway. “Mommy,” she gasps. She pulls away and looks at Eames but her gaze is unfocused. “Mommy was there.”
“It’s okay,” he soothes. He bends to pick up her caterpillar and hand it back to her. “It was just a dream,” he repeats.
“Mommy was sad,” she continues, oblivious. “And Mommy had the knife again, the knife I couldn’t tell Daddy about.” Her arms wrap around Chenille and she seems to melt into the toy. “She got mad cause I told Daddy and she chased me but it wasn’t tag. It wasn’t fun.”
“I miss Mommy.” Her face rests against his shoulder again. “And Daddy’s sad now too. I don’t want him to die too.”
“He’s not going to die anytime soon,” Eames murmurs. “He loves you, Phillipa.”
Her eyes are accusing. “Mommy loved me too.”
The front door opens while Eames is still fumbling for a response. “We got ice cream!” James hollers. “Strawberry for Phillipa.”
Phillipa wipes her face on the caterpillar. Eames feels his stomach churn and he can’t even imagine eating the dessert. Arthur appears in the doorway, holding two ice cream cones, one of which is mint chocolate chip. “Everything okay?”
“Just fine. Pippa and I just finished watching this charming movie,” Eames replies. He eyes the ice cream. “Oh, you remembered my favorite,” he beams. James follows, holding out a strawberry ice cream cone while licking at his chocolate one. Phillipa takes it with a watery smile.
Arthur snorts as he hands him the ice cream. There isn’t any missing this time and Eames actually feels disappointed.
Phillipa’s fingers dance across the marks on Eames’ arm. James watches Sesame Street while he sets up the dominos again. “Do you love Uncle Arthur?”
Arthur makes a choking sound from his spot on the sofa. She just had to ask after he’d taken a drink. Eames and Phillipa ignore him. “Why?” Eames asks. He watches the way her fingers drift across the needle marks. Arthur watches as well.
“Because you’re here. You live here, right?”
“Sometimes,” he agrees. His eyes dart over the top of her head to meet Arthur’s and he winks. “He thinks I’m a slob though.”
“You are,” Arthur mutters.
Phillipa is undeterred. “But you share a bed, like Mommy and Daddy. Mommy says only grown-ups who love each other sleep in the same bed.” Arthur, for once, doesn’t correct her grammar, leaves the tenses as are.
“Then I guess you have your answer,” Eames replies. He smiles at her. “Why are you tickling my arm?”
“Mommy has these marks.” Her lips pull together and then her face relaxes. “Uncle Arthur says it’s from work.” Her eyes narrow as they look up at him. All he can see is a young, female, Cobb when she looks at him like that. “Do you work with Uncle Arthur and Daddy too?”
His smile twists a little. “Used to work with Arthur,” he agrees. Arthur gets up, goes to help James set up a ramp for the dominos. “Maybe we will again.”
Phillipa nods slowly. “Okay. You should work at Disney, with Daddy too. And bring me and James,” she says and smiles. Eames chuckles. She leans in then, whispers loudly, “I’ll tell you a secret too. I think Uncle Arthur loves you too.”
Eames winks at her. “I think so too.”
When Cobb arrives an hour later James is bouncing around the apartment. Eames is studying his reflection in the hall mirror and wincing at the bruising. At least nothing is broken. Cobb looks tired, worn out, and frayed around the edges. One good tug could unravel him into a ball of Cobb colored yarn.
“How are you?” Arthur questions as he closes the door.
Cobb shrugs. “Fine. More questioning.” A hand runs through his hair. “They’ll want to talk to you probably,” he adds.
“Daddy!” Cobb looks up, a smile breaking out on his tired face. James and Phillipa run up to him and he pulls them both into a tight hug.
“How are you guys?” he asks.
“Real good,” James answers. “Uncle Arthur got me ice cream and we played soccer!” Eames makes a pained noise and Arthur kicks his ankle lightly. “Where were you, Daddy?”
“I had to see some people,” Cobb answers. He turns to his daughter. “Phillipa?”
“I got strawberry ice cream,” she murmurs. He ruffles her hair while James returns to the living room to finish Sesame Street.
Cobb stands and leans against the wall, Phillipa stands at his side, and he finally notices Eames. “What the hell happened to your face?”
“Your son has a fine leg on him,” Eames groans. He prods his nose once again and flinches. “Bloody football, he didn’t even get Arthur.”
“It was hilarious,” Arthur agrees. His eyes are laughing even as he maintains a straight face. “Phillipa, why don’t you go get your movie, it’s on the coffee table.”
“Okay.” She darts away.
“How were they?” Cobb asks.
“Fine,” Arthur answers.
Eames hesitates, turns to look at them. “Pippa’s not,” he says finally. “Screamed like a banshee from a nightmare.” His gaze shifts from Cobb to Arthur to Cobb again. Absently he reaches into his pocket, fiddles with his totem. “I think you should teach her about totems.”
Cobb’s face closes almost immediately. “No.”
“Don’t be an idiot, Cobb,” Eames says. He pushes off the wall and approaches, voice dropping. “She dreamed that her mother was chasing her with a knife. Don’t put her through it.”
“No totems,” he replies stiffly. His eyes dart to the living room where the sound of falling dominos sounds. “They aren’t always trustworthy. And she doesn’t need to learn of that world yet. Neither of them does.”
“Well, it’s better than nothing,” Arthur murmurs. “Maybe the dreams will stop after she’s had time to process Mal’s death. But if not, maybe you should-”
“No,” Cobb repeats. He pushes past them and into the living room. “Come on, we should get home. Say goodbye and let’s go. Grandma and Grandpa will be here in an hour. We’ll pick them up at the airport, okay?”
“Bye, Eames, Uncle Arthur,” James says. He dashes out the door, Cobb trailing him, before they can reply.
Phillipa wraps her arms around Arthur’s legs, face buried in his thigh. The caterpillar hits his stomach. “Bye, Uncle Arthur.”
“Goodbye, Phillipa,” he replies. He ruffles her hair and flicks the caterpillar’s antenna.
Her eyes find Eames before she crosses to him, hugs him tight. He hides his surprise well, hugs her back. “Bye, Uncle Eames.” Eames blinks at her.
“Bye, Pippa,” Eames murmurs. He has a large smile on his face though. Arthur smiles as he closes the door behind her. Eames grins at him, eyebrows raised. “Uncle Eames, huh.”
Arthur flicks him in the shoulder on the way past. “Don’t let it go to your head,” he teases.