deaalmon: (good thieves)
[personal profile] deaalmon
Name: Loca in ferna in nocte
Author: Ashe
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Word Count: 1288
Fandom: Inception
Characters/Pairings: Arthur, Eames
Summary: Arthur and Eames need a place to lay low for a few days. Arthur takes Eames to a place that he suspects no one else has ever seen. Mini character study of Arthur. Title translates to "a place like the underworld in the night".
For: [community profile] trope_bingo "meeting the family"

They were an hour and a half north of Winston-Salem when they finally pulled off. Eames' had been pretty good at hiding that his heart was in his throat for the last forty-five minutes, but it had been difficult. Narrow dirt roads on the side of a mountain did not lend for a comfortable trip, and it was as if the closer Arthur got to their destination (wherever that was), the more reckless his driving became.

They were on the run. Hiding in the States was always risky and not something Eames particularly liked to do, but Arthur was American, and there had always been something about the lot of them that preferred their homeland when they were in danger of losing their necks. Eames did have to admit there was a surplus of small, secluded places to hide in this country.

Arthur had pulled off into a grassy area that was overgrown and weedy. The house (house?) sat back from the road significantly. It wasn't a big place, but it had a broken down wrap around porch, and at least a partial second floor. The whole place looked run down, like no one had done even basic maintenance for years. Eames hesitated as soon as he stepped out of the car. This was where Arthur wanted them to hide? He hadn't expected resort conditions, but maybe running water.

He cast a glance at Arthur, who wasn't looking at him. The smaller man grabbed his bag from the trunk with a determined look. This was his safe house?

Still, it wouldn't do to be left behind. Eames snagged his own bag from the trunk and closed it, following Arthur at a bit of a distance. Arthur stepped onto the porch, looking around, and then he pushed open the front door. It wasn't even locked.

The house was dark and musty, and had that kind of musky scent of long stored linens. Eames paused in the front room, piled high with relics from the forties and fifties, perhaps earlier, and was somewhat amazed. He couldn't tell if someone had been hoarding, or if this room had been delegated for storage. Arthur didn't pause to look, though, and Eames wondered at that.

They walked through a tiny kitchen full of appliances probably older than Eames himself was, save for an oddly new looking microwave, and then into what probably used to be a dining room but now was mostly storage with a card table in the corner where someone might eat a meal. A plastic tablecloth covered the top, printed in what had been a bright, cheerful flower pattern, but it was sunfaded and old, half melted in place now. Eames traced fingertips over the surface, feeling the old grit of salt and stale bits of bread.

Arthur continued into the tv room alone. Eames could hear a little moving around, some quiet muttering, and he frowned. He followed his partner inside, and saw that they weren't alone.

A tiny, frail old woman sat in front of an ancient television. She had gnarled little hands, curled over the afghan that had been thrown over her lap. Arthur knelt by her chair, and she was trying to raise one of those hands up to touch his face. She looked... Eames didn't know how to describe her, but there was grief and happiness and all kinds of other things there that made him uncomfortable to look at. He felt like he'd intruded on a very private moment.

Arthur leaned over and pressed a kiss to the old woman's cheek before he stood up and looked at Eames.

"I brought a friend of mine to meet you, Aunt Ruby. We're going to stay for a few days with you, if you don't mind. Here, Eames, let me introduce you to my great aunt Ruby." He gestured to Eames to approach, and he did with a big smile on his face. He knew how to charm an old woman, and she seemed fond enough of him when Arthur finally dragged them into the kitchen.

Eames ran a hand over his face. "You didn't mention this was your aunt's place, darling." he said. He wasn't angry, but he wasn't pleased. This complicated things immensely.

"No one will look for us here. No one even knows Ivanhoe exists, Eames." Arthur was looking through the cupboards, trying to find something to make into a meal. A few cans of off brand condensed soup turned out to be an alright lunch, even if Eames thought the chicken noodle tasted kind of like wash water. He offered to wash the dishes, while Arthur drove to the nearest market to buy a few provisions.

That night they ate a little better, and Eames was dumb struck watching Arthur help his old aunt around the house. He tucked the blanket over her lap at every meal, pressing a kiss to her cheek. He'd even bought a pack of those iced oatmeal cookies that looked like a door stop because they were his aunt's favorite.

The old woman was sweet and meant well, but Eames got the impression that her mind wasn't as sharp as it could be. She was lost in the twilight years.

Their second day there, Arthur dug out an old lawnmower, a push model, and he push mowed the entire front and side yards. The back, he explained, had always been pastureland. It took him all day, and he was drenched with sweat and red with sunburn when he finally came in. Arthur wouldn't say anything, but Eames got the impression it wasn't the first time he'd done that.

Their third day, a cousin or aunt or something stopped by, and if shocked to see Arthur, seemed pleased by the work he'd done to help out their auntie. That wasn't the most surprising bit of the exchange, though. What was surprising was the slight hint of an accent that kept cropping up in Arthur's voice whenever he spoke certain names, certain words. Eames had never thought to wonder where Arthur was from. He was American, that was enough. Maybe he was from New York, or Los Angeles, but he certainly never would have guessed the boy was from a small southern town.

Arthur spent his days working on the house. He wielded a hammer and a saw with surprising skill, repairing the roof as best he could, or fixing a stair or doorframe. It was like he was paying their room and board with his work, or like he couldn't hope to stand still. He was almost painfully respectful. Eames could almost see beneath the mask of the details man into a churning abyss below that.

One night, they sat on the porch, looking out over the yard. Eames could hear cows in the distance, and he could certainly smell them. They were drinking strawberry wine out of old mason jars. It was a singular experience that Eames wasn't sure he could entirely process, let alone believe when he woke up the next morning.

They stayed a week and a half before Arthur got a call from Cobb that they might have a job. It would mean that Eames and Arthur would be splitting ways.

"I'll be in touch." Arthur almost promises. Whether he means it or not, Arthur doesn't know. "It's supposed to be an easy job, for some engineering firm. Good old corporate espionage." He hesitated. "Where will you go?"

"I hear Dubai is nice this time of year." Eames said with a wicked grin. They parted ways at the airport. Eames didn't look back. He didn't need to. He had learned more about Arthur in the last few days than he'd thought he'd ever know.
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