Won't Let You Fall
Vague, but yes.
Arthur does his best to hold Cobb together in the wake of Mal's death.
Written for this prompt
More rambly notes at the end of the fic.
::Won't Let You Fall::
It’s late when the call comes and Arthur startles awake, groping for the gun on his nightstand before he’s really conscious. The phone rings a second time and Arthur stares blearily at red glowing numbers- just after three in the morning and who was calling him at this hour?
He abandons gun in favor of phone, fumbling with the receiver for moment. "H’llo?" His voice is thick with sleep and this better damn well be important.
"Hello, Arthur. I’m sorry to call so late, but it’s rather urgent." The voice on the other end is oddly hitched and belongs to Miles and Arthur feels like he’s been doused in cold water and he’s suddenly very, very awake. His stomach flips with a quiet sort of dread.
"What’s wrong?" he asks, sharp, thoughts spinning. The only reason for Miles to call him like this is if something happened to Dom or Mal. Something that meant they couldn’t or wouldn’t call themselves and Mal had been so strange these last months.
Wasn’t tonight their anniversary?
"It’s-" Miles starts, stops. His voice quavers, and Arthur has never once heard the man sound anything less than composed. Never. Dread spiking sharply, Arthur sits up straight, tucking his legs under him, and forgets how to breathe.
"Mal’s dead, Arthur. She jumped from the hotel window." He says the words like they break his heart.
They break Arthur’s.
Mal, Mal. Beautiful, wonderful, brilliant Mal. He’d seen her just yesterday, and perhaps she’d been a bit distant, but nothing to make him think, make him suspect. Suicide. Jesus. Dom had said-
Jesus fucking Christ. Dom. "Miles-" he begins, but the other man cuts him off.
"They think he pushed her, Arthur." His voice is quiet and stiff and a little broken.
He wants to swear, long and loud but instead he’s quiet, staring at glowing red numbers that have gone strangely blurred. He has a horrifying thought. "You can’t believe that."
"Of course not," comes the immediate reply, and Miles sounds stronger, more sure of himself. "What do you take me for? Mal hasn’t been well since-" He breaks off with a sigh. "We managed to get Dom out of the country, but he’s a wreck, Arthur, and I can’t go because someone has to stay with the children."
Arthur’s on his feet before Miles is finished. "Tell me where."
* * *
Nineteen hours later and Arthur’s outside a hotel in Istanbul. He’s rumpled and stiff and hovering somewhere between exhausted and never sleeping again. Something clenches low in his gut as he steps through the door, because there’s no guarantee that Dom is still here. Even if he is, there’s no guarantee he’s still whole.
Arthur knows Dom better than anyone except maybe Mal, and while he wants to believe that he would never, never leave his children, something deep and blindly terrified knows that he might. If he was hurt enough, if he was broken enough.
Because Dom is a reckless idiot who needs Arthur to remind him to think before he acts, and Mal’s been dead for a little over twenty-four hours now.
Three floors up and six doors down. Arthur stops, listens. There’s no sound from inside and Arthur tries not to think that he missed him. It’s only just after eight in the morning here in Turkey, maybe Dom’s asleep.
Asleep barely a day after he watched his wife fall to her death. Throw herself to her death. Right. It still feels so numb and surreal, and he wonders when the truth of it will finally strike home.
Arthur raps on the door and holds his breath, listening hard. He thinks he hears movement, but he can’t be sure, not until a voice rasps, "Who’s there?"
He sags against the door frame in relief. He’s not too late. Dom’s not gone, either to parts unknown or just...gone. "It’s Arthur," he says, and the door flies open almost before the words have left his lips.
"Arthur?" Dom looks like hell. His eyes are dark and shadowed, he smells of alcohol, his voice sounds like crushed glass, and Arthur’s never been so happy to see him. "What are you doing here?"
"What do you think?" Arthur says, but not unkindly. Dom doesn’t seem inclined to move, so Arthur edges past him, dropping his hastily packed duffel onto a chair.
The door closes with a soft snick. "How did you find me?" He doesn’t sound upset, just softly confused.
"Miles called me," Arthur said, shrugging out of his jacket and turning to face Dom. He’s holding a gun, Arthur realizes, fingers curled around the weapon and maybe he was just being cautious over an unexpected knock on the door.
Arthur stamps down on the thought, hard. Dom is leaning back against the door, watching Arthur with those shadowed eyed. Arthur tries a smile that feels like a grimace and closes the distance between them. "It’s just me," he says, gently prying the gun from stiff fingers. Dom doesn’t resist. "You aren’t going to need this."
"I wasn’t going to shoot you," Dom says as Arthur places the gun in a drawer.
Arthur doesn’t tell him that that’s the last thing he was worried about. Instead, he just says, "I know."
Dom pushes away from the door and sort of lurches to the bed, sitting heavily on the foot and staring up at Arthur. He looks so lost that it’s heartbreaking, and after a moment Arthur sits beside him; close, but not quite touching.
He says nothing because there aren’t enough words in all the world to make this better.
Arthur listens to the uneven in and out of Dom’s breathing, watches dust motes dancing in the morning sun leaking through the drapes, and waits.
It doesn’t take long. A hitch of breath and, "She’s gone, Arthur."
"I know," he replies softly, because what else can he say?
Dom hunches over a little. "They’re saying I killed her."
"I know that too. And I also know," Arthur says, leaning his shoulder against Dom’s, "that you’d sooner kill yourself than hurt a hair on her head."
Maybe it’s the wrong thing to say, because Dom just sort of crumples against Arthur, leaning hard and looking small and broken and nothing like the strong, sure man he’s used to. When he speaks, his voice is thick and raw with soul-deep pain and the promise of tears. "She wanted me to. She wanted me to jump with her."
Arthur’s heart sort of clenches, and Jesus Christ. He isn’t sure he can do this, isn’t sure he’s equipped to hold Dom together the way he needs to. He slides an arm around broad shoulders and rests his head against Dom’s, trying to convey everything he doesn’t have the words to say.
Maybe it says something about how beaten he is, that Dom doesn’t protest the contact, or draw away. Instead his arms creep around Arthur’s waist and hands fist hard in his shirt, and he just sort clings in a way that makes Arthur’s heart stutter.
As much as he adored Mal, Arthur loves Dom, and for a moment all he can do is hate her for doing this, for falling so hard and trying to drag Dom down with her. "I just keep thinking, what if she was right?" He doesn’t move, head wedged under Arthur’s chin. "What if she was right, Arthur?"
Dom’s voice flits across his thoughts, a conversation months old. She thinks this is still a dream, Arthur. That she has to die to wake up and I can’t convince her otherwise. Suddenly all Arthur can think of is the gun in that drawer, and he twists a bit, taking Dom’s face in his hands hard enough that that the rough sandpaper of his stubble almost hurts, forcing the other man to meet his eyes. "She wasn’t right," he says, as sure as if it’s the one truth in the universe.
Dom doesn’t look convinced. "But-"
Arthur’s composure slips, just a little, because it’s almost impossible to keep himself together in the face of this. "She was not right," he snarls, tight and vibrating and terrified that he won’t be able to convince Dom just like Dom had never convinced Mal. "If she was out there somewhere, don’t you think the kick would have come by now?" He plunges on before Dom can argue. "Mal didn’t wake up, Dom. She died."
Dom flinches, and he looks so wounded that Arthur almost feels guilty. Almost, but not quite, and Arthur draws him in hard for a tight and proper hug, one he needs almost as much as Dom does. "James and Phillipa need you, more than ever now that their mother is gone. Don’t let her doubt become yours."
Dom is silent for a long moment, so long that the hard, humorless laugh is almost shocking. "What would I do without you, Arthur?" Dom asks against his shoulder.
That is something he doesn’t even want to consider, like the gun in the drawer. "I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re never going to find out."
* * *
- In my head canon, Arthur calls Cobb by his last name when they're on a job, and by his first name otherwise. It just makes more sense that way, considering the history they seem to have. In case anyone was wondering about that. :)
- I know in the movie we see Cobb leaving his home at some point during the day, but it seems to me that if Mal went to such lengths to make sure he was implicated and the liklihood of the police bringing him in for questioning regardless, it just seemed to make more sense that he'd leave that night. So a slight bit of time bending on my part, there.
- I did actually research how long it takes to fly from LA to Istanbul, as well as the time difference, because I geek out on details.
- I chose Istanbul because that's where my brother lives. :D