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The Wayward Muse
Life, writing, and general stupidity
Fanfiction: A Forever Kind Of Thing (Inception) 
09.05.10
Arthur
Title: A Forever Kind Of Thing
Series: Inception
Pairings: Cobb/Arthur
Words: 2017
Warnings: A smidgen of angst, mostly fluff.
Rating: PG
Status: Complete
Spoilers: Vague, but there.

Summary: Five women Arthur loved, and one man he’ll love for the rest of his life.

Notes: Written for this prompt at inception_kink

Another entry in the Fandom I Never Meant To Write For. Last one, promise. XD


::A Forever Kind Of Thing::

I.

She’ll be back any minute, and Arthur curls his fingers around the small velvet box in his pocket and tries to quell his nerves. Emily is all dark eyes and full lips, five years older than Arthur and way too good for him. She’s smart and sharp and stylish, and some days he still can’t believe his luck.

Glancing around furtively, he pulls out the box and opens it, staring at the modest engagement ring nestled inside before snapping it closed and returning it to his pocket. It’s the best he could afford, and Emily isn’t the kind of snob to say no based on the size of the rock, but somewhere deep down Arthur can’t help but worry, anyway.

He takes a deep breath and straightens up, running the words he’s been practicing all day through his mind one more time.

The man at the next table over -alone, and isn’t that strange for a restaurant like this- catches his eye with a grin and a wink. Good luck, he mouths, and Arthur can’t help but smile back, the stranger’s well-wishes settling his nerves for the space of a heartbeat.

Then Emily’s back and his hands are sweating and his heart is doing a skittery, strange dance that might be cause for concern under other circumstances. Arthur takes a steadying breath. He can do this. He can.

He’s out of his seat and on one knee before he can talk himself out of it, taking Emily’s hand and watching in a strange sort of slow motion as chestnut eyes grow wide.

Somehow, he manages to get the words out without mangling them, without stuttering or tripping or breathing, and as soon as he does he knows she’s going to say no.

Surprise is replaced by a frown, and she pulls her hand away. Arthur lets her, delicate fingers sliding from his own, and he wonders how he could have possibly been so wrong.

“I can’t, Arthur. I’m sorry.” Not as sorry as I am, he thinks, but he can’t seem to find his voice.

Emily gathers her purse, and she’s gone, just like that. Leaving Arthur alone on one knee, under the pitying stares of other diners. He manages to pull himself upright and back into his chair, dropping his head into his hands and wondering how he’d miscalculated so badly.

He thought she loved him.

She hadn’t even given him a chance to show her the ring that suddenly felt far too heavy in his pocket. She hadn’t given him a chance at all.

Arthur isn’t sure how long his sits there, head in hands and running the last year of their relationship through his mind. He’s startled from his thoughts by a soft thunk near his elbow, and Arthur raises his head just enough to see a glass filled with amber liquid sitting there.

“You look like you could use a drink.”

It’s the good luck man from before, and he sits in Emily’s empty chair without asking. Arthur stares for a moment, at the stranger with the sympathetic smile and soft eyes before he picks up the glass and downs it in one gulp. Arthur’s not much of a drinker, and it burns on the way down. The man silently hands over his own glass, and Arthur downs that too.

“I’m Dom,” the man says, stretching a hand across the table. Arthur stares at it for a moment before he takes it.

“Arthur.”

II.

The first time Arthur meets Mal, it’s at a small party and he’s instantly smitten.

She’s beautiful; so classy and clever that Arthur has a hard time believing she’s real and not some sort of ideal made flesh. He’s completely dazzled, and eventually Dom draws him away and says, “Stop making eyes at my girl, Arthur.”

Arthur blinks at him, horrified that he was so transparent, but Dom doesn’t look angry at all. In fact, he actually looks quite smug. So Arthur doesn’t apologize, and asks instead, “What does a woman like that see in you?”

Dom smiles peacefully, looking at her like she hangs the moon. “No clue, but I’ve decided it’s in my best interest not to question it.”

“Smart man,” Arthur says, smiling into his drink. Across the room, Mal laughs at something her friend says, the sound carrying through the room like music and Arthur is suddenly irrationally jealous that Dom found her first. “Christ. Does she have a sister?”

Dom laughs, clapping him on the back. “Sorry, Arthur. She’s one of a kind.”

He certainly can’t argue that. He tears his eyes away from her with some difficulty and asks, “How did you meet?”

The moonstruck expression fades from Dom’s face, replaced by something altogether more calculating. “That’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about. Ever heard of extraction?”

III.

The chemist’s name is Alex, and she’s nothing like Emily and less like Mal. She’s cute and tomboyish and barely comes up to his chin, and Arthur’s in bed with her before he even realizes it might be a bad idea.

Dom knows, because Dom knows everything, but luckily Alex proves to be the height of professionalism and it never becomes an issue.

They’re as different as night and day; she’s the jeans and sneakers to his suit and tie, the easygoing to his focus. She’s such the opposite of his usual type that Arthur thinks that maybe they have a shot. Maybe his problem is that he goes after the wrong kind of girl. Or maybe because you want the ones you can’t have, and Arthur stamps down on the treacherous thought hard.

Everyone’s a little in love with Mal. It’s kind of impossible not to be. But Dom matters to him far, far too much for Arthur to ever entertain the notion of acting on it.

The job goes off without a hitch, and Arthur’s trying to find the way to broach the idea of something more serious before the team splits. Alex comes up to him as he’s shuffling research into folders, bouncing up on the balls of her feet and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. “It’s been fun,” she says, and her tone makes it clear that’s all it was to her. Fun. “Hey, Cobb! If you need me again, you know where to find me!”

And she’s gone just like that, and Arthur begins to seriously suspect he might be the reason nothing ever works out. It seems like every time he wants to get serious with a girl, her first impulse is to get out, and fast.

He knows that isn’t fair, knows that Alex never once suggested they were anything more than casual, but he still can’t help but feel rejected.

“You okay?” Dom’s hovering over his shoulder, and everyone else is gone.

“Yeah,” Arthur says, rubbing his eyes and feeling very tired suddenly. “I think I should just give up on women.”

Dom chuckles and slides an arm around his shoulder. “You’ll find what you need, sooner or later.” Arthur lets himself lean into it, just a little, and wonders how Dom always manages to make him feel better.

IV.

“I’m going to marry her,” Arthur announces quietly, because he’s never been so in love in his life.

“I’m going to have to break your legs,” Dom replies happily, voice low because Mal’s sleeping not five feet away. He’s rumpled and exhausted with his hair sticking up from fingers running through it repeatedly.

Arthur smiles and says nothing, completely enraptured with the tiny, perfect person in his arms. Her name is Phillipa and she is beautiful. He touches her cheek, the skin soft to the touch and when a tiny fist wraps around his finger he falls in love all over again.

“Hey,” Dom says, and suddenly he’s close, taking his daughter gently, carefully from Arthur. “Stop making eyes at my girl.”

Arthur smiles at this echo from the past, watching Dom cradle the pink-swaddled bundle and smiling like he’ll never stop. Arthur reaches out without thinking, running his hand over Dom’s hair to put it to rights before leaning so close their foreheads nearly touch.

“I’m definitely going to marry her.”

V.

Cecilia is trying to get him to quit the extraction business, and Arthur isn’t sure he wants to. She says it’s too dangerous, that it makes her worry. Arthur knows, he knows he should agree, but he can’t bring himself to do it. He loves working with Dom, even though they haven’t done a job together since the incident.

The incident. Jesus. Mal is falling apart and Dom’s trying to hold her together, and it just sounds so clinical that way.

His phone rings, and Arthur is glad of the distraction.

At least until the voice on the other end begins to speak.

Before Arthur even realizes what he’s doing, he’s already grabbed his coat and making for the door.

“Arthur! Where are you going?”

He stops and looks back at Cecilia, pretty face twisted tight in fury. “I have to go. Dom needs me.” It wasn’t Dom that had called, but Arthur knows it’s true. He knows that Dom won’t be able to hold together, not in the face of this.

The anger drains from her, replaced by an expression Arthur can’t decipher. “If you leave now, I won’t be here when you get back.”

Arthur nods, and he doesn’t even hesitate.

He spends the night with Dom tucked tight against his side, and it’s the first time he’s ever heard the other man cry.

VI.

They’re sitting at the kitchen table, and Dom’s gaze keeps flicking towards the living room, where Phillipa and James are spread out on the floor involved in some kind of game. Arthur knows it’s because he has to keep reassuring himself that they’re real, that it’s over. He understands.

He reaches out and placed his hand over Dom’s. “They’re not going to disappear.”

Dom looks at him and smiles just a little, and Arthur wonders how long it’s been since he last saw that smile without the ghosts of old hurt lurking beneath it. “I know.”

They sit there for a long time, and Arthur doesn’t take his hand back. Neither does Dom. “Thank you,” he says eventually, and he looks so intent, so earnest that it does something uncomfortably fluttery to Arthur’s insides.

“What for?”

“For being there when I needed you, for never giving up on me. For keeping me sane.” He turns his hand palm up beneath Arthur’s and grips tightly. “I would never have made it through if it wasn’t for you.”

Arthur stares at their joined hands and swallows past the sudden thickness in his throat. He looks up at Dom, at the man who has been the one constant in his life for ages, and Arthur realizes that he’s been in love with him from the word go.

Christ. No wonder his relationships kept tanking.

“You don’t have to thank me for that,” he says softly. “I wasn’t about to give up on you when you needed me most.” Arthur thinks he couldn’t give up on Dom if he tried.

Dom watches him for a silent moment before he reaches out with his free hand and grabs Arthur by the tie, yanking him forward into an unexpected kiss. It’s slow and soft, and Arthur makes a helpless sound in his throat, hand twisting in Dom’s sleeve and wondering distantly why he didn’t do this years ago.

They break apart, but Dom doesn’t pull back, resting his forehead against Arthur’s and saying, “I might not have to thank you, but you deserve to hear it anyway.”

Arthur leans against him and hums a little, comfortably at peace with this possible new direction. If nothing else, he’s going to have to give up on dating altogether, because whatever it is that he and Dom have, Arthur thinks that maybe it’s a forever kind of thing.
Comments 
09.06.10 (UTC)
! Cute; I loved it. I like the way you write in Arthur's POV. It's less clinical and bitingly sarcastic than most other interpretations, but this, I find, is closer to his characterization in the movie.

Also, the image of a woman leaving Arthur when he proposes is just heartbreaking. sldkjlasf And I'm glad that your Dom and Arthur seem to need each other mutually; it's not one asserting themselves over the other (which is also common.)

Thanks for sharing!
09.06.10 (UTC)
Thanks! I do love me some sarcastic Arthur, but that always struck me as just one facet of his personality rather than a defining characteristic, if that makes sense?

Yeah, poor kid. I figured that she was already planning on breaking up with him, and when Arthur popped the question she just spooked and bolted. But then he met Dom, so in the end she did him a favor. :D
09.06.10 (UTC)
...oh this fic.

/melts all over
09.06.10 (UTC)
Aw, meltiness. ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. I love your description of how Cobb and Arthur met; I've always been curious about that, and this seems like a wonderfully heartbreaking way for it to happen.

I just love everything about this fic, really. Part II and IV were especially wonderful, and I love how your OCs fit right into canon. Just. Perfect.

Thanks so much for sharing! :DD
09.06.10 (UTC)
Aw. thanks! One of my favorite things about this fandom is all the fic with different ideas on how they might have met. Poor Arthur definitely took a blow in my version, but it all worked out for the best. :D

Part IV was totally my favorite to write, no lie. The idea of those two bonding over Phillipa was so mushy I couldn't not include it. ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
This is why I love this pairing. This is perfect I just.. I don't even have words
09.06.10 (UTC)
I love Arthur/Eames, but I ship Arther/Cobb like it's my job. There's just something about them that makes me want to flail and wibble a lot. Glad you liked it! ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
I am a HUGE mush for these two <3
It's my OTP -siiigh- they make me go in awwwwwwwww @ this fic.
Loved it <3
09.06.10 (UTC)
Oh god, me too. I totally went in expecting to ship Arthur/Eames, and while I certainly like it, Cobb/Arthur just totally stole my heart. I could read fic about them all day.

I'm glad you liked it. <3
09.06.10 (UTC)
I'm so glad you wrote for the prompt! I'm not the OP, but I saw when you said you were nervous. And you shouldn't be, this is amazing!! I absolutely loved how you wrote it! Lovely =)
09.06.10 (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I always get nervy when writing in a new fandom, and it's worse with Inception because I can't just watch it over again (yet) to make sure I've got my details/characterizations/minutiae all sorted out.

Really glad you enjoyed it.
09.06.10 (UTC)
Oh I LOVE this! Beautifully done!
09.06.10 (UTC)
Thanks so much! ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
Oh god, this was just so good. So heart breaking and wonderful... ilu <3
09.06.10 (UTC)
Aw, thanks! <3
09.06.10 (UTC)
Oh, beautiful <3 the part with Phillipa just warmed my heart. I love children so much, and you made it adorable and touching. God. Him saying he was going to marry her was the most beautiful thing... <3

Beautiful fic ♥ very subtle and understated
09.06.10 (UTC)
Arthur is totes in love with her, no lie. Cobb might be the one who looms and looks threatening, but Arthur is going to be the one putting the fear of God into future boyfriends for years to come. :D

I'm glad you liked it. ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
oh, this! this is lovely. so soft and subtle and compact, but you manage to get so much across anyway. i loved the little insights we got into arthur, and oh my gosh, i'd be lying if i said my heart wasn't breaking every time a relationship ended, BUT EVENTUALLY THAT LED HIM TO COBB, SO.

also, the entire philippa section? ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
ALL FAILED RELATIONSHIPS ROADS LEAD TO COBB. This is truefax. :D

I'm glad you liked it~! ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
I don't know what else to say...everyone else already said it. xD I hope you don't mind another comment of flail ^^"

BUT OH MY GOD THIS IS MY NEW CANON NOW. I loved every single scene omg aksdjfkljawhehawehw how could you be nervous this was the most amazing thing ever and you wrote so much in so little how even *__________*

09.06.10 (UTC)
Flail is always most appreciated! ♥

I AM FLATTERED MY INTERPRETATION IS YOUR CANON. The overwhelming positive response to this has definitely gone a long way towards settling my nerves when it comes to writing in this fandom. ♥
09.06.10 (UTC)
Awww. This isn't syrupy or even terribly fluffy at all, but it's so darned sweet. I love this little piece.
09.06.10 (UTC)
Aw, thank you~! :D

Edited at 2010-09-06 11:30 pm (UTC)
09.08.10 (UTC)
OH MY GOD.

*is goo*

This is stunning. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderfully, wonderfully great, and parts of it were so sad and others were so cute and I think I sort of ship Cobb/Arthur a little bit now.

<33333333333
09.08.10 (UTC)
Aw, thanks, bb! <3333

I'm so glad you liked it! There's just so much fic potential in this fandom, I totally need to go digging through the kinkmeme again for ideas Did you have any prompts you wanted to see filled? because it's a freaking goldmine. And I still want to write fic for this fandom. Because it's awesome. :D

Converting fans to Cobb/Arthur one fic at a time.
(Deleted comment)
09.08.10 (UTC)
Thanks, bb! The movie really hinted at so much more history between those two than we really got to see, so I love exploring their relationship. I'm glad you liked it. ♥
09.08.10 (UTC)
This is the most amazing fic. I love this so much. All the pieces, how they fit together and flesh out their histories, oh god. Just wonderful. The first one, how Dom and Arthur meet? Wow. Your version is basically the best version. Actually, scratch that- I love all six parts equally, because all six parts are simply amazing.

I am so glad you decided to write for this fandom, because you did an amazing job. Thank you.
09.08.10 (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I'm not sure Arthur would agree that my version is the best version, but nobody asked him, anyway. XD

I'm glad you enjoyed it! ♥
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