Summary: A week after the events of the movie, Cobb checks in with his teammates. Arthur/Eames, vague Cobb/Ariadne UST.
Spoilers: Inception, obvs.
Warnings: This fic does not have anything in it that requires a warning.
Disclaimer: Inception belongs to Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
(Podcast by aphelant!)
A week after the Fischer job, Cobb got a Google alert for a news item with the title FISCHER HEIR DIVIDES FATHER’S EMPIRE. Cobb quietly fist-pumped the air; getting his charges dropped and his kids back had been his main goal, but it still felt good, knowing he had pulled off the impossible. Again. For the second time.
Later that afternoon, when Phillipa and James were seated in front of the TV and hypnotized by Dora the Explorer -- repeating after her in Spanish, Cobb noted proudly -- he grabbed his cell and ducked into the kitchen.
The first person he called was Arthur. There was no answer, but that wasn’t surprising. If Arthur was in New York visiting his mother, like he’d been planning to do after the Cobol job, he wouldn’t answer if his family was around. And if he was in Seville visiting his father, his father wouldn’t let him answer on the Sabbath. Cobb paused and quickly googled “what day is the sabbath.” Okay, apparently today wasn’t the Sabbath, but Arthur’s dad was strange and was always having Arthur do things like go hat shopping and make Arthur be his wingman at the local senior centre.
Next, he called Ariadne.
“Oh, thank God,” she breathed into the phone.
“It’s good to hear you, too,” Cobb said.
He couldn’t help but smile, picturing her sitting on the front porch of the house she grew up in, cradling a cup of coffee in one hand and the iPhone she’d bought with her Fischer money in the other. He wondered what colour scarf she was wearing, or if she’d given up her grad school clothes for shorts and a t-shirt.
“My parents are driving me nuts! They keep asking me questions about school and France and my friends and boys--”
“How horrifying,” Cobb answered dryly. He leaned against the kitchen island. “It’s terrible when parents are interested in their children’s lives.”
She hesitated. “I may have, uh, mentioned you,” she mumbled finally. “Once or twice.”
“And by once or twice, you mean...”
“A million times, yeah.”
He lowered his voice. “Are you saying your parents know about--?”
“What?! No! But if anyone asks, you’re my much-older millionaire boyfriend whose wife died in a suspicious boating accident off the coast of Bermuda, and that’s why you paid for my trip home.”
Cobb didn’t know what to make of that. “Well,” was all he managed, before he heard a crash in the background, and Ariadne shriek, “Balthazar! I’m on the phone! Can’t you go be annoying inside?”
“Listen,” Cobb said, “I called because Fischer--”
“Broke up his father’s empire.”
Cobb could hear her grin over the phone, and it made him grin, too, hearing her excitement. He knew exactly how she felt, like she had made the biggest achievement of her life -- like she was the smartest, most brilliant, most amazing person to ever walk this earth. Cobb had been right before, about reality not being enough for her anymore; she’d go back to Paris and finish school, but she’d be back in the game before the year was over. He knew, because he had seen it before with Arthur, and because Cobb himself had felt all of this, the first time, when he’d woken up and seen Mal’s face smiling down at him.
Ariadne’s voice shook with glee. “Can you believe we actually--” She broke off suddenly, and came back with, “Mom, God, okay. Listen, Cobb, I have to go. Mom’s insisting I have lunch with the family. I’ll Facebook you.”
He blinked. “I don’t have a Facebook.”
“You don’t have a Facebook? Even my mother has a Facebook, and she’s a dinosaur. She’s, like, forty-two.”
“I’m hanging up now,” Cobb announced.
He scrolled through his contacts list with one thumb. He didn’t have Saito or Yusuf’s numbers; it wasn’t a good idea to call Saito, anyway, both for legal (Saito did just bribe the State of California) and professional (they weren’t friends or even teammates) reasons, and he wasn’t exactly sure where Yusuf was right now. When they had been landing in LA, Yusuf and Fischer had struck up a conversation about which Disney Land ride was the best, but Cobb has no idea if that meant Yusuf has actually been planning on staying Stateside for a while or if he had taken the next flight back to Kenya.
So he called Eames next. Come to think of it, he wasn’t sure where Eames was, either.
Cobb pulled the phone away and double checked who he had called. No, the screen definitely read Eames.
“Arthur?” Cobb demanded. “Why are you answering Eames’ phone?”
There was a long pause. “Our phones must have gotten mixed up?”
“Oh, Arthur,” said Cobb, “tell me you didn’t.”
“I’m a human being!” Arthur shouted. “I have needs, and desires, and-- and--”
“Is that Cobb?” he heard Eames ask in the background. There was a sound like box springs, and then, louder: “Hallo, Dominic, lovely to hear from you, but as you may have figured out, it’s an ungodly hour in the morning here in Almaty.”
Cobb raised an eyebrow. “Really, your idea of a romantic get away is Kazakhstan?”
“No,” Arthur replied, sounding peeved. “But Eames made a very convincing point. Also, you know I collect hand-woven carpets.”
“Yeah, anyway,” Cobb said, making a face, “I was calling to tell you about Fischer. I don’t know if you have the internet there in your Kazakh love nest, but it looks like the Inception took hold; Fischer announced this morning that he’s breaking up his empire into three separate companies, each with a different...”
Suddenly, he realized the phone had been completely, utterly silent while he had been talking. Too quiet, like he had been put on mute. “What are you doing?” he asked suspiciously.
Arthur cleared his throat. He sounded almost sheepish. “Can I call you back in ten minutes?”
“Ten minutes!” he heard Eames exclaim. “Ouch, you’ve wounded my ego.”
There was another pause. “Make that five.”
“How about you just email me?” Cobb asked, disgusted.
“I’ll Facebook you,” said Arthur, and he hung up.
That night, after the kids had gone to bed, Cobb received an email saying his Facebook had been created, using the password “dom1” and his current email ( email@example.com ). That was funny, since he didn’t even have a Facebook.
Bemused, but more than a little curious, he set down his beer on the coffee table beside where he was resting his feet and pulled his laptop onto his belly. He logged onto Facebook for the first, and hopefully last, time in his entire life. He was sure Ariadne was to blame for this.
Sure enough, on his profile was an awful picture of him taken with a camera phone. It had been taken in Paris, and he had been wearing the same suit for three days, was unshaven, and, in the photo, was clearly yelling at Arthur. Cobb vaguely remembered them having a insomnia-related shouting match over Arthur having brought him the wrong sandwich from the deli down the street. Cobb didn’t remember exactly what’d he’d said, but he did remember how Arthur had nearly punched him in the face and how Ariadne had looked at him like he was a psycho. Actually, now that he thought about it, Eames had stepped in and had told Cobb to calm down or else, and, wow, maybe he should have seen this whole Eames-Arthur thing coming.
Shaking his head, Cobb clicked from “wall” over to “info.”
Birthday: A million years ago
Interested in: women
Looking for: random play
Current city: Your dreams
Education and work
College: The School of Hard Knocks
Likes and interests
Women half my age
He navigated over to Ariadne’s Facebook to leave a message that said “I hate you.” When he was done, he noticed her entire wall was messages from Saito.
“That’s it,” Cobb said, “I’m retiring.”