a silly little snippet of Arthur in Limbo. completely context-free, except for being set after Eames was stuck in Limbo during the demilitarization experiment.
warnings: post-movie (slightly AU?). taking liberties with how the characters met/how long they've known each other. OCs: Shelley (Arthur's sister), Isaac (Arthur's ten-ish nephew), Tak Shibuya (Saito's niece). minor blink-and-you'll-miss-it crossover. slight crack. language: pg-13 (for s***).
pairing: Arthur/Eames, background Dom/Mal.
timeline: several months post-movie; some as-yet-undetermined time after Darling.
disclaimer: Chris Nolan owns Inception and its characters.
notes: 1) title from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 2) it's common, in dreams, to be unable to read things that are written down, and for numbers to appear upside-down or backward. 3) Shelley and Isaac were first mentioned by name in The Call. Shelley was named after Mary Shelley (the chick who wrote Frankenstein), and she named her son Isaac after Isaac Asimov (the dude who wrote I, Robot). 4) the Wonderland watch was first described in White Rabbit, where we found out that Tak can't read it. Arthur only wears it with a waistcoat. 5) in case you've been hiding in a hole, or maybe you just managed to forget, Arthur's totem is a weighted red die. 6) this is not Arthur's first time in Limbo (he went in with Dom to get Eames shortly after Darling (Papillon), you'll see soon), but since he dropped in both times while sharing a dream with people who'd already been, he probably didn't have a need to build anything for himself, and instead found the perfect house that Dom and Mal built (or maybe he was taken there by projections).
Arthur is reading a book that he can't read.
That is, he is looking at the pages, and turning them, and some part of him says 'ah, yes, what you're doing is called reading,' but he can't actually see the words. His eyes chase the letters around the page, but they're nonsense. Something is clearly wrong with the book. So he puts it down.
He's been sitting at the big oak table in Dom's dining room. On the porch (that seems to lead to nowhere), Tak is cutting Shelley's hair. They're chatting in a language Arthur doesn't understand, which is ridiculous, because his sister would've flunked high school French without his help. Behind them, in the distance, he can see skyscrapers and Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.
"Where are the kids?" he asks, because Dom's house by definition contains Dom's children.
"Mal took them all to the zoo," Tak tells him. "Isaac wouldn't shut up about how 'cool' the alligators were, so James just had to see them."
"Oh," he says.
But Tak's never met Mal. Arthur can't remember why.
"When did you meet Mal?" he asks her.
Tak shrugs. "This morning. Have you seen the cat?"
The Cobbs don't have a cat. He says so.
"Not their cat, your cat."
Arthur doesn't have a cat, either. He's allergic. He frowns and gets up from the table to interrogate Tak further, and a men's pocket watch falls out of his lap.
On the watch's face, Alice sulks while the Mad Hatter orates. The Wonderland watch.
He stares at the watch for a while. Why would he have the Wonderland watch with him? He's wearing jeans and a tee ('Have You Seen My Force Lance?', a gift from Jake forever ago), and his Cartier's right there on his wrist.
"Why would I have…" he starts to say.
He picks it up, opens it. The hands are pointing to nine-oh-seven. He automatically corrects it to one-forty-five without knowing why.
"Tak, what time does this watch say?"
She rolls her eyes and says something to Shelley in that incomprehensible foreign language, puts down the scissors, and comes inside. "It says one-forty-five. Just like my phone." She demonstrates by picking her phone up from the table and showing it to him.
But that's wrong. Tak can't read the Wonderland watch.
Arthur drops the watch and closes his eyes and tries to remember how he got here. "I got here by…I took a cab from…from…shit."
His totem is where it should be. He centers his thumb on the one and feels the balance. It's too even. He throws it onto the table, but Shelley snatches it up before it stops tumbling.
"Arthur, you're being really weird. Have you been working too hard or something?"
"You're not my sister," he realizes.
Tak and Shelley share a look. "Who else would she be?" Tak asks. "I mean, she looks like your sister, doesn't she? And she sounds like your sister."
"You've never met my sister, and Mal's dead, and you can't read my watch. I'm dreaming. I don't dream anymore, but I'm dreaming." He runs his hands through his hair. "Shit. Shit, I'm in Limbo."
"That doesn't make any sense, Art," Shelley sighs, taking him by the shoulders and pushing him gently onto the window seat. "Just take a deep breath and calm down, and don't do anything drast—"
Arthur jumps when the side of her face explodes in a spray of red.
"Hey!" Tak says, just before taking a shot between the eyes.
"Sorry I'm late, took me ages to find the place," Eames says breathlessly, offering the hand that's not holding a gun. "Lucky for me, your version of Tak is quite far afield of the real thing."
"What happened?" Arthur demands. "How the hell did I end up in Limbo? Is this your fault?"
"You wound me, love. It was very nearly entirely not my fault. In any case, I can just make it up to you later. Now come along, darling, we have a kick to make."