Eames once spent thirty-seven minutes in an Albanian prison.
After the first twenty minutes, Arthur phoned him, demanding to know how much trouble he was in and if he was injured, and to whom Arthur should wire the bail and/or bribe money.
Eames has no idea how Arthur had the faintest glimmer where he was, considering that at the time, Arthur was on a job in Grenada with Cobb, and also, was busy being shot at.
(He also has no idea when, precisely, Arthur became responsible for Eames’s bail money, or who bestowed that honour upon him, but Eames has exactly no objections to Arthur doing so.)
Dom is the world’s best extractor (even if he only works occasionally now). Ariadne is quickly proving to be a dream of an architect. Yusuf is a chemist who can work magic, Saito... has a lot of money and many shadowy connections. Eames is a forger without equal. And Arthur is the best point man, period.
And as such, there’s nothing unusual about Arthur being able to tell Dom where Eames is, routinely, at the drop of a hat.
It’s possible Dom gets used to it.
“We need Eames,” he’ll say, and Arthur will keep both eyes on whatever he’s doing but he’ll say, “London.” Or Paris, or St Petersburg, or Dubai, or wherever Eames happens to be that week.
“Arthur,” Dom says one day, while they’re looking over skyscraper models with Ariadne for their current job, “I think we could use Yusuf for this one. If we want everything to work like this, we’ll need someone who knows about the compounds we want mixed. And we could use another dreamer.”
Arthur nods agreeably. Dom waits, but Arthur doesn’t offer a location.
“Well?” he says after another minute. “Arthur? Where’s Yusuf?”
“How should I know?” says Arthur. He taps the end of his pencil against his jaw. “Try his office in Mombasa.”
Dom frowns. So does Ariadne.
“You... don’t know?” Dom asks, just to be sure.
“Of course I don’t know,” says Arthur, and he’s starting to look a little annoyed. “You don’t know. Ariadne doesn’t know. Why would I?”
“Okay,” Dom says, slowly. “Well. All right, then.”
Arthur shrugs, apparently of the opinion that nothing interesting has just happened.
Dom glances at Ariadne. She looks worryingly thoughtful.
Dom clears his throat, is ignored, and gets up and pulls out his phone. He’ll try just calling Yusuf; he probably should have done that in the first place.
An hour later, out of the corner of his eye Dom sees Ariadne lean forward. He looks up.
Ariadne is looking at Arthur with a suspiciously innocent expression on her face.
“Arthur,” she says casually, “where’s Eames?”
Arthur finishes slipping his own phone back into his pocket as he promptly replies, “Rio.”
Ariadne looks over at Dom and raises her eyebrows pointedly.
Dom nods; something here stinks of seafood, all right.
Arthur looks over at them, a tiny line between his eyebrows. “Why? We don’t need a forger, though, do we?”
“No,” says Dom, and shakes his head. “We don’t.”
“Didn’t think so,” says Arthur, and he goes back to his list of... whatever today’s list is.
Ariadne raises her eyebrows even higher. Dom hums thoughtfully.
This is his safe house. (One of them, anyway.) The point of which being that it is safe, because nobody knows where it is or when he goes here or that it is even his.
Yet Arthur is sitting in Eames’s favourite chair, eating Eames’s crisps (somehow without getting a single crumb on the grey pinstripe of the bespoke suit he’s wearing. Wearing unspeakably well, of course, as usual).
“Darling,” Eames drawls, “did I give you a key?”
“Lock picks,” says Arthur dismissively. He arches an eyebrow, clearly judging Eames’s latest mustard-and-orange checked shirt and finding it severely lacking. As usual. “Did you know that there’s hardly any food in this house?”
“It’s not my day for the market.” Eames arches an eyebrow right back. “Is there any particular reason you’re in my chair, pet?”
“The others aren’t as comfortable,” says Arthur.
Eames sighs. “Darling.”
Arthur eats another crisp. The bag is almost empty, and Eames normally would not care, except Arthur was right, and that bag of crisps is possibly the only edible thing in the house. (Well. Besides Arthur, but Eames doesn’t really imagine Arthur would appreciate that suggestion. Eames files it away to make anyway.)
“Arthur, darling,” Eames says again, more pointedly.
“Cobb wants you,” Arthur finally explains, rubbing his fingertips together briskly to dust the salt off them, back into the bag. “For a job.”
“You know, Arthur,” sighs Eames, “as you seem to have lost it since the last time, I would be more than happy to give you my number. That way you could call my mobile for these little things instead of dragging yourself all about the world and invading my house. My incredibly well-hidden house. Which, until twenty minutes ago, I was quite certain was most profoundly a secret.”
“I don’t like the curtains,” is Arthur’s response. “And you should buy better chairs.”
He finishes the crisps.
Eames notes this as the pitifully obvious non-answer that it is. He considers his options.
“Well,” he eventually decides, “now you have to have dinner with me.”
“Pack first,” advises Arthur, rising like a crisply-pressed phoenix from his undignified sprawl in Eames’s chair. “Our flight leaves in six hours.”
“Of course it does,” says Eames, and goes to fill his luggage with all of Arthur’s least favourite articles of clothing.
They’d only used Eames on one of those jobs.
“Has he ever been wrong?” she asks Cobb. “Arthur, I mean. About... Eames.”
“No,” Cobb replies, apparently without even having to think about it. “Not that I’ve ever seen.”
“How specific is it?”
Cobb gives her a long, level look. “Specific.”
“Huh,” she says.
Eames had been expecting Arthur to message him back within a few minutes, complaining that it wasn’t Arthur’s fault Eames didn’t have pizza, or even that Eames was drunk and hungry in the first place, and besides that it was the middle of a work day and Arthur was in Barcelona, for Christ’s sake.
Arthur didn’t message Eames back at all.
Thirty minutes later, someone rang Eames’s bell.
It was a delivery boy, with an extra large sausage, mushroom and olive pizza.
“That does seem to be the case,” Eames replies, sounding totally calm about that fact.
“No, I mean, he always knows,” she repeats. She leans forward a little and widens her eyes as significantly as she can. “Always, Eames.”
“I know,” he says, gently.
“Why does Arthur always know where you are?” she asks. “How?”
“My dear girl, I haven’t the slightest idea. Should you discover how he does it, do, please, share. In the meantime...” He tilts his head toward the sink. “There’s work to be done. And I would like my tea.”
Ariadne huffs, frustrated, because Eames doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that Arthur is apparently stalking him (or possibly some kind of mind-reading alien wizard), but she steps aside so he can finish making his tea, and goes back over to draft more impossible loops in things.
Apparently, he’s not the only one.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Ariadne complains to him, for the dozenth time. She’s beginning to look frayed around the edges every time the subject comes up, and it’s unsettling to Dom. “How does he do it, Cobb? Does he follow Eames with his brain?”
“I don’t know,” Dom admits. “I never thought to ask, before.”
At that moment, Arthur walks past them, and her eyes narrow.
“Well,” she says, “I’m asking now.”
Dom sighs and watches her cross the room, watches her lean into Arthur’s space and look up at him with her big, innocent, curious eyes poised to eat up every bit of knowledge offered her.
Arthur’s reply, when he makes one after a moment’s cool-faced pause, drifts back to Dom.
“I have a very diverse skill set,” is what he says.
“Including...?” prompts Ariadne.
“Changing the subject,” says Arthur, and pulls out his phone, which clearly signals to Dom the end of that conversation.
Ariadne doesn’t stomp on her way back to Dom’s desk, but she looks like she’d very much like to.
“Your point man is infuriating,” she announces.
“Yes,” says Dom, patting her shoulder sympathetically, “I know.”
“Ariadne,” he says back, and raises his eyebrows.
“Where is Ea—”
“Brighton,” Arthur says. He shoots her a flat look, probably because she has now asked him the same question five times in seven hours. “Eames is in Brighton.”
She blinks. She’s pretty sure that the last four times she’d asked, the answer had been ‘London’; she’s not sure how far apart those two places are, but it worries her that Arthur is being so accurate when to Ariadne, everything in England outside of London is... well. England. “... seriously? Why? What’s in Brighton?”
Arthur shrugs. He checks the PASIV lines one more time. “I have no idea. He’s there a lot, though. Maybe his mother lives there. He could be visiting. Though if so I hope she likes seedy casinos.”
She blinks again. This is even more worrying. “Wait, he’s in a casino? I mean, right now?”
“... Eames has a mother?” asks Yusuf, from the next lounger over.
“Presumably he has a mother. Most people do,” says Arthur. He reaches for the button. “Okay, five minutes.”
“But how do you know he’s in a cas—” starts Ariadne, but then she’s waking up in the middle of a dream with only projections around, except for Yusuf’s across from her, mouthing the word Mother to himself, almost incredulously.
“Perhaps Arthur is guessing, and merely lucky?” suggests Saito.
“Extraordinarily lucky?” Saito tries.
“He once told me which stall of the women’s bathroom Eames was in,” says Dom. “In Brighton. From Havana.”
“Ah,” says Saito.
“Maybe we should try thumbscrews,” Ariadne says suddenly, with a thoughtful frown.
Dom and Saito exchange glances.
Saito holds out his cut crystal tumbler. “Have some scotch, my dear.”
why are you in the middle of the atlantic ocean?
Then, when Eames didn’t reply right away, eames?
“How does he know where I am but not why?” Eames wondered aloud, but he was somewhere that he, as a passenger, was not technically allowed to be, and there was no-one else around to answer him.
jesus christ, are you drowning?!
Eames considered for a moment, just a moment, ignoring Arthur’s baffling messages, then sighed and messaged Arthur back that no, he was not drowning, and it was really none of Arthur’s concern if Eames wanted to go for a swim anyway.
well, that’s all right, said Arthur’s next text, just don’t drown
yes, mum, Eames sent back.
Arthur lifts his head, finds Ariadne standing over him with her arms crossed. Behind her, Cobb, Yusuf and Saito are either pretending not to be listening, or else legitimately taking speed, they’re looking so diligent and industrious.
“Am I what?” he says, because he cannot possibly have heard her correctly, and also, he has no clue what this is about.
“Magic,” repeats Ariadne. “Are you?”
Maybe she’s doing drugs, like the other three. Arthur frowns, concerned, and mentally begins a list of mixed-gender rehab clinics, sorted by geographical proximity to their present location and then cost, in ascending order. “No, I’m not magic.”
“An alien?” asks Ariadne.
Arthur worries that maybe rehab is a rather urgent question, actually. “Not the last time I checked, no.”
She looks frustrated. “Well, then, do you read minds?”
“Ariadne,” he says carefully, lowering his notebook. “What’s going on?”
“Impossible things,” she growls, and looks at him accusingly. “Many impossible things. Before breakfast.”
“You’re not actually Lewis Carroll’s Alice. You know that, right?”
Ariadne scowls. She twists and shouts over at Cobb, “Your point man. Is. Infuriating.”
“Among other things, yes, he is,” agrees Eames from behind Arthur, getting back from the coffee run that took him far too long because he stopped at a grocer’s, a shoe outlet, and a bookstore before he even made it to the coffeeshop. He props his hip against the desk next to Arthur and crosses his ankles. “Are you being picked upon, darling?”
“Yes,” says Arthur.
“No,” says Ariadne, turning back to glare.
“Also, I think possibly our team is under the influence,” Arthur continues, eyeing Ariadne with concern. Eames follows his eyes, as Arthur expected him to.
“Hm,” he says, thoughtful.
“We are not under the influence,” says Cobb, sighing wearily, as if his colleagues were anywhere near as trying as his toddlers.
“Though, if there’s interest, I could procure some marijuan—” Yusuf starts to offer.
Ariadne interrupts him with an impatient noise. “Arthur, just tell me how you’re stalking Eames!”
Arthur sits back. “Oh.”
“Yes, pet,” drawls Eames, and he sounds more amused than curious, though Arthur knows him well enough to be sure that he must be dying to know. “Tell us how you’re stalking me.”
Arthur surveys the faces of his teammates, all looking at him expectantly.
“It’s really nothing,” he says, after a minute.
“Then you will not mind telling us,” replies Saito, coolly.
Arthur sighs. “Oh, fine,” he says. He pulls out his phone, holds it up just a little smugly. “I have an app.”
He gets gaped at for his trouble.
“An app,” Cobb repeats dubiously. “‘Need to constantly be aware of your forger’s location? There’s an app for that!’ That kind of app?”
Arthur nods. “Yes.”
“How is there possibly an app for that?” says Ariadne, her voice rising incredulously.
“I made it,” says Arthur. He smiles. “It’s called Eames-dar.”
“That’s a terrible name, darling,” chides Eames. Arthur glances up at him, and Eames is... actually, he’s beaming. “Absolutely terrible.”
“But how does the app know?” asks Saito, frowning. “Do you have a bug in his phone? What if he loses it, or gets a new one?”
“I do not have a bug in his phone,” Arthur says, indignantly, and narrows his eyes. Does Saito really believe he’s that slapdash and careless? Does anyone?
“I put a bug—” Arthur waves an expressive hand at Eames, “—in him.”
There is absolute silence for seven and a half seconds.
“You did what?” shrieks Ariadne.
“How?” asks Saito, pensive.
“When?” Eames asks, looking startled, and possibly intrigued. “And where?”
“If you say ‘his ass’ I am ending this conversation right here,” Cobb warns, as Arthur opens his mouth to reply.
Arthur heaves a long-suffering sigh. In Eames’s ass? Really, that would have been a stupid place to put it; Arthur had rejected the idea after only two hours. Honestly, what does his team think of him? “It is not in his ass,” he promises.
“So where is it?”
Arthur meets Eames’s eyes. He arches his brows. “Infinity,” he says. He figures he can be forgiven for sounding a little self-satisfied.
Ariadne frowns. “What?”
But Eames’s eyes widen, and his hand goes immediately to the back of his neck, to the celtic knot tattoo he’s had ever since that one time years ago when he’d gone drinking with Arthur and woken on the floor of the warehouse they were using, two days later and with the worst hangover in the history of alcohol. (Arthur knows Eames thinks of it like that, because Eames has told him so, repeatedly.)
“No,” Eames says wonderingly. “Did you, really?”
Arthur shrugs pragmatically. “Well, I had to hide the incision, didn’t I?”
Ariadne frowns even harder. “Wait,” she says, her voice rising, “you tattooed him?”
“I got him drunk first,” Arthur defends. “It’s not like I didn’t consider that they’re painful.”
“I have many tattoos, Ariadne,” Eames points out. “I quite like them, actually.”
Ariadne rounds on him, looking ever so slightly betrayed. “Eames, Arthur has clearly taken advantage of you and just admitted to stalking you for years. Aren’t you at all upset?”
“Upset?” Eames fakes surprise almost more convincingly than the average person feels it — which is true of many things, actually — but this is genuine, Arthur can tell. “Why on Earth would I be upset?”
Ariadne scowls and huffs and turns a little red in the face. It’s Cobb who answers.
“Arthur could probably, at any given time, tell us where you are more accurately than you could. It doesn’t bother you that he knows that?”
“Should it?” Eames asks insousciantly.
Cobb’s mouth opens. Nothing comes out. He looks baffled.
“He has to know where I am,” explains Eames. “Otherwise how would the pizza fairy know where to deliver?”
“Oh my god, I don’t understand you at all,” says Ariadne, throwing up her hands. “This is ethically unsound and, like, probably illegal. But whatever, you guys be creepy if you want to.”
“We’re ecstatic to receive your blessing at long last,” Eames says dryly. Ariadne glares at him.
“Are we going to work,” Yusuf asks no-one in particular, “or should I roll a joint after all?”
“This warehouse is a drug-free zone,” says Cobb, abruptly snapping out of whatever trance he’d fallen into. “Everybody, stop gaping at them and get back to work. And as for you two?” He points at Eames and Arthur.
Eames looks expectant. “Yes?”
“Stop. Just, stop. Or— Or—” Cobb sighs again. “Oh, just— Get a room.”
“I already have one,” says Eames.
“It’s on Elm Street,” says Arthur.
“I give up,” says Cobb.