Word Count: 1986
Summary: There are a million and one stories in the world. Everyone, everything, has a story - if you are willing to listen of course.
Author's Note: written for this prompt (Their relationship from their totems point of view), and is singularly, the oddest thing I have ever written and not to mention the first Inception fic.
There are a million and one stories in the world. Everyone, everything, has a story - if you are willing to listen of course.
My beginning isn’t terribly important, constructed in a factory that produces a thousand and four die a day. I am one of four red, little squares taken from the first mould of the day. Red, black and traditional white are the first colours made every day, in all honestly, we are, were, no different from the first-of-the-press batches that had been produced for the last fifty years.
I stand by my first point, the beginning isn’t terribly important in this story.
Five years and six months (give or take eleven days, if you will). This, despite the years I have been handled, tossed, rolled, blown upon, is the first time I meet Arthur.
We are in London at the time, the place I am originally crafted. A place, I guess, I can contemplate as home. Arthur is a long way from home at this point, but that doesn’t really matter either.
He’s a slight, dark figure. No different, really, from the others that carry themselves through the casino door that night. I don’t know his name is Arthur at this point, I only know the way he stands when leaning against my table.
When you’ve been played as often and as fast as I have, being able to tell things just from the way a man carries you in his palm is no claim to fame. You’ve got to remember, this isn’t the story of a die made for a monopoly-board. In fact, this isn’t a story about me at all.
It’s about the man that holds me within his hand like it’s the first time he’s every stalked past the threshold of an underground gambling den. About a man who’s really still a boy when you consider the life span of one like myself. The same boy who’s sporting an over-grown Army-regulation crew cut and twists at the cuff links gracing his wrists like he’s not quite used to wearing them there.
It’s about Arthur and Eames.
Five years and six months (give or take eleven days, if you will) is the first time I’m pocketed by Arthur’s hands.
My Arthur, well, he’s something of an old soul. It’s the way he holds things, they way he places things within pockets instead of throwing them. It’s the way he hides his clenched fists when he’s angry, right next to my body, soft heat warming the unresponsive material my entire life has been constructed from. I find out later, through conversations muffled by layers of fabric, he’s twenty-two when he first finds me. Three and a half years within army service when he leaves and not quite sure of what he’s doing when he’s doing when he loads the extra weight into one of my six sides. It hurts, a lot, like hot, hot earth has been packed into my soul, compacted to the point where it weighs more the combined weight of all six sides.
A loaded die.
The boy, Arthur, is stubborn though, so I forgive him even though he does not ask.
It’s this way, that I’m offered a life of something more than bets on a table. I’m the seamless reasoning behind Arthur’s grip and grasps on reality. Maybe, my brothers and sisters were not made for this job, maybe, I am not either, but it’s mine, so I neither hesitate nor allow myself to be wrong. It’s through this, that I am offered an understanding into dream sharing. Arthur is diving in the world dreams before I even realise how to swim – I learn, from Mal and Dom, that Arthur is the one who introduces them to dreaming.
He also introduces them to Eames.
The man has the same background of dreaming as my boy. I know this, by the way I catch his image through cupped hands and fingertips encompassing my view. At this point, I do not know he is Eames. I do not know the faces and voices behind Mal and Dom – I do not even know their story.
But listen to me, it is this moment, not the beginning, that is important.
Arthur is knocking upon a thick, wooden door. The sounds echoing and vibrating through his chest and ending at the point I am placed.
“Hello,” calls a crisp, honey-laden voice. I can smell the other man through the thin material of Arthur’s breast pocket. His scent is that of many things – of whiskey, old cologne, toothpaste, half burnt cigarettes, leather – among other things, but more importantly, I realise, he smells alive and somewhat of secret places to run to.
I don’t see the looks exchanged between my Arthur and this unknown man (through this story, you’ll find I don’t see many things), I can only guess at the looks and half-formed expressions from both of the men. I am no oracle though, no die able to look back on time with a different vantage point, so I will not tell you things that be false. I can tell you about the thread of Arthur’s shirt that he wears this day, I can also tell you of the ink stains left light and invisible within the pocket lining, I do not believe these are the facts you are willing to listen though.
No more words are exchanged upon the doorstep. Soon, the only sound is that of the same thick door Arthur has knocked upon scrapping shut.
“Mr Eames I assume?” Arthur pats his pocket a little too hard. He is tense beneath his cotton and because of this, I can’t find reason enough to complain. “You guessed right, Pet.”
They talk of mundane things, of dreaming and theories I have heard a thousand times over that I care not to repeat. There is shuffling of feet at one point, from the other side of the room. I can only picture this as Eames and at another moment, there is the sound of a kettle whistle blowing.
“Here you go,” is supplied with a clink of a cup and a porcelain plate.
They continue talking, rambling, questioning. Eames’ voice is larger and heavier than Arthur’s. It travels further than others that I have heard, sounding like the man who first picks me up after I have come from the machine that made me. I want to see the face and body behind it, I’m curious but sight is not for me to decide, it is for Arthur.
Only one more sentence is uttered before we are moving, the shirt bunching around the place I am stationed and it’s more than a tad irritating.
“I guess I’ll take the spare room then and I am not willing to pay more than half the rent either.”
My first glimpse of Eames is when the man is wearing nothing but boxers.
Arthur, at this point in the morning, is already dressed, showered and crisp.
Eames is a few years older than Arthur. He smirks and smiles with an ease that isn’t fitting for a man of his criminal title. His face is open compared to Arthur’s expressions, but almost everyone appears open in comparison to Arthur. The men speak at ease now, still bickering and fighting but that’s something I believe they will never grow out of. After three weeks, there’s a smile behind Arthur’s words when he speaks to the other man. I wonder if Eames notices? He sees a lot more then he cares to let on. I wouldn’t be surprised.
I don’t get to look at the other man for long – this first time ‘round, that is – before Arthur is stuffing me back within his pocket like he doesn’t trust Eames with the sight of me.
“Those pants fit you well love.” And I feel Arthur’s frown rip down throughout his body.
“You’d do well to wear pants every once in a while.”
There’s a dizzying tip of gravity as Arthur reaches for the milk bottle within the fridge. I’ve almost slipped out the pocket and then, suddenly, things are back in place.
“I work from home, like a writer or musician, I’m allowed to sit at a desk in my undies if I want.”
“You’re a criminal Eames, there’s a difference.”
Arthur takes Eames dreaming before he takes me. They’re passed out in the lounge room, Arthur straight and together on the couch, Eames hunched, crumbled and still in his boxers in the armchair. I can watch them from the point Arthur has placed my on the coffee table. Next to the PASIV device and on top of the four-day-old paper that either of them refuse to bin.
There’re differences to Eames and Arthur. It’s in the way they stand, how they walk and the way their voices sound. There’s similarities too.
Mainly in the way they smile at each other when they wake, pulling the needles from their veins and Arthur forgets to roll me across the table, already knowing my sides will land on four time after time.
Arthur has been under with Eames three times when finally takes me with him. I am in his breast pocket, and I’m not sure how it happens, but I suspect I’m transported the same way he is.
Arthur’s hand is curled tight, no light penetrating the darkness and warmth.
“So, a totem then?” and there’s an upwards infliction on the end of his sentence like a question.
Arthur’s entire body moves when he nods, “Can I see?” and does the same when he sakes his head.
“I don’t believe you can.”
“Arthur.” Eames voice is soft.
“Shut up Eames, I’m working.”
Then there’s a body pressed up against Arthur’s, culling the light through the cloth and pawing at the shirt that causes uncomfortable ripples within the shirt’s breast pocket. Then, the shirt and I, we’re falling.
There’s a noise I have not heard from Arthur emitted into the air and then there’s feet coming close the place I lay.
“Pet?” It’s softer than before.
The morning is bright and clean. Arthur spins me four times across the floor before crawling back into bed.
There are meetings with Dom and Mal in later years. There is a death the rocks everyone one’s souls but there is laughter and hyena like yaps there too. Mal and Dom, these are lovely people – were and will – but they’re not important, really, to this story either.
He doesn’t say it, and he appears more than happy, but the first flat they share will always be Arthur’s favourite.
One day, one on which I’m not able to see, there’s a fight. I don’t hear what it’s about, the sounds are muffled, but Eames comes back a week later, “sorry” gracing every bone in his body.
Arthur rolls me fast and harsh over the years. He spins for fours and it isn’t always when he receives them. It’s after they meet Dom and Mal that something extraordinary happens.
After retiring from gambling houses only Arthur has held me. I did not expect this to change.
When I’m passed through the air and it’s Eames that catches me, I’m not sure who’s more surprised.
“This is your totem.”
“You’re observational skills leave me in awe.”
After that, there’s a pause.
“I thought you might hold it for me.” And I’m clutched in Eames’ hands even tighter than I have been in
Arthur’s. “My hand’s are full.”
“Sure.” And then I’m stuffed in a pocket I’ve never inhabited before in my life.
That night, I’m still in Eames’ hand when he casts it through Arthur’s hair.
There’s more to this story. There’s more to the beginning and there’s even an end. Maybe, one day, I’m
going to disclose it to someone.
I’m not sure though.
It’s part of Eames and Arthur’s story, you see, and that’s all that’s important.