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Owlinatree

The Tea Will Wait (Inception, Arthur sickfic)

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Owlinatree

(written for this prompt):

Maybe A got sick after doing something stupid B told them not to do, like go out in the rain or swim outside. Anyway, A catches a cold and B is being all snarky with them and refusing to make them their favourite food or rub their back and A, in feverish delusion takes it as B being totally mad at them and is just a sad guilty sick bundle of blankets.

In the middle of the night, A mutters that they’re getting up to go to the bathroom and B sleepily waves them off. But they don’t come back for a while and so B gets up to find them on the couch, sniffling and shivering.

A miserably tells them that they’re sorry for bothering them and that they could spend the night away from the bed and B suddenly realized they may have been a bit too cocky with their teasing and quickly cuddles up with A back in bed with a cup of hot tea. Yesss

Here's a sick!Arthur fic, wherein Arthur is person A and Eames is a more self aware and genuinely angry person B. Not planning on continuing this one, but I'm definitely willing to take prompts for these two!

Eames would say that he’s not one for ‘I told you so’s, but that would be an egregious lie. In fact, despite his considerable talent for reading the moment and his skill in understanding how far to push people in order to tease out vital information, Eames is absolutely shit at letting an ‘I told you so’ moment go unremarked-upon. Perhaps that's how he ends up here, alone in bed—in their bed—without an Arthur to be seen. It's unbearably cold; there’s a draft chilling the spot on his lower back that Arthur usually covers, and Eames is laid there rejecting the immediate conclusion his mind supplies: this is my fault.

“You’re absolutely certain you’re completely healthy?”

“Fuck off, Eames. I’m fine.” Arthur despises being fussed over, or cared about in any obvious way, and he doesn’t stray from that trend now.

“I’m not worried about you.” It’s the first lie, the first in a series of unfortunate events. “I’m only concerned that you’ll worsen and compromise our mission, what with the cold that you clearly have. I fail to see how going out in this,” he gestures at the windows, “whatever the bleeding fuck kind of ice rain this is, is necessary.” Plus, he doesn’t add, it’s late, and Arthur and he haven’t been home at the same time in weeks, and it’s not that he doesn’t care about the job—he does, it just. It hurts, a little.

“Fuck. Off.”

“Right, then, if you suddenly acknowledge the idiocy of your decision, you can bloody well go and find someone who cares. I’m going to bed.” Arthur is absolutely rigid, shoulders a tight line, spots of color high on his cheeks, which are drawn down toward his mouth, pursed against a few muffled coughs.

Eames sees this, because he’s good at his job. He ignores it all, because there’s a mug he’s steeping right now with that rooibos blend that Arthur likes on the counter in the kitchen, and because they had both worked all day, and because the bed is cold without Arthur there to cover up the breeze that comes through the dodgy vent that Eames keeps meaning to patch up, and the tea is going to be cold, too.

Eames almost says this, or at least he thinks he would have, but the door is shut and Arthur has left his scarf on the table, his phone by the door, his unshakeable presence in Eames’ psyche, and he’s gone.

The wind probably howls, and the tree outside their kitchen definitely scrapes against the window pane, but truthfully Eames notices none of it. He’s stuck in his head, angry at his sudden lack of companionship, and worried about Arthur, stubborn and stoic as he is.

Eames is honestly excited when he hears someone trying to break into the house. He’s pulling out his own lock picks in order to pose as a more successful burglar when the lock finally shifts with a soft snick! and Arthur trudges in, key in hand.

“Was that you this whole time? With a key?” Arthur says nothing, drops his coat and bag on the floor, and walks stiffly into the bedroom. Yeah, okay, fuck that. Eames puts his gear away, but makes sure to leave out the cold mug of tea alone on the table, in order to suitably symbolize the way he feels. For the drama.

Eames putters about aggressively as Arthur takes a shower, going through the motions to heat food up and place all the trappings of a normal night on the table. He gazes at the bathroom door as it opens, steam visible against the dark of the hallway as it precedes Arthur, who remains behind the open door as if to hide from the confrontation he saw coming but did nothing to stop. Maybe, Eames thinks, he’s not being charitable enough. Instead of the mutter or glare expected, the hidden Arthur sneezes into the hallway.

It’s muffled, quiet, the way all of Arthur’s sneezes are, except that’s not how they are, not how it’s supposed to be when he’s home and happy and open. Eames understands, then, that this Arthur is not the Arthur he wanted to make tea for, and not the Arthur with whom he wants to speak. This is his boyfriend stretched out, spread to only what is absolutely necessary, and it hurts to see that Eames is not part of that construction. It hurts, but he knows that he won’t find his boyfriend in this man just now.

Arthur swings the bathroom door just shy of closed, and Eames can see how profoundly exhausted he is—hair given only a cursory swipe with the towel, face pale, shoulders sagging out of their characteristic set. Arthur punctuates every few seconds with a wet sniff; Eames casts his gaze around to locate a box of the Kleenex Arthur favors. Tissues located, Eames begins to eat. Slowly, so as not to miss Arthur altogether, but a good minute before he arrives at the table.

Eames has made dinner, because he’s not the one messing this up. He put together a soup, because Arthur has a cold, and he threw in turkey, because he likes it. And if Arthur doesn’t like turkey, then he should have been there to say so.

“Thank you. You didn’t have to make all this.”

“Mm. I suppose I didn’t.” Eames is, at heart, very petty. This surprises exactly nobody, but apparently tonight it surprises Arthur who seems confused, in a blurry sort of way.

“Turkey?” Arthur makes a grimace, possibly to communicate displeasure.

“What, should I have waited until you deigned to arrive in order to make our meal?” Eames makes a grimace of his own, to communicate that he doesn’t care.

“That’s not what—I’m not hungry, anyway.”

“Did you buy food out there? You know, in the rain, While I was here, making dinner?” Arthur senses some sort of trap, but goes with the truth.

“No.” Some of the hurt sublimates to exasperation.

“Arthur, are you bloody well ever going to take care of yourself?”

“It’s fine, Eames. I’m eating now.”

“Yeah? See that you are.” Eames slurps the last of his soup, which Arthur hates, and drops it in the dishwasher without rinsing it, which Arthur also hates.

Arthur sniffles again, and Eames reaches over and slides the box pointedly over to him. “For god’s sake, Arthur, you haven’t fooled anyone into thinking you’re not sick. Just blow your nose. I can hear you sniffing.” Arthur’s ears blush; the rest of his face has been flushed since the shower. He presses the tissue gently to his septum, accomplishing nothing, and Eames turns to leave, annoyed. It’s too late to deal with this shit. Arthur’s an adult, who can deal with his own runny nose and can continue taking Eames for granted on his own time.

This is where the night finds Eames an hour later, Arthur-less and desolate in their bed. He flops around, tossing an arm out to check one last time for Arthur’s elusive presence, coming up empty. He pauses for a few deliberate breaths, hands linked over his eyes, before swinging his feet off the bed to lever himself upright.

A hum is the first thing that registers to Eames when he slips out of their room. The second sound that crops up is a sort of uneven gasping, which results in the choked-off noise of a stifled sneeze, accompanied by two more and then a painful sigh. Eames is rounding the corner when the coughing starts up, a hollow sound which scrapes up from the base of the chest and has overtaken Arthur by the time Eames reaches the couch. Arthur is sat on the couch, bottom half firmly swaddled in blankets, but his torso appears to have been unearthed. He’s got his legs propped up before him, knees poking toward the ceiling, arms locked straight, braced against the cushions for support.

“Oh, Arthur.” Arthur startles like a cat at this, shaking slightly. Or rather, Arthur startles, shakes, and continues shaking after that.

“Could you turn on the heat, James? M’cold.” Arthur won’t look at Eames.

“Why don’t you pull the blanket up, then, love?”

“Was too heavy. Choking. Got rid of it.” Well. That’s . . . not promising. Eames locates the buzzing noise, where the humidifier is running empty. He steps toward it, to fill the reservoir, and looks back at Arthur. Arthur, who says nothing but who looks like he’s just lost his childhood stuffed animal.

“Alright, love?” Arthur brings his knees closer to his chest, says nothing, just looks straight ahead with that awful wrinkled forehead and drooping, watery eyes, shakes with more hollow coughs. Damn.

Eames pulls their thermometer from the pasta cabinet, where he keeps all of his medicine, while he fills the humidifier. What? It’s dry, and all that.

Arthur doesn’t protest when Eames presses the thermometer into his mouth, even though Eames forgets to say “ahh” until after. He just shivers slightly and leans into Eames’ hand, rested gently on Arthur’s forehead. They hold on to the moment, letting the world occupy just the two of them for the thirty or so seconds before the beep. Eames glances down at the tiny screen, and then again.

“Arthur? Arthur! I’m going to run a cold bath. Christ. You’re going to be fine. Bleeding fuck, okay.” A hundred and two degrees. He sets the fucking kettle to a hundred degrees! Wait. He sets his kettle to a hundred degrees. This is not his kettle, and this is certainly not his own sensible Celsius thermometer.

Arthur has finally seemed to react to him, though, fear evident. Eames doesn’t know if it’s anything to do with the ridiculous American thermometer reading, though, or if he’s responding to Eames’ own anxiety.

“Darling, is a hundred and two degrees bad?” Arthur narrows his eyes slightly at Eames, focusing vaguely on his mouth.

“A hundred and two degrees Fahrenheit is thirty eight point eight eight eight eight, eight—” Well, there’s that sorted. Eames shushes his smart idiot of a boyfriend, smoothing back his ungelled hair.

“Save me the entirety of the number, Arthur. Maths, you know.”

“S’got more eights.”

“I’m sure it has.”

Arthur shifts around, making room for Eames on the couch. “Sit.” Eames wavers between his earlier anger and the moment, settling in the practical direction. He sits. Arthur leans, or maybe tips, onto Eames’ chest, in some sort of strange angle that works for him. He pushes his nose into Eames’ jumper, slowly shaking his head back and forth.

“Arthur, wha—”

ihh-CHXgst!

“If this is in protest of my clothing choices, I’ll have you know that this is your own jumper that I stole three years ago.” Arthur tilts his face up, opening one bleary eye with an impressive eyebrow motion. “Did you let me take it on purpose?” The eyebrow somehow looks self-satisfied. “Don’t look so pleased. I’ve had it bedazzled.” He hasn’t, but the point is that he could have, which is really the same thing.

“Did I wake you up?”

“Hmm?”

“Tried to be quiet. You were mad.” Eames all but rolls his eyes. He doesn’t, because he’s the mature one. Really.

“Arthur, you ninny. I didn’t mean for you to proceed to ghost me.”

“But, you were mad?”

“Yeah?”

“You were mad when I was there. I didn’t whh-ihhCHxt! Ugh. Didn’t want to bother you more.”

“Arthur, why do you think I was angry?”

“Wasn’t, uhmm, doing the job right? No, wait. Fast. James, I don’t think why’s a fair one. S’all mixed up.” He might not even be wrong. Any question is probably not fair to Arthur, just now. Eames was probably not fair to Arthur.

“Arthur, why didn’t you tell me you were so poorly?”

“You said. Thought you knew.” And, huh. Hello, Day When Sarcastic Remarks Come Back to Bite. You’ve been a long time coming.

“Love, I thought you had a bit of a cold. You’re sick, Arthur. You can tell me that. I wouldn’t have let you go out.”

“Didn’t seem to care much. I’m not worried about you. See, I listened.” It would be some sort of cruel mockery, if Arthur weren’t quoting point-blank what Eames had said that evening.

“I was upset, Arthur—I’ve missed you, this past few weeks.”

“You missed me?”

“I thought that was obvious.”

“But why’d you ignore me?” Arthur has a point.

“I wanted, ah, I suppose I wanted you to miss me as well.”

“I did! I do.” Arthur’s emphatic, enough so that he’s set to coughing again, and Eames does his best to apologize properly, not touching Arthur’s back because he does know his man—that makes him feel constricted—but not with words either. He presses a kiss to Arthur’s shoulder, before it spasms and Arthur manages to shove Eames’ mouth roughly. Eames squawks at this affront. Arthur giggles, coughs some more, and Eames decides that a real apology can happen for now in gestures, in the brush of hands in hair, can fill a new mug of that rooibos tea that Arthur’s fond of, with two spoons of sugar.

Words will wait for tomorrow.

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starpollen

This is lovely, and I haven’t even seen the movie... :wub:

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AngelEyes

Awwww. This being the second story of yours for this fandom that I've read, I've come to the conclusion that I really must see the movie. These two are adorable!

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Eames almost says this, or at least he thinks he would have, but the door is shut and Arthur has left his scarf on the table, his phone by the door, his unshakeable presence in Eames’ psyche, and he’s gone.

Sad!

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

It’s muffled, quiet, the way all of Arthur’s sneezes are, except that’s not how they are, not how it’s supposed to be when he’s home and happy and open. Eames understands, then, that this Arthur is not the Arthur he wanted to make tea for, and not the Arthur with whom he wants to speak. This is his boyfriend stretched out, spread to only what is absolutely necessary, and it hurts to see that Eames is not part of that construction. It hurts, but he knows that he won’t find his boyfriend in this man just now.

I love how you paint the contradiction being the public Arthur and the at home Arthur and Eames hurt that he isn't happy/comfortable enough to relax and be his home self.

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Eames is, at heart, very petty.

You dod a great job portraying this side of him and yet coming back and showing his caring side as well.

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

A hundred and two degrees. He sets the fucking kettle to a hundred degrees! Wait. He sets his kettle to a hundred degrees. This is not his kettle, and this is certainly not his own sensible Celsius thermometer.

I love his panic and confusion over the American measurement system.

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“If this is in protest of my clothing choices, I’ll have you know that this is your own jumper that I stole three years ago.” Arthur tilts his face up, opening one bleary eye with an impressive eyebrow motion. “Did you let me take it on purpose?” The eyebrow somehow looks self-satisfied. “Don’t look so pleased. I’ve had it bedazzled.” He hasn’t, but the point is that he could have, which is really the same thing.

LOL

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

“I wanted, ah, I suppose I wanted you to miss me as well.”

Awww.

 

3 hours ago, Owlinatree said:

Arthur giggles, coughs some more, and Eames decides that a real apology can happen for now in gestures, in the brush of hands in hair, can fill a new mug of that rooibos tea that Arthur’s fond of, with two spoons of sugar.

Words will wait for tomorrow.

Love their making up!

Definitely looking forward to anything more you choose to share of this pair!

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Owlinatree
8 hours ago, starpollen said:

This is lovely, and I haven’t even seen the movie... :wub:

6 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

Awwww. This being the second story of yours for this fandom that I've read, I've come to the conclusion that I really must see the movie. These two are adorable!

(I wanted to address these two together first, hence the double quote) This is so incredibly flattering! I hadn't realized that you hadn't seen the movie; that makes it all the cooler that you read my fics lol.

One word of caution if these two are your main motivation to see the film: Arthur and Eames are not bit characters, not by any means, but they only interact a few times. I think the reason the pairing took off was really that in the film we are given pretty much nothing in terms of backstory or explicit characterization for either Arthur or Eames; we learn about each of them through their interpersonal interactions, and the Arthur-Eames interactions are by far the most fun to watch. All this to say that much of what I write as "Arthur" and "Eames" is extrapolated from my obsessive attention to little character tics, costume design, and throwaway lines. 

I definitely recommend Inception as a film, though. It's complicated and layered, but satisfying as hell to watch and re-watch. 

7 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

I love how you paint the contradiction being the public Arthur and the at home Arthur, and Eames hurt that he isn't happy/comfortable enough to relax and be his home self.

I'm glad you liked that! Arthur compartmentalizes, I think, and usually he's adept at code-switching, but I wanted to write what would happen if his capabilities were compromised.

7 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

You did a great job portraying this side of him and yet coming back and showing his caring side as well.

Thank you! Eames has a...theatrical heart, but he loves his man!

7 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

I love his panic and confusion over the American measurement system.

Me too! It's one of my favorite tropes, haha

Thank you, both of you :heart: 

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ohlala8

Oh god, the sneezing is great but I love the sweet fever-loopy Arthur too. With the thirty-eight point eight-eight-eight, and "I don't think why's a fair one." And my heart melted for "I wanted you to miss me as well." This is everything I always want in sickfic, thank you.

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Shikee12.haley

Awww this is so cute :heart:

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AngelEyes

OMG. So I saw this movie. Freaking brilliant! Seriously trippy. I loved it. And Arthur and Eames! Perfection! I would read all the more of them!

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