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[Inception] [Arthur/Cobb] [PG-13]

Originally written for this prompt at [ profile] inception_kink, there were two glaring loopholes in this one that I just couldn't stand not correcting, so!

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

Cobb stays paralyzed in his chair for a moment after they surface, sits silently as Arthur swipes the IV from both their arms, then the client's. He watches Arthur wipe the room down, brisk and efficient, then slide the briefcase shut once he's satisfied.

Perkipsky stirs, but stays under.

"He'll be awake any minute now," Arthur says, with a nod in his direction.

Cobb nods back, averts his eyes as he drags his knuckles over his mouth.

"Cobb," Arthur says, sharply.

"Yeah," Cobb says, after a second. Arthur holds the door open, and he pushes to his feet.

His lips are still burning.

They take the elevator to their room twelve floors below.

("How else are we going to explain the importance of a totem?" Cobb says, when Arthur points out the recklessness of the plan; Arthur frowns but goes ahead with the reservations.)

Neither of them speak during the ride down, and Cobb keeps his hands full with his cuff-links, his watch, his shotgun, keeps his eyes on the lighted numbers above the doors. He nearly misses the way Arthur tenses as they drop past 15, but Arthur says nothing, and it's almost a relief when the elevator stops and they step outside.

If Arthur hears the too-sharp breath Cobb draws, he doesn't mention it.

And if Cobb catches the way Arthur falters outside their room, however briefly, he doesn't mention it, either.

Their after-work meals are usually something Cobb looks forward to; a rare opportunity to watch Arthur unwind over a glass of Chardonnay, trading quips and swapping stories about old cases, family, what the rest of the team is doing.

(Cobb is terrible at keeping up, but Ariadne calls once a month, and Eames sends blank postcards from various locations every so often, and Yusuf is a constant presence in his inbox, so that hasn't posed a problem.)

Tonight, dinner is waiting for them when they get back to their room, just the way they like it. Cobb studiously doesn't watch Arthur hesitate by the bathroom, and when they sit at the table they're both still in their business suits, Cobb's rumpled from his slouch in Perkipsky's hotel room, Arthur's still perfectly in shape.

Cobb has to tear his gaze away.

Dinner suddenly seems impossible.

The conversation is stilted for most of the evening, Arthur refusing any wine, and Cobb indulging a little too much. Arthur's rigid posture doesn't yield at all throughout their meal, and more than once, he slips a hand under the table -- checking his totem, Cobb thinks, guiltily.

They remain awkwardly in place when they're done with their food, and Arthur looks between the bed and the bathroom like he's actually considering skipping his shower.

Which would be a bad idea, Cobb decides, given the various possible bacteria he might be carrying from Perkipsky's room.

He scrubs a hand over his face, then, and wishes he were a little more sober. Because they should talk about this -- this, jesus, he doesn't even know where to start. An apology? A retraction? A--


"I didn't know," Cobb says, abruptly. "Jesus Christ, Arthur, how did I not know?"

Arthur's mouth twists, but his voice is gentle. "You weren't supposed to."

"But I--"

"Dom," Arthur says, standing and putting an arm under Cobb's elbow. "We can talk about this later. You've had a lot to drink."

"Arthur," Cobb says, and tries to turn to look at him, but the angle's all wrong and he takes Arthur with him when he stumbles forward.

All of a sudden, he has Arthur pinned between him and the wall, barely an inch of space between them. Cobb's fists are bunched in Arthur's jacket, white-knuckled, but for the first time Arthur doesn't seem to notice the creases. He's so tense Cobb can't be sure he's breathing.

"Cobb," he says, after a second. His voice is too-steady. "You--"

"I didn't know," Cobb says, lower, and need flares into life in his stomach when Arthur shuts his mouth, swallows. His gaze flickers from Cobb's throat to the open bathroom door across them and back, uncertainly, and it's like being back in the dream all over again.

(It's like being interrupted during his lecture on creating diversions by Arthur saying, "No, I tried that. Public displays of affection don't always work in the dream. It all depends on circumstance."

Perkipsky's expression clouds over, uncertainly, and Cobb knows he has to do something about it. He's not paid to be second-guessed, not with this client.

"How about a simple demonstration," he says, but it's not pitched as a question, and, ahead of him, Arthur breaks into a run without any prompting. Cobb follows, only turning back long enough to tell Perkipsky, "Catch us."

The hallways are long and narrow, an exact replica of their current accommodation above, and he may have spent the last week memorizing the floor plans, but the hotel has been in the Perkipsky family for decades, and running is only going to put them at a disadvantage.

Cobb grabs Arthur's arm when he sees that one of the hotel rooms is open, doesn't even bother shutting it as he slams Arthur back into the bathroom door. Then he's sliding a palm around Arthur's neck and crushing their mouths together, hard and wet and fast.

For a second, Arthur freezes completely, shoulders hunching inward, but Cobb presses closer, insistent, licks into Arthur's mouth when Arthur shudders, and, god, it's like Arthur comes apart against him. He makes this raw, reckless noise at the back of his throat, and Cobb feels it sing in his skin, his blood, heat and want blurring together in a haze of jesus christ, arthur.

Then Arthur's hands are in his hair, and he's kissing Cobb back like he's trying to fold into him, like this is all he's ever going to need--

There's movement behind them - a quiet, oh, and then Housekeeping moves on. Cobb hears Perkipsky's footsteps skitter past, too, hears them keep going till they fall away, and he barely has enough coherence to wrench himself back. Arthur's breathing is harsh and ragged, his hands slipping down to close helplessly around the lapels of Cobb's jacket.

"Did you do it like that?" Cobb hears himself ask, his voice (rough and husky and not his at all) catching as Arthur's expression (confused, vulnerable, wrecked) shutters.

Then Arthur's stepping back, hands (are they shaking?) falling loosely to his side as he turns away. "No," he says, in that too-calm tone Cobb recognizes from jobs gone rogue in the past. "Not like that."

Cobb frowns, almost reaches out for him, but something in the hard set of Arthur's shoulders warns against it.

"It worked," Perkipsky says, suddenly reappearing at their door. "I lost track of you."

"Clearly, I was wrong," Arthur says, with a small nod. He doesn't look at Cobb.

And suddenly, belatedly, Cobb realizes he recognizes that look, sees Mal's eyes in Arthur's face and remembers her lying in his arms, begging him to stay, telling him--

He wakes up.)

"I didn't know," Cobb says, again; he's a broken tape recorder, but at least it's the truth.

And now -- now is a different story entirely.

"Cobb," Arthur repeats, too-calm again. Under his hands, Cobb can feel the way Arthur's pulse is rabbiting, almost hard enough to break skin. His eyes skitter involuntarily from Cobb's, like he can't hold Cobb's gaze. "Dom, you're drunk."

"I'm not that drunk," Cobb says, and they're so close that he can feel the heat of Arthur's stuttery breath against his mouth, shaped dangerously like an invitation.

"This is why we don't create from memory," Arthur says, but he sounds breathless already, unconvincing, and there's that flash of Mal again, a passing moment that leaves Cobb reeling.

"Arthur," Cobb says, and then he's closing the distance between them, slanting their mouths together, slow and careful, till Arthur makes another helpless sound and gives in, leans into Cobb like he can't help himself.

This time, Arthur pulls away first. His eyes are at half-mast, dark and desperate, and when his breath hitches against Cobb's skin, it sounds a lot like please. Dom, god, please.

And Cobb answers.
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