Calling in the bomb squad
@bookshop wanted a sleeves-rolled-up fic, so this is my attempt to oblige her.
The first few times it was the subject of much covert amusement and later mockery over drinks, but at this point it’s just getting old. Honestly, you’d think it was the Victorian era, the way they react.
“Here we go again,” Ariadne mutters to Yusuf as Arthur unbuttons his cuffs.
“So if we draw on Ms. Farrowman’s empathetic tendences toward orphans,” Eames is saying as he draws a diagram on the whiteboard, “we should be able to— um— to access, uh, the subconscious— that is to say—“ Eames is saved from finishing his sentence when he drops his marker on the floor. He drags his attention away from Arthur’s newly-revealed forearms and looks down at the marker with a puzzled expression, as though it were some sort of small meteorite that had randomly fallen at his feet. Meanwhile, Arthur, who has resumed scribbling in his Moleskine, is oblivious.
“If we use Ms. Farrowman’s empathy for orphans…?” Dom prompts, which seems to have the effect of restarting Eames’s brain. He retrieves the marker and turns back to the board.
“Right, yes, we should be able to trigger her subconscious to feed us the combination for the safe,” Eames says, and then he’s off again on his strategizing. Ariadne rolls her eyes at Yusuf, who responds with the kind of What can you do? shrug you give your spouse when the dog is scooting its butt across the living room rug.
It’s not like Arthur is any better; the last time Eames rolled his shirtsleeves up at work, Arthur spilled his coffee. Not on himself, of course — god forbid he ruin one of his precious suits — but on Ariadne’s lap.
Okay, so he bought her a really nice pair of replacement jeans that make her ass look fantastic. But it’s the principle of the thing.
And the principle of the thing, or maybe the thing itself, is that Arthur and Eames each turn into blithering idiots whenever the other rolls up his sleeves. Drinks are spilled, sentences are abandoned mid-word, hard drives are abruptly disconnected without ejecting… on one memorable occasion, a ball-point pen was broken in half, leaving Eames looking like he tried to rob a bank. Thank god they’ve never both had their sleeves rolled up at the same time; Ariadne can only imagine the chaos that would ensue.
And the other thing is that everyone has noticed except for them.
As far as Arthur and Eames are concerned, they’ve simply become clumsier, more absent-minded. Eames blames it on Yusuf’s new Somnacin blend, despite Yusuf’s vociferous protests. Arthur blames it on a lack of sleep, and Ariadne hasn’t had the heart to point out that they spend half their waking lives asleep.
And she gets it. She does. She’s watched enough West Wing episodes to appreciate the look of a man in an oxford with rolled-up sleeves. But at a certain point you move on from dumbfounded gaping to fucking. (That’s what Yusuf did after Arthur got Ariadne those new jeans.) Sometimes Ariadne feels like she’s one ruined thumb drive away from locking the two of them in a closet and not letting them out until they’ve defused the sexual tension.
As if on cue, Eames sends a mug skittering off the edge of a desk and watches helplessly as it shatters into a hundred pieces.
You have got to be kidding me, Ariadne says to herself, Out loud, she says, “I think I saw a broom and dustpan in the utility room, Eames.”
He mutters something about Somnacin and heads off, leaving three of them shaking their heads and one of them still scribbling obliviously in his notebook.
“Arthur,” Ariadne says, causing him to snap his head up. “Maybe you should help Eames find the broom. I think it’s behind some boxes.”
“I’m pretty sure Eames is capable of moving boxes by himself.”
“You know how Eames is,” Ariadne says. She doesn’t know what that means, but she has a feeling it will work. And sure enough, Arthur huffs and unfolds himself from his chair, stalking toward the utility room.
Ariadne quickly looks around the room for something that could— there, that looks like it’s the right height for wedging under a doorknob. “Yusuf,” she hisses, “grab that chair and follow me.”
“Because,” Ariadne says with relish, “It’s time for a controlled detonation.”