ladderax: (Default)
Title: Erasure
Summary: No one really talks about it much, but forgers tend to burn out young. When Eames loses his skill, he has to examine his past, re-evaluate his identity, and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. (The fact that he's slowly falling for a former coworker complicates matters somewhat.)
Notes: Originally written for ae-match.

Arthur is the last person he wants to see reflected behind him in the mirror right now. )
ladderax: (Default)
Title: Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me (3/?)
Author: Adela

Word count: ~2000
Disclaimer: Not mine. Everyone else's but mine. Also, some of the characters mentioned in passing and the Cardassian background are taken from Andrew J. Robinson' amazing Garak novel, A Stitch In Time.
Fandom: Inception/Star Trek: DS9 crossover
Pairings/Characters: In this installment, Arthur, Cobb, Mal. Arthur/OMC. Eventual Arthur/Eames (Eames shows up in the next part)
Rating: NC-17, eventually.
Warnings: violence, non-canon character death, angst, a very brief moment of erotic pleasure, Trekkie nerdery
Summary: Arthur is actually a Cardassian spy disguised as a human and sent to 24th century Earth. Unfortunately for him, he gets thrown through a temporal anomaly and lands in the 21st century. Eventually he becomes the dream-thieving, Eames-loving Arthur we all know and love. In this part, the Arthur hairstyle is explained, unusual erogenous zones are discovered, Cardassian poetry is depressing, and Arthur becomes Cobb's right-hand man. 

He spent the next five days watching television, lying on the soft couch.

It was always jarring to look into the mirror and see that face he couldn’t really call his own. Allegedly the shapes of all his features were the same. But the fins and ridges had been shaved off the nostrils and the bridge of the nose and the chin. His neck was scrawny, almost grotesque, without the thick ridges that ran alongside it.

He touched the side of his neck and shivered from a pleasure far out of context. He hadn’t expected it to still be so erotic. It was even more pleasurable now because the neck wasn’t protected by those ridges. The nerves that conducted that orgasmic frisson straight to his crotch were practically naked. And he felt ashamed. Having such a center of pleasure exposed was not enough unlike walking around with your cock out.

His hair was an embarrassing tangle. He picked up Mal’s black brush with animal hair bristles and jammed it through the knots, eventually able to brush it straight backwards. Now once again it was smooth, slick, straight, a Cardassian’s hair, his hair.

It flopped forward when he took his hand away. But at least he’d been able to see a glimpse of himself. And might be able to mistake himself for himself if he saw from far enough away.

*

It was time for him to go. He hated relying on strangers, especially human strangers. He had grown used to Mal’s singing, to Dom’s awkwardly re-learned piano playing, to the late-night sounds of metallic putterings in the small study. He’d even gotten slightly more accustomed to the nauseating food smells. But he had to face it. These people were primitives. They knew nothing of the universe. They were like ants on a leaf, too small to understand the shape of the leaf let alone of the tree it was on.

But where would he go from there? He had no idea how to make human money. He could work with technology, and maybe he could learn their simple machines.

Maybe he could broach the subject with Dom. Dom had been kind to him, especially if kindness was directly proportional to how few questions one asked. He had even been accommodating when Arthur felt he had slipped beyond all hope of repair. Once he had asked what nation-state they were in, and Dom looked amused. France, he answered.

Arthur had never heard of France.

Maybe Dom thought he had some kind of head injury, or that he was some sort of awkward feral child. Mal was the more cautious, but still kind. It was difficult to read her reactions when Arthur answered a question.

However evasive Arthur was, Dom and Mal were equally evasive when it came to talking about their work. They worked in the same field, they said, in a combination of architecture and psychology.

“I’m sorry to ask this,” he began one day as they ate lunch.

Humans always apologize, Rochal had told him. Especially when they mean it the least. They feel they should be the most ashamed of what they need the most.

He jabbed his fork into the spongy yellowish lump on his plate. Mal was staring directly at his plate, clearly measuring how much he ate and didn’t eat. He knew he was thin; he saw the black human veins through his wrist, and it scared him.

“Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”
“I’m not in charge of hiring anyone,” Dom apologized. “I could talk to my boss, but really you need a lot of training for what we do.”
“You could see if they need anyone to do paperwork,” Mal suggested, putting her hand over Dom’s.
“I could.” This time he was the one sounding hesitant.
“No, please, don’t bother. I was—“ What was the expression the man on the TV show had used? “I was just between jobs. That was why I decided I would take a boat out on my own. Nothing better to do.”
“Have you thought of going back to San Francisco?” Mal asked.
“Of course. I should do that.”

He stared out the window while he cleaned off his dish. The tide was low and clear, and ruddy small dogs nosed at shellfish on the dirt-dark beach. A storm seemed to be coming; the ugly white curtains flapped.

He might as well just retrace his steps, go back to where he'd come from and stay there. Let the currents take his jacket and his blood once and for all.    

*

He was ready, ready to do one thing or the other. But whatever he did he couldn’t stay here. He removed Dom’s soft, baggy clothes, found the shredded coat and trousers that Mal had hung up in the empty guest closet at his request. It was well that they’d been so shredded, Arthur reflected, otherwise they would have looked profoundly odd to these people.

He opened the jacket, ready to slip into it. Then he noticed one seam a different color than the one opposite it. It was an old-fashioned, white seam with red thread binding it. But there was something strange about it, and Arthur of all people was trained to notice details.

The thread seemed to be weaving an erratic pattern. To the untrained eye it merely looked like a poor sewing job. There was one long stitch, then a short stitch, then a double stitch, then a long stitch again, then a triple stitch, then a stitch skewed slightly diagonal.

He recognized it then at once. It was an old code system, one of the first taught to young children. He hadn’t used it in decades, but he would never forget how to read it.

This was a message.
Under the black awning, thirty hours.

Under the black awning was a line from a poem.
On the surface it was about contemplating the countryside from beneath the titular black awning; the poet exhibited more sangfroid than most Cardassian poets who sang of anything besides the glory of Cardassia, and that was saying quite a lot. The aesthetic, and the ethic, was to appear as though nothing was too important, as though one was apologizing for even writing about something of so little consequence. The real theme, in short, was unattachment.

But if you examined the Black Awning poem, it began to trouble you. It was so noncommittal as to seem like a parody. It was straining for its callousness. It was so vague, so full of empty space, so inclined to begin a nod to the familiar objects of the genre and then to drop it abruptly in an apparent lack of interest—the poem had gained a reputation for being one of the modern canon’s most chilling expressions of passion and despair. Nilor had shown the poem once to Rochal, who read it at a glance and had said nothing.

A mention of time usually referred to a word or a letter. The thirtieth letter of the Kardasi alphabet was—no. No. It couldn’t be. He would never.

It could be a trick. He sincerely hoped it was just a practical joke.
Or a jab at his expense. Rochal reminding him that he, Nilor, would always be the one who stood under black awnings.
It was least likely to mean what he most wished and feared and dreaded it did.

Thankfully. He had no reason then to sit on the edge of the bed with his jacket beneath his elbows, weeping into his hands like a human child until he felt his throat would invert. At least, therefore, it wasn’t happening for a reason. And that was a comfort.

*

Arthur never slept as well as he did that first night. Cardassians needed less sleep in general. But he felt he couldn’t afford to waste time. He read. He planned.

He had no idea why he was hoping to start a life in this world and time. It would only ever be half a life. If that. A tragically attenuated life, bound by gravity, among dim, trusting people with whom he shared no histories or loyalties.

Sometimes it hit him with an embalming flood of horror that even his own people were not his people at this point. They had only failed thus far at conquering worlds. There were still strong pockets of rebellion, people who wished to be only their continents or their nation-states and not Cardassians. The man he loved and hated so much was not even born yet. He might not ever be born, if even the slightest nudge could change history. And then his suffering was even more foolish. Love for a ghost, a fiction.

So Nilor Premak was alone in the galaxy. It sounded so melodramatic.

He was the only one for centuries who would know what he knew, things that were so simple and so common to know in his own place and time. He had been clinging to the idea of his loyalty, to the thought that no matter what he was, he was always an agent of the Obsidian Order.

And the Obsidian Order did not exist.
The people he served were worse than dead, they were ova inside ova inside ova. He put his faith in unborn children.

And no ship appeared in a rift in the sky. No transporter dissolved him back onto a Cardassian vessel, safe and sound; and, Nilor Premak had to accept (the sooner the better; his were a pragmatic people) that none ever would.

*

Something in the house was not right.

Arthur knew the usual sounds of Dom and Mal in the study. These were not their sounds. These sounds hesitated, created an uneven pattern of silence and disturbance.

Without thinking further he sprang out of bed.

The door was ajar. A figure in gray clothing was rifling through a cabinet. It was never aware of Arthur coming up behind it, silently as he was trained, and driving his fist into a deadly pressure point in the throat while wresting both of the intruder’s arms backward with his other arm. The man groaned in agony and shock. He had likely never been handled by anyone so strong before. Arthur could easily choose to adjust the pressure only slightly and snap both of the man’s humeri.

He kicked the back of the man’s thighs and sent his legs out from under him. In one swift move he broke his nose, sending its shards up into the man’s skull; he fell to the side, eyes empty, bleeding from the sockets.

Mal and Dom had come running; they stood in the doorway shocked as Arthur inspected the intruder for any signs of life.

“I found him looking through your cabinets,” he explained nonchalantly. “Do you know him?”
“Never seen him.” Dom strode to the cabinet and felt around for a silver case. He took it out and opened it, glanced over its contents, felt them, and, satisfied, closed it.
“How did you knock him out like that?” Mal sounded horrified. "I barely heard anything until he fell." 
“I’ve had…training. Military training.”
“You didn’t say anything about that,” Dom posited, confused.
“I didn’t feel a need. It’s over. That part of my life ended.”
“Well, Arthur,” Dom said, somewhat nervous and also somewhat pleased, “I may have a job for you after all,”

*

“Mal said I should tell you first that what I do…she tries to stay separate from that part of it…is sometimes sort of…in the gray areas of legality. And we certainly get involved with a lot of people who are well past the gray area. Not ideal, but it’s the nature of the business.”
“I don’t even care. Really. I don’t think I could care if I tried.”

And Arthur must have seemed so weary, so ground down, so completely without the luxury of principles, that Dom had no choice but to believe him.
ladderax: (Default)
Title: Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me, 2/?
Author: Adela 
Warning: blood, pain, angst
Disclaimer: Neither of these wonderful universes is mine. Also, some of the characters mentioned in passing and the Cardassian background are taken from Andrew J. Robinson' amazing Garak novel, A Stitch In Time
Pairing: Arthur/Eames (eventually), Arthur/OMC
Rating: NC-17, to be safe
Summary: Arthur is actually a Cardassian spy disguised as a human and sent to 24th century Earth. Unfortunately for him, he gets thrown through a temporal anomaly and lands in the 21st century. Eventually he becomes the dream-thieving, Eames-loving Arthur we all know and love. In this part, he hurts, angsts, meets some very important people, and eats some bread.





When it happened they were already in sight of Earth. The transport captain told them to sit and prepare for turbulence, that she would try to evade the giant-clam-shaped violet ripple in space. But it was no use.

They snagged the edge of it. It tore them into a maelstrom. He felt like he was pieces of thirty different bodies, each a different age and species and place. Everything was dizzy, blurred, like he was being volleyed back and forth between death and life and death and life again.
.
*

He must have been clinging to something. His hands were still crabbed as if gripping, and they would have ached immensely if everything else weren’t throbbing slowly and excruciatingly.

He’d forgotten how to identify times of day on Earth. The light here was cooler, brighter. It hurt his eyes. He was practically naked. His human skin was torn to shreds.

Grainy stuff clung to his face. He was wet. There was water trying to work its way through his cavernous wounds and into his body, and he was helpless. It was a hard thing for a Cardassian to admit.

His eyes were weak and unfocused, but he could see a house at the top of the slope up the beach. There was a slim Cardassianoid shape in the doorway. He willed it not to notice him.

Please. Just let me die with my pride.
If there’s anything left of it.

To die in a human skin, thousands of lightyears from home, having done nothing for your country, with your friends and leaders and colleagues and enemies having no idea whether you’re alive or dead or how or why? He couldn’t think of a more meaningless death. There was no one at his side to perform the shri-tal. What would he have told them anyway? That he’d screamed like a Ferengi as the ship was pulled apart by a temporal paradox? That his feelings for his higher-ranking colleague were untoward, were a weakling’s, that he was incapable of accepting a proper education for what it was?
All his secrets hurt him much more than they’d ever hurt any of his enemies.

*

“Oh my god. Oh my god. Dom, come down here,” a woman was screaming. It was muffled by his exhaustion and the water in his ears.
The woman was kneeling next to him. He could vaguely see smooth human skin of the lighter variety, curling dark hair, large eyes.
Her hands hovered above him anxiously, hesitating to touch him.
“No doctors,” he croaked.
“Oh, darling, what happened to you?” she begged.
“Boat wreck.”
Now there was a man at the woman’s side, tall and fair-haired.
“He said no doctors,” she whispered to the man, puzzled. “But I don’t see how we can help it. He’s not in good shape. He might have internal bleeding.”
“If he said no doctors, then no doctors.”
“Dom. Don’t be an idiot. I don’t even know why I’m asking you what to do about this. I’m calling the hospital.”
“Mal, look.” He pointed past her, to where Nilor was making a nearly successful effort to pull himself to his feet. They stared at him, bewildered.
“I’m fine,” he managed.
“You are not fine,” Mal replied.
“I will be.”
They paused and looked at each other.
“Do you have a home? Anyone who can care for you?”
“They’re a very long way from here,” he said, almost wanting to laugh.
“Well, at least you can rest here for awhile,” the man said. “What’s your name?”
“Arthur,” he said softly.

*

He could blame his lack of appetite on his injuries. But he had no idea how human food would ever not make him want to vomit. The young couple, Dom and Mal, cooked together—some sort of insipid white fish with herbs, bread, a round bitter-smelling vegetable. Nilor—or Arthur, it was now--could tell that they were uncomfortable around him. They hovered around him, offering him bread and applesauce and water after he declined the fish, and smiled broad fixed smiles. Arthur often saw them exchange significant glances, or move to whisper something in each others’ ears. It made sense. He was a strange man who had washed up on their beach, bleeding and asking not to go to the hospital. No doubt they thought he was some sort of criminal. He wondered if they’d call the police, wondered if he should run.

Plus, he’d been taught to act like a human of the 24th century. People acted differently. There were different idioms. Humans, at least humans here, seemed to move slower, to be more wary. They were still so trusting, though. No Cardassian he knew would ever take a stranger in in such a way.

They sat at the table together. He ate as they ate, cutting his bread with a knife and fork as they cut their fish. They appeared to be suppressing some amusement at him, and he couldn’t quite figure out why.

“So you’re married?” he asked them.
“Three months at the beginning of August,” Mal answered, looking over at Dom.
“And you? Where do you come from? Surely someone is looking for you right now.”
No. Of course not. No one would be.

Even if someone wanted to find me, it would be dazzlingly foolish to send a Cardassian ship into Terran airspace . Or even to send someone on some pretense. Not when there are more important things to be done. Even when Tain himself was shipwrecked for two weeks on Castellon Prime, the orders were clear. He was not to be looked for.
The agents are expendable. The intelligence is not.
“I’ve got family in San Francisco,” he answered. “But no one else, really.”

*

He could hear them talking about him. The walls were thin and the windows open.
“He didn’t ask if anyone else was safe,” Mal said. “Don’t you think that’s odd?”
“Maybe there was no one else,” Dom answered.
“You’re awfully confident that this strange young man is completely on the up and up,” she whispered loudly.
“Why wouldn’t he be? The odds are pretty good. Besides, even if he is some unsavory character, he’s weak. He seems pretty helpless to me.”
“Weak?” Mal huffed. “I hardly think so.”

He slowly went to sleep.
As he fell asleep he thought of Cardassia, unpopulated from space, covered in ochre sands and hot clouds. For a silly second he imagined he’d see it when he opened his eyes. That he’d be calmly floating, in a shuttlepod so slow it felt entranced, back toward a Lakarian City where there was no Rochal and no Tain and he would begin again with new handlers and new assignations. He would work a desk job in Lissepia, work as a bookkeeper to keep an eye on arms dealers. He’d be free to order yamok juice from the replicators, to argue for hours over which Order was most instrumental in winning the war with the Klingons, to be viciously irritable when he met a man he wanted in his bed.
He was conscious enough to identify that as the sentimental flak it was.

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May 2012

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