Word Count: 1192
Warnings: Character death and an overly dodgy knowledge on firemen.
Summary: "Arthur’s fascination with fire starts with his sister." - FIREMAN AU
A huge thank you to lezzerlee for the copious amounts of reading and beta duties you did. I'd also like to thank paperstains and ohmydarlingdear for being utter wonders to collab with :3
[ read by ohmydarlingdear ]
The podfic for this piece can be found over here.
[ art by paperstains & words by mop_cat ]
001: Arthur’s fascination with fire starts with his sister.
When Jane sets the vacant paddock on Cumberland Street alight, Arthur watches, rapt, from two-hundred metres away — startling when the whirling sirens of the fire truck pull up less than a car’s length in front of him.
Now, Arthur is holed up in the back seat of his very own truck; Yusuf, Nash and Baker piled in beside him. All of them are struggling with the final pieces of their uniforms and Cobb driving in his usual madman act up front.
Arthur is long past startling at truck sirens by this point.
002: The fire is overwhelming enough that Arthur feels it through his suit, sweltering with heat and he’s not in the fucking building yet. When Yusuf comes trotting up with the hose, thrusts him the nozzle and hooks the pipe over his shoulder, Arthur doesn’t hesitate – he follows the team without prompting.
The hose always jerks Arthur a little when it starts up, and quite frankly he’s thankful it doesn’t send him tumbling down the stairs this time.
003: When Cobb drags him backwards by his chair and starts bellowing that it’s his turn to go shopping for supplies, Arthur glares at him from behind hair he hasn’t bothered to slick back for the night.
Baker, Nash and Yusuf are baying for blood now, grinning and tripping him up as Arthur stalks through the door to find his boots.
Arthur refuses to let Dom push the trolley when they reach the supermarket, instead runs ahead and launches himself over the handles; he sails down the frozen food isle.
“Pet, is there frozen peas on that side of the island?” and Arthur stumbles at the voice, trolley tilting backwards a little as his feet hit the ground again. He’s painting an indifferent expression on his face when he turns towards the source.
“I don’t believe so,” Arthur replies. He hasn’t even looked at the fridge contents in front of him, mainly because when he turns the man is holding a packet of frozen peas to his chest with a smirk.
Arthur wants to smile, but nevertheless raises an eyebrow on principle - he’d been positive the savory things were on the other side anyways. Yusuf would laugh at him for it, but goddamn it, where is the fun in that?
“Found them, Mal,” says the man, “a charming man in uniform directed me towards them.” He’s still looking at Arthur, but clearly addressing the woman Dom is talking to – Mal, Arthur thinks he said.
Afterwards, when Dom has invited all three of them out for drinks and taken in upon himself to introduce the man as if he’s known him for weeks, Eames turns to him.
“Do you usually pick up men in the supermarket? For fun, a fireman pact, or what?”
Arthur doesn’t think, “Usually I just throw them over my shoulder and carry them down a ladder.”
“Sort of a Tarzan and Jane thing?” Eames’ smile is brilliant.
004: Like all men on the team, Arthur’s schedule follows a pattern: four days on, four days off.
The first four days on, directly after he and Eames move in together, are the hardest.
Within those first eight days, they fall into a pattern themselves — along with almost calling the whole thing off, twice. After that, Arthur’s schedule forces them to settle into habit.
Eames gets used to cleaning up his paints and scrubbing the kitchen table on the fourth day and those nights, he gets used to making pumpkin risotto.
Mainly because risotto tastes best after they’ve allowed it to cool down due to becoming distracted.
005: Eames likes to make jokes about the poles. Arthur supposes it’s his fault, considering he snuck Eames into the firehouse once.
Sex and a pole dance does happen. Arthur can’t look Dom in the eye for a week.
006: “We’re getting on like a house on fire,” is what Yusuf sloshes for Eames, interrupting Arthur’s attempt at introduction.
Arthur feels drunk enough to worry slightly at his choice of words: Yusuf and Baker set alight the table cloth at the last Unit Dinner.
Mal tops his wine glass though, and Eames nudges his foot under the table. Arthur goes back to his bowl, pretending he isn’t grinning.
007: “I want to change to driver,” Arthur knows he’s being blunt, but sometimes that’s the only way to get through to Dominic Cobb.
“Arthur, you need to think about this, you need to talk this through with Eames. Driver can’t be a spur of the moment decision – it’s more dangerous than being on the hose.” Dom pauses. “You need to go home, think this through. Talk with Eames and then come back. We’ll discuss it on our next shift.”
008: When Arthur stumbles through the door of the apartment, Eames is waiting for him.
“You said it wasn’t dangerous Arthur. You said it was no more bloody dangerous than before. I didn’t see you on the fucking news before, Arthur. You fucking twat!” He’s gesturing towards the television and then at Arthur, tugging the duffel bag out of Arthur’s hand, all before Arthur really knows what’s about to happen.
Eames punches him.
“I saved that man,” is what Arthur whispers and then Eames is on him, again. This time he shoves his face in Arthur’s neck and makes a high keening sound like he’s a broken windup toy.
“Jesus Arthur,” is what he repeats now, over and over until Arthur leads him by the hand towards the bed.
009: Dom informs them of his retirement on James’ sixth birthday. Mal is strangely guarded, claiming tell of cordial that needs to be poured in the kitchen.
Arthur has the sudden urge to cry, looking towards Eames, and Eames starts grinning like the news is better than the Queen of England phoning him on a first name basis — Eames is strangely patriotic.
The thing is, Arthur isn’t quite sure about this any more. He wants to cry about the loss of Dom, and maybe he wants to leave the team too, spur of the moment decision.
Arthur spends the rest of the party smoking on the front lawn; Eames spends it chasing a grinning James, drunk, around the back.
He doesn’t quit.
010: Arthur knows that things aren’t going well when the pipes start groaning.
001: Eames opens the paper. Continued on page four, he reads, and flips the pages. Like always, he expects the usual outlining of the cause, and because it’s a one-paper-town, he also expects an outlining of how brave and what heroes they all are. In all the years they’ve been singing praise of the fire department, Eames hasn’t known them to actually print the men’s names. It’s a one-paper-town, almost everyone knows their names anyways. Once, Eames had asked if Arthur thought of himself as a hero. Arthur had looked at him, more serious than the question and shook his head: I just like doing what I’m good at.
What Eames doesn’t expect when he continues reading, is the words: four dead.
Arthur’s is the first name.
[ the end ]