Jul. 10th, 2011 05:43 pm
ofvanity: (cobb.)
[personal profile] ofvanity
Title: Debris
Author:[ profile] ofvanity
Pairings:Arthur/Cobb, Cobb/Mal
Word Count: 2000
Rating: R
Warnings: Infidelity, prostitution.
Disclaimers: Inception does not belong to me.
Author's Note: I am trying to strip my writing of it's polish. I wrote this in maybe three hours of angst, twelve minutes of actual sleep in three days, and not nearly enough Chinese food. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that it will make very little sense. Also, can you tell that I am terribly biased in my choice of locations? No? Oh. (: Beta'd by [ profile] everhaunting, so if you find any missing commas, IT'S ALL HER FAULT. Lol, jk, bro, ily. :D
Summary: Cobb is a politician and Arthur is what threatens his life's endeavor.

The problem was that every time Cobb woke up next to Arthur, he lost anything that resembled guilt.


They met at a fundraiser.

Arthur looked at Cobb from across the room with a hooded gaze. When they were introduced by Congressman Miles, Cobb certainly didn't expect what was yet to come. Arthur was beautiful, lithe in form and graceful as he worked the room. He wore a designer suit, cut and shaped to fit him like ring he could slide off. He was well versed in philosophy, literature, mathematical theory, and most importantly, politics.

Cobb watched him speak; hands gesticulating calmly, never rudely correcting anyone, just gently adding to their statements. He smiled, youthfully brilliant, at his own economic jokes. After Cobb spoke at the podium, Arthur approached him at the end of the stage and questioned him. He asked Arthur about how he votes and Arthur smiled at him, all those cunning teeth, "I don't."

For anyone else, Cobb would have been outraged. Instead, he took Arthur home.


Mal stares at him for a long time, breathing steadily with James' fresh, baby scalp pressed against her chest. She breathes slow like she can't feel the child crying against her and clinging to her shirt. There is awe in her eyes, nothing like disgust or anger, which were Cobb's primary expectations.

It's not about love, this isn't about loving you or some fault in our relationship, he tells her. Cobb talks through his teeth and grips his knees feeling like his bones might just start falling apart. "You know I love you, and I love Philippa and I love James. There is no question about that."

Her hands twitch, grasping at James' body and she blinks out of her trance, eyes slick with tears and a breath of fury. The baby cries against her, she's hurting him. Cobb stands to take the child and cradles his unfinished skin cells slowly. He thinks of the first time he held James, mouth gaped in awe of this new creature before him, a baby to cherish and maybe destroy but love nonetheless.

Mal watches them, the crib's mobile is still playing from when he came in here and found her rocking James to sleep. It's dark already and Philippa is asleep in the house, clutching desperately at her blanket and her stuffed animals, having a neglected nightmare. It's dark in the room, black shadows rise over the crib and cast on the floor, Mal's bare feet touch the edges of their dark. Her eyes are shiny and red at the edges but nothing ever spills over.

She wraps her arms at his waist and presses her cries into the back of his neck. "It's not about you, Mal." He kisses her cheeks, her mouth. "I'm sorry."


The meeting goes on longer than it's supposed to, which isn't unusual but just annoying. Cobb heads out of the office with his secretary trotting after him, making notes and telling him the day for tomorrow. When the cab pulls up, she tells the cab driver to drive him home, she gives the address to his house with Mal. The brick house in Hyde Park, with two blond children, a gorgeous wife, the American flag waving loudly over them.

He lets the cab driver go four blocks before he redirects him to Arthur's apartment on the Near North Side.

Arthur opens the door for him, wearing nothing but pajama pants like he's just gotten out of bed. It's seven twenty four but the bed is still warm and Arthur's skin is flushed a little, like he's just as warm. His smile is slow and sated, he sighs calmly into Cobb’s mouth and announces that he is famished. Cobb makes him pancakes and bacon and spills a bit of orange juice when he pushes Arthur against the counter. He kisses him sticky with syrup straight to his navel.

At Arthur's hip, he meets a tattoo of the Rod of Aesculapius. He runs his thumbs over it gingerly, before kissing him there, too. Arthur's hand winds into his hair. "Come up here."

Cobb does as he's told, running his hands up Arthur's back as he goes. Arthur holds him for a steady kiss, "Don't think about it."

"I can't help it sometimes."

Arthur bites his lip for a second. "Take me to bed."


The first night they met, at the fundraiser for Congressman Miles’ re-election campaign, Arthur was different than how he acts around Cobb now. He cut through the crowd of self-righteous democrats and lobbyists, their supporters and their cheap suits. He leaned a little too close to talk in his ear, brushing his nose over the shell of cartilage. He was by no means subtle. He kissed him with hunger, a little bit desperate.

But now he is reserved in his desires. Cobb will crawl around him in the morning light and Arthur will chew his lips, watching him. He kisses with hesitation, a lack of confidence that only improves as Cobb kisses back. As if there were a question as to whether or not Cobb actually wanted him. He looks at Cobb sometimes, in a way that is almost frightening.

Cobb’s solution is to kiss him, usually. But sometimes, in those mornings without guilt, he can’t do anything but try to breathe and touch Arthur. He has no other idea how to express that he’s gone mad. Mad for Arthur, his touch and his eyes and the way he tilts his head when he’s reading, mad without Arthur and can’t stand it when he is reserved.

Cobb wasn’t desperate the night they met, he wasn’t sex starved or drunk. His wife is beautiful, his son is eight months old and Congressman Miles was offering him a position in his office once he took the Senate seat that would essentially put Cobb in the governor’s seat in three years. Arthur is a luxury. He tastes like fine liquor and dresses like a dream. Arthur was a luxury. These days, Cobb goes to his cold apartment and kisses away hesitation and grief.

Arthur talks sometimes, in these awful and potent ways that make Cobb dizzy. His father died from leukemia before he was born, his father before him and Arthur was only fifteen when the tests showed black budding in his blood. Following remission, Arthur tattoos his hip with the Rod of Aesculapius. “I was just a kid. I can’t forget that I’m not untouchable.”

He showers in ice cold water and goes through ice cubes like nothing. He shrugs, “Force of habit.”


The first morning he wakes up in Arthur’s apartment, he sends frantic, half-hearted messages to Mal about crashing at Eames’ place, where he’s notorious for hosting poker games that run into the tendrils of dawn. His body feels raw, scrubbed and dirty but then Arthur turns over and says something clever and sharp-tongued.

“Did you think I would leave?”

Arthur shrugs, “It’ll cost you.”

“What will it take?”

Cobb watches him carefully, but Arthur closes his eyes like he can’t stand a distraction when he’s trying to think. He’s trying to add together figures; Cobb is not naive. But when he looks at Cobb again, all the thoughts are gone, clean eyes without a trace of anything that resembles guilt. He smiles, long and dimpled, “Breakfast.”


Mal is going through photo albums when he gets home, cradling half-charred memories from the time their old apartment burnt down. She holds the replacement photos against the crisp burnt edges of the others and bites her knuckles. She glances back at Cobb when he walks in, standing in the doorway with his tie in his hands. “I keep thinking this isn’t real, Dom.

“We were so happy for such a long time. I was convinced we would grow old together. Do you remember when you proposed? I could look into your eyes and see the future for us, Dom. I really could,” her breath hitches wetly, “I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up and it would have all been a dream.”

Cobb crouches on the floor besides her and takes her trembling hands. The floor is peppered with their wedding photos and little pieces of burnt debris from the old photos. All he can say is, “I’m sorry. Please, Mal, I need you to forgive me.”

“You said we’d be together.”


There is a period of time between where everything is still. Cobb loves his children and hugs his wife, to whom he’s promised his life and is trying desperately to keep that promise. He doesn’t stay the night at Arthur’s often, but sometimes he just curls around his body and they watch the eleven o’clock news.

He kisses Mal’s brow bone every morning until she asks him to stop touching her. In some pitiful version of defiance, he takes to kissing Arthur’s brow bone. It doesn’t last long.

Cobb surprises Arthur one evening, tired from a long day of budget talks and the headache that comes with it. His teeth taste like stale coffee and his cigarettes are completely out. He jogs up the stairs to his apartment on the seventh floor to get his muscles to work properly again.

There’s a man leaving Arthur’s apartment when he gets there. He winks at Cobb and shoulders past him. Arthur is asleep in his bed, naked with a sheet thrown haphazardly over his body and a roll of cash on the dresser. It smells disgusting, like all the unbearable things Arthur has become. It feels like all the people that Arthur sells himself to, all the times he looked at Arthur like he meant more than a face and a fuck.

He stumbles down the hallway and clutches at the rail of the elevator until his knuckles turn white. He should have known better, he’s not a child anymore—this isn’t love, it’s business. He’s lucky that it even got this far without reaching the papers, the headlines that would snap the very delicate cords of his career: ILLINOIS POLITICIAN CAUGHT IN GAY PROSTITUTION SCANDAL. He’s been forcing the romanticism in this pathetic relationship, maybe all he wanted was the company, but he has Mal and he has children.

There is a life waiting for him to get over this phase of heedlessness and he’s wasting it on a whore—Arthur’s so young and wild, maybe suicidal, maybe they’re both suicidal. But he himself is a grown man and there are people that depend on him. He couldn’t help himself. Even if he couldn’t resist the luxury, he should have known better than getting comfortable.

He should have known better than expecting Arthur to stop—to believe in some hopeless and wretched part of him that Arthur would stop for him, to think he meant anything. How could he believe himself worthy of honesty if he wasn’t worthy even of Arthur’s focus--if Arthur’s been playing him this entire time, feeding him lines and lies.

Something desperate uncoils in his chest and he laughs, his heart beating too fast for him to catch his breath; laughing hysterically and again, he can’t help it. The cab driver watches him warily and speeds a little.

The house is quiet with the sounds of Mal getting ready for bed. James is asleep already, tiny fists curled and his nails are a bit too long. He listens to him breathe like leaves rustling in the dead of the jungle and his arms feel empty without Philippa.

Mal appears at his side and his knees buckle, burying his face In the belly of her silk robe. His arms clutch her waist tightly, trying to live here again, with her massaging her scalp. She sits down next to him and rubs his eyes dry.

He brushes his teeth twice and showers for almost an hour before he lets himself kiss her. He sleeps with his face pressed into her neck and her naked body thrumming with warmth beneath him. His promises are desperate, “I won’t ever—ever again.”


“Who is that?” Cobb says.

Eames smirks like he knows what Cobb is thinking, “That’s Arthur. Best you stay away from him, mate.”
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December 2011


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