ext_29272: (Inception // Arthur and Eames)
Becca Du ([identity profile] sunnyrea.livejournal.com) wrote in [community profile] ship_manifesto2011-05-17 12:30 pm

Dream a little bigger darling, Arthur/Eames

Title: Dream a little bigger darling, Arthur/Eames
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sunnyrea
Fandom: Inception
Spoilers: The whole movie
Disclaimer: I do not own Inception nor claim to know the minds of the writers; I simply read between the lines, and often right out in the open, to make my own determinations, no sort of copyright infringement intended.
Fan Disclaimer: The fanart used within is not my own. I have put credit for those I remembered or could find, some are just the source I found the image on and not necessarily the original maker. If any of the fanart is yours feel free to request credit and I'll be happy to put it up.
Notes: I had wanted to write this awhile ago even though for most within the fandom it’s a well establish pairing that needs no help. Still, I thought it would be nice to lay everything out! (Feel free to comment with anything you think is missing).

Art by thepulsetobegin

Inception: the heist movie with fabulous camera work, twisting hallways, crazy projections, and levels upon levels of dreams. Another Christopher Nolan creation full of creativity, a dead wife, Leonardo DiCaprio and an ambiguously gay fan favorite ship.

Meet: Arthur – The Point man


On the crew Arthur’s job is the point man; he is basically the one at the front of the fire keeping everyone alive by putting himself in the way of the bullets. Arthur does reconnaissance on the subject’s history, supplies himself as a guinea pig for compound testing, and basically all the day to day grunt work required to pull the job off. Not to mention he’s a badass with a gun.

Arthur is a straight laced, in control individual. Throughout the majority of the movie he is dressed in crisp suits, often three piece, and always with his hair perfectly slicked back in place. He is serious about the job, doing it right down to every detail. He’s good with a gun, obviously strong and experienced in dream work. (From some behind the scenes with the writers we know he has military experience). However, he’s not a complete stuck up as we see his abilitry to crack a smile, laugh with Ariadne, and even flirt as we’ll get to later. Over all, he’s serious, attentive, but not without emotion.

Meet: Eames – The Forger


Eames is the forger of the team. His position within the job is to turn into someone else within the dream. To plant the seeds of their idea within their mark’s mind, Eames transforms into their mark’s godfather, Peter Browning, to suggest the beginning of the idea they want so as they go deeper it starts to grow. He gets close to Browning, researches and learns every behavior and trait of his mark so he can become the man completely within the dream.

Eames is a charmer, from the moment we meet him at a gambling table in Mombasa there is a sense of a confident con artist, forging chips as well as people. He shows his intelligence right away with Dom by finding the perfect avenue to complete inception by using the emotional relationship with their mark’s father as the starting point. Throughout the job Eames suggests ideas in a psychological fashion showing he knows about people which obviously fits with his job. He also is quite the flirt, always pestering and joking with Arthur specifically. He is obviously a charming individual but he is good at his job as well.

Arthur & Eames – An analysis and conclusion

A great deal of fanon exists for this pairing. Everyone has their own personal canon about the history between these two, how and when they first met, if they’d been together before inception or not, if they’re in love, if they hate each other, if it’s some strange combination of the two. The wealth of fanfiction and discussion is almost impossible to sift through for a first timer.

Thus, I am going to deal only with what is presented in the film, opinions on meanings and support for the pairing around just the canon we are given. [As most people have seen this film I am going to assume at least some familiarity with the plot, I apologize for anyone left in the dark.]

Art by dreamheist

We meet Arthur with Dom from the very start of the movie so he is no mystery. We first learn of Eames when Dom begins walking out after their first interview with Ariadne their future architect.

Arthur: And where will you be?
Dom: I’ve got to go visit Eames.
Arthur: Eames? No, he’s in Mombasa, its Cobol’s back yard.
Dom: It’s a necessary risk.
Arthur: They’re plenty of good thieves.
Dom: We don’t just need a thief, we need a forger.

We learn from this brief discussion that - 1) Arthur already knows Eames. 2) Arthur is aware of Eames’ movements, knowing without hesitation that the Englishman is in Mombasa. 3) Eames is a thief and a forger and obviously the best at what he does if Dom is wiling to risk an attack on his life by their failed job clients Cobol Engineering.

From here we don’t know how Arthur feels about Eames personally. He does not say anything about Eames being a bad choice or someone he does not wish to see. Arthur is only worried about Dom’s safety, justifiably.

From there we meet Eames in Mombasa trying his luck at roulette and losing, despite the stack of chips he later takes to cash in. Dom and Eames talk about inception. For a brief moment in this conversation we get a partner snippet to Arthur’s comments to Dom when Dom mentions Arthur to Eames.


Dom: [about inception] Arthur keeps saying it can’t be done.
Eames: Ah, Arthur, you still working with that old stick in the mud?
Dom: He’s good at what he does.
Eames: Oh, he’s the best but he’s no imagination.
Dom: Not like you.

Obviously, Eames knows Arthur as well, enough to call him a "stick in the mud," know he’s ‘the best’ at his job and feels that Arthur has ‘no imagination.’ Some would argue this conversation implies Eames does not have a high opinion of Arthur. However, throughout the movie we see Eames is one to tease and joke, this being just a precursor to Arthur bearing the brunt of most of such behavior.

Already, before he sees him again, Eames is teasing Arthur. He says ‘stick in the mud’ with a certain fondness and ‘no imagination’ with a lack of malice or real derision. There is something else behind what Eames says.


We first see Arthur and Eames together when Eames is debriefing the team about his observation of Peter Browning and the Fischers. Everyone sits in a circle while Eames lectures like a college professor. He gives them his information about Maurice Fischer dying and Peter Browning’s elevated position then on into his plan to impersonate Browning. He suggests the idea of dissolving the company on the first layer to Robert Fischer, then allowing Robert’s subconscious projection to pick it up on the second layer.

We then get this:

Arthur: [about Robert’s projection on the second layer] So, he gives himself the idea?
Eames: Precisely, it has to seem self generated it’s the only way it’ll stick.
Arthur: Eames, I am impressed.
Eames: Your condescension, as always, is much appreciated Arthur, thank you.

Gif from nadjaaa

Arthur openly displays his approval for Eames’ work, leaning back in his chair and smile on his face. Then Eames comes straight back with a charming reply of thanks complete with the word ‘condescension.’ His words imply having worked with Arthur before, his knowledge of the ill ease of Arthur's approval, and a touch of flirting in giving such an over done ‘thank you’ to the other man. The conversation involves only the two of them giving approval to each other like the leads in a romantic comedy, flirty smiles and flowery words.


The planning meetings continue on to forming the basic idea to convince Robert to dissolve his father’s corporate empire. After a few tries, Eames supplies the winning choice.

Eames: Right, well try this, my father accepts I wish to create for myself and not follow in his foot steps.
Dom: That just might work.
Arthur: Might? We’re going to need a little better than might if we’re going to make this work.
Eames: Oh! Thank you for your contribution, Arthur.
Arthur: Forgive me for wanting a little specificity.
Eames: [teasingly] Speci…
Arthur: [annoyed] Specificity.

Here we get the perfect example of Eames’ teasing/flirting behavior. Arthur tries to make a serious point about refining the idea down to the detail and Eames teases him right away for his negativity, even mocking his words just to rile Arthur up. There is obviously no need to belittle Arthur for his concern yet Eames clearly wants to get some sort of a rise out of Arthur by challenging him and annoying him.

Next the team discusses Yusuf’s compound to keep them asleep and keep the dreams stable, learning that due to the need for depth the time at the 3rd layer will be 10 years long. Dom however mentions they will use a kick to wake them up. Ariadne, our newest dream worker, inquires as to the definition.

Ariadne: What’s a kick?
Eames: This, Ariadne, would be a kick.
[Arthur has his chair leaned back on two legs and Eames nudges one front leg of the chair so Arthur flails his arms and nearly falls over, slamming his chair back on the ground.]
[Arthur turns and glares at Eames who is watching him and only smiles cheekily back.]

Gif from nadjaaa

Yet, another instance of Eames’ somewhat juvenile flirting by making Arthur annoyed. Anyone could explain, and just after this exchange Dom does, what a kick really is. Instead, Eames uses this as an opportunity to bring Arthur’s attention back to himself yet again. He nearly knocks Arthur over to not even properly answer Ariadne’s question and just smiles at the other man’s following annoyance.

After this we get a brief panorama of Yusuf testing out his new compound, slapping Arthur in the face and knocking him over to see when Arthur will continue to sleep and when he will wake up. The first time Yusuf knocks Arthur over, comically jolting Arthur awake with arms and legs jerking in the air as he falls, we see Eames lounging nearby and giggling at the results.


It’s a small moment but it shows Eames once again staying close to Arthur. Eames is not helping Yusuf with his experiment, not doing any of his own work, only watching and finding amusement, being near Arthur.

Finally their mark’s father dies and it is time for the job to begin. The team boards the plane, Dom drugs Fischer, and everyone goes under into the first layer of the dream. They pick up cars and split up, Arthur and Eames ending up in the same taxi with Saito, the financier, and Fischer. While they set up the situation of a kidnapping to Fischer, the taxi is suddenly shot at by projections.


Arthur and Eames form a tag team of driving, protecting Fischer, and shooting as they try to escape. Eames shoots out the back while Arthur shoots out the front, working together until they are away.

Arthur: You all right?
Eames: Yeah, I’m okay, I’m okay.

The first person Arthur asks about after their shoot out is Eames, not if their mark (the most important person in the dream) is all right, not if the man who contracted the job, Saito, is all right but Eames. If Eames had died and woken up, as far as they knew at this point in the movie, the job could have continued without Eames if necessary. Yet, Arthur asks if Eames is okay first.

The dream continues with Saito shot and Dom blaming Arthur for missing the fact that their mark, Robert, had been trained so his projections are militarized. Eames tries to shoot Saito awake only to be stopped by Dom. They all learn then the surprise monkey wrench in the job that due to the level of sedation they are under they will not wake up upon death in the dream but fall into limbo which could last for eternity.

The job continues on with Eames forging Browning, Dom telling his history with his dead wife Mal to Ariadne, and some influence on Robert. When they pack Robert in the van to prepare for level two we have another exchange.


Eames: That boy’s relationship with his father is even worse than we imagined.
Arthur: And this helps us how?
Dom: The stronger the issues the more powerful the catharsis.
Arthur: How’re you going to reconcile them if they’re so estranged?
Eames: Well, I’m working on that, aren’t I?
Arthur: Work faster. Projections are closing in quick. We gotta break out of here before we're totally boxed in.
[Arthur opens the warehouse door and fires at projections on the roof without success. Eames comes up beside him.]
Eames: You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.
[Eames holds up a grenade launcher and shoots the projections]

Once again Arthur focuses on Eames, critical of his work as he was before with the inception idea, insisting they need to do better.


And then we have the lynch pin of the Arthur/Eames pairing with: “musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” The tag at the ending, ‘darling,’ toward Arthur is clearly affectionate, patronizing, and flirting at the same time. Eames comes to Arthur’s rescue to shoot the projections and give them a way out of the warehouse as well as impressing Arthur with his skill and the idea to just dream up a bigger gun to win the fight. Eames does it all with a quip and a pet name then walks away like he does it every day leaving Arthur staring at him and grudgingly impressed.

The whole exchange, and the fact that it was Eames and no other member of the team who came to help Arthur, shows again how Eames prefers Arthur over anyone else on the team and how despite himself Arthur likes the way Eames works.

The team moves into the second layer, this time a hotel and Dom earning Robert’s trust. His projection of Browning follows the lines Eames set up and claims responsibility for the kidnapping to try and stop Robert from ‘rising to his father’s last taunt.’ Dom tricks Robert into going another layer under and everyone prepares to go down to the third later, Arthur staying behind as the dreamer for the second later.

Gif from nadjaaa

Eames: Security’s going to run you down hard
Arthur: And I will lead them on a merry chase.
Eames: Just be back before the kick.
Arthur: Go to sleep, Mr. Eames.

One of the other most referenced scenes in support of the pairing is this scene. (In the original script the conversation was intended for Arthur and Dom but the final cut made it to Eames, what reason? I like to think because of their characters' chemistry). The whole conversation conveys a more light-hearted feel than their conversations before, Arthur joking with ‘merry chase’ and Eames injecting levity to the tense situation with ‘just be back before the kick.’ Arthur is actually flirting back here, mock serious and joking at the same time to Eames’ veiled concern as Arthur helps set Eames up to go under. Another layer to this conversation is the close proximity, Eames lying on the floor with Arthur kneeling over him. They have to touch even for Arthur to put the needle into Eames arm.

The thing I find most significant is Arthur smiling. So often we see him stern and serious but here through this little exchange he smirks as he jokes and grins as he puts Eames to sleep. It’s as if the two of them are telling each other to be careful and not to worry through classic joking concern.

After this scene the rest of the movie focuses on completing inception until every layer connects with the kick and everyone wakes up. We don’t have any meaningful scenes of Arthur and Eames again. We see them as everyone wakes up on the plane and at baggage claim leaving LAX. End of movie.

So, what have we learned?


I don’t need to rehash everything put forward before. Sufficed to say, Eames enjoys flirting with Arthur while Arthur is easily annoyed by Eames and even goes so far as to flirt back. They both respect each other’s professional abilities and find ways to impress each other.

Detractors from this pairing may point out that Eames is just a flirt in general, a charming thief who uses misdirection and turns into other people so of course he’s a bit of a showman. However, if you watch Eames throughout the movie he does not flirt and tease anyone else but Arthur (minus the one time in his female form on the second layer when he touches Saito’s cheek in the elevator). There are other team members, Ariadne, Dom, even Yusuf, who could easily be teased or flirted with. However, that is not the case; Eames only does these things, says such things, with Arthur.

It can also be pointed out Arthur kisses Ariadne on layer two because it was ‘worth a shot.’ However, there isn’t really any history of the two of them as a possible love interest through the movie. Arthur teaches Ariadne some basic dreaming skills and guides her along but there is no flirting. The kiss, in my opinion, seemed a bit forced and mostly was just a point for a laugh.

There are many minor things not mentioned in the time line flow above: how they very often sit near each other; stolen looks at each other such as when they practice dreaming the first layer, blocking putting them side by side against Dom when the truth of the dream sedation is revealed.

Of the relationships in the film, minus Dom and Mal, Arthur and Eames have the most chemistry and the most tangible evidence. I find them perfect for each other because there are so many ways one can take their relationship. It can easily be a long coming love story or something with a stormy end. There is the difficulty of their job, the keeping away from the law, the difference in their personalities; Arthur’s working with Dom, the opportunity for history. Theses characters are rather flexible and give members of fandom so much good basis to work with. It’s practically addicting and the world is so fun to work it, especially with these two. It’s a joy to see the work people come up with.


I will not deny this fandom, if you haven’t been in it from the beginning, is hard to break into. I have never seen this amount of fanfiction and fanart and all around fan works from a movie fandom before; not to mention the talent in this fandom is amazing! I will give you just a few communities and some of my favorite works to give you a spring board into the fandom:


[livejournal.com profile] eames_arthur
[livejournal.com profile] inceptionfilm
[livejournal.com profile] inceptionfic
[livejournal.com profile] inception_recs
[livejournal.com profile] inception_slash
[livejournal.com profile] inception_kink


remember when (you said kiss me): Wonderful fanmix which flows like a real relationship through time.
It’s pretty bad as far as first impressions go: This one is lovely because a fanfic comes with it per each song.
Sex on Fire: A great starting it up fanmix.


Darling: A classic and one of the first 'tell a different story' videos.
Sour Cherry: Love the song and it's a more fun, light hearted Arthur/Eames.
Saw Something: This one is actually Cobb/Arthur/Eames but the plot line is so interesting (Eames performing inception on Arthur) had to put it in.
under the sheets: Just a relationship video but lovely.


(Just some of my favorites and a few of my own, there are quite a lot more out there. I’ve given the writer's summary where it was provided and my own comments where it was not.)

Alone: (word count - 3,266): Eames’ inability to concentrate on the job is Arthur’s fault, and it could end them both in Limbo. Eames/Arthur, slash, One-Shot.

Untitled: (word count - 2391) : "by the time he was fifteen, Arthur was already stiff in the shoulders, all posture and poise like a boy his age had no right to be. there was something about the rigidness of his spine, the slight purposeful angle of his head that isolated him from the other boys-- something like condescension, or worse, intellect."

After the storm (I run and run as the rain's come): (word count- 4,325): Eames dies, and his projection haunts Arthur's subconscious.

Smoke Reflection: Arthur's third totem was a red loaded die. Everyone gave him strange looks whenever he pulled it out, and he believed he was perfectly justified in blaming Eames. Eames' fourth totem is a poker chip. He considers the sacrifice of his third well worth it.

Will you put my hands away, will you be my man: (word count - 3,030)No, you don’t hate him as everyone thinks. Yes, his clothes hurt your eyes and he smiles sometimes too wide and he looks at you just once too often in every day. You like that he’s smart and you’re less annoyed, more charmed. But you can’t be charmed; you won’t be charmed, not by him. But when he says your name you feel something even though you don’t want to.

No One Gets Out Alive: (word count - 14,311) : Arthur and Eames, a slow fall in love fic starting before the film and through after.

Towards Zero: (word count - long, like 15,000+ I should think): Five levels down, and five to dig yourself back out. Arthur met Eames' projection long before he met Eames. (Utterly amazing idea and so well done!)

Gimmie Sympathy: (word count - 1100): The thing is, Eames just wants something to call his own.

Mombasa Revisited: (word count - 4,725) [Scene Rewrite]: “We don’t just need a thief;” Dom glances up briefly; “We need a forger.”
“Wait,” Arthur says. Dom turns, hand on the door knob. “I’ll go.”

j'veux ton amour, et je m'en fous d'après: (word count - 14,700) : Eames POV, another slow romance with not knowing how the other feels and many jobs together, wonderful writing.

[identity profile] darkhavens.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 05:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Very nicely done. :D

The only thing I might have added (tinhat firmly in place *g*) is a tiny mention of the last time we see Arthur and Eames, in the airport after they land. We see Arthur go to collect his luggage, and then we see Cobb walk past Eames who has his luggage on a trolley, but is just standing there, waiting.

What else could he be waiting for, except someone who does not yet have their luggage? ;)

I was lured into this fandom back in December and I am still playing catch-up! The amount of fic that comes out every day is mindboggling. *is happily boggled on a daily basis*
Edited 2011-05-17 17:04 (UTC)

[identity profile] ginzai.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 05:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Nice job! I'm much more of a Cobb/Arthur shipper, but I think you captured all of the potential of Arthur/Eames here.

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[identity profile] ginzai.livejournal.com - 2011-05-17 17:40 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] ereini0n.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 05:26 pm (UTC)(link)
What a great essay!
I love "Inception".

[personal profile] samueljames 2011-05-17 05:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not really in this fandom but I like the pairing and read them when they show up on my f-list. I really liked your analysis of the moments between them.

[identity profile] haltlos.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for putting this together! :)

[identity profile] happymaybe.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 06:10 pm (UTC)(link)
About time! Thank you for writing this. ♥ Arthur/Eames is simply glorious.

[identity profile] verito-s.livejournal.com 2011-05-17 10:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been a little unsure about this paring for a while, but I'm really starting to loving it :D

[identity profile] btp248.livejournal.com 2011-05-18 04:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I love this. Especially how you focused on canonical evidence because it is so easy to get caught up in the fanon of a pairing but when you actually lay out the canon of Arthur/Eames the pairing seems that much more valid. I really loved it :)

[identity profile] amanuensis1.livejournal.com 2011-05-18 06:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed this. I had the misfortune to wait on seeing Inception for ages, and saw all the "Arthur/Eames" explosion in which I couldn't participate; when I did finally see Inception I looked past all their canon interaction to focus on other things in the film. So having this manifesto here, detailing everything about these two in the film without trying to bring in anything extraneous, is entertaining and illustrative. Thank you!

[identity profile] theniwokesoftly.livejournal.com 2011-05-20 01:15 am (UTC)(link)
I love this :D Very well written, love.

[identity profile] batmarg.livejournal.com 2011-05-24 08:58 pm (UTC)(link)
This was fantastic. I've been with the ship since the fandom's beginning and you still managed to point out a few nuances I missed.

[identity profile] danifangirl.livejournal.com 2011-05-24 10:40 pm (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful. I have been in fandom since the beginning and really only ship this pairing, so this was a lovely read!

[identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/acquiescence_/ 2011-05-24 10:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Very nicely done and supported without delving off into the epic amounts of fanon that have been added to this pairing. I love the inclusions of these graphics throughout as well as the recs list at hte end. This is a really nice starting point for this ship.

[identity profile] 2-journey.livejournal.com 2011-05-24 11:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I deeply, deeply love this fandom even though I only found it about a month ago. You're right, though. It can be a tough nut to crack for a newbie, but the quality of the writing is amazing, and I've met the nicest people.

Also: Great job on the meta! You've summed up everything I love about this pairing, and about this fandom.

[identity profile] beanarie.livejournal.com 2011-05-25 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
Fantastic job. What a great reference for fic writers. I can see myself coming back to this periodically for a refresher.

[identity profile] midnite-vision.livejournal.com 2011-05-25 04:25 am (UTC)(link)
I loved them before I even knew it was a popular ship. (It was also the quickest I've ever shipped two characters. Their chemistry is just fantastic.) I've been in the fandom since the beginning, and I'm still playing catch-up, so I can't imagine what it's like for newbies.

I love how believable you made it. This isn't a rabid fangirl going "THEY ARE SO HOT TOGETHER!!!!" You took every instance where they shared the screen and analyzed it in a very straightforward manner. Anyone who doesn't get this pairing at all should be given the link to this.

[identity profile] highboys.livejournal.com 2011-05-25 06:16 am (UTC)(link)
Nicely done ♥

minor edit: does recognizance - recoinassance :)

[identity profile] glasgowsmiles.livejournal.com 2011-05-26 11:37 pm (UTC)(link)
This is lovely and brilliant and well put-together, and I was supposed to be doing work, but instead I looked over it a second time just for kicks.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-27 04:45 pm (UTC)(link)
It might not have been your intention, but by not crediting your sources, you are putting across the impression that you are stealing - and your disclaimer is not sufficient to ease this situation. Each artist has put time and effort in their piece and should be credited accordingly.

I see that the comment that had been posted already about this issue has been either deleted or screened. Sadly, this is not helping to ease the impression you are giving.

Please take the time to credit your sources.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-27 04:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I notice you've credited your sources now. I must have posted this as you were in the process! Thank you for taking the time to do so.

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[identity profile] yakuri.livejournal.com - 2011-09-26 16:14 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] yakuri.livejournal.com 2011-09-26 04:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Up until now, I have held virtually no interest to pair up live-action shows/movies' characters. While I go watch anime with full intentions of pairing up the bishounen, I never have those thoughts when watching live-action stuff. But watching Inception, I couldn't NOT help think about coupling these two together. It's so damn obvious, it's like waving shiny stuff at a bird or something.

Thank you very much for compiling all the stuff to write this wonderful manifesto, I enjoyed it a lot, especially since it sticks to canon. Now I'm gonna enjoy all those wonderful recommendations you left at the end ^^