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FIC: Inception: Cardinal Rule #1 (PG-13)

Title: Cardinal Rule #1 [Previously Untitled]
Fandom: Inception
Summary: Crack fill for the inception_kink prompt of yusuf writes arthur/eames fanfic. cobb is his beta. ariadne finds out.
Pairings: mentioned Eames/Arthur, Cobb/Saito, and Arthur/Mal (I'm, uh, not even sure those really count, but we'll pretend.)
Word count: ~1200
Rating/warnings: PG-13 for language, sexual descriptions, epithet rants, and the most self-indulgent meta ever
A/N: I wasn't even going to post this to my journal, because wtf, I wrote it in like half an hour and I didn't think anyone would care, but I hate not being able to reply to comments, so I wanted a place where I could do that in the future. Um, enjoy? /o\ Thanks to shes_gone for the typo sweep. ♥

*****


Ariadne arrives at the warehouse early one morning, juggling a cup of coffee and a stack of blueprints. She sets everything down on the work table and is about to sit down and try to get some work done before the others show up, but before she can do anything she hears a loud voice from the room next door.

"Yusuf, how many times do I have to explain about epithets? Seriously, you are allowed to use their names. The point man this, the forger that...it's annoying and it takes the reader out of the fic. It's a POV issue, okay? Don't do it."

Ariadne looks into the room and sees Cobb and Yusuf sitting in front of Yusuf's laptop. Cobb looks frustrated and Yusuf looks a bit dejected.

"I'm sorry," says Yusuf. "It's just this pronoun thing is getting to me. It's confusing if I don't use the names, but that gets repetitive."

"Your audience will forgive you," says Cobb. "They're slashers too. They'll understand. But they won't understand epithets. Cardinal Rule #1, okay?"

Yusuf sighs. "Yeah, okay. Sorry."

"Also, we really need to talk about your characterization of Eames. I mean, you've got a solid idea, but the overuse of pet names is just killing the fic. Let's be a little subtle about this, okay? Just because he says it once doesn't mean he does it every time he opens his mouth."

"But, I just..." Yusuf looks sheepish. "I just think it's cute when he calls him sweetheart." He ducks his head and looks away.

"Hey, don't worry," says Cobb. "We all do. We just don't want to get tired of it, okay?"

Yusuf nods. "Okay."

Ariadne steps into the room. "What's going on?"

Yusuf jumps like he's having a heart attack. "Nothing! Good morning!" He slams down the lid of the laptop and tries to look casual.

Ariadne looks at him. "Are you...writing fic about Eames and Arthur?"

Yusuf lets out a sharp laugh. "What? That's...that's--crazy."

Ariadne sits down next to him and opens the laptop again. "Can I read it?"

Cobb looks surprised. "Wait, do you ship Eames/Arthur?"

Ariadne looks at him like he's crazy. "Uh, duh. Who doesn't?"

Cobb grins. "You should help us. Yusuf has this great idea for a hurt/comfort piece, and I was just betaing it. I think it has real potential."

Ariadne reads the fic quickly while Yusuf nervously chews on his fingernails and tries not to read over her shoulder. When she gets to the part where Arthur finds out he can't get pregnant and Eames comforts him, Yusuf leans forward, watching her facial expressions.

"Is it okay?" he says when she finishes and looks back at him. "I mean, I know the pacing is a bit off, but I can--"

"Yusuf, it's amazing," says Ariadne. "Seriously, if my tear ducts functioned properly, I'd be crying my eyes out right now."

Yusuf lets out a deep breath, relieved. "Oh god, thank you. I was so worried."

"Cobb is totally right about the epithets, though," she says, and Cobb looks smug. "And the pet names. I mean, 'pumpkin' is a bit over the top."

Yusuf nods. "Yeah, I understand. I'll fix it up before I post."

Cobb claps Yusuf on the back. "This fic will get way more comments than Saito's latest. Trust me, the fandom has been waiting a long time for a fic like this."

"Wait, Saito?" asks Ariadne, looking back and forth between them. "Saito writes Eames/Arthur too?"

Cobb's face twitches. "Saito is iboughttheairlinebitch."

"Oh. my. god." Ariadne's jaw drops open. "I love iboughttheairlinebitch's fic! Did you read the one where Eames fucks Arthur in the airport bathroom after we get off the plane? Smoking hot."

"It's porn," says Cobb coldly. "It doesn't have the emotional depth or maturity of Yusuf's writing. He's also cocky as hell. Did you know that one time he told me he could buy the entire internet if he wanted?" Cobb scoffed. "I don't know why Saito is considered a BNF of this fandom. Hell, even I could write better than Saito."

Ariadne looks at him. "So why don't you?"

Cobb looks away. "I used to. I...I can't anymore."

"Why?"

"Cobb has writer's block," Yusuf explains gently.

"Oh, says Ariadne. "I'm sorry."

Cobb waves her off dismissively but doesn't look her in the eye. "It's fine. I like betaing. It helps me feel a part of the fandom."

There is a moment of silence as Ariadne looks back at the screen. "So do Eames and Arthur know about this?" she asks.

"Eames does," Yusuf replies, taking a sip from his cup of tea. "He's left me some comments. He objects to his overall characterization, but mostly he seems to like it. His username is bamf_69."

"I've seen him around the kink meme!" Ariadne exclaims. "He's always filling the Cobb/Saito prompts, right?"

Cobb clears his throat loudly and stands up. "I'm going to get some coffee," he says gruffly, and disappears into the other room.

"Did I say something wrong?" asks Ariadne, when Cobb is out of earshot.

Yusuf smiles uncomfortably. "We just...we don't talk about that."

Ariadne nods. "Sorry." She turns back to the laptop and maximizes the document window again. She changes a few of the epithets, then glances back at the open door that Cobb left through. "Hey, Yusuf? Can I confess something to you? You can't tell Cobb."

Yusuf looks up. "Yes, of course."

"You know that fic from round one?" she says, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "The one where Arthur and Mal are fucking behind Cobb's back, and it turns out James is really Arthur's son?"

Yusuf nods. "Yes..."

Ariadne looks sheepish. "Well..."

Yusuf's eyes widen. "That was you?" he exclaims. He looks back at the door and then back at Ariadne and lowers his voice. "I loved that fic. I totally saved it to my delicious account. I think I've reread it a hundred times."

Ariadne blushes. "Wow, thanks. I wasn't too sure about Mal's characterization, but--"

"No, it was perfect," Yusuf assures her. "She was just smart and cruel enough to be believable. And Arthur..." Yusuf shakes his head in admiration. "I wish I had your skill."

Ariadne ducks her head in embarrassment. "Well, thanks."

Yusuf shoots another glance at the doorway and leans in closer to Ariadne. "While we're confessing things..."

"Yes?"

Yusuf takes the mouse and clicks open a folder titled "Family Reunion Photos." Then he opens a document and sits back. "I've been working on it forever. It's already over 40 thousand words. It will be my magnum opus, but I can't--"

"Is it Cobb/Saito?" Ariadne gasps.

"Yes," Yusuf says. "But I can't show Cobb or he'll--" Ariadne nods. "But I was wondering if maybe...I mean, I don't know if you ship them or not, but--"

"Are you kidding?" says Ariadne, already skimming the opening paragraphs. "Eames/Arthur is just a guilty pleasure. Cobb/Saito is OTP for life. Do you need a beta?"

Yusuf lets out a sigh of relief. "I thought you'd never ask."

*****

Read the sequel: Heaven Is a Place on Earth (NC-17)

More Inception fic

Tags: fic, fic: crack, fic: inception, fic: slash, pairing: arthur/mal, pairing: cobb-saito, pairing: eames/arthur
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