A themed fanfiction rec list for Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010).
N.B. All recs are Eames/Arthur (or Arthur/Eames, whatever). Please consult each fic’s individual warnings before you read!
Summary: Thinking that a reporter genuinely likes you is pretty much on par with feeling like you really are special to that stripper. (Newspaper AU).
Comments: It was decidedly weird stumbling across (and consequently reading) this when I was supposed to be taking notes out of my journalism textbook, but I guess it could be considered research of a kind? Anyway, a wonderful AU written by someone who obviously has real life experience dealing with the dynamics of a newsroom. My only complaint was that sometimes there was a little too much procedural detail that didn’t impact on the plot, and the format of the epilogue is only semi-comprehensible to people outside the industry. But those are small quibbles for an otherwise great fic with unusually likeable OCs.
Summary: Ballet AU.
Comments: A ballet school AU set in London that beautifully transfigures the characters into their new roles without bogging down the writing with too much dance metalanguage, which would have been hell for readers like me who hardly know a barre from a pirouette. My only complaint is that it has a very abrupt ending considering all the world-building and romantic tension that goes on during the story. Basically, I would have liked more! (Though Eames and Mal’s pre-opening night ‘ritual’ still makes me clamp my legs together and wince).
Summary: Notting Hill AU, written for the i_k prompt, “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Arthur owns a quirky hipster science bookstore. Eames is a world-famous mega-celebrity.
Clearly this calls for a meet-cute.
Comments: Maybe this fic would have been less charmingly quirky, sexy, funny and surprising if I’d ever actually watched Notting Hill, but I doubt it. (And full marks for Dom Cobb as the househusband fascinated by shining wrapping paper).
Summary: Arthur’s a corporate lawyer, Eames owns the coffee shop across the street, and all good love stories start with a quadruple shot latte.
Comments: Oh, this fic. It’s one of my very favourites in this fandom. There is overworked!under-appreciated!lawyer!Arthur and wonderful coffee and Eames and his café and more wonderful coffee, and every time I finish reading it I always feel extremely happy. It also makes me want to open a café of my own, like, now.
Summary: Arthur usually finds blatant fishing for compliments extremely irritating, but in Eames’ case he is reluctantly charmed.
Comments: Arthur mans a helpline for insomniacs and Eames is the muso who keeps calling him just to talk– it’s a classic long distance romance. And I might have guessed the twist at the end, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying.
Summary: Eames orders a mail order bride and gets Arthur.
Comments: Oh, the depraved things I would do to have more MI5!Eames and more fics in this ‘verse. Hilarious, surprising, wonderfully-constructed almost-crack!fic of the kind only Jibrailis can pull off.
Summary: Political crisis managers AU. Arthur and Eames are operatives for rival presidential campaigns in a heated Democratic primary. Can they find love and happiness in spite of all the pies, Republicans, and publicity disasters in their way?
Comments: (Lucky I studied US politics in high school or the campaign trail in this fic would be confounding). Some of the funniest lines in the fandom therein.
Summary: Arthur is a trufax robot.
Comments: Android stories always make me a bit weepy for some reason, and this was no exception. But the short vignettes that make the whole of this fic have depth beyond the cyborg AU cliché, and the characterisation of both Arthur and Eames is excellent. And the ending!
Alternative Universe – School & College
Summary: Being a freshman piano performance major at a prestigious New England conservatory is difficult enough without landing the school’s star baritone as your singer, and inevitably, your hopeless crush.
Comments: One of my very favourite fics, um, ever. Wonderful characterisations (especially Eames, who somehow remains likeable despite being an arrogant shit), a relatable and imperfect pianist Arthur, and enough attention to the detail of the conservatory setting to make the reader feel like they’re there, even if they don’t have much (or any) technical musical knowledge. And the moments they’re on stage performing are as pulse-pounding as the grand final in a sports story. This is only the first entry in the Steinway!Verse, but is AU enough to thrive as an original story in its own right. The links provided to the music performed in the fic was also a great touch.
Summary: A high school AU wherein Eames is a shy sweet nervous drama geek and Arthur is the confident popular gorgeous student council president; and lo, there is much pining and awkwardness and, eventually, kissing.
Comments: I have to admit I was a bit resistant to the idea of an Eames who wasn’t the active pursuer in his relationship with Arthur and was actually shy and whatnot, but toomuchplor outdoes herself with this sweet and surprisingly believable high school romance.
Summary: One day Arthur finds a quote scrawled on his desk. His competitive streak forces him to reply.
Comments: I may not be a Lit major but I’ve certainly sat in enough graffitied carrels to feel an accord with overstudious TA!Arthur in this fic. Arthur’s ‘mystery’ correspondent isn’t really a mystery, of course, but that isn’t the point. Very enjoyable!
Summary: College AU in which Arthur is a cranky senior and Eames is a professor of Dream Psychology.
Comments: I have several friends who actually are the incredibly high-achieving, cerebral uni student type that Arthur is supposed to be in this fic, so I can say with authority that his characterisation in this respect isn’t very convincing. Nevertheless, this is a long and satisfying teacher/student AU.
Summary: Arthur and Eames are dorm mates who get on well enough despite all their marked differences — until Eames discovers Arthur’s secret.
Comments: This fic seems unassuming enough with its ‘working title’ and lack of author summary, but I got completely sucked in. Set in England, it’s Arthur who’s the foreign exchange student for once, and the locations both on campus and at Eames’ ancestral home are so well done I was shivering with cold on their behalf. The sex scenes are engrossing, the details of the boys’ dorm room microcosm and the Cobbs’ flawed relationship are wonderful, and the romance works without descending into soppiness. Probably my favourite college!AU after Ach, des Knaben Augen.
Summary: Arthur’s plans for his life are very detailed and predictable, just the way he likes it… until Eames comes along.
Comments: Gosh, I sympathised with the hyper-organised Arthur in this fic! I am ashamed to say that I too timetable my every spare moment like this during semester. This is a fun, funny and romantic College AU that makes excellent and believable use current social media (i.e. semi-stalking).
…with a twist.
Summary: Eames has got Arthur all wrong, but he’s too busy trying to hit that to notice.
Comments: Eames’ ‘intellectual’ seduction techniques are truly snigger-worthy in this, and eleveninches’ unusual characterisation of an unpretentious Arthur was surprisingly refreshing. A wonderful comedy of errors! (And poor Robert).
Summary: Arthur and Eames both play WoW. They kick ass at Warsong Gulch, and when they team up they’re nigh on unstoppable. They don’t know they’re playing with each other.
Comments: I’ve never played World of Warcraft and have only a rudimentary understanding of how MMORPGs work, but with the mini-primer linked to the fic and some judicious Googling, I was able to understand enough of the story format to get a kick out of it. This is actually more pre-slash, but the consolidation of Eames and Arthur’s ‘epistolary’ relationship was a pleasure to read.
Summary: “We should probably go soon, anyway,” she says. “There’s an unconscious man in the ladies’ bathroom with ‘wanker’ written on his forehead – people are going to start asking questions.”
Comments: Fem!Eames and Arthur’s courtship, set in that offscreen period when they’re both in Sydney for the Inception job. A fascinating character study and a quietly affecting romance.
Summary: Post-canon. Eames lures Arthur out of retirement and away from Angry Birds with the promise of a very different kind of job.
Comments: Dark, clever, non-fanon characterisation of Arthur and Eames here. This is a fic where I actually had to concentrate on the nuances of their interactions to try and divine the many things that are left unsaid. It also has plot, hot sex and moments of real humour — and a politically motivated engagement! (I have a wedding kink, so sue me).
Summary: How to come to terms with the unsatisfactory nature of physical reality.
Comments: Set both pre- and post-canon, this emotionally resonant fic has an immaculate trans!Arthur and beautiful pacing.
Summary: And from my tenth floor tenement, where once our bodies lay, how I longed to hear you say: No, they’ll never catch us now. A Cold War era spy AU.
Comments: Multilayered, plotty story that leaves you guessing until the (satisfying, IC) end.
Summary: Iron Chef AU. In which there are cooking competitions, ruminations on the length of Eames’ penis, professional jealousy, and second chances.
Comments: I think seeing at least one episode of the original Iron Chef is necessary to fully enjoy this fic, but the story sparkles outside of its frame in any case. The details — particularly the ways Eames keeps his love for Arthur alive throughout their separation — were both sweet and funny. My only reservation was about whether Arthur would truly be able to let go of his professional jealousy; I wasn’t entirely convinced he ever would, even by the end. But still, wonderful romantic silliness.
Summary: Crossover with Mysterious Skin. Arthur refuses to have shower sex.
Comments: Definitely check the warnings before embarking on this one; nothing is explicit, but the subject matter is painful, yet is dealt with remarkable care and precision. I haven’t seen Mysterious Skin, but the author seems to have rather seamlessly incorporated the elements of that movie into Inception!Arthur’s backstory. I really enjoyed watching the progression of Eames and Arthur’s relationship as the latter finally surrenders his most closely-held possession: trust.
Established relationship or romance facilitated by cohabitation.
Summary: Intellectually, Eames understood that Arthur and injury were destined by fate to meet. His mistake had been in assuming that Arthur would suffer those injuries while at work.
Comments: Wonderful IC snark, great domestic details, awkward shower sex and an endearingly dense Cobb POV.
Summary: How Eames learned to stop worrying and love the bird.
Comments: When Arthur moves in with Eames he brings his pet African Grey parrot with him — hilarity, interspecies jealousy and schmoop ensue. A lovely story with wonderful art.
Summary: Sequel to Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer. Cobb needs a place to crash; Eames is unhappy.
Comments: In which Cobb becomes an unwilling accessory to Arthur and Eames testing the boundaries of their newfound domestic bliss.
Summary: Arthur/Eames domestic adventures. Or: the mystery of Eames’ disappearing underpants. Or: what Arthur wants to do on his birthday. Or: how Arthur and Eames learned to live together, put up with each other’s weirdness, and learn that being a BAMF doesn’t mean you can’t also be a dork.
Comments: This fic doesn’t really have a plot. What it does have is Eames slowly, slowly learning what home is, an Arthur who prefers Star Wars lego over sex, Eames in a tulip war with the neighbours, and an occasional gunfight against deadly assassins. Also, no matter how many times I read it, the beginning makes me (very literally) choke with laughter.
Summary: Arthur is forced to move in with Eames. The world moves.
Comments: This is the only one on the list where Arthur is living with Eames out of (blackly humorous) necessity, not choice, and the ending is all the more evocative for how unspoken is their gradual gravitation towards each other.
Summary: Eames comes to realize that Arthur is really not a morning person at all after he starts staying over at Eames’ flat.
Comments: In which “clumsy morning Arthur” is charmingly incompetent and Eames rearranges the furniture.
Humour & Crack
And quite possibly both simultaneously.
Summary: Pulp fiction superhero fic for great justice.
Comments: I’m no expert on pulp fiction, but Jibrailis really nails the tone in this cracky adventure. Also: Cobb’s superhero name and Mal’s superpower. That is all.
Summary: “Arthur and Eames suck at phone sex.” This is true.
Comments: The best type of awkward sex is the funny kind.
Summary: “This looks delicious,” Eames fucking lies, because the only accurate statement would be This looks like intestines, and he would like Arthur to continue to shagging him.
Comments: Truly stomach-turning, which makes reading about Eames eating all of Arthur’s culinary offerings all the funnier.
Inception Kink Meme Fill: Crazy!Arthur by anonymous
Summary: Honestly, Eames doesn’t know why everyone thinks Arthur is the reasonable one of the team. Dude is crazy.
Comments: Arthur is indeed crazy in a variety of unusual and entertaining ways, yet this short fic (somehow) never quite devolves into crack. Happy dinosaur fighting!
Summary: The first and last time Eames was invited to the Cobb’s.
Comments: This gets cracky enough to be OOC, but it’s so funny I didn’t give a damn. I also like how well eleveninches manages to convey Arthur and Eames’ relationship without making it the centre of the story — that honour falls to Cobb, and her Cobb is one of a kind (as are his kids. Now who wants to play Barbie Funeral?).
Rec & Fill Lists by Others
An Arthur/Eames fic a day keeps the Inceptors away by Katy and Amy
This list last updated 2012/12/22