Type: Crossover, slash
Word Count: 19,000~ words
Characters/Paring: Neku/Joshua, Arthur/Eames, Team Death and the Dream Team
Warnings: slash and some kidnapping/drugging
Summary:The Angels are secretive, and Eames is used as a tool. Joshua is in love and Neku has become pretty good at games. And Arthur? Arthur wants the hell out of Shibuya.
A/N: A big thank you to my artist and Domi, who without her, this would never have come about. And also, to neoncitylights because that's where I got the idea.
Arthur is standing near the 104 building, watching as Joshua watches Neku do his thing.
His thing being scanning.
Joshua made it out to be a bit like extraction, only they can only access it in a dream. In Shibuya. Yes, that seems to be the answers to all the strange things: Shibuya. It frustrates the point-man to no end, because he knows the kids are holding something back. Especially Joshua, who is far more intelligent then his looks suggest.
He suspects they know exactly why they can’t dream properly here. Eames and Ariadne don’t care, though. They say scanning is probably easier than finding a person who knows who CAT is. Even if that person could be standing a few feet away.
Arthur suspects Sanae Hanekoma- Mr. H., as the kids call him- but he isn’t about to tell anyone that.
What he really can’t stand, however, are the questions they refuse to answer. No one has bothered to explain how Neku can shoot lightening or scan when they can’t. There hasn’t been one peep about what those monster frogs were, either. He hasn’t seen any since that first day.
Arthur hates being useless, and hates not knowing what’s going on even more.
“It’s like dancing with air, isn’t it?” Joshua says. He reaches out his hand to lightly grab a passer-by -a real fucking human being- who doesn’t stop walking. It makes Arthur sick
“The new work is stirring something up, big time.” Neku says. His headphones are showing through his spiky hair just barely, making him out to be very cartoon-like. “Nothing else than yet, though.”
After all this work, they still haven’t gotten anywhere.
He has the feeling he’s going to have to take matters into his own hands. Every since he was a child, he knew what he wanted- needed- and how to get it. Nothing, nothing, is going to get in between him and his goals.
Not when it involves other people.
Mustn’t think like that.
The way Joshua looks at him, he knows that the boy suspects something. If not, he knows something. He hates hates hates it, too.
“Might as well head back. Joshua shrugs. His arm winds its way around Neku’s shoulder. Like a high school virgin -he probably is a virgin- the boy blushes like mad.
Arthur takes up the rear.
“The Noise are attracted to his emotions.” Joshua whispers into Neku’s ear. “They’re flocking around my barrier.”
“You think he’ll try something?”
“Yes, I know he will.”
“Are you going to, you know, do anything?” Neku prods.
“Not until I need to.”
“You and your damn games.”
“His curiosity should be punished.”
Arthur makes sure not to tell anyone about his plan. Not Cobb, not Ariadne, and he hasn’t even spoken to Eames in months.
He rents a hotel room near Pork City, saying he’s going out to examine some of CAT’s previous works. It breaks his heart, just a little, when he has to refuse Ariadne when she asks to go along. Her boredom is starting to show through. She’s been cut off from everything she loves about dreaming and everything that made her come back in the first place.
(A secret: Arthur hates Somacin. Reminds him of all the friends he lost to heroin and minds that suffered from steroids.)
In the dream-coated Shibuya, he’s careful to avoid Joshua’s haunts. It would not surprise Arthur if he has his own ways of slipping in and out of dreams. It really, really wouldn’t. He keeps his eyes open for more of the monsters from his first trip. Sure, he’s died plenty of different ways before, but being ripped to shreds by a frog isn’t on the list.
He maneuvers the streets with skill, with help from his days in India, where everything is crowded all the time. He isn’t entirely sure what he’s looking for, but he’s drawn to a commercial ramen shop called Shadow Ramen.
The place makes his skin sweat, his breath waver for just a moment.
“You’re going to get us erased!” he hears a voice hiss. Two people walking closely together, (not romantically, but in a way one stands close to their mother) ignoring and being ignored by everyone. Just like he is. The girl, tan with shiny, shiny lips catches his staring, and elbows her male companion hard.
“That man can see us!” Funny. If they were dreaming, they would know people can’t see them. He isn’t aware of the any plan to extract on other people. He can feel excitement bubbling in his chest. He’s finally found a clue.
Of course, because he’s trained, he sees the beasts before they do. He looks, points, but it’s too late by then.
“Noise! Li-” The girl makes a dive for the boy in an effort to get away, like maybe he’s protecting her. He’s gone, though. Long, long gone as the- what did she call them? Noise?
All he can do is watch wide-eyed as she goes too. Somehow he knows those two aren’t waking up.
“What do we have here?” the new voice is high, female. Arthur spins around, only to come face to face with a magenta haired young woman clad in a loose blouse and white boots. “You’re no player! Oi, Kariya!”
Arthur has half a mind to run as fast as he can, before he reminds himself that this is what he was hoping to find. Well, minus the death and...
“He’s no player, Uzuki.” the new arrival is a tall man a little younger than Arthur is, 23 or 24. His hair resembles Neku’s in its color and shape, but the cocky air around him is much like Joshua’s. Kariya, apparently.
How does he know about him?
“He’s closer to a tourist, or Nancy Drew.”
“How can you be tourist in the Reapers game! Just look at him, he’s hopeless looking. There’s no way he’s the Composer or something!”
“Composer? Reapers game? What are you talking about?” he demands. It’s time about time for this to end already, Arthur thinks. He’s sick of being treated like a kindergartener. He want to go home, for Pete’s sake. Until he remembers that home was a slightly crazy British man and flat in New York with stolen art and staying safely in the eye of a hurricane.
The only thing he has left to loose is his pride, and that’s going fast.
“Shoo, Uzuki.” Arthur recognizes the sharp look in the Kariya’s eyes. He? the one who’s really in charge. Uzuki looks livid, but stomps off much in the way a child would. She doesn’t look much older than one.
“I take it you’re the extractor he was speaking of.” Kariya stalks closer, leaving a meter or two between them. He stays respectfully out of his personal-bubble, but the feral grin on his face tells him it won’t be the friendliest encounter.
“Who?” Arthur asks “I want some answers.”
“You know nothing?” the other man looks genuinely surprised. It wasn’t something he was expecting, just the opposite, really. So far, everyone has known infinitely more than anyone he’s affiliated with has. “Ah, you’re going to love this.”
You can see the entire city from the top of Pork City. In the daytime, the sunlight reflects off the skyscrapers, shining like millions of stars. Some people, Kariya says, need sunglasses to look at it.
From this height, everything looks perfectly normal. Everyone’s big bad secret is covered over nicely with a shiny sheen, and no one will ever have to know until it’s their time.
Arthur ponders this while he tries to get over the new information he just learned. It’s everything he wanted and more, with nothing he expected.
Neku has been through a lot. He’s surprised the kid is still alive and...sane, frankly. He doesm’t know how he would’ve turned out after all that, and during his teenage years to boot.
“What are you going to do?” Kariya asks offhand. The Reaper probably doesn’t care all that much, since he’s made it clear he doesn’t think Arthur could change a thing. Maybe he’s right, but Arthur has been trying to be optimistic.
It’s not fair, is all Arthur can think. Joshua, the Composer, is playing games with human lives.
His profession may be illegal, but even mobsters have honor and morals.
“Just stay out of my way.”
He’s groggy with the aftereffects of the Somacin when he wakes up, and isn’t expecting there to be another body in the room with him. The slim form is sitting in a chair directly across from the bed, leg folded neatly over the other, equipped with a cup of coffee.
Arthur should have suspected Joshua would find him.
“So now you know.” He states. His voice and face is impossible to read, even for an expert like him. Unconsciously, Arthur backs further into the headboard.
“You won’t win. I’ll stop it.” Arthur says with conviction. He’ll do it, whatever it takes.
“You silly, silly boy!Joshua says with venom. You can't help this city! Without the Reapers game, it will die. The people you’re working for- Angels- don’t understand this. They want to take away one of the only people I care about. Those Angle don’t understand humans. None of us do!” Joshua screams at him, losing control for maybe the first time. “Am I the only person who gets that?!”
Arthur glances at the PASIV device, at the IV in his arm, and before he can stop himself he’s throwing his body towards the button, sending him into his dreams. Joshua will follow him shortly.
It’s only a matter of time. Arthur’s got to work faster, run faster then he’s ever had to be before.
Joshua can’t know where he’s going, because he doesn’t know where he’s going. He has no plan, only that he needs to get one fast.
As he’s running for his life and everyone else’s down the narrow alleys Shibuya holds, one comes to him like a lightbulb.
Theres only two layers of Shibuya. The Realground and the Underground. Only one dream level. If he can get Joshua to follow him into a real dream, he can trap him and-
Yes, yes, it’s all coming together now. He can do this, Arthur tells himself. He can do this. He goes to WildKat, and he really hopes no one is there.
His gun is out when he comes out of the Underpass. Though it probably won’t hurt the Composer, he’s hoping that it will at least slow him down.
Alright, so it’s a long-shot.
Arthur takes a deep breath, readies his gun, and turns into the cafe. From what Kariya told him, WildKat is one of the stores with the Reaper sticker on it, allowing Players to enter and be seen. Mercifully, the cafe is barren. Double-checking, Arthur jumps over the counter to where he knows the children keep their PASIV case.
He’s a professional, above all things, so there’s barely any trace of him being there when he departs into the bathroom, locking himself in a stall.
The door opens in the distance, but he’s gone before he can hear the door slam.
Fuck. It goes through Arthur’s mind like a mantra. Fuck, because he’s still in Shibuya. Still, there’s something... off about it. He can’t seem to recall everyone running around freaking out about Tin-Pin, or whatever it is.
Arthur swings his head around wildly, looking for any sign on the Game or Joshua or any of the others, but there’s nothing to be seen.
“Hey mister! Let’s play some Tin-Pin!” a very enthusiastic voice yells, aiming it at him. Arthur looks down to see a kid around Neku’s age with a red bandana, along with torn jeans and other questionable accessories. Closely behind him is Neku and Eri, or a girl who looks like Eri, but they look at him with no sign of recognition.
So maybe he’s not in Shibuya after all.
In any normal situation, he would be going to his totem for assistance, but his red dice doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
“Uh...” He stumbles over the words, wide-eyed. “No... no thank you.”
“Whatever, man!” The strangely dressed boy bolts off with the others. They don’t look back.
It’s like something straight out of a science fiction novel. A Shibuya that’s not Shibuya. Your cat is dead but it’s not at the same time. He may be an extracting, dream-sharing point-man, but even he didn’t believe in parallel universes.
This city is fucking with him.
Left without a plan, Arthur weaves himself seamlessly into the crowd, hoping that, somehow Joshua won’t find him. When he does, because he can’t run forever, Arthur has no idea what will happen. He never thought he’d be murdered by a supernatural being.
He doesn’t know how, but he ends up in front of a large, dark tunnel. It leaks something... powerful, and it almost scares him. Just almost.
“It’s the Shibuya River.” Joshua says from behind him. Arthur doesn’t move. Better not to, just get into more trouble. “If we went further inside, we’d find all the parallel universes of Shibuya.”
“I see.” Arthur says slowly, willing his voice not to waver. He will not admit that he’s scared.”
“You should be punished, I think.” Joshua’s voice gets closer. Arthur wants to scream “You’re crazy. Nuts!” but he doesn’t find it in him. “Other people cannot know about this. What I’m doing is fixing this place, not harming it. Believe it or not, I tried to destroy this place. But... that’s changed.”
Neku. Neku is the one responsible for the boy’s change of heart. Arthur just knows it.
He hopes someone will realize this. He hopes Eames will. Neku really is they key to everything after all.
Joshua appears in front of him in a flash, standing, somehow, at Arthur’s eye-level. He looks into two empty eyes, before two hands press into his temples lightly.
Arthur is gone.
“There’s been an accident.” Joshua says.
They look at him with worried gazes.
“Arthur is gone.”
Arthur doesn’t know if he’s lying on his back or stomach, if he’s upside down or which way is left, right, up. All he knows is it’s white- blindingly so- and he can’t move no matter how hard he tries.
He wonders if he’s dead or not.
He suspects he is. Joshua is a death god and could have annihilated him. Maybe he did. Is that all his existence has been reduced to? Maybes and false dreams? Yes. No. Maybe.
Maybe maybe maybe.
The white is comforting, Arthur decides. Like warming up next to a fire on a chilly winter night, or that blanket everyone had when they were little kids. If he could just stay here together with the warmth forever and ever, his life- maybe life- would be perfect.
Or maybe he’s in heaven. Heaven is white, right? Somehow he doubts he’s in heaven, though. He’s killed to many people, spent his life stealing money from the good and giving dangerous information to the bad.
He’s the hell poster-boy.
It’s probably not limbo, either.
Eventually, he loses track of time, himself. Not like he was keeping track of anything.
There’s a sound, coming closer, closer, closer.
Stilettos. On a tall, fit woman by the sound the shoes make.
“Now what do we have here?” a female voice, accent rich and strong. French, he knows instantly. Mal, he spent so long with the woman he doesn’t know how he wouldn’t recognize it. “That’s a... nice song you’re carrying.”
Song? What song? He doesn’t hear anything but her. He wished he could see her, but she’s somewhere he can’t look, just out of his line of vision, he thinks. But it’s only another maybe.
“There’s someone coming for you.” she whispers. “Mr. Eames will be here soon.
Thank god, Eames is coming. The part of him that is still desperately in love with Eames- a fairly large portion- reminds him that this makes it the third time Eames has saved his ass.
“You’re very lucky... to have someone so willing to follow you here.”
“Arthur? Arthur!” Eames’ voice yells. He’s still far away, but he’s coming for him. Eames is coming for him. The woman kisses his forehead, and he gets a glimpse of something moving gracefully. Like angel wings.
“Arthur!” Eames is yelling. A hand is grabbing his, his body springs back from it’s lethargic state. He’s gasping, gasping for breath; he feels like he’s just been drowned. There’s something soft in his hand- a white feather.
Then there is Eames.
All his life, his not-life, his existence, Joshua has never once found someone who plays his little games at the same pace he could. They could never keep on the beat, never stay in tune or do the steps with enough precision.
Then he meets Neku, who can do it better than he can.
“How did you know how to send him there?” Joshua asks quietly. His touch is soft against Neku’s skin, grazing over his cheek with care.
Neku’s hand fingers the fabric of his shorts, the place where he kept his Player Pin. He smiles when he thinks about it lying unknown in another’s pocket.
“It was obvious, knowing you.” Neku says simply, and looks into the Composer’s eyes. He lets them tell the truth. “What I don’t know, though, is your motive.”
“I told you,” Joshua says while he cleans the dirt from underneath his nails. “I thought his curiosity should be punished. No one messes with my city.”
“And I’m the Queen of England.” Neku scowls. “Now tell me the real reason.”
“I was trying to be creative. What’s the fun in just contacting some Angel and telling them to back off? Sending someone there was much more fun. Besides, everyone gets their happy rainbow ending, just like you wanted.”
“I wanted nothing!” Neku yells, indignant with a bright red blush. “I’m not a Disney princess.”
Joshua stands, slinks over to Neku, and places one finger below his waistline. “Prove it,” he whispers, and the other is happy to oblige.
Arthur wakes up, fully wakes up, on an airplane. It’s shared with Ariadne, Cobb and Eames, the former being the only one awake, and also by his side.
“We almost lost you, darling.” Eames whispers shakily. His calloused hands cover one of Arthur’s own, warm and soothing. He has half a mind to pull away, but he just... can’t.
“I’m here now, aren’t I?”
“I’m never leaving you.” Eames says.
Arthur wants to believe him, too.
June Paris Jupiter takes the song previously attached to Arthur to her higher-ups. She does not speak, does not even bat an eyelash when they tear her boss into shreds with their words.
“Today is proof,” a young voice says. Over the years, Sola has gotten herself involved in the workings of the younger Angels, trying to get used to what they do before she took over leadership for herself. “That we can be bested. Leave codename: CAT be. Leave Shibuya be. That is my first order.”
Nothing really lasts forever.
In the end, it’s still Neku and Joshua, locked in a constant battle, always dancing around themselves, their pasts, their future. They’ll dance until one of them is dead, most likely. Maybe even a little after that, too.
And it’s still a weary Arthur with his weary love for an extremely foolish man. Waiting for words, dreaming of forgiveness, waiting, hoping, wanting for the elusive normalcy. It’ll never come, but their love, their now, is all they’ve ever had anyways.
It will work out, maybe.
And the air dances on.
Do not underestimate the love of humans, or the things they keep.
-The Composer of Shibuya