|Worth a Shot
Author: Levita PM
"Yup." "No strings attached?" "Nope." "Huh," she thought out loud and was about to start walking again when Arthur spoke, "Actually, there is one thing." Ariadne watched with anticipation as he turned around and walked up to her. Ariadne/Arthur of course.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Ariadne & Arthur - Words: 3,167 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 120 - Follows: 12 - Published: 07-22-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6167376
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"It was worth a shot."
Ariadne had not bothered to contemplate his words at the time. Anxiety had eaten away at her like a parasite. The glares and looks they received from the dream projections irked her to no end; her experience with Mal being the cause of her paranoia. The rest of the group had seemed to be taking forever to set up. Cobb had taken his sweet old time coaxing Fischer.
It was only after the Fischer job that she had time to think about what happened during the dream. Right after she left the airport, Ariadne had checked into a nice hotel to rest. Though she had been physically at rest the whole time during the flight, she was mentally exhausted from dreaming. Price had not been an issue; Saito had already wired her payment into her bank account and it was safe to say that she would not be the starving graduate student like the rest of her class.
As she reclined on the standard king sized bed, Ariadne let her mind wander. The events in the dream felt like they had happened over years. She couldn't imagine how she could go back to her normal life after all that happened. Ariadne groaned at the thought of all the missed school work she had to make up for. Preparation for the Fischer job had made her fall behind in her studies. Luckily, Professor Miles had been understanding and lenient.
Letting out a sigh, Ariadne pulled her school bag to her and walked out of her hotel room to head for the reclining area in the lobby. She figured that she might as well catch up on work. By the end of the year, she'd be completing school and getting her degree, and she needed to work on her thesis.
Working on her thesis was easier said than done. She was constantly interfered by memories of the events in the dream. Spontaneously, she would remember the sound of an encroaching train. Terror would overwhelm her and she would whirl around to look for a phantom train. Or, she would suddenly imagine the horrific feeling of falling from the top of Mal's home in limbo or the stares of countless people.
There were also good memories that she thought of. Such as Eames' course jokes or the fact that they were all alive. Or that kiss she shared with Arthur in the dream. She tried not to read too much into it, really she did. It was just an idea they had for keeping themselves safe, she reminded herself. She had kissed people before and she had been in relationships before. Though her relationships had never been serious. Mal was right. She had never been in love and loved in return. What happened in the dream meant nothing, she firmly told herself.
Ariadne let out an annoyed sigh and stared down at the blank sheets of paper. Working proved to be fruitless. Just as she was packing up her work and heading back to her room, a familiar voice called out to her.
Speak of the devil, she thought as she turned around. It was Arthur. Though she was a bit surprised that she would see him. He had specifically told her that none of the team members could contact one another for at least a month after a job. Now, only hours after the flight, he was walking up to her, breaking the rules.
"Hi. Do I know you?" she asked him out of paranoia.
Arthur smirked, "We're safe here. Though why are you staying at this hotel?"
"It's nice," she defended.
"It's three-star. You're at least four-star," he grinned.
Ariadne laughed while blushing inwardly, "Well, I'm a grad-student. I need to be careful with money. Speaking of which, why are you here? I thought you'd be at a five-star one by now."
"This was the closest one I found," Arthur blatantly lied.
Ariadne either did not notice his lie, or did not choose to comment on it. There had been many other hotels, both good and bad, around the airport. The others had checked in those, but Ariadne had preferred one that was closer to the city.
"Did you check in yet?" she asked instead.
"Just did. Then I saw you," He answered.
Once again, she had to try extremely hard not to blush. She kept reminding herself that she was reading too much into his words, and quickly changed the topic of discussion. "Well, I'll let you go rest. It's been a long day and-"
"Have you been to the Los Angeles before?" he asked.
"No," she answered, slightly startled that he had interrupted her.
Arthur gave her a sheepish smile, "Well, you're going to miss out on a lot of things if I stayed holed up in my room. Would you like to look around the city with me?"
Ariadne blinked, not missing his use of words, before smiling as well, "Alright."
As they walked around the city sightseeing, they learned about each other in ways they never had in the weeks before the job. Ariadne learned that Arthur came from a well to do New England family that had expected him to become a doctor or a lawyer. Instead he had chosen the shady business of extraction. At first it was because of the money. After college, Arthur had balked at the idea of another four years of graduate, law, or medical school and the high tuition. Cobb, who he had only known by acquaintance back then, introduced him to the business when he found out about Arthur's skills. What he once did for money soon turned into something more. Arthur looked forward to each job for the thrill, and he was soon hooked. By the time Mal died, Arthur had been financially grounded for years. Yet he stayed with Cobb despite the risks. Over the years, they had become friends-brothers, and Arthur knew that he needed to stay and make sure that Cobb did not do anything stupid.
Ariadne listened to him with understanding and in turn told him about herself. He learned about her normal childhood and teen years, her pressures with graduate school, and her plans for the future. She confided in him about her indecision; how hard it was to go back to the real world now that she had experienced the dream world.
At that statement, Arthur had stiffened. "Don't go there, no matter what," he said a bit to harshly, "Dom and Mal were like you, artists. The dream world is dangerously addictive, and as you saw in Dom and Mal's cases, ruined their lives."
She stared at him, once again surprised by his words and then smiled at him when she understood his meaning. "Don't worry about me. Dreaming is great and all...but I've known that I wanted to be an architect, in the real world, since I was ten. I'm going to go back to Paris, get my degree, and start my career."
He nodded, relieved, though he did not know why he felt slightly disappointed. "A normal life is good."
"Though," Ariadne started shyly, "If you need an architect, I'll always be there."
Arthur smiled, "I'll keep that in mind." His features were lit up in that instant, and Ariadne couldn't help but admire his smile. Two dimples on either side of his cheeks showed for a second and his lips were pulled back into a beautiful smile. She couldn't help but smile herself. "Now, that restaurant serves the best Indian food I've ever tasted," Arthur said pointing to a building to their left. "I don't know about you, but I'm starving." Ariadne laughed and agreed to go with him to eat. And he was right, the food was excellent
Ariadne tucked the memory of that day deep in her mind. After returning to Paris, she completed her schooling and got her degree. Now, an accomplished architect, she had fulfilled her lifelong dream. Yet, she felt that her life was missing something.
Every morning, she would walk from her apartment to her office in Paris and observe the routine life surrounding her. Wives would be kissing husbands and biding them to have a good day. Mothers would bustle over their children, preparing them for school. Women her age would be going to work, but with an extra bounce in their steps.
It took a while for Ariadne to figure out what she was missing. Life. She had lost it somewhere along the way in completing her dream. The inception job had given her a taste of the thrills in life, but it was only in a dream. And then she had lived for real on that afternoon with Arthur under the Los Angeles sun.
The years of study and schooling had isolated her from having a real life. While her peers partied on weekends, she stayed holed up in her room studying. And when she wasn't studying, she was working and doing research to support herself and her tuition. But now, with more free time and economic stability, Ariadne realized what she had been missing out on. And it left her cold.
That was why when Arthur phoned her months later with a job offer, she had jumped at the opportunity.
She had agreed for the money, not for the thrill and the opportunity to see him again. Really. But she couldn't contain the happiness she felt when she went to the old warehouse and saw him waiting with Eames and Yusuf. It was just like old times. The only big difference was the lack of Dom Cobb. But she reassured herself with the fact that he was happily living his life with his two children. Everyone made up for the lack of the extractor by working harder, joking harder, and laughing harder. Eames and Yusuf would goof off, Ariadne would laugh, and Arthur would tell them off. Working like this with them was now her reality.
One day, Arthur confronted her after they shared a dream. "You're addicted."
She was startled before quickly replying, "You're wrong. I'm not."
"Then why do you keep insisting to go under? You're the architect. You don't need to be there during the job."
"I need to make sure that everything is right," she defended. "I can't let something happen like last time."
"What happened last time was because of Dom's issues," Arthur argued, not missing a beat, though his voice betrayed his emotions.
Ariadne felt her eyes widen with realization. He was worried about her. He was afraid that she would become an addict to dreaming and be like what Cobb used to be.
"You don't need to be worried about me," she finally said after a long pause, "I only go in for intellectual purposes."
"You're an artist," he said, as if being an artist was culpable.
"Yes, but I'm not a romantic like Cobb," Ariadne replied confidently, "I won't let myself be pulled into it."
Arthur let another long pause fall between them. In his mind he mulled over her words, carefully calculating them until he came to a conclusion, "You've never been in love have you?"
She stiffened and turned to gather her belongings. "It's getting late. I should head home."
"It's not something to be ashamed of."
She walked away, not able to speak anymore because she was ashamed. She was ashamed that she had not realized it sooner. That it wasn't life or thrills that she had really wanted. It was love. It was him.
He had never really been in love either. He fancied that he was when he was in high school, but it turned out to be the typical obsession hormonal teenage boys had with the Queen Bee of the school. He had a couple of relationships in college, but those did not last long either.
Arthur scratched his chin in thought as he sat on the recliner in the warehouse. Maybe he was wrong about her. Ariadne had already proven her strength back then to him, Cobb, and the team. But he still worried.
It was then that Arthur realized that he cared for her and that he was in love with her. And that he had been for quite a while. The very thought was foreign and it completely blew his carefully organized mind. Strangely though, it made sense. It was the reason why he had always made sure that she was okay before and during the Fischer job, why he had been so eager for her to kiss him, and why he followed her to that hotel afterward.
He immediately knew what he had to do. Love was not something that was easy to find; he would not let her slip away. He would make his feelings known to her. And if she accepted them, then he would make sure that history did not repeat itself.
The air felt charged in the days after their little 'talk'. Even Eames and Yusuf noticed the tension between Ariadne and Arthur. While Yusuf kept quiet, Eames was not afraid to let his thought be known.
"My, my, what's this?" Eames would tease, "I feel like I'm watching two tigers in a cage."
Yusuf would face palm, trying hard not to laugh, while Ariadne would look away with a blush and Arthur would glare at Eames. But Eames was right about one thing: they needed to talk. Not the type of talking they did professionally when she taught him the designs, but the type of talking that would resolve the awkwardness between them.
Unlike the other two times, this time it was Ariadne who took the initiative. They were inside her head. She was teaching him the final details of the design. On the day after the next, they would be leaving for Japan. Once they were done with practicing, Ariadne brought up the subject of letting her go with them. He ignored her, as per usual whenever she brought up the subject, and walked away, busying himself with building mazes and paradoxes. Ariadne let out an annoyed groan at the lack of answers but continued to follow him as he walked ahead of her.
Suddenly, Arthur stopped walking and turned to face her, "Alright."
Ariadne stared after him as he once again started to build mazes. It had been so easy for him to agree that she could not help but think that there was a catch. "Alright?" she asked slightly breathlessly, "You're agreeing that easily?"
"No strings attached?"
"Huh," she thought out loud and was about to start walking again when Arthur spoke,
"Actually, there is one thing."
Ariadne watched with anticipation as he turned around and walked up to her. Her breath hitched when he stood directly in front of her. Though he was not a tall man, he loomed over her. Ariadne had to fight the urge to step back. He was looking down at her, with a strange sparkle in his eyes. She felt her stomach knot and watched his mouth move, indicating that he said something, but she could not hear.
It was then that she looked around and noticed her projections. She had very few projections; it was something that the others always commented on. However, there suddenly seemed to be a lot more than normal, and they were all glaring at Arthur.
A projection of her father raised a shot gun and fired. Immediately, Arthur disappeared from the dream and woke up, feeling his neck to make sure that his head was still attached to his body. He quickly got up from his seat on the chair and walked over to the table to check the amount of time left. Thirty seconds. It was still enough time to make the dream world seem like a hour. Arthur bent down on his knees next to Ariadne as she slept. She was beautiful and she looked so peaceful. Arthur tucked a strand of hair that had fallen out of her ponytail behind her ear. He watched as her eyelids fluttered open and moved back to give her space.
"Sorry," she immediately said.
Arthur gave her a reassuring smile to let her know that no harm was done. "I hope your father isn't like that in real life," he joked. She laughed; it was a musical laugh, one he could listen to all day.
"What did you say before my subconscious ganged up on you?" she asked.
He froze and tried to look away, but Ariadne impulsively cupped his cheek to stop him. Their eyes met, and she saw the same emotions she bottled up inside her. She smiled at him, slightly nervous and scared, and ghosted her lips over his. He stiffened at the contact, and she moved to pull away.
"I'm sorry," Ariadne cried.
Arthur cursed himself. He was letting his one chance slip away. "Screw it," he growled before pressing his mouth against hers hungrily. And he kissed her like he never did to anyone before. The kiss was hard, passionate, and desperate. He tried to pool his feelings into her, and she accepted by returning his aggression.
"We're breaking a lot of rules," she whispered.
He stared down at her bruised lips and inwardly smiled, "Somehow, I do that a lot when it comes to you."
"This is a bad idea."
"But it's worth the risk."
"It's worth a shot," she mimicked him.
He smirked and knew that they would be okay. They knew what was real and not. And in reality love was so much more special. A dream could never compare.
A/N: I don't care what everyone is saying about the ending. I just want a happy one, and maybe I'm simple like that. But hey, it sure makes me feel better. Love Ariadne and Arthur. Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are such great actors. Actually, everyone in the movie was great.
Oh, and I just realized that someone else already had a title the same as mine. I'm sorry if it looks like I stole it. I was just basing this story off Arthur's line in the hotel dream sequence.
To those of you who read this story before, I fixed the ending and a few other things. Please tell me what you think. To those of you who reviewed, I love you! To those who didn't please review. It would make my day.
And here's a little something extra...
"Actually, this is a bad idea."
"Meeting your family? Yeah, I agree."
"My dad might actually bring out the shot gun."