Author: Antigone.Rose PM
Arthur has found that, in the dreaming business, things rarely happen just once.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Ariadne & Arthur - Chapters: 3 - Words: 7,980 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 26 - Updated: 04-03-11 - Published: 01-02-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6619027
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Inception...sigh...
EIGHT YEARS AGO
"This is stupid, Dom." Arthur informs the man beside him as they run fast, faster, through the labyrinth that one of them created. "You start building on the fly and the projections are going to notice."
"D'you have a better idea?" The then-Architect pants. Arthur thinks for a moment and then shakes his head, his hair flopping in his eyes. "Then shut up." Dom tells him.
Arthur heeds the advice and continues to run beside his companion. During the year and half that they've worked together, they've been in worse scrapes than this, but Arthur is still annoyed. He likes order, details. To many unforeseen variables could leave them in situations like this one, where Dom, the Architect (and sometimes the Extractor), has to add onto his blueprints while running from angry projections.
"Where'd Mal get to?" Dom has ducked down a side street and is leaning up against the wall, breathing hard. "She doesn't know the layout as well as we do."
"Oh, I don't?" A French accent slides out of an alleyway leading into the street. Mal bounds around the corner, grinning. "Projections are closing in, Dom. What do you want to do?"
Arthur is a tiny bit annoyed that she neglected to ask him his opinion as well. Sure, he's a little (or a lot) younger than the two of them, but he knows what he's doing. Also, the pretty Frenchwoman's special affections for Dom got him a bit annoyed (jealous) at times.
"After you, my dear." He opens the section of wall behind him, revealing a twisting staircase. Mal gives him one of those radiant smiles of hers.
"And where does this go, exactly?" Arthur raises an eyebrow. He's less trusting than Mal when it comes to Dom's architecture.
"Wherever I want it to go." He follows Mal through the shattered wall. Arthur doesn't follow him. Dom pokes his head back out after a second. "Come on."
Arthur follows, shaking his head. He may only be twenty (almost twenty-one), but there are times when he feels like the only adult on his team. They hurry up the stairs in silence. Mal exits them first with Dom and Arthur close behind. They're in a bar, old and lit with cheap red lamps. Mal leads the way (like she usually does) over to the counter.
"Two martinis, please." She smiles at the bartender and Arthur's heart does a tiny little somersault. She's been in his mind so she probably knows about his little crush (intense adoration) on her. She's never given him any reason to show that she feels the same way.
"And a water for our underage friend." Dom adds teasingly. Arthur rolls his eyes and joins them at the bar.
"I'm twenty-one in three weeks." He mutters mutinously. "And it isn't even real alcohol."
"I'll give you a sip of mine, sweetie." Mal pinches his cheek and Arthur tries (and fails spectacularly) not to blush.
Dom laughs and accepts the drinks from the bartender. He raises his to Mal. "To Arthur." He proposes grandly. "Twenty for three more weeks." Mal laughs and clinks her glass against his.
"Go to hell." Arthur buries his head in his crossed arms, his hair flopping everywhere.
"You know," Mal touches him lightly on the shoulder and he looks up. "People might think you were older if you did something about you hair."
"What's wrong with my hair?" Arthur frowns and runs a hand through his overly long black hair.
"It's everywhere, Arthur." She brushes a few pieces out of his eyes and a shudder goes up his spine. "Style it or something."
"Also, you should dress better." Dom observes imperiously. Arthur looks down at his ratty jeans and sweatshirt and feels betrayed. He glares at the two of them, sitting together and sipping their martinis.
"Not to interrupt the cozy little lets-pick-on-Arthur session, but we do have a job to do." He snaps.
"Right." Dom sets the drink back down on the counter. "Let's get to it, then." They get up to go, but the bartender stops them.
"Hey!" He shouts. His voice is gravely and thick. "You gonna pay for those drinks?"
"Oh, I…" Dom begins to search his pockets and Arthur and Mal frantically follow his example, aware that the entire (rather full) bar is staring at them. "Well," Dom looks up. Their search has turned up fifty-eight cents, a loaded red die, and a top. "Seems that we don't have the funds for this."
"What now?" Mal bites her lip and looks over at Dom.
There's a moment of complete silence before Dom grabs her by the hand and says, "Quick, give me a kiss."
The bar and Arthur watch as Mal readily complies. Needless to say, it is a bit awkward. When they finally, finally, break apart and become two separate individuals again, the entire bar is still silent.
Arthur feels the need to point this out to his partners who are currently grinning at each other like complete idiots. "They're still looking at us!" He enunciates, practically shouting.
"Hmm." Dom tears his gaze away from Mal. "Well, we'd better get out of here, then."
Despite their mad dash for the door, the projections tear them apart before they are halfway across the bar. When they wake up, gasping and clutching for totems, Mal and Dom are still smiling and giving each other coy little glances. Arthur is exceedingly pissed off.
Eight years later, a much better dressed Arthur is sitting in a hotel lobby (inside his own mind) and watching as the passing projections give him heated glances. He shifts a little uncomfortably and watches as Cobb strides purposefully across the lobby towards to hotel bar. There is no joy in his face now. Dreaming, once his passion, the thing he breathed for, is now a punishment, a job. Pity clutches at Arthur before Ariadne, helpful as always, distracts him.
"Who or what is Mr. Charles?" She asks quietly, her eyes also fixed on Cobb as he moves closer to their mark.
"A gambit design to turn to the dreamer on his or her own subconscious." He speaks quietly, painfully aware that any one of the passing projections could hear him.
"And why don't you approve?" He knows that she can see the discomfort on his face. She's very, very good at reading people, paying attention to detail. It's one of the few (many) things that he's grown to admire about the young (and brilliant) Architect.
"Because it involves telling the dreamer that he's dreaming." He glances over at her. He expected her to look younger in the business suit, a child playing dress-up, but that is far from the case. She is professional, prepared and much older than he's ever seen her.
The suit, however, doesn't hide the anxiety in her voice. "I thought Cobb said never to do that."
He lets out a tiny humorless laugh. "So now you see how much time that Cobb spends doing things that he tells other people not to do."
She gives him a smile of amusement, but something else flickers in her eyes. She has such expressive eyes; he's noticed that about her. Her face remains impassive most of the time, but her eyes flicker and dance with a language all their own. He's tried to decipher it without much success.
He likes her. She's the first woman he's worked with since Mal…He steers his thoughts away from her as he usually does. He'd taken her death hard, even if he didn't show it like Cobb. Every time that she popped up unexpectedly during one of his jobs with Cobb, it was a bit like a slap to the face, forcing him to remember her.
There is nothing of Mal in Ariadne. Sensual, vibrant Mal was nothing like the young Architect beside him. He knows her, he knows that she lives more in her own mind that she does in reality. Impossible shapes and paradoxes and dreams within dreams came easy to Ariadne. He's seen the world from her eyes and found it absolutely glorious. Nothing was without a solution, not to her. People though, people are hard for her. People aren't like buildings. You can't navigate them, find their weaknesses and strengths and fix the problems. At least, you couldn't if you were Ariadne.
He watches her as she watches Cobb. He'll admit that he's wondered a little (a lot) about the relationship between the Architect and the Extractor. Cobb likes her, he knows that, and he knows that she craves Cobb's approval more than anyone else's. Could there be more between them than that, though? He thinks about it a little more and notices that the projections are staring at them with renewed viciousness.
"Why are they looking at us like that?" She's moved closer to him. He almost jumps at her hot breath against his cheek.
"Cobb's stunt is making the subconscious uneasy." He whispers right back and is oddly thrilled when he feels her shiver. He leans back a little. "It's making them look for the dreamer, for me."
He pauses for a split second and is overcome with a sense of déjà vu so strong that it makes him slightly queasy. He remembers the last time that he and Cobb were both in a dream with a hell of a lot on the line, a bar and a very, very pretty (beautiful) girl that they both liked more than they should have.
"Quick, give me a kiss." He shouldn't have said it. Ariadne was nothing like Mal. She was different (better). She was strong. She didn't need him to protect her. She could do it all on her own.
Her lips brush his gently, chastely. He responds gently, sweetly and he wants more, he wants so much more, but now isn't the time or the place so they both lean back and let reality (or is it a dream?) seep back in.
"They're still staring at us." She points out, her expression slightly bemused. She may be good at reading most people, strangers and the like, but she's always been complete rubbish at reading him. They've shared dreams for weeks now and he is nearly positive that she knows nothing about his little (or not so little) crush on her.
"It was worth a shot." He says and he can't stop the little smile from quirking his mouth (because, really, it was). "We'd better get out of here."
They head to the rooms, neither one really looking at the other. They're a different sort, he knows, than Mal and Cobb. They aren't the type of people who grin at each other like idiots just because they had a kiss that they might have (really) wanted. They'll keep their head in the mission, despite the sudden burst of adrenaline, the endorphin rush.
And, Arthur knows, that despite their shockingly similar start, they won't go the same way that Mal and Cobb did. They're a different sort. And, yes, he's decided that they are indeed a they now. They'll have time, he hopes, to make something together once this dream is over.
"You were right." She tells him as they climb up the stairs to the fourth floor.
"About what?" He glances over at her and sees the smile dancing in her eyes.
"It was worth a shot."
A/N: What did ya think? Lemme know! I'm thinking about perhaps expanding this and adding another couple of oneshots paralleling the time when Arthur, Mal and Cobb worked together to the 'present'….yup yup yup.
(P.S...I may have...improvised the dialouge between Arthur and Ariadne a bit because my sister is borrowing my Inception DVD...)
Review and all that jazz…