|Follow the Red
Author: PrettyPrettyPlease PM
"I will always find you." With accomplishment comes renown. Being renowned makes you prey. Someone wants Ariadne dead or alive so none but Eames and Arthur have entered the race to find her first. This is a game of various cats and one tiny Parisian mouse.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Crime - Ariadne & Arthur - Chapters: 25 - Words: 111,932 - Reviews: 300 - Favs: 86 - Follows: 76 - Updated: 08-25-12 - Published: 07-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8280552
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Holy bejeezus readers, I am SO sorry. Last week was unbelievably hectic and what free time I had, I was so lazy and my little case of writer's block did not help at ALL. But after finally checking my email and reading your words I was recharged and decided I'd better get to work on my own so I could update for you! So you can thank these people for the update today: A Dark Dreamer, belle-amie57, Nina.4444, ariel1200s, Legal-Assassin-006, physhiephox, invisiblereader13, Miss Ariadne, cinematherapy, Ailecec, feelthefreedom, GarthFitzgerald, Guest, sweetpea42, Guest, myahoo, iamthewriter, timewyrm, Gemma, xoColetta, BubbleXGumXPink, Lani,
Chapter 21: Stay Arthur.
The only sound Arthur could hear was the unsteady galloping of his pulse in his ears. His head started pounding—a result of the rise in blood pressure. Was the world losing its color and turning black and white? Ariadne was hunched over on the ground…lying motionless. What had he done? What had happened to his self-control? The familiar weight of the dice in his pocket didn't help matters. The Point Man made a start to cradle her body but was mercilessly held by the barbarian that fired the weapon. Then there was black. And then red from the light shining through the eyelids he didn't notice had squeezed shut. This can't be happening… oh but it was. In fact, Travis' guffaws and belly laughs only rubbed salt into the wound. Not until the laughing stopped and Arthur had heard—"Oh my God…" and heaves and choked sniveling.
His eyes opened and THANK GOD; Yes, she was lying on the ground but no, she was not in fact motionless. A trained eye could see the minute hiccup actions of her shoulders and the grip of her hand in her hair, there for protection. She hadn't been shot down-she had ducked. Travis pushed his words out in between breathless cackles, "I told you he would fire the gun-I never said it was loaded!" he continued, too amused to make sense of air, "Jesus Christ, you should've seen your face. And Ariadne! I've never seen someone move so fast in my life…"
"Go to hell." Ariadne cautiously sat up with her good arm and glared icily at him.
"—And she's back." He patted her head satisfactorily. "Let's give these kids some time to recoup, Connors…" Travis literally kicked the employees Arthur had injured into the hall and Connors had closed the door.
Now, Arthur's eyes had never left her body once he realized he hadn't lost her. He had to keep looking at the rise and fall of her breath, the flicker of her eyelashes, the red in her face, the blood trickling down her back and the grip of her hand on her arm to continually believe she was alright. In the split seconds between an exhale and an inhale, he panicked. She stopped breathing. She wasn't ever breathing. I'm imagining this. Ariadne followed the men with her eyes until she was sure the door had been fixed shut. She stared at the handle numbly. Not a thing looked like it was going through her head. She could've been reciting, holy shit, I'm still alive or just waiting for the moment the handle would twist and she would need to shield herself. Then Arthur's face was in her hair by her ear, his hand on the other side pressing the side of her head into the front of his, repeating his mantra, "You're alive. Thank God. You're alive. Oh, Thank God." Yet, all she could do was watch the door and wait for it—something, anything—to register. "Let me fix your arm. Which arm is it?" managed to slip through the haze. He must've figured out which arm it was because the aching pain of her bone being shoved back into socket is what finally propelled her out of her zone. Her voice was hoarse when she let out a cry.
"I'm sorry…" Arthur whispered and kissed her shoulder, "I know it hurt, I'm sorry."
Ariadne didn't know what she was shaking her head at. No, don't be sorry? No, stop talking? No, pain is the best feeling in the world because I know I'm still alive? Whatever it was, she kept shaking her head until her red, puffy eyes were filled to the brim again. Before they spilled, she laid her head on his knees. The Point Man's nimble fingers combed through her hair and petted the side of her face silently. He let whatever needed to sink in, have its time to do so. He let her own mind do the settling because his attempts to soothe with words not only further ingrained it in her mind but relived the two minutes and twelve seconds he thought she was dead in his.
After the breaths had slowed and she seemed to have accepted it, he spoke, "Why didn't you just lie?"
The Architect lifted her head up and sat opposite of him, then. Criss-cross applesauce. "I could've but they threatened my family if I chose to. I had my own chalk line to deal with."
He started nodding, his nostrils started to flare, "There's going to be a window of opportunity, Ariadne. When I find the loophole-and I swear I will—I'm going to decimate them all. I'll do to them what he's done to you—every last one."
"Why shouldn't I?"
She wrapped her hand on the back of his neck, "Because I don't want you to become him." Ariadne pulled herself to bury her head in the crook of his neck, "I don't want you to ever be that cruel or get pleasure from others' pain. I want you to stay Arthur." And what she wanted-Arthur had found out—he couldn't resist giving to her. "They may all be the enemy but they're not all evil. Some of them could be like us: forced to do horrible things because of something or someone Cobol is dangling over their heads. Don't punish them for trying to save the people they care about. Maybe they have an Ariadne somewhere in here too."
In every rainstorm, she'd wait for the rainbow. Naïve though she could be, she was wise beyond her years. With every right to avenge herself, she stuck up for her assailants. Every stubborn bone was capable of begrudging but she instead harbored compassion. Sitting there as one big purple bruise, bleeding and scabbing and swelling, she gave Cobol the benefit of the doubt. She tried to find a sliver of goodness in some of them. It was that optimism, that big heart, that incredible soul bending forgiveness that Arthur loved about her. In every one of his dark clouds, she was the silver lining. She was the bright light at the end of his murky tunnel. How had he lived without her his entire life? "I love you."
Her furrowed eyebrows lifted, her lips parted and she leaned away a fraction. Arthur couldn't have expected her to see it coming. Even he hadn't. Shocked, she dropped his gaze and looked to the corner of the room. Then her eyes darted to the door behind him, then her lap. His eyes. Back to her lap. The side wall, the back wall. His eyes. Her lap. The door. His eyes. Her lap. All the while, her mouth opened and closed several times. The words she really wanted to say caught on the tip of her tongue and never made it off. These came rolled off instead: "You don't—These circumstances are really stressful and I get that you feel like we may not see each other again or something-time is limited—but you don't have to say something you don't mean, Arthur."
Arthur took her chin and lifted it to his to encourage her eyes to stay locked on his long enough, "I realize that love is a strong word to toss around and I realize that you may not feel that strongly towards me yet—and you may never get to that point—but it's how I feel and I needed it to be expressed."
"Are you su—"
"I don't expect you to say it back. I don't expect our relationship to be on your mind at this point and it shouldn't be. It should be on getting through this—doing what you need to do for yourself. Your only priority right now should be you, ok? You just so happen to be mine as well."
The door swung open. "Nolan."
He swallowed and looked her over again before turning to get up. A small hand wrapped around his wrist and suddenly she was standing with him, "You're going to confess something like that and then leave without a kiss?"
"Thought I might've scared you off." He smirked.
"Not that much." They pressed their lips together hurriedly before his dawdling could infuriate Travis. Speaking of which, he told her to stay put (where else would she go, dumbass?) and that he'd be back for a field trip.
Hours past. Water and bread was brought in on trays for all captives. Just as Ariadne's mind had quieted and she began to drift into blissful sleep, Travis let himself in. The darkness turned into garish light and Ariadne was ripped up to a sitting position. "Time to exercise your acting skills, Sweetie."
Ganymede burst into Arthur's cell. "Get up."
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm tied down."
The former slid Arthur's chair across the floor. The loud screeching sounds made his teeth hurt as they resonated through his ears. Ganymede positioned the chair so that The Point Man's head was near a speaker and then he punched in a code on the touch pad, flipped a green switch and talked into the wall, "We're live, sir."
There was a loud bang through the speakers and a distant, "What are you doing?" in a voice all too familiar.
Travis had pushed Ariadne against her table and the table had collided with the wall ungracefully. "Putting on a show for Arthur."
He pressed her against the table, so that her thighs were digging into its edge and nearly cutting off her circulation. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and pulled her face to his. "Like the sound of that, Ariadne?" He forced his mouth into a sloppy line of kisses from her ear to her collar bone.
"No." She clawed his face. To cradle his eye, he had to let go and she took the opportunity to push him away. "Get off of me!"
"What is he doing to her?" Arthur demanded an answer. A loud crash came through the speaker and he could hear Ariadne grunting and telling Travis to leave her alone. He heard the nauseating sound of a bed creaking.
"You don't like this?" He heard Travis screech and her heard Ariadne scream with, "No! Stop!"
"WHAT IS HE DOING TO HER?!" The veins in Arthur's neck were popping out, his face was turning red, he was sweating and gritting his words out, like a bear baring its teeth.
Travis pinned her down on her bed and pinched her side. He lowered his voice so only she could hear, "Scream."
Ariadne shook her head furiously. In reply, Travis dug his nails into her skin, "Scream." She chewed on her lip so hard that it started to bleed. Again she stubbornly refused and kept silent. The thin skin in between his fingers started to ache and would surely bruise. At last it was too much to take and Ariadne let out a throaty growl.
"Ariadne!" Came through her end of the speakers.
She couldn't respond. Travis had taken her shoulders and was pulling her up only to ram her back down again. Her head rebounded and bobbed every time her back collided with the mattress. It was killing her neck and knocking her breath out and all she could manage to get out were—
"Agh! Ugh! Ah. Sto—Ugh! Ghh! Oww!" Her stream of noises sent tingles through his spine.
Arthur tried to call out to her, to soothe her. "Ariadne! Ari, it'll be ok, I promise!" He was wrestling against his bonds, "Close your eyes, it'll be over soon. I'll kill him for this, I swear, I'll fucking kill him for this!"
hear you." Ariadne vaguely hears her brother's voice tease on the other end of the speaker. That combined with Arthur's desperate voice made Ariadne long to answer him and let him know she could handle this. That Travis wasn't doing what he thought he was doing to her. The Architect knew what it sounded like…it sounded like Travis was raping her…which was the man's intention. He knew it would grind on Arthur's psyche, he knew what it would put him through to think he was listening to her being taken advantage of. Yet, he had no personal attraction to her or apparent need for gratification so he simulated it. She opened her mouth to do just that—tell Arthur this was fake- and Travis' hand clamped down on it. His smashed his mouth to her ear, "You answer him and the two of us will take a trip to visit Hera so you can watch me slit her throat."
The Architect glared daggers at him. "Now I could continue beating you to a pulp and take my anger out on your sister after or you could cooperate and make him suffer…"
Ariadne stopped slapping at him and kicking at him. "Scream," He insisted and stood to tower over her and removed his hand from her mouth.
With a dirty look, she opened her mouth and
Arthur bent over and tried to tune it all out. His eyes squeezed shut, he gritted his jaw and fisted his hands. There were clangs and bangs and booms and thuds. Travis' groans and moans and laughs and profanities.
Travis overturned her table. He picked up her chair and through it against the wall. Picked it up and threw it again. "Come on Ariadne!" He rasped into the speaker. He punched the mattress. He took a section of the newspaper out of his suit jacket and started whacking it against to the table to make a slapping sound.
Arthur was now jutting his back into the wall behind him repeatedly. He tried to beat himself up for not being in there. For not being able to break free and find her. His arms covered his head and he grunted, "Stop! Make it stop!"
"STOP! TRAVIS! PLEASE," Ariadne was losing her voice. Arthur's pleas on the other side had her losing her composure. She'd never heard him beg like that. Shortly after, her groans turned into sobs. It was too much to take. She knew Arthur thought she was being thrown around and God knows what else. She could hear the agony and the worry in his voice each time he said her name, each time he promised she'd be ok and it was almost over, each time he pleaded with Ganymede and Travis to stop. Even though she knew nothing was happening to him-that he was just tied to a chair in the other room-…they were torturing him. She was being forced to help torture him. She had long ago burst into tears and couldn't quell them.
Travis left her alone so long as she made noise. Whether they were growls or grunts or begging Travis to stop this cruelty, whimpers, sobs, he didn't care…they all wounded the Point Man who listened. He kept up his task of throwing things around and making as much noise as possible. He wanted to test Arthur's limits. He wanted to see how much hurting her hurt him. He wanted to know how far it would push him so he could gauge what it took to break him. So far, it wouldn't take much. If he kept up with the routine of today—taking them to the concrete cell where he beat and poked her and then essentially tricking Arthur into the thought of him raping her—Arthur would be an even more pathetic, whipped version of Dominic Cobb by the end of the week. Weeping and begging Travis for mercy. And once Arthur's hope and confidence were broken, once Arthur was crushed by Ariadne and Travis felt satisfied, then he would send him to the tower. Then he'd let one of his boys kill him.
Now Arthur was cradling his head. He was rocking back and forth, his elbows on his knees. His voice was gruff, raspy, guttural. "Please. What do you want from me?!"
Ganymede wouldn't answer. He only snickered. Arthur looked up at him desperately, "What does he want? What does he want?! I'll do anything, just stop touching her, please."
The noise in the other room stopped.
Arthur panted. He was drained in every way he could be drained. His face was holding on to its angry mask but he was blinking back water.
Travis let the metal rod drop to the ground. He set her table upright, pushed the chair in, ceased movement for a good minute and then slowly stepped to the speaker. "The Great Arthur Nolan on his knees…never thought I'd hear you say 'please' to me but I like it. That's enough for today I suppose—I feel quite accomplished. Rejuvenated, even! Huh, Ariadne?"
"Wait." Arthur's voice weakly states through the speaker. "What do you want?"
"To hear you moved like that…agonized and traumatized and tormented like that every day of my life."
"Please, just leave her alone. Let her go and mince me into tiny pieces, set me on fire, put me on a stretcher and rip me limb from limb…"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Artie, old pal…we wouldn't get nearly the same reaction from you…" When Arthur held back a reply, Travis wrapped up with, "Goodnight Sweetheart."
"Arth—" Her angelic voice struggled to call to him before the line when static and Ganymede traipsed out of his cell.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world:
And soo….Ariadne isn't dead…yet. Mwuahah. Don't you just wish Travis would make them some tea and biscuits and warm them by the fireplace instead of all this? Me too—NEXT CHAPTER: we're actually gonna get somewhere guys! We've had enough of the days and days of torture so I think its time our characters take some action and our story gets exciting or romantic or something again! Lets hope I don't get writers block/lazy again and that I update before the weekend is over…You know what can help with that?
Reviews from my favorite people :) let's get them out of those cells soon please?