THANKSIES: neverlandspirit: mhm…crush she has. But will she crush Arthur? Lauraa-x: I'll go ahead and tell you, she confronts him about it in this chapter but not everything will come off his chest. He's still keeping so many secrets from her. It is me…so a triangle is completely possible haha but right now absolutely not. Dom and Miles are just trying their best to avoid disaster and whatever cost. (disaster's cost? Probably). Midnight The Black Fox: Yayayay! I'm so glad. Thanks for sharing. =) I appreciate it.

Chapter 6: I Can Dream, Can't I?

I can see, no matter how near you'll be
You'll never belong to me
But I can't dream, can't I?
For dreams are just like wine
And I am drunk with mine.
—The Andrews Sisters


He loves and he hates Ariadne in the morning. He has to admit that sometimes it's amusing but sometimes it's downright frustrating. It hasn't been diagnosed but Arthur has a phobia of being late and when you have Ariadne to pry out of bed, late is most likely a possibility.

This is why he hates her:

The alarm clock screams at six o'clock, ordering them to wake up and face the day. For Arthur, sitting up right away is not a problem. This is his usual routine. If the clock hadn't gone off his biological one would've had him up anyway. The alarm was more for Ariadne even though she always either slept through it or hid her head under her pillow and tuned it out. The latter was what she did today. Arthur snakes his hand under the pillow and tugs at some of her matted curls, "Ariadne, it's time to wake up." She makes an unintelligible noise he interprets is somewhere between 'But I'm comfy' and 'Fuck off'.

And they're off for round one. "If I leave you alone and let you stay in bed while I shower, will you at least sit up and try to get awake?" She grips the pillow tighter over her head with one hand and swats blindly through the air with the other, feeling for the sleep button because the alarm's still yelling at her. This is where Arthur normally uses bribing. "I'm not turning it off until you sit up." The Point Man sees the hump of sheets heave a sigh and then her face emerges as she unhappily situates her back against the headboard. He smiles, "That a girl," (which she ignores) turns off the blaring clock and turns on the tv for her to watch while he goes through his morning routine.

Round two: He walks out of their bathroom with clean body, face shaved, hair gelled, teeth brushed and suit pants on and belted to the tune of a Clorox commercial. The tv blinks all over the place in a desperate struggle to get Ariadne's attention but what's she doing? Still sitting up as promised…he has to take that into consideration…but her head's hung down and her hair swings in her face like Cousin It while she sleeps. Arthur takes a deep breath to enlist his patience for the war. His arms encircle her waist from the side while he whispers in a sing song voice, "Ari, are you awake?" She nods without rhythm, "Mhm." This is where he begins pulling her off the mattress and where she grapples for the sheets to keep her in place.

Round three: He carries her by her waist into the closet. "Arthur…"she mewls. And it's cute…almost enough for him to carry her back to bed and wake her up in a highly more enjoyable way but he doesn't want to miss their flight. Arthur slaps on his shirt, tie and jacket at an efficient speed while Ariadne pulls clothes from different drawers sluggishly. Arthur always finishes dressing first because he sets his clothes out the night before, Ariadne wings it. He leaves her standing in front of the bed, pulling on her shirt to brew coffee and make them a quick breakfast.

Round Four is when he returns and her blouse is on but her jeans never made it farther than her ankles and the top half of her body is sprawled across the edge of the bed, her scarf dangling limply from her hands. And she's none other than fast asleep. "Ariadne." The Architect mumbles with eyes shut, "Five more minutes." He matches her position, his face inches away, coffee on his breath, "I gave you five minutes over forty minutes ago. You need to get dressed. We have to leave in twenty minutes and you haven't even had breakfast yet."

"What are you, my dad?"

He chuckles, "Not even close. Come on." When he has to do this it's really never frustrating…he has her sit on the edge of the bed and makes sure to graze her bare skin with his fingers as he pulls her jeans up for her. She always gets goose bumps and he always kisses her belly button when he buttons the pants. The downside is that she's normally so tired, that once it's done she's either half asleep again or more irritable as she shuffles into the bathroom. Thank God, it was the latter in this instance. "Two scrambled eggs or one?"

"One." She huffs.

"Bacon or sausage?"


Round Five consists of him calling her in five minute intervals while he cooks and she primps. All various forms of: 'Are you awake?' 'Still awake?' 'Still up?' 'Ariadne!' And all of her answers are exaggerated arrangements of , 'YES.' 'YES ARTHUR.' 'IF I WAS ASLEEP I COULDN'T ANSWER YOU.' When breakfast sits sizzling on the table, he knocks on the bathroom room door and cracks it. He always means it as a joke because it's funny to him but she just wants to punch his lights out, "Still awake?" She throws her eyeliner in the sink, "YES, ARTHUR. JESUS CHRIST!" That's when he really hates her in the mornings.

He loves her during Round Six. Or seven or eight, it depends how many they've had to go through by that point. But that's when she strolls out of the bedroom and uses five of her ten minutes to scarf down her food. That's when she wakes up as much as she's going to that morning and the tired monster of grumpiness turns into the sleepy, cuddly, creature he can't say no to. She uses her last five minutes to straddle his lap. Not heatedly just like sitting on an everyday chair. She plays with the hair on the nape of his neck, rests her head on his shoulder and says, "Sorry for being grouchy when I wake up." And he says, "It's ok," between the peppered kisses on his cheeks. Because dragging her out of bed is worth every second of this.


The thing about waking up in this reality was that there was no one to pester and wrench from his bed. No one to chide grouchily at him for not turning off the alarm went it went off no matter how long he let it scream (just to see if she'd materialize and swat at him to turn it off). The thing about this reality was that this Ariadne acted fine, waltzing into the warehouse early every day with a bright smile. Sure, she surrounded herself with energy drinks and coffee just the same but where were the charming droopy eyes? And cranky humor?

Arthur ran into the pixie Parisian on the way into work that next morning. He had to park two blocks away due to vacancies and Ariadne was walking. She always looked excited when she showed up but that day especially so. The tradition of buying éclairs for fellow students was transferred to the team. The girl with big white box in hand hurried her pace to cross the street and fall into step with him, "Morning Point Man."

He'd spent all morning preparing to steel himself around her the way normal Arthur would with a coworker. He'd rather have her around and follow Dom's rules than be separated from her completely. "Hello Miss Bourgeois." It came out curt like he'd practiced in the mirror but the Architect didn't seem to take the hint.

"You know what's really crazy?" she mused, "I hate mornings and normally I cannot get up for the life of me. But since I started dreaming? I can hardly sleep… and I must wake up around seven every morning…I just get so pumped for our lessons."

Arthur picked up his pace, expecting her to believe he was in a hurry and hang back to give him space, "It's good that you have enthusiasm. You'll get a lot accomplished." But she stretched her strides to keep up. Dammit…she was adorable when she did that; he didn't think that idea through far enough.

When he opened the door, she bounded through it and babbled, "Especially when I can double the time I have to accomplish things in the dream…" Arthur bypassed hanging his outer jacket and harried to his desk to power on his laptop. That bought him distance while she hung her red sweater and put the box of pastries on the table in the middle of the room. Since it was on her way to her desk, she made a pit stop, anxious to get started. His hard stare at the loading screen flickered to the éclair set carefully on a napkin by his arm. "Well, I'm ready when you are. Are we going under before or after the meeting?"

He just couldn't get away from her…not that he wanted to. Arthur felt Dom's eyes boring into him, warning him, and made brief eye contact before stating, "I don't think I'll be joining you for the session."

Filled with confusion she stuttered, "But—Cobb said we were doing target practice and hand to hand today and the itinerary you printed up said you were going to teach me all that." To check and make sure, Ariadne pulled the sheet from the front zipper of her messenger and grazed her eyes over it. "See?" He couldn't exactly deny the schedule when it was slapped on his desk like that. The longer Ariadne stood there, the weaker his resolve started to get and the more brutal Dom's glare. The girl pointed, "The eleventh: You and me. Punching things and shooting stuff." Arthur conceded that was the plan but opened his mouth to tell her plans change… She whispered, "Between you and me…After all the violent ways Mrs. Cobb has killed me, I don't exactly trust being alone with Dom and a gun. Dream or not."

Great. Ariadne alluded to the fact that she trusted Arthur. Made him feel like the protector, like Cobb was the dangerous one. And for all intents and purposes, Cobb was just as dangerous as Arthur and had been that way for longer. Arthur couldn't fight Dom on it; Ariadne would be fired before the day was over. He compromised, "I'll have Roger accompany you two then."

"I'd rather be wit—"

He didn't mean for it to sound rude but the stress of Dom's eyes cut through him and he clipped at her to make her go away, "I have research. Cobb and Roger will deal with you today. That's that."

"Deal?" The air turned to silence and the silence became awkward.

When Arthur looked up apologetically, Ariadne was already pursing her lips and looking at Dom who called out to the class, "Let's go ahead and start the meeting guys!" She didn't acknowledge Arthur again in the slightest. She marched off and took her seat in between the chair Cobb was standing in front of and the stool Jameson was waiting at. He could see Dom ask her and saw her shake her head dismissively but couldn't hear what either of them were saying until he reached the circle and caught the end of her, "—eing an asshole."

That set the pattern of their interactions from then on. Arthur would bury himself in his files—both paper and digital—and for the most part, avoid her. They barely conversed and when they did it was because of the Architect's effort to do so...her effort was lessening as the days went on. Arthur wasn't of any help. He kept what little they talked about to the bare minimum. He could tell it bothered her and it bothered him to treat her like that but it was for her own good. Cobb was right. Miles was right. Arthur did nothing but romanticize the dream share world and criminal life for her whereas Dom was harsh and blunt about it being a whirlpool of guilt, danger and wrongdoing.

Ariadne woke up in a panic too many times to number the remainder of that week and the one following. Stabbed, drowned, ripped apart, pushed off buildings. Cobb's subconscious adversely reacted to her every time they went under together. Mal appeared here and there and it was driving the blonde crazy. Arthur did his utmost to refrain from coming to her aid as he had the first time it happened. His time in limbo left him an instinct to protect her and soothe her that transferred to the real world and it literally pained him to ignore her feeble endeavors to calm herself. His chest would tighten and itch. The Point learned to put his earphones in when he noticed the Extractor taking her under. It was safe to say her relationship with Dom was a strange and tricky one as was Arthur's relationship with him. More than scaring her away it scared her closer. Ariadne didn't hide the fact that she worried over him and the issues about his wife. More often than not, Arthur saw her pass by Cobb's office and fall asleep at her desk waiting for the Extractor to leave before she did. The Point may have wondered if she would treat his issues with concern, understanding and sweet disposition…but he wouldn't chance it.

The girl had made good friends with Roger and Jameson as well, he noticed. The Architect would often pull up a chair or sit on Jameson's desk and ask him questions, watch him mix things. He guessed it was because every time her curious eyes batted at Arthur like she was fixing to ask something, he'd roll his or duck his head. So she found someone else she could talk to about the wonder of pure creation. Roger, thankfully, had no real likeness to Eames. If there was one thing about these circumstances Arthur liked, it was that Ariadne hadn't been exposed to the other Forger and his diluted charming ways. The tiny brunette and stalky redhead went on coffee and dinner-runs with each other more than anything else and their discussions centered around Spain. Ariadne had always wanted to go and Roger had lived there for three years studying the culture before his involvement as a forger. She always had bright, sparkling brown orbs for eyes when she talked to him and Arthur selfishly hoped that her interest in the country was all it was. After all, he was the one she spent hours talking to in the dream. Everything else was replicating close enough but he was pushing her in someone else's direction…he was causing her to replicate their relationship with someone else. He prayed the outcome wouldn't be the same; that somehow, even though he was alienating her, even though Dom had him on short leash, even though the days pried them further and further apart from his goal…that Ariadne would still fall for him.

She had him on the floor of the shower every night, rubbing his forehead. Trying to knead the thoughts of her falling for someone else out of his mind. She had him waking up in the middle of the night, sitting on the balcony, trying to drown his emotions in scotch. She had him stumbling outside the warehouse, into the alleyway, pressing his back against the brick, trying and failing to breathe evenly. She had him constantly clutching his totem. She had him splashing water on his face and swearing to the mirror in the bathroom. She had his eyes glued to her every time her back was turned. She had his ears straining for her voice every time she made a noise. She had the ache in his throat when she sprung up, gasping from a bad a dream, glanced at him for comfort and then retracted her eyes, angry. She had his heart swinging on a string and she got it caught in door when she left every day.

She had him. God, she had him.

But he'd lost her before he ever had her.

Then on Monday of the third week after a weekend spent consumed by ideas, regrets and wishes in his hotel room, things changed.

"Alright I've had enough of this, let's have it out," Ariadne marched right up to his workspace and pressed his laptop closed. His attention demanded, Arthur allowed eye contact but kept it guarded. Kept reminding himself over and over: not your Ariadne. Shut her out. "Have I offended you? Or embarrassed you or something?" Her arms crossed under her chest. She was clearly referring to the incident where everyone saw projections of them cuddling on a roof. It made sense, since immediately after that he had next to nothing to do with her.

Arthur kept it short, "No," and reopened his laptop. Closing it only put in in hibernate mode, so his progress and browser tabs would still be where he left them.

The small, nail bitten hands of the Architect landed on either side of his keyboard and she stared hard at him over the screen, "Then have I disappointed you?"

"Of course not," He leveled (what must have seemed like) a parental look at her, "What would give you that impression?"

Oh she didn't know…the two polar different ways he acted around her? Him rudely blowing her off? Maybe it was the ignoring part that rang a bell? "Well, no offense but when I first signed on you were kind of all over me," Ariadne's body turned and pressed all her weight into the desk with her right hip, "And lately you've been acting like you don't want me around at all." He was still engrossed in his work on the computer. It was like she was talking to herself. Ariadne sighed and idly watched Cobb shuffle through some papers across the room; she didn't notice that her puff of breath caused Arthur to look up and study her. "It's like you can't stand me."

Damn. Arthur only meant to leave her out of his mind-bending problems not make her feel that he harbored negative feelings towards her. No. Who was he kidding? He was deliberately discourteous to keep her isolated from him. To makes things easier. He looked down at his keyboard, "That could not be further from the truth."

The closeness and volume of her voice suggested she turned back to face him again, "You don't have to be polite now. I know you've been avoiding me."

"I haven't." He lied and started shaking his head at himself.

"You were supposed to train me and since day one you've pawned me off on Dom. You barely speak to me. Work related or not." Arthur accidentally let a heavy breath slip. "You won't even look at me right now."

At that, the Point Man braved to meet the caramel swirls that made him so weak. The hurt feelings inside them melted his exterior. Melted Dom's threat away. "It's just my nature. I'm closed off to people." Everyone. Everyone but her…she makes him open up. No matter what dimension he's in. She was doing it that second.

"You weren't closed off at lunch." Ariadne shrugged, baffled, "Or our first few dreams together."

Did he have a valid explanation for that? No. Not at all. "Look, Cobb wanted to spearhead your training to make sure everything was covered. The Extractor handles every minute detail you'd need to know: all the tricks and techniques of the trade." He tried to make it sound as professional and procedural as possible. But she thwarted him. Ariadne was already well-versed in the roles and responsibilities of team members. He forgot it was the first thing she learned when he snuck her into the dreams before her big decision. "Details are the Point Man's concern." It was a direct quote of his so there was no denying or skirting around it. He dropped his gaze back down to his computer, for once at a loss of a quick retort.

"It's not a big deal. I'm a big girl, I can handle it if someone doesn't like me—" No, no, no. That wasn't it at all. The problem here was that he liked her too much. He loved her. So much, that he scrounged up a job and constructed all this just to have an excuse to be close to her.

"—It's just that we're teammates; I don't want things to be awkward. And if I've done something to make you uncomfortable around me, I'd like to fix it." Ariadne's index and middle finger tapped on the wood as she waited for a response or—come on, at the very least an acknowledgment of how she felt. Arthur buried his hands in his face. Was she that bothersome? "You're impossible." Wind blew out of her cheeks and she turned to leave—

"Has Dom gone over the mechanics of paradoxical architecture with you yet?" blurted the man. He exploded with the question. She turned back (her lips wet with the sheen of having just licked them) and shook her head no. "Allow me, then." Arthur looked over at Cobb who glowered while Arthur pulled out the PASIV. As she drug over a chair, he facetiously grinned back at the Extractor and quipped, "There's this great structure called the Penrose Steps."


"Impressive." Her smirk was the first thing he saw, examining the clean cut corporate skyscraper he dropped in the middle of New York. Peculiar that the teacher craved the student's approval in this case. Her heels clicked on the tile, acting as the conductor for the beat of his heart to follow. His mind dressed her up in an exquisitely fitted black skirt suit but left her hair free and flowing as they both preferred it. The beauty in the lines of her body eclipsed the lines of the building.

And that was saying something, considering the walls were twisted and bent into impossible shapes. Upwards, downwards, sideways. It looked like a puzzle. Without Cobb breathing down his neck and no projections of them canoodling in the corners, Arthur felt free to smirk back, "MC Escher. Familiar?"

"Heard of him…" He walked ahead of her. He had a specific point of the building in mind to show her and determinedly strode the open lobby to it. It brought him slight humor to hear her steps quicken to keep up with him, "Seen two or three of his works but—us real life Architects don't necessarily study the impossible as examples."

Arthur halted at the bottom of a glass staircase, "You like impossible, though, don't you?"

She challenged him with a raise of her eyebrows, "I love impossible."

You're impossible. Didn't she say that to him earlier? Don't have a heart attack Arthur. Breathe. The aura of flirtation was so overwhelming, he convinced himself to get back on track lest his shades start manifesting themselves. Thank God, he had that reasoning to fall back on. Arthur began climbing the stairs, "In dreams, we can cheat physics and architecture to create seemingly impossible structures." They passed a woman collecting dropped papers and scooted around her. "That allows us to use tricks like infinite loops. For example, the Penrose Steps I was talking about." They passed the woman again and Ariadne paused to think over it. Arthur kept climbing up but she asked confusedly, "Haven't we already passed her?"

His low snicker magically sounded from behind her, "Paradox." Ariadne jumped in surprise and twisted to catch his simper but nearly lost her balance. Arthur's hands shot to her hips and pulled her against him by reflex so she wouldn't fall. Her quickening breaths of relief got very deep when she realized how close they were. How hot his body was through all his clothes. Where his hands pressed into her. The girl forgot everything about dreams and MC Escher and being a couple hundred feet from the ground.

So did Arthur. After all this time, he finally felt the familiar curves of her body with his. Ariadne was biting her lip, heavy lidded eyes looking over her shoulder at him. He wanted to believe this was the moment he'd been waiting for, this was the moment she suddenly confessed a forgotten love. But then she blushed tomato red and cleared her throat, cutting down to where his hands were. Disappointed, he whispered, "Look down."

When she did, there were no more stairs just an abrupt end and the ground (very, very far away.) "Woah."

"Penrose Steps. Amazing, yeah?" He stepped back away from her.



He educated her in other tricks like the concept of blivets, trapdoors, hidden hallways and the like. And soon they found themselves sitting on the front steps of the building waiting for the timer. She broke the comfortable quiet, "So really, why don't you like me?"

Arthur tilted his head in a form of a shrug and gazed not at her but some businessmen across the street who waited for the signal to cross. The non-committal tone was severely invented and constructed, "I like you."

Ariadne slid a hair closer to lean forward and see his eyes but he scooted away. (The close proximity burned.) Her eyes rolled but he obviously didn't see, "Then why do you treat me like I have cooties?"

"Ariadne, we're adults." He scoffed.

"Ok…like I have Staph."

It was like her stare was drilling a hole through his skull and it became all he was aware of. Not the people in front of him or the busy streets or the honking or the chatter or the hard steps he was sitting on or that they were dreaming…just that she was looking at him. The only way to regain any senses was to give in and return her look, "It's nothing personal. I assure you. Cobb—"

"Cobb, Cobb, Cobb," she mocked. "Don't blame it on him…why would he care if you recognize my existence every once in a while?" chided the girl as she rested her arms on her knees.

Arthur rolled his totem around in his palm to avoid those orbs of hers, "He thinks I pose a dangerous threat to you." And he hated the weary way she came back at him, "Why would he think that?" He settled for, "I'm for all intents and purposes a criminal."

She seemed weirdly relieved and even laughed, "You're all criminals. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm bordering one now too." Rubbing the side of her nose with her thumb she commented, "And it's not like Dom has much room to talk. That mind of his is a whole world of danger."

The Point Man shook his head, "No, It—it's complicated. Yes, Cobb has his issues. But I have mine. He—well he and Miles—they don't want us to interact. They think that will exacerbate my problem."

Because she confused him? Ariadne's conversation with Miles popped into her head. She didn't realize her question popped out of her mouth. Not until Arthur reared back, eyes wide and stuttered, "Where did you—"

"I talked to Miles about you," confessed the girl with a grimace. "I'm sorry; I was curious."

He wasn't worried about that. He was worried about what all she knew. Had Miles revealed the root of his confusion? Did she know how he felt? Did she know he'd been watching her? He waved off her apology, "What did he say about me? What all did he tell you?!"

Ariadne's mouth was not trustworthy…geeze. Why'd she have to blurt that out? She was sure she'd offended him judging from the look she was getting, "Nothing. Just that you were lost in a dream for a while and aren't yourself and get confused. You confuse people with other people, he said."

"Oh." Arthur let out a deep breath.

"I guess I should've taken that into consideration before getting my feelings hurt about you ignoring me." She pursed her lips, followed his eye line towards the street, "I'm sorry if I make it worse."

The Point denied, "You're not the problem. I greatly enjoy spending time with you. I'm the problem. They aren't concerned for my sake. They want me to leave you alone for your sake. They're afraid I'll—I don't know—rub off on you."

"That's stupid," stated the girl defiantly. "I'm not that impressionable." Put off by the allusion that her professor (and more infuriatingly some man she just met) thought he could monitor and choose who she interacted with. "Besides, neither of them have the authority to choose who I hang out with."

Arthur re-pocketed his totem, secretly pleased with her reaction. "Miles only wants to protect you."

"Maybe he should've thought of that before he introduced us." Ariadne thought all of this was just ridiculous. The Point Man had been nothing but a gentleman to her and from the time she'd been able to spend with him both in and out of the dreams—he was tons more stable than Dominic Cobb could ever hope to be. "If he was worried about you corrupting me, he shouldn't led you straight to me. Further, I'm a grown woman. I'm capable of making my own judgments." And her judgment here was that Arthur was a smooth-talking, intellectual, handsome and respectful man that gave her annoying little butterflies. A tall, dark, mystery she wanted to crack open…and the new information about his mental issues only made that more enticing. What could she say? Ariadne had strange interests. The Point Man met her eyes expectantly. She guessed he was interested in her verdict. So close was his shoulder to hers, so chocolate his eyes and so intoxicating his cologne…Ariadne had a lapse in short term memory—maybe long term too. Then, creeping in the back of her mind, was the fear of her crush creating two copies of them doing intimate things in the corner again; so she fought to get rid of the attractive details of Arthur and say something else entirely. "If I want to spend time with you, what are they going to do about it?"

"Dom could fire you. Make sure you're cut off from all of this permanently." He enunciated each word to make sure she understood how serious Cobb was about looking after her. And to remind himself. Because between the lines, she said she wanted to spend time with him and it caused his head to whirl.

"No one has to know."

This was taking a wrong turn into hazardous territory. Arthur should not (repeat should not) have encouraged her. The man warned, "Ariadne—"

"You admitted you were a criminal." Her shoulder brushed against his daringly. Somewhere in the background he heard another version of himself whisper, "I miss you…" Ariadne didn't hear it. She was too busy suggesting, "So you should be good at not getting caught."

The dream melted away. Ariadne disappeared before he did…so the king-sized bed in the middle of the road and her voice but not her voice murmuring, "I'm right here, Arthur," wasn't something she noticed. Nor was the sleepy copy of Arthur dragging a sleepy projection of Ariadne on top of him admitting, "Not close enough." Only the Point Man witnessed it.

Arthur made a point to ignore Cobb's entire half of the warehouse when he woke. He wasn't in the mood for the reminder of his insanity and the guilt his best friend made him feel for it. Instead, he knelt by her chair like the first time (and the other first time) and gently pulled the needle out for her. Their breaths mingled while he held the alcoholic cleansing pad over her puncture. "I've missed that."

Darker brown cut to light. Hoping but not showing it. "What?"

Ariadne managed to pointedly look at her wrist delicately placed in Arthur's grasp. As Dom walked by, she took over the compression from Arthur and leant back in her chair so he could remove his own lead. She answered loudly for Dom, "Waking up with the timer and not from being brutally attacked by Mal."

The Point rolled the wires up and tucked them away with a secret smile, "Yeah. That is a nice feeling."

They set up a decent system. Arthur left before Cobb did every day and Ariadne stayed after Cobb left. So when Arthur came back and walked or drove her to her flat…they were allowed time to talk. Normally it was simple small talk about the work they accomplished during the day or little questions of inquisitiveness about dream work or the logic of it all. But it was time together that they both (separately but still) secretly hungered after.

It was an addiction for Arthur. He was certain in every cell of his body, every scrap of knowledge he had, that it was the wrong thing to do but that didn't stop him. What was left of his limbo-brain couldn't help itself. It took every spare minute of her presence it could get. It soaked her up and floated in the euphoria…and then when it was over and he was on his way back to the hotel, he felt ashamed. Disappointed in himself, his morals, his selfishness. He decided he wouldn't do it again; he wouldn't put her sanity at risk again. That is, until he saw her the next night bundled up in her coat and scarf, blinking at him innocently and yet so rebelliously. Then he wasn't himself again. He was scared about the very real physical pain of withdrawal that would come from denying her a car ride or a stroll beneath the streetlights.

Ariadne wasn't sure what it was for her. Only that he was immensely intriguing and she couldn't get enough of it. Maybe it was the challenge of unwrapping someone hidden away from people…she wanted to know everything about him. Everything. But he rarely got personal. If she wanted him to talk at all she had to inquire things about work. He kept his distance stubbornly…something she vowed she'd figure how to change. It wasn't an impossible goal…The Architect had already detected that he was different around her. Sometimes. In little moments. Miles and Dom had all but confirmed it with their uneasiness.

The girl observed him as he drove. Classical music played on the radio barely audible in the space around them. She hadn't asked anything yet, being mostly exhausted from a full day of brainstorming and sketching (and re-sketching and tweaking and then re-sketching again). Arthur nearly shocked her out of her seat, "The diner in the fourth arrondissement should still be open. Want to grab a quick bite? You never ate."

Ariadne nodded. She was wide awake now.

Can I adore you, although we are oceans apart?
I can't make you open your heart
But I can dream, can't I?


Could/should we consider this diner invitation a first date? They had a little moment of heat on the Penrose Steps did they not? Things will soon unravel my friends. Trouble is on its waaaaaaaaaay. WHAT IF DOM CATCHES THEM? Lord have mercy.