Author Note: It's short. I know. I know. It's short. I've had an interruption of inspiration on this story and I apologize. I'm posting this chapter to get it out there and hope that come creativity kicks in for the next one. At least I hope there is a next one. I hope you enjoy this 'fast food' chapter.

Arthur's Repose

Chapter 3

She regarded him silently, an amused look somewhere between 'now, how hard was that' and thankfulness that he had chosen her above other options for companionship. He had used those other methods in the past, but it was always more of a decompression that any sort of real companionship. For such a young man, he felt older than time. Except when with her. He returned her amused look with a curious one of his own.

"What?" she said, innocently.

"You seem amused by the prospect of my loneliness," he replied, affecting a frown.

She slowly raised the water bottle to her lips and took a conservative sip.

"Satisfied?" she responded, mischievously.

He smirked. "In fact, I am. I was serious about those cramps.

She tried to stand, but there was hitch in her hip and it locked up. For a moment she was suspended between the couch and chair, loss of balance a mere second away. She let out a string of expletives which he absorbed in stride as he stood and took her hands, ignoring the water flowing freely into the carpet. He eased her back onto the couch.

"I think we should talk later," he said, softly. "You should rest. Get the repose out your system."

She started to protest, shooting him a defiant glare, but it almost immediately lost strength. She lowered her eyed to her useless legs.

"Repose," she said dejectedly. "There's irony for you. I guess it fits literally, but figuratively it's a sham.

He nodded in agreement, briefly remembering his first repose after a job.

"Do you mind helping with my legs?"

"Of course," he said, shaken from his reverie. He placed hand at her should and another under her knees. She was already sitting so there was no need to pick her up, but once he felt the warmth of the skin of her neck on his wrist, he found he didn't want to let go. The feeling of intimacy related to such an innocuous touch was overpowering. He shifted her into a prone position and situated the pillows beneath her head. He watched as she adjusted her position for maximum comfort. When closed her eyes, he chaffed a little at the dismissal.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, ma'am?" he asked with a reserved edge.

Her eyes opened slowly as she turned to meet his. "Don't be mad, Arthur," she pleaded. "I'm just so tired. You've been so kind and…I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad you asked me. I'm just so…Tell me a story. Let me rest."

He was taken aback by her sudden emotional outburst. It was a strange shift from the sarcastic irritability. He wasn't sure how to handle it. One minute she's chiding him for being aloof, the next she's begging his forgiveness. She wasn't like any woman he'd ever known. Most of them were either ambitious, parasitical, professional, or just plain plastic. Ariadne was, for lack of a better word, real; which, for him, was more like a dream.

This situation, being here with her, was turning out nothing like he thought it would. Of course, he wasn't really sure what to expect. The one thing he hung his hat on was the fact that she hadn't slapped him when they kissed.

"Just close your eyes," he said, softly. "I've got the perfect story. Once upon a time, there was a girl named Alice…"