Okay first off my apology for the 'draft' form that went up. I'm jetlagged and I was soo excited to get something up for this story I totally posted the wrong thing.
So a huge thank you goes to Glee Plane and Draft-Board who saw the mistake and told me about it in the nicest way possible!
Now back to the story.
(P.S. sorry for the delay)
Robert Fischer Jr. stepped into the hotel room, his blue eyes coolly surveying the surroundings with the disinterest of one who was accustom to lavishness.
Watching him stand there, Ariadne stuck her hand in her pocket and gripped the pawn for all she was worth. The sickening clarity of the situation made her certain it was not a dream, though she found herself wishing desperately that it was. Fischer moved fully into the room, still silent as Arthur shut the door behind him. Ariadne caught the point man's eye but Arthur's gaze quickly returned to Fischer as the former mark turned around so he was between the two of them. For one horrible moment no-one moved.
Then a knock sounded on the door.
Ariadne and Arthur turned towards it. Fischer pressed his lips together in obvious distaste before crossing the space and opening the door himself. A waiter came in, pushing a cart loaded with breakfast and a coffee service. If the waiter found anything odd with the room he had walked into, he knew better than to acknowledge it. He set up the room service order and quickly departed, not even asking for a signature from Arthur who looked as if he was thinking of all the ways he could kill Fischer with a pen. Clearly enjoying the situation, Fischer surveyed the group of them with sharp eyes before walking over to the coffee and selecting a cup, fixing it to his preference and moving over to the low chairs, undoing the top button of his blazer and sitting in one.
"Please," the businessman said, "help yourselves. From what I understand you have had quite the past two days."
Arthur's brow furrowed but Ariadne figured out instantly what he meant. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked at the man. Fischer had traced her credit card. A hundred protests came to her lips, rights of privacy tumbled through her head but the sight of Fischer sitting there rendered them all moot. In the pocket of her robe, Ariadne tightened her fingers around the smooth surface of her chess piece. It might have been her first job but even she knew that it was bad when their mark found them-if their mark indeed had ever found them before. Maybe she was just the first architect stupid enough to think that a man as connected as Fischer was incapable of finding them.
"What do you want?" Ariadne asked, her voice dull to her own ears. She felt Arthur's eyes on her but she couldn't bring herself to look at him. She had led Fischer right to them, "do you want revenge or-"
"Revenge? Don't be ridiculous," Fischer said, Arthur's sharp inhale making it clear he didn't like the tone of their former mark, "I want to hire you."
"We're not interested," Arthur said quickly.
"I think you will be," Fischer said looking at them before setting down his coffee and standing up, "I want to hire you to extract Saito from-" he cast about, looking for the right word, "from wherever he's been lost."
It was as though the air had been sucked out of the room. Neither of them were able to move. Ariadne looked shocked and even Arthur's mask had slipped somewhat from its usually firm position. Insides Arthur was seething. He had known something was off when they got inside Fischer's mind and a fucking train tried to crush them. Admittedly he had been somewhat distracted during his background check of the client, the mere idea of pulling off an inception-with a new team member no less-threw him slightly off his game. But generally speaking the world they operated in was small enough that if someone had been trained in subconscious defense, it was fairly easy to see. Especially when they were people like Fischer and Saito who expected only the best.
Something was very very wrong here.
Even worse, his usual armor was gone. He looked like a twenty nine year old in a bathrobe, not the competent, cool point man who could stare down a brick wall. He felt exposed. Shoving the distaste to the back of his mind, he focused on what he knew. Fischer obviously had obviously been trained and had it done quietly enough that it hadn't shown up in the research. Off the top of his head Arthur could think of three extractors capable of pulling off such a feat. But there was more. From the fact that Fischer seemed to be perfectly calm about what was going on, he knew what they had done to him. He was smart enough to know not to approach the situation angry, though Arthur would have bet his die that the man sitting in front of them was livid. Livid enough to want revenge on the man who had hired them to implant an idea in his head. A thousand questions went through Arthur's mind but he kept them to himself. he wasn't going to give Fischer any further information. Not until Fischer gave them something more to go on.
"I must commend you both on a job well done," Fischer said, "your idea was flawless, your execution was impeccable-with one small hitch of course-and without certain team members being incapacitated, your escape would have been fine," he sat down, "which begs the question, 'how did I find out?'"
Arthur held his silence.
He had dealt with men like Fischer before, he had been hired by a few of them. He wanted a show. He wanted them to know just how completely they had been beat. Arthur refused to give him any microscopic ammount of additional satisfaction. Ignoring him, Fischer got to his feet and walked over to the cherry wood cabinet that held the TV. They heard the TV flicker to life as Fischer began to surf through the channels, resuming his monologue, disregarding Arthur's silence.
"Since you seem to be a reasonably knowledgeable man, you know that someone in my position spends a considerable amount on security. Obviously certain areas of that security are, shall we say, lacking?" he sighed, "others, however, are not."
Three sets of eyes landed on the heavily made up newswoman, Saito's image projected on the green screen beside her.
"...we wish him well. In later news today, stockholders were outraged at the news of Saito's purchase of Virgin Airlines. News of the sale came after the energy tycoon suffered an apparent heart attack on his trans-pacific flight which, according to sources closest to him, has left the once-healthy Saito in a comatose state."
Fischer clicked off the tv and turned to the pair of them.
"Its incredible, these days, what passes for a 'tycoon'," Fischer muttered with a shake of his head, "well as you can imagine, a competitor buying an entire company sets off a few alarm bells-especially if that competitor is floundering as badly as Saito was."
Arthur's anger was almost blinding. It made perfect sense how Fischer had figured it out. He had been worried when Saito had insisted on coming along, half the time he was certain that Fischer was going to recognize his competitor. But in true 'artist' fashion Cobb had insisted and he had been powerless to change his mind. He could not have helped that. Saito making a highly ostentatious purchase, however, he could have figured out a way to stop-or at the very least to hide better. He should have planned for this scenario. It was his job to plan for scenarios like this and he had failed spectacularly on that end.
He glanced past Fischer to look at Ariadne, half expecting her to look far more young than she had the night before. But the young architect looked actually completely unreadable. True the tousled espresso curls and makeup-free face took maturity away from her but the hard, blank look on her face made her seem oddly older. Feeling his gaze on her, her eyes darted away from Fischer and rose to lock with his own. Though he wanted nothing more than to beat Fischer within an inch of his overprivileged life, Arthur forced himself to think. A man like Ficher was not stupid enough to just come here on his own and he certainly had people on his payroll who would do what he asked whether they thought it was insane or not.
"Now," Fischer continued, "you have two options. One, you accept my offer-double your usual fee of course-and perform the extraction. Or, two, you refuse me and I have the two of you thrown in jail to rot for the rest of your, presumably, long lives."
Ariadne felt as if the floor had dropped. She felt like she was back in the dream, caught in the kick. Except there was no kick, no wake up-it wasn't a dream. But the feeling of falling was painfully real. Fischer looked between the pair of them, the smugness on his face unmistakable. He knew what their answer would be, just as well as they knew it. They had to say yes, or they would rot in jail for the rest of their lives. Dread, anger, a hundred other emotions churned painfully in Araidne's stomach. And as she stood there looking at Fischer, she was overcome with the strangest desire to burst into tears.
She fought the desire back.
Instead of focusing on the smug look on Fischer's face, she looked over at Arthur. Even to her untrained eye the Point Man looked absolutely furious. Anger, she decided, didn't suite him. It was unsettling to see such emotion clear on Arthur's normally calm face. She just felt sick. There was no doubt in her mind that Fischer could throw them both in jail and make sure they rotted. It didn't matter that technically they had done nothing illegal, they were as good as dead if he wanted them to be. Arthur looked as if he was a breath from strangling Fischer with his bare hands.
"Why?" she blurted out, immediately wishing that she had sounded a fraction more confident when she spoke.
Both men looked at her and suddenly she felt naked in front of them. Forcing herself not to clutch at the neck of her bathrobe or shove her hands into her pockets and finger her chess piece, Ariadne kept her eyes on Fischer. She had a terrible feeling that if she made eye contact with Arthur she really would start to cry. Focusing her eyes on Fischer, she kept her gaze locked with his. Much to her surprise, Fischer seemed to consider what she had asked for a moment before a ghost of a smile played across his lips.
"Why what?" he asked.
The urge to cry suddenly evaporated at the tone of Fischer's voice. Whatever he thought she was, he clearly did not think she belonged in the situation she was in. Ariadne felt oddly like she was a child, with an adult looking at her as if she should be sitting at the children's table-something her father never would have stood for. But she had learned that drawing herself up and acting older was not something that worked. So instead she looked down before looking up at him, trying to strike the balance between bashful and confident.
"Why do you want us to get Mr. Saito?" she asked, "you've still got your company-"
Fischer looked at her with those ice blue eyes, his face oddly unreadable and Ariadne trailed off, not sure how much he knew or what she was going to say. Did people give reasons for their inception? Or was it more of a 'don't ask, don't tell' affair? How was she possibly to know? Her only consolation was that Fischer did not seem to know either, his eyes looking at her as if he could not quite figure out the answer to her question-or if he even should give one.
"That's not important," he said, his eyes hardening and Ariadne knew that she had lost any headway her assumed innocence might have given her. His posture straightened subtlety, his hands tucking once more into his pockets, "my offer is on the table," he glanced back at Arthur, "as is your other choice," he looked back at her, "its up to you now."
"My associate and I need to discuss this," Arthur said, his calm control traded for a brisk efficiency as he strode past Fischer, his hand easily locking around Ariadne's upper arm as he pulled them both towards her room.
"If you run, Mr. Stone, I will find you," Fischer said.
Arthur closed the door in his face and his threat.
His hand released her arm but Arthur kept going over to the window before stopping in front of her half-finished model of limbo, his hands grasping the edges of the table as if he needed something solid to hold onto. Ariadne leaned against the wall heavily, her heart pounding in her ears as her legs seemed to turn to jelly underneath her. Her eyes took in the sight of Arthur gripping the table, his face carefully turned away from her before she looked up at the ceiling.
The sight of him like this was the last thing she wanted to see-the last thing she needed to see given that on the other side of the door stood a man who was threatening them both. His anger at the situation made it clear that this was an unusual circumstance to say the least. She imagined that Arthur strongly disliked being threatened and disliked it even more when there were other people involved. People like her, people he felt the need to take care of because they were too stupid and overconfident to ask for help and instead needed their new 'friend' to chase them across continents to check up. People who led other people like their old mark right to them.
Arthur winced at the sound of her voice. Screwed truly was the only way he could think of describing their current situation. Men with Fischer's resources, with Fischer's grudges, they did not quit. Not when they could have the satisfaction of revenge, of showing the person that had won the first round that that first round had only been a battle. That they would be the one to win the war.
Love was going to be the death of him.
It had consumed Mal and Cobb until even the simplest inception-if such a thing could be considered simple-was impossible without them colliding. He had underestimated just how close Dom would keep Mal, just as it seemed he had now underestimated just how much Fischer had loved his father. Or rather, how sensitive Fischer had been about the subject of his father. Mark's did not come back like this, not ever. Not unless they hadn't done their job right. And it this case it seemed that the person who had not done his job properly was him.
Forcing his eyes open, Arthur looked at the half finished model of limbo. Dominic had called in 'pure creation' and Arthur understood the moniker. Half finished buildings sloped out of the base, rising to their complete glory before falling away into nothingness once more. A city created from endless time and shared minds. Minds that melded together, despite the fact that Mal and Cobb could have gone to limbo and lived for decades without ever seeing each other.
Realization crashed over him like a wave.
Pushing himself away from the table Arthur crossed the room, half blinded by the rage that tore through him. Nothing mattered, not Ariadne, not the proposed job or the consequences for saying no. Nothing except for crossing that room, picking up the heaviest object he could find and pummeling Robert Fischer Jr. until the son of a bitch forgot his own damn name.
Only Ariadne stepping in front of the door stopped him.
"What's going on?" she demanded, "Arthur-Arthur!" she said his name urgently, her eyes locking with his, "what's going on?" she repeated, "talk to me," she continued, her voice low and urgent, "what is it?"
Arthur looked at her silently, finding it almost impossible to speak past the overwhelming desire to beat Fischer. But her chocolate eyes locked with his and refused to look away, even though the fear and confusion in their depths was as naked as his own white hot anger. For a single impossibly long moment neither of them moved, both silently wondering what the other was going to do, if he was going to make the situation worse, if there was any way for her to stop him.
It was years of learning to control himself that allowed him to pull back from the anger, to force himself to stop and look at the young, scared woman in front of him who seemed torn between tears and hiding until Fischer just went away. No matter how badly things had gone, no matter how everything had gone to shit, it was his job to make sure the artists got home in one piece. It was his responsibility.
He could not fall apart, no matter how much everything about their current situation screamed of his incompetence.
"He's after Cobb," Arthur said, forcing himself to take a step away from the door.
"What?" Ariadne gasped, her eyes widening, "but he said-"
"He's lying," Arthur cut in, "he's after revenge on all of us. He wants us to get Cobb back from limbo as well so he can make him suffer."
Ariadne stared at him, wishing that he was wrong. If Fischer wanted them all to suffer for what they had done then that meant he wanted all of them. Her, Eames, Arthur, Dom, Yusuf, Saito-everyone who had been involved in what they had done, even if their inception hadn't worked as they had hoped.
"But how do you know that?" she asked her voice small, "all he said was that he wanted us to get Saito or he'll throw us in jail. How do you know he wants revenge?"
Arthur looked at her, the anger seeming to leave him faster by the second-even as her own terror seemed to increase with every frantic pound of her heart. Forcing air through her lungs she focused on him, trying to erase the image of him so close to loosing control from her head. If Arthur was in control, then they had something to go on. Then she had something she could hold onto. Something that made sense, that stayed firm, even as the world seemed intent on spiraling into hell.
"You don't just go into limbo to get an enemy back," Arthur said.
"Really?" Ariadne asked.
"He wants to make Saito suffer and he wants him to know that he's the one doing it," Arthur said, "and if he wants to do that to Saito he wants to do it to the people who he hired."
"That means Eames and Yusuf-" she began.
"There's a good chance has them," Arthur replied.
"Cobb too?" she asked.
Arthur nodded. Ariadne barely stopped herself from saying 'and us'. it went without saying and Ariadne had a feeling that if she voiced the fact that the man on the other side of the door probably wanted to use them before torturing them, she would loose any courage she had.
"What do we do?" she asked, too afraid to worry about how young her voice sounded, even to her own ears.
Arthur looked over at her. What were they going to do? A part of him said they should find a way out of the room and run like hell. But the rest of him remembered how each time he saw Cobb the man looked worse. As if running for his life somehow took his life from him. And Cobb had been experienced at his job, at the world of criminals and double crosses. Arthur had not wanted that kind of life for himself and as he looked at Ariadne he realized that he could not condemn her to it either. Not like this. Not on her first job and definitely not because of Robert Fischer Jr.'s clearly exasperated daddy issues.
"For now we play along," he said.
Ariadne looked at him, her fear edged in disbelief and immediately Arthur wished that they had another way out. Almost as much as he wished that she had not seen him so blinded by anger. He needed the artists to have faith in his ability to do his job, and instead he had given her every reason to doubt him. He forced himself to hold her gaze, to not let her look away or allow himself the luxury. It was difficult enough to steal something from someone's subconscious, to play the game in the dream world. But playing it twofold, that would be close to impossible.
Fortunately, it seemed that impossible things were occurring quite frequently now.
"Then what?" Ariadne asked, not moving away from the door, "what happens next?"
Their eyes held each other but Ariadne did not have to hear him speak to know what he was about to say. Then they played the dangerous game of turning it around and beating Fischer with the terrible cards he had dealt them. The fact that the idea did not seem completely insane to her was a troubling one. But not troubling enough to make her step aside and unblock the door. Arthur held her eyes for a moment longer before he stepped into the room.
Ariadne let out a breath she had not known she was holding, leaning heavily against the wall. She was a terrible terrible liar. How in the name of God was she supposed to pretend they were not thinking of ways to get out of their current situation? What if she gave everything away? What if it was her fault again that their entire mission went to hell? Ariadne looked over at the window, knowing they were too high up for her to jump but wishing all the same that she had a way to run. Just start running and never ever stop.
Only the thought of what would happen to the others if she ran made her stop.
If they got into more trouble because she was a coward, that was something she could not live with. Even if Yusuf and Arthur and Eames had far more experience with the world of extraction than she did. Forcing herself forward, Ariadne pushed herself to move towards the main room, just in time to see the two men shake hands as if this was a normal business transaction. As if sensing she was there, both men turned to look at her.
"I'm going to get dressed," Ariadne said and stepped into the room before either of them could act as though they gave her permission to do it.
Walking over the wardrobe, Ariadne pulled open the doors and looked at the clothing nestled inside. She would have traded all of them for her skinny jeans. Instead she pulled a pair of dark brown tweed pants and a silk blouse with loose sleeves the color of caramel. A quick look presented a matching jacket to the pants and Ariadne topped it off with a pair of low heeled chocolate boots. Looping her scarf around her neck, the Architect walked back over to the door and pulled it open, stepping out into the room.
Much to her dismay, only Fischer occupied it.
He was drinking from a coffee cup, his other hand working the keys of his phone as he typed a message of some sort. He looked oddly young, typing with one hand, since most of the adults she knew needed both thumbs to type with any kind of speed. As she looked at him she saw the tell-tale signs of someone who had not slept in a while. A while, excluding of course the drug induced Inception sleep they had placed him in. The red in his eyes was made even clearer by their pale color and the shadows ringing them.
He had been crying.
It shouldn't have been a surprise. After all she had seen him cry when they had shown him his father and made the man's last words a hopeful message to his son. But everything from his slightly tousled hair to the redness of her eyes spoke of a man who had been weeping and not sleeping. A man who had felt grief at the passing of a father whose relationship had been bad enough for them to use to infiltrate his mind. Ariadne looked over at the coffee.
"It's not poisoned," Fischer said, not looking up from his phone, "it would most likely interfere with the drugs you need to take for inception."
Heat flooded Ariadne's cheeks as she looked over at Fischer, feeling like a child who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. His ice blue eyes rose from the phone to glance at her before returning to the phone in his hand, continuing to type. A part of Ariadne remembered every lecture she had ever been given on date rape drugs and not taking drinks or candy from strangers. The rest of her remembered that it had been a long night and she could already begin to feel the caffeine headache.
Fixing her coffee, Ariadne took a sip of the liquid before looking over at the door to see if Arthur would step through. He did not. Biting her lip, Ariadne looked down. Being along with Fischer was just about the last place she wanted to be. She could feel his eyes on the back of her neck sometimes and sometimes back on his phone. The silence that stretched between them was oppressive. Finally Ariadne turned to the businessman.
"I'm sorry about your father," she said, "I know it probably doesn't mean anything coming from me but I know loosing a family member sucks."
If it had been any other situation, any other person, Ariadne would have laughed outright at the look on Fischer's face. The businessman very nearly dropped his phone in shock and even when he fumbled a recovery, his eyes still showed surprise at what she had said. He looked torn between wanting to cross the room and slap her and something else. Something Ariadne would have bet was bursting into tears. Instead, much to her surprise, he cleared his throat as if he was uncomfortable with the situation and gave a curt nod.
"Thank you," he said, before turning back to the phone.
That gave Ariadne more information about him than she was certain he would have liked. Clearly the man had been trained to be polite and while he had only cleared his throat, she knew that was more of a show of his emotions than he would have wanted to give. During the entire job, actually, until the end he had been mostly calm and collected. Despite the fact that to his knowledge people had infiltrated his dreams and were trying to steal his secrets. They had kidnapped him and forced him through layers of dream space. Ariadne remembered her first experience with the dream world and how she had come running back in a pure panic. And she had known what was going on.
"You're younger than the rest of them," Fischer said, his voice freezing Ariadne with the coffee cup halfway to her lips.
"Only by a few years," she said, her eyes meeting his over the top of his phone.
In another show of oddly unending politeness Fischer slipped the phone into his pocket. Ariadne looked at him cautiously. He had no need to be polite to her, especially not after what they had done which had obviously infuriated him enough to cook up the scheme.
"That's not what I meant," he said, "you're newer to this," he continued, motioning around the room.
"I-" Ariadne began, thinking of a lie to give him.
"Don't bother," he advised, "I know all about you, all about Arthur, all about everyone."
For one horrible moment Ariadne wanted to ask to see Arthur's file.
Then the anger swelled up in her and she stopped herself. She wanted to slap him. They were having a relatively nice almost conversation and then he just threw out that he had filed on all of them? Anger pulsed through her as she looked at him. Turning away she took a drink of her coffee and set the cup down with more force than was necessary.
"Telling people you have blackmail material on them is not polite conversation," she snapped, turning on her heel before he could retort and striding over to Arthur's bedroom door, "are you ready?" she demanded knocking on it.
The door opened to reveal Arthur fixing the knot in his tie though it was already perfect. He was dressed in a slate grey three piece suit that rivaled the tailored perfect look of Fischer's own navy suit. His dark hair had been slicked back and the Point Man suddenly looked much older than he had before. He looked at Ariadne before glancing over at Fischer who had already looked away. Before he could say something Ariadne pushed him back into the bedroom and closed the door.
"Ariadne-" he began.
"He's got files on us," she hissed to him.
Arthur looked at her. Ariadne ran a hand through her hair, seemingly torn between anger and sobbing. For a second Arthur felt fear settle in his stomach like a lead knot, the impossible 'what if he hurts the people I've tried to protect' fear crashing over him. But he pushed it aside and looked at Ariadne.
"No he doesn't," he said quickly.
"Huh?" Ariadne looked at him, "how do you know?"
"It's a trick," Arthur explained, keeping his voice low and calm, "he probably has a few pictures with you standing with some older people from the back or you playing with a child from a bad angle. He'll show it to you and you'll tell him the rest."
"So he doesn't know about my parents?" she asked.
"It's highly doubtful," Arthur said to her, "and if he does then you deny it until he thinks he's wrong."
Ariadne looked at him and then down at her feet feeling, once again, like an idiot. Of course he wouldn't know and it would be a trick. But she had shoved Arthur back into his bedroom and-
She was in Arthur's bedroom. Despite being a somewhat mature, obviously competent woman, the idea that she was in Arthur's bedroom seemed oddly like she had crossed some boundary or done something she shouldn't have. Arthur looked down at her, curiosity on his face and she realized that she had gone rigid against the door. Forcing herself to relax, she let out a breath of air as if his words had been a huge relief.
"Okay, deny it. Got it," she said.
"Also it would probably be a good idea not to speak to him unless you have to," Arthur suggested.
"Yeah, I'm starting to see that now," she said pushing herself away from the wall.
His room was pristine, as she had known it would be. Everything was in it's proper place from the clothes in his wardrobe to the bathrobe hung up neatly along the side of the closet. His briefcase was sitting closed on the desk, obviously all his work having been done that night. But what really got her was that the bed had been made. Corners tucked in, even the duvet that they put on top of the sheets to make it look nice had been folded neatly along the end of the bed.
"Do you have OCD?" she blurted out looking at him.
"Do I have what?" Arthur asked, his eyebrows raising.
"Sorry, I'm just wondering. Everything's so neat in here and you're always so neat-"
"I'm organized," Arthur said with about as much comfort as Fischer had shown when she offered her condolences to for the death of his father before he looked at his watch, "we should get out there."
"Right," Ariadne agreed with a last glance at the room before following him out into the main one.
"Are we going?" Arthur demanded, his long legs easily carrying him over to where Fischer was standing.
Ariadne took the opportunity to make a beeline for the coffee cart and down what was left of hers. Caffeine withdrawal was the very last thing she needed at the moment, what with being kidnapped and blackmailed and who knew what else.
"Yes," Fischer said, "our car should be downstairs."
Ariadne set down her coffee, looking between the two of them and feeling rather like she was in the middle of an old-fashioned stand off. All that was missing were the cowboy hats and boots. The idea of seeing Arthur in a cowboy hat and Fischer in a pair of fringed chaps was so ridiculous that Ariadne had to press her lips together to keep from smiling at it.
By the time they left the room however, the smile was all but gone from her face and her mind. They rode down the elevator in silence and walked through the lobby. They did not stop at the front desk, as if things like packing and checking out somehow did not apply to them. It struck Ariadne as strange but neither man seemed to find anything wrong with the situation.
They walked out into the bright Parisian sunlight and Ariadne slowed her feet, looking back at the hotel before dragging her eyes around the city. The idea of running crossed her mind but she furiously stamped it down. She was a part of this now and she was not just going to run. Not if she could help. Fischer led them to a long black limousine and a uniformed chauffeur quickly came around the side of the car and pulled open the door. But Ariadne could not bring herself to slide into the interior, not yet. Not with the sun of her face and that last tempting bit of freedom pulling at her.
"Ariadne," she turned to look over at the soft call of her name, her eyes landing on Arthur.
He did not need to say anything but she knew immediately what he was saying. What he was offering. He'd understand too, that was the bitch of it. He'd understand and she knew when the job was done he'd track her down again and check to make sure she was alright. But just beyond him she could see Fischer standing there and she knew, somehow, that if she left now she would never see the point man again.
And even though the only concrete things she knew about him were that his name was Arthur, he was twenty nine years old and he was in denial about his borderline OCD, she knew that if she never saw him again the world would be a much colder place. It hurt to force her face into a smile, just as it hurt to step forward. Not physically but somewhere much deeper inside. But she made herself do it and walk to the limo's open door, sliding inside the cushioned interior.
It took her eyes a moment to adjust and Ariadne wondered how long it would take to get a pair of sunglasses. Blinking, she scooted over to let Fischer and Arthur in, feeling grateful when it was Arthur's thigh that bumped hers rather than Fischer's. Before her eyes could fully adjust, the other occupant of the limo spoke.
"You know darling," a voice began, drawing their eyes to the other occupants of the limousine, "if you wanted to see me so soon after our last job all you had to do was call."
Arthur's eyes widened. Even in the shadows of the car Eames looked terrible, though given the Forger's penchant for annoying people and his dislike of being told what to do, Arthur could not say he was surprised. Yet he still felt uneasy with the bruises on his face and the cuffs on his hands. But even so Eames managed to flash a broad grin and stretch out in the limo as if he had planned all of this.
Both of them looked over at Ariadne's horrified whisper of his name. The Architect looked stunned at the sight of him and Arthur realized that this was the first time she had seen a victim of torture, certainly one as bad off as Eames. She looked as if she was going to be sick. Arthur opened his mouth to say something, to say anything, but Eames beat him to it.
"A word of advice dear. Don't let Arthur play 'barbie' with you anymore. The poor man gets so enthusiastic before you know it you'll be wearing those damn vests of his."
The limo pulled away and Eames shifted in his seat in an effort to get more comfortable. Arthur would have bet money that they had bruised his ribs as well. Ariadne moved to the long seat in the middle of the limo and slid across it to where he was sitting.
"What happened? What did they do to you?" she looked unsure of where to touch him or even if she should.
"Really it's nothing," Eames said turning his head to her before looking back at Fischer, "I've been beaten by better men who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty."
"They beat you?" Ariadne demanded, her voice high, though it was clear that they had done exactly that.
Arthur went to move towards his friends but a hand on his arm stopped him. He looked over at Fischer who glanced at him.
"Let the children play," he said, stopping him from moving.
Arthur looked at his new boss, biting his tongue in a desperate effort to hold his silence. Looking back at the pair of them he saw Eames flash a roguish smile, the effect somewhat dampened by the unnatural swell of his bottom lip. But he saw Ariadne relax somewhat as the Forger joked and teased, doing his best to show that he was not in pain or hurt beyond repair.
"Here," Fischer held out a digital camera which Arthur accepted, looking at the picture.
Suddenly the fear he had felt before and pushed aside came crashing down a thousand times worse. He had told Ariadne that there was nothing to worry about, that there was no way that Fischer could know about her family and the only thing that he would know was what she would tell him. However the picture was not of a woman with Ariadne's smile or of a man with her eyes.
It was of them
He recognized his coat and her old jeans as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and steered her through the Parisian foot traffic. His thumb found the button to look at the next photo unheeded and he pressed it, moving the photo to the next one. This was of them in the hotel, her in a bathrobe him in his button down and both of them leaning forward and smiling at each other.
The third photo was of them kissing.
Her hands were on his shoulders, his arms were wrapped around her waist, their bodies leaning into one another. Arthur turned off the camera, handing it back to Fischer and struggling to keep his face blank as he looked at the man. Fischer easily accepted the camera and slid it back into his pocket, turning to look at Arthur who could not bring himself to do the same. If he looked at Fischer he would snap and he would kill him with his bare hands and that would get them nowhere.
"I've heard time runs differently in the dreams and while my experience is lacking," Fischer continued coldly, "I must wonder if time passed and you had a relationship or if she's just easy."
"You son of a bitch," Arthur turned to look at him, his eyes flashing with cold fury as his hand automatically curled into a fist.
"If you try to run or play the game on me I will torture you both," he looked at Ariadne and Fischer before his eyes landed on Arthur, looking at the furious man with the confidence of one who knew he had won, "but I'll start with her and I will make you watch."
How he managed to remain in his seat was something Arthur would never understand. He looked away from Fischer, forcing his gaze onto the carpet between his polished shoes. Mentally he kicked himself. How could he have been so stupid? So careless? He knew something was going to happen but he should have planned for this. For someone being able to use their brief kiss against them. Against him. He did not need to look back to know that Fischer was even more satisfied with himself. His eyes rose past Eames' obviously twisted ankle to where Ariadne was kneeling, just as, by some twist of fate, her eyes glanced back and locked with his.
She shouldn't be here.
Arthur looked at her, forcing his face to be blank. She was still shaken by the sight of Eames being tortured, how was she supposed to deal with the knowledge that Fischer was going to use her as blackmail against him. She should have run. He should have hit Fischer or done something to give her a chance to run away, even though he was fairly certain that Ariadne had not run away from anything in her life. Cobb had gone to limbo and she had followed Cobb there. It made sense that she would foolishly charge after him now.
Tearing his eyes from hers, Arthur leaned back on the seat and looked over at Fischer. The man was engrossed in his phone, typing another message, as he had been doing all morning and, Arthur imagined, since he woke up on the plane and the Captain said the use of cell phones was permitted once more. Fischer finished sending his email and glanced over at Arthur who pried his anger-locked jaws apart.
"So how far along did you get in disbanding your father's company before you figured it out?" he asked.
Fischer's eyes narrowed and the dim sense of victory Arthur felt was little more than a condolence for the monumental pile of trouble they were facing. He heard the tell-tale sound of Fischer's phone vibrating before the businessman pulled it out, resuming his frantic attempts to undo what they had done to him and, by proxy to his father's company. Exhaling, Arthur looked over at Eames who shot him a curious look. Arthur gave the barest shake of his head, signaling for the Forger's silence. Which, thankfully, he gave without question.
Glancing out the window, Arthur saw the city speed by and knew they were heading towards an airport where Arthur had a feeling that a plane was waiting to take them somewhere. Sure enough the limo did not pull up to the front part of the airport but came around the back, coming to a stop. Fischer stepped easily out of the car and Arthur followed him, waiting for Ariadne and Eames. The young woman got easily out of the car but things were not so graceful for the Forger who barely managed to stay upright on one leg.
Arthur quickly wrapped an arm around Eames, hefting the Forgers weight onto his own frame. He felt Eames shake against him.
"Go on ahead," he said to Ariadne who looked at him curiously before nodded and hurrying forward.
As soon as she had her back turned, Eames doubled over, bile spilling onto the cerement. Coughing, the Forger straightened up, shaking his head.
"Thanks for that," he said, his voice rough, "didn't want to worry her. What was on the camera?"
"Blackmail material," Arthur said curtly, "when did they grab you?"
"Coming out of customs. I didn't see it coming," he made a sound of disgust, "they put a bag over my head. Do you have any idea how humiliating that is? How humiliating this is? How'd he know anyway?"
"He found out Saito bought the airline," Arthur explained.
"Damn, really?" Eames let out a humorless laugh, "you don't have a twin somewhere do you? Because that seems like the kind of thing you'd figure out."
"I told Saito not to make an outlandish purchases or do anything suspicious," Arthur said as they began to hobble awkwardly towards the airline hanger.
"A fucking lot of good that did," Eames said.
The pair of them reached the airline hanger and moved towards the plane that was parked there. The aircraft was big for a private plane, speaking to Fischer's success. Ariadne and Fischer were standing side by side, waiting for the two of them to get there. They went up first, followed by the pair of them. Arthur was not, however, surprised to see Yusuf sitting in one of the seats waiting for them.
"Oh my God," the chemist greeted them, looking shook up but no worse for the wear, "you tortured him?" he demanded looking at Fischer.
"Nah," the Forger said, "daddy's boy didn't want to get his hands dirty."
"I think that's what got you tortured in the first place," Yusuf said helpfully.
"Yes, thank you for that," Eames said with a roll of his eyes before turning to Fischer, "are we going or do you want Cobb and Saito to be totally insane when you have us rescue them?"
"I think he needs to send a few more emails to undo his disbanding," Arthur said dryly, making a note to ask Eames how he figured out that Fischer wanted Cobb back as well later.
Despite the pain Arthur was sure he was in, Eames threw back his head and laughed.
While Arthur was certain that was going to cause more problems, the sight of Ariadne pressing a hand to her mouth to try and stifle her own laughter almost made it worth it.
Ok once again sorry for the mistake of the first posting and a huge thank you to those who pointed it out.
Reviews are love!