Warning: You will need to have seen the movie to understand the concepts and placement of this fic.
Disclaimer: Character creation belongs to the original writers/creators. I only created the situation for them to play in.
Time shouldn't move this slowly.
The last kick that brought Arthur back to reality was the same as any other, but everything had changed for Ariadne. He remembered waking up, briefly gasping for air as if he were drowning before his haze filled eyes shot to her still sleeping body. The first class cabin was quiet, an eerie sort of peaceful that exists while one is asleep. After a few moments of silence, Ariadne and Fischer Jr. awoke, followed by Cobb and Saito. Arthur's eyes burned into the seat that she occupied; he needed to know she was okay. He had to know that going that far down hadn't changed her, hadn't made her insane.
He remembered how silent she was for the remainder of the flight; toying with her shirt, taking a sip of water every now and then. Never once did she spare a glance in his direction. After they landed, she quietly rose from her seat, gathered her belongings and shuffled down the aisle towards the exit. He briefly stared at her, taking in the sway of her hips and the bounce of her hair as she walked away. Just as she was out of sight he slipped on his coat, grabbed the briefcase that held the machine and exited the plane.
The last time he saw her was as she passed through the immigration gates. Cobb was to her right with another guard checking over his papers. He could only assume that Cobb was safe, as Ariadne offered him a small smile as he passed through to the line and onto the waiting area. She quickly followed, never looking back to where Arthur stood near the luggage claim. She disappeared into the sea of people waiting for their loved ones, just another face among many.
But he would remember her face; her supple cheeks that caught the slightest blush when they had kissed in his dream. The way her clothes clung to her body, showing just enough of her curves to make him crazy.
Arthur gripped his head and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to eradicate the memory of her from his mind. It had been weeks since she walked away from it all. Why couldn't he do the same? Why couldn't he just forget her and be done with this job forever?
Arthur opened his eyes to his surroundings, taking in the warehouse and the flimsy lawn chairs strewn across the massive space. This is where it all had started, where Cobb had brought her in to learn. And now he was here again, a rotting shell of a man he had once been because of her; because she couldn't even acknowledge his presence one last time before she stepped out of his life forever.
He stood, and in a fit of rage kicked over the chair she had sat in once upon a time. He spat out her name like a curse and then slowly repeated it softly like a reverent prayer. There was no escaping her now, not in this place, not even in his dreams.
Arthur later found out that Cobb had been using the machine to force himself to dream of Mal's shade. Unwillingly, his eyes scanned the room, landing on the shining silver briefcase that housed his only temporary way out of here. Cobb's idea was an attractive one and clearly the easiest way to drive himself insane with wanting her. His footsteps echoed in the vast room and reassured him that this would be okay, if only just this once. He felt like he had more self control than Cobb ever did. He could go in once, possibly see her and then ride the kick back out to reality. He would find her in his dream state, tell her everything and then leave it all behind, come back to reality and move on.
His fingers grazed the casing as he formulated his plan. Arthur knew every groove, every knick and every scratch on the metal from handling it on a day to day basis. He flipped the latches, revealing the machine in all its glory. The tubes were tucked neatly away just as they were the day before and the days before that. The button in the middle glared at him like a judging eye, as if to accuse him of a crime he hadn't committed. He smoothed his hair back into place before checking his pocket for his totem. The loaded die in his right pocket still held the same weight and texture as before.
"Just once," he whispered to no one, carrying the briefcase over to the chairs.
He righted the lawn chair he had kicked over and pulled the table with the briefcase closer to it. Grabbing a tube, he connected it with his skin and shifted his body to a more relaxed position. This was it… he was taking the plunge into the unknown, only to hope she was waiting on the other side. A quick press of the button pushed him into blackness…
Arthur found himself standing in the middle of a bustling city, projections all around him in route to various destinations. Traffic flowed in the streets and occasionally stopped at red lights to allow people to cross. The street corner was unfamiliar and by observing the buildings around him they too were also new. The glass windows of the skyscrapers stretched ever upward seeming to disappear into the overcast sky. The wind chose that moment to whip at his face, the cold sting of air pushing him towards the building across the street. Straightening his waistcoat and hair, Arthur cursed at his neglecting to wear a jacket. The traffic stopped just as he began to cross the street and pushed his way into the rotating glass doors.
Upon entering the building, he was greeted by a warm toned interior and a heated lobby. He shook off the last of the bitter winter chill and perused the adjoining hallways, not completely sure what drove him to do so. He knew that he was searching for her but what would make her come here?
The final doorway he came to was all too familiar. The design of the bar was exactly the same as he'd remembered dreaming during the Fischer job: the glass expanse, the drop down lights, and the windows behind the bar. The room was full of people at various tables, but his eyes locked on to only one person at the bar; the person he had been searching for.
Ariadne's hair was pulled up into a bun at the crown of her head, exposing the long expanse of her neck and collar bones. Her business suit was doing more than flattering her figure. The skirt gripped her thighs as it rested on her crossed legs. Her shirt was a creamy color to the point that it almost matched her skin tone underneath. The jacket was folded neatly upon the seat beside her, as if to save a place for another. Arthur watched her from his place in the doorway, mesmerized by her movements however minute. After a short while, she spotted him across the room and offered him a smile before glancing at the seat next to her and back up to his face. This was all the invitation he needed to join her at the bar.
"You shouldn't be building dreams from your memories," she chided him with a grin. Her fingers wrapped around the glass with some unknown concoction to raise it to her lips for a drink as he sat down.
"Technically, this is a dream we once had, not a memory." His smile was a reaction to her; she made him want to smile despite his calm and collected exterior.
"Touché." She raised the glass in salute before setting it back down again. He couldn't help but stare at her. Her lips were donned with a light coating of lipstick and her eyes were framed with makeup that made her irises look amazing. He was getting lost in the color as he sat there. Her quiet throat clearing brought his attention back into focus.
"So you came here for a reason?"
After a second to gather composure he replied. "Yes, but I'd like to discuss it elsewhere if that's not a problem with you." He smirked in hopes that she would get the hint.
Ariadne took one last sip of her drink before slipping on her coat and hopping off of the barstool. Her shoes made light clicks on the marble beside him as they walked back to the lobby where the elevator awaited them. They entered the cabin and rode up to the fourth floor in silence, his hands tucked in his pockets and hers placed behind her back. The doors opened to reveal a long corridor lined with hotel rooms. She stepped out into the hallway first, and he followed her assuming she had a key. At the end of the hallway she finally stopped at the door to her room. The handle turned with ease after she slipped the key in and out of the lock. The room was colored in grey and black tones with white accents throughout. The exterior wall was one sheet of double paned glass that was tinted for privacy while the bed dominated the majority of the room.
Arthur walked to the bed and sat down as Ariadne stood looking out at the ground below. The silence had made her tense and he could feel it riding in the space between them. He knew what he had to do; he'd come here in hopes of getting out his feelings, if only to a shade, and then being done with her forever. His lips moved to form the words, but something made him hesitate. Was she crying? The evidence of tears fell down her cheeks in front of him before she spoke.
"I know why you are here Arthur. I know you've come to say goodbye." She wiped her face with her delicate hand, trying to erase the evidence of fear. It nearly crushed him to see her in pain, to see even a fragment of her in sadness.
"I don't want to," he finally managed to push out, "but for my sanity, I have to." He hung his head in defeat, placing his palms over his face to hide his anguish. Arthur was wrong when he thought this would be easy. It was everything but that.
"But… don't you love me?" she whispered.
He dragged his warm palms across his face, soaking in the words that had escaped her lips. Love her… he was obsessing over her to the point of madness, but he had never considered that he might actually have any feelings past the point of just wanting her. He wanted her for himself, without the jobs and the dreams. He wanted to possess her because she was beautiful and smart…but love her? The word played with his heart strings and made his mind woozy.
Arthur rose from the edge of the bed and paced over to the window next to Ariadne. She looked up at him, her eyes glazed with fresh tears that made his chest burn with longing to comfort her. Who was he kidding? Of course he loved her, if that wasn't the case; he wouldn't be here in this dream barely able to look away from her. He came looking for her because of his love for her. Now here she was… a fragile memory that feared to be forgotten.
Turning to face her, he opened his arms and welcomed her tiny body into his embrace. She was shivering as she wept into his clothes, leaving wet spots on his waistcoat and shirt. His hand involuntarily stroked her spine in comfort while the other was clinging to her hip to hold her closer. After a few minutes of crying, her head rose up from between them to look up into his eyes. Her face was still flawless as ever: the makeup untouched by the tears she had shed, her cheeks slightly flushed from letting go of her emotions. She was magnificent, and in this moment, completely his.
He leaned down to kiss her pouted lips softly, but she rose up to meet his lips with an urgency he hadn't expected. It felt as if sparks flew between their lips as they connected, and he met her urgency with some of his own. His grip tightened on her hips as she grabbed his neck for more leverage. The room got hotter as the kiss wore on, his tongue darting inside of her mouth only to be met with hers. The moment was exhilarating and electrifying all at the same time. Finally when they came up for air, he stared into her brown depths, full of longing and love.
"Ariadne…" The name rolled off of his tongue so easily.
Her fingers toyed with his tie as he tried to find the words to say to her. The action was distracting, and if he was being honest with himself, after the kiss they just shared it was going to be hard to focus on getting his brain to function. His body was running on instinct and that instinct was telling him to take what he wanted, because clearly she wanted the same thing.
Arthur grabbed the lapels of her coat and dragged it off of her arms as he crashed into her mouth again and again with kisses. She fumbled with the buttons on his waistcoat before proceeding to rip his shirt from its tucked position in his trousers. Their lips rarely parted as they undressed in a hurried fashion and soon their clothes began to coat the slate grey carpeting.
Her fingers met the flesh of his stomach and he moaned in the back of his throat as she caressed him. His fingers found the pins holding her hair in place and he gently removed them to let her hair down. Running his fingers through it reverently, he guided her slowly to the bed before pushing her back onto the mattress. She was as beautiful as an angel, looking up at him with curious eyes and her swollen lips. Arthur softly opened her legs and positioned himself in between them as he stared down at her face. She arced off the bed, her breasts peaking as he slid inside of her. It was like heaven to finally make that connection with her body and his eyes rolled back into his head when she took all of him into her.
A tiny moan escaped Ariadne's lips as she began to move her hips for him to proceed. He traced the lines of her body, from her knees to her neck as he slowly pulled himself out before thrusting back in. Her back arched again in pleasure as more moans and cries of his name escaped her lips into the tiny space. His tempo increased as the need for pleasure overrode all sense of control and sanity he had left in him. His grunts rose to meet her cries as he grabbed onto her hips for leverage and her legs wrapped around his ass. Her fingers griped the sheets tightly as she clinched down on him, toppling over the edge of her orgasm. He wasn't far behind her, letting out a loud roar as he reached his own climax.
Once Arthur came back down to Earth, he pulled himself free of her and sat on the edge of the mattress. He wiped the sweat from his face with his hands, feeling fulfilled and disgusted with himself all at the same time. This is not what he had come here to do and this was not what he had planned. He was supposed to come to be done with her, not make things more complicated. Silently he rose from the bed and padded to the bathroom to shower. Ariadne did not follow him and she did not make a noise from her position on the bed.
He came back into the room to find his clothes neatly folded and placed on the bed. The sheets looked as pristine as they did when they had first arrived into the room, completely untouched by the events from moments before. Ariadne was nowhere to be found in the room, as if she had completely vanished as quickly as she had arrived. He dressed in a hurry, resolving to find her before the dream would end and he would be stuck doing this all over again in an attempt to forget her.
Storming out of the room, he opted for the stairs versus taking the elevator. His heavy foot falls thundered in the concrete stairwell as he bounded down each floor. Once he had reached the bottom, he threw open the door and ran for the lobby in an effort to get outside to find her. He saw her hair bouncing in the wind and her hips sashaying across the street to reach the other side. He shoved his way into the rotating glass doors and pushed until he was finally free of the building's confines. The wind on the other side bit into his skin with a stinging cold as he took a long, deep breath.
"ARIADNE!" he screamed as loud as he could.
Arthur watched as she slowly turned from her position on the opposite sidewalk to face him. Tears were streaming down her face and this time the makeup was ruined from where she had rubbed her eyes with her hands. He also noticed that all of the people on the street had stopped to stare at the two of them, creating an eerie silence in the once bustling city.
For what seemed like hours he stood there at the hotel front, staring across the vast space between them. In that time, he finally resolved that he did indeed love her and that was what was driving him mad in reality. It wasn't just the need to possess her or the drive of just wanting her. He loved her and he needed her. That's why the memory of her walking away from him so easily burned him so badly.
He whispered her name as he stepped forward on the sidewalk. Suddenly, all of the projections began to move along as if nothing was happening, but Ariadne remained frozen on the other side of the street. Her eyes were locked onto his as he repeated her name and kept moving forward. He had to reach her, if only to tell her that he loved her before he had to let her go.
He pushed through the crowd of people on the corner and stepped out onto the crosswalk to cross to her side. His determination blinded him, to which he never realized that cars were still moving as he pushed on towards her. Arthur barely saw the cab in his peripheral vision before it smashed his body onto the asphalt.
His eyes flew open back in the warehouse and his body nearly flew from the lawn chair. With a curse, he ripped the tube from his flesh and threw it to the ground before dragging a shaking hand across his face. The haze of sleep was still upon him, just as it was every time he awoke from a dream. He rubbed his eyes furiously, attempting to clear the last bits of his mind before he could gain composure.
"I knew I'd find you here," her voice echoed across the empty warehouse.
Arthur spun on his heel quickly to face the intruder, only to be faced with his only desire; the only person that could have driven him to this madness. The words from his dream clung to his memory and fell from his lips so fluidly; it was as if it was second nature.
"Ariadne, I love you."
Author's Notes: Getting some explaining out of the way.
Q: What dream level was Arthur on and who dreamed the dream?
A: Level 2, Arthur was the dreamer. If you need a refresher on how deep the dream levels go and how many kicks you need to get back up, a href=".com/post/831675519/brugudug-a-guide-to-the-movie-credit-to"here you go/a.
Q: Why is Arthur back in the warehouse in Paris? Why wouldn't he just go home like everyone else?
A: The warehouse is essentially where Arthur and Ariadne did their most collaborative work (i.e. teaching her to build, creating Arthur's dream/maze portion of the Inception) so naturally he would go back to the place he relates her with the most. The other part to that is that we don't really know where Arthur's home is or if he has family, so it would take far more than one chapter to write all of that up and explain.
Q: How can Arthur remember the bar if he never went there in the film?
A: madcowre (Author of On the Run) and I reasoned together that Ariadne and Arthur both build the hotel in his dream level together, because she is the architect and its his dream. So in essence, while he never went into the bar (as far as I can remember, I have only seen it once) he would still know what it looked like from the planning.
Q: How is Ariadne a shade in Arthur's dream if she is still alive in reality?
A: This one is a bit more tricky. I created Ariadne as a shade because I don't believe that the person has to be dead to be a shade. A shade is typically defined as a ghost or reproduction of someone. To me, Mal was Cobb's shade not because she was dead and she was a ghost haunting his dreams, but because she was a representation of his guilt that kept appearing in his subconscious. So in this story, Ariadne in the dream world is a shade or representation of Arthur's longing for her that plagues him in reality and in his subconscious.
Q: Why do the projections stop to look at Arthur and Ariadne's shade? In the movie, the projections only look for the invader of the dream, not the dreamer.
A: If a man was standing on the corner yelling at someone across the street, wouldn't you look too?
Q: How did Arthur get hit by the car if he's controlling the dream? Did Ariadne's shade kill him on purpose?
A: I assumed that Arthur lost focus and the dream continued on without him controlling the projection's car. I'm sure there's some sort of rule or loop hole but I'm not worried about it. No, Ariadne's shade didn't kill him on purpose.
Q: How did Ariadne know to come back to the warehouse?
A: For the same reason that Arthur knew to go there. It's where they spent the most time together.
Q: Did Ariadne hook up to the machine and wake up before Arthur? Does this mean he was really with her the whole time?
A: No comment, that's up to you to decide.
Q: Will you be writing more of this story?
A: Right now that answer is a no, but that may change in the future depending on how I feel about it and if I get up the urge to do it.
I hope you enjoyed this fic as much as I did writing it. I love Arthur and I love Ariadne and putting them together causes such electricity it's amazing. Arthur might look like a cool and composed GQMF, but put him around Ariadne long enough and I bet he loses that tough exterior.
Comments are appreciated and cherished :)