Disclaimer: I do not own Inception.

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"I don't know, Leo. I just…I have no instincts to go on where he's concerned. I'm usually better with reading people than this—you know that, but I just can't get a handle on him, and it's driving me up the wall."

Beat.

"I know, I know! You're right, I know, I should just say something to him, and yes, I'm acting like a teenage girl. I'm twenty-two, I should know better than this."

Beat.

"Okay, you know what, Leo? You can go fly a kite. I'm not going to sit here and listen to your sanctimonious bullshit. You're a cat, for chrissakes."

And that was where Arthur decided to stop listening at keyholes and actually knock on her door. After all, it's rude to pry. After all, he really didn't want to hear her talk to her cat about some man he didn't know.

When she pulled the door open, a rather bored-looking, and very fluffy cat was cradled in one arm, her other hand still wrapped around the doorknob. She looked surprised—pleasantly, he hoped, though it was always hard to tell with Ariadne—and a little sheepish, which he assumed to be a result of having a coworker show up at her door in the middle of her rant at her cat about a man she's having a particularly hard time asking out.

"Arthur! Uhm, why do you know where my apartment is?"

He allowed himself the faintest of smirks, as well as a quirk of an eyebrow.

"Details are my job," he said. The cat stared at him, blinking slowly. After a few moments of this, it yawned, and Ariadne remembered its existence long enough to let go of the doorknob and shift the insanely fluffy animal into a better hold, one hand cradling its hindquarters while she scratched at its ears subconsciously.

"Which means you memorized my address while you were reading up on me in the early days of my employment?" She lifted an eyebrow as well, looking vaguely skeptical.

"Yes. Speaking of your employment, we have a job. Your phone has gone straight to voicemail for the last week. I'm assuming you either lost it, killed it, or haven't felt like charging it?"

"Lost it, actually. Am I allowed to ask what the job is, or do I have to wait until the party to get my goody bag?"

"That's up to you. You'd have to let me into your apartment if you want me to tell you now, though."

A look of horror grew on her face for that suggestion, and she very obstinately did not glance behind her. She used her foot to close the door a bit better, Leo the Cat continuing to blink at Arthur as it experienced a surely stimulating adventure into the world outside its apartment. If that convoluted sentence isn't clear, Ariadne stepped into the hallway so as to avoid having Arthur see the disaster area that was her apartment. Leo the Cat had not been outside the apartment since the last time he went to the vet, and the world is rather less exciting and visible when you're in a little tiny kitty cage.

"I think I'll wait, actually," she said, suddenly making a very concerted effort to not look at Arthur. It was like a game she had just invented. See How Long You Can Avoid Making Eye Contact! It's fun, right?

"Is everything alright?" He hated himself for asking—he had experienced enough women (and Eames) in Infatuation Mode to know romance-related abstraction when he saw it—but having his Architect so out of sorts wasn't a good thing, especially when they were on the brink of their first job sans Dom.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, everything's great. Yeah."

Well, that reply was hurried and unconvincing.

That damn cat seemed determined to not look away from Arthur. It was as though it was trying to tell him something…

"Your cat seems to have a problem with my face," he said, meeting the cat's eyes with another eyebrow quirk, looking a little iffy. His skepticism did not fade when Ariadne's grip on the cat tightened and her shoulders tensed and she abruptly acquired a fear-twinkle in her eyes that blatantly declared a desire to sink through the floor and cease to exist.

"He's dumb, don't mind him."

"If he's dumb, why were you taking relationship advice from him?"

Oh, wow, he totally had not meant to say that. That is only slightly sarcastic—he had wanted to say that, but had told himself very firmly that he would not ever say that, ever, because it would mean humiliating Ariadne, which was something he did not much want to do, and it would also mean acknowledging that he had been standing there with his ear pressed against her door for the better part of two minutes.

"You heard that." It was not a question.

"I supposed I did, yes."

"You heard that. You heard me…talking about…"

"I did, yes."

"Sweet mother of—why are you still talking to me?"

Well, that was an odd thing to say.

"Because…I feel like talking to you?"

"I just confessed my love for…to my cat. Why would you—my cat."

He sighed.

"Ariadne, I can't say that I care who you confess your love for people to. Though I do advise saying it to people's faces. It tends to yield positive results."

"Hold that thought," she said, shoving the cat into his arms and pushing her way into her apartment rather hurriedly. After knocking a few perilously stacked piles of books off various tables, chairs, and decorative plants, she uttered a vague sound of triumph, something gold and bishop-shaped clutched in her hand. Utilizing one of the now-clear spots of coffee table, the set the bishop on its foot and tipped it over with one finger. When it rolled easily to land on one side—and stay there, which is very unlike bishops—she blinked, stared, and looked just a bit like she wanted to cry.

Arthur was distracted by the sheer size of the books she had knocked over.

"Do you read textbooks in your free time?" He sounded scandalized, and he looked it too, eyes rather wider than usual, a mildly displeased-looking cat cradled awkwardly in his arms. He just knew he was getting cat hair all over his vest, and that bothered him.

"I'm a week away from handing in my dissertation, Arthur—these are all for school." Beat. "Why are you still here? Again?"

"Because I am too busy being shocked and amazed by the impossible amount of information you must have crammed into your brain to focus on a) asking why you look like you want to die and b) making my feet move back out the door and down the fourteen flights of stairs leading to and fro your apartment."

"You know, I think that's the most inflection you've put into a statement since the last time I saw you around Eames."

"What does Eames have to do with—" A horrible thought dawned on him. "—please don't tell me you fell in love with Eames."

Ariadne blinked, an odd facial tic connoting a desire to laugh in a startled manner making both corners of her mouth turn up, her mouth pop open, and her left eye twitch. When she didn't laugh in a startled manner, he assumed she was too startled to laugh.

"I thought you said you heard that part."

"What part?" He was thoroughly confused, and sincerely hoping that she did not actually tell him that she had fallen in love with Eames.

Or Dom. Both would be equally bad. Because neither of them were him.

"The part where I groaned and said something along the lines of 'Fucking Christ, why does Arthur have to look so good in business attire'?"

Leo the Cat would have given her a congratulatory thumbs up if he had any thumbs or enough mental cognizance to recognize a situation that requires congratulation of one party or another, because Leo the Cat was a cat and had heard Arthur outside the door, and had thus known that Arthur had not, in fact, heard that part.

"I can't say that I heard that part, no," Arthur replied rather flatly, dropping the cat to stick his hand into his pocket. He pulled the die out, dropping it straight onto the floor, watching it roll a six.

Ariadne watched it fall.

"And I just told you that part. I didn't hallucinate that, right? I really wouldn't be surprised if I hallucinated it, I'm running on about eight cups of coffee and half an hour of sleep here."

"Group hallucination is difficult, and since I just heard what I think you just said, it would have to be a group hallucination. We could conceivably be dreaming, but assuming that both of our totems just told us the same thing, that's also out the window."

She blinked, nodded, and managed to look very calm for someone currently under the impression that her entire love life had just gone down the drain like so much week-old soup.

"So this is the part where you walk out and refuse to speak to me ever again. Alternatively, you will tell Eames, and I will never get another day of peace or quiet."

"Alternatively, I could—" He kicked the door closed. "—do that, and then do this—" He walked a very straight, short line across her small living room to where she was seated on the floor. "—and then take great care to explain to you that I look so good in business attire because I have damn nice suits, and good tailoring can make anyone look good, and then—" And here he waited to make sure he had her attention—which he did—before kneeling in front of her. "—do this." And he kissed her, hands on the sides of her neck, fingers slipping into her hair.

Several dazed minutes later, when they broke for air, Ariadne said:

"The third option is my favorite, I think."

"How about that," he said with a small, incredibly sincere smile, forehead pressed against hers. "I agree whole-heartedly."


Leo the Cat proceeded to fall asleep on the floor where Arthur had dropped him. When he woke up, he was greeted by a heaping bowl of kitty kibble and a note from that woman who fed him, reading:

"We've gone to dinner. I think I'll be back sometime around noon three days from now. Take that however you want to."

Unfortunately, Leo could not read, so he simply sniffed the piece of cardstock and proceeded to eat a very large amount of kibble and throw it back up ten minutes later.