"So now I have a question for you," Ariadne started as she and Damien walked down the crowded street. It was a market, bustling with everyday life.
"Shoot," Damien smiled as he paid for an apple from one of the stalls.
"Why are you in my dream?"
"Oh, well, consider it a finder's fee." He took a bite out of the apple, spraying juice everywhere.
"Finder's fee?" Ariadne felt herself growing tired of the marketplace. Perhaps a park instead? She smiled as she watched the stalls around her dissolve and turn into trees and statues instead, and the ground below change from gravel to dirt and grass.
"Well you know, this may be your dream, but I helped you here. I think it's only fair that I get to tag along," Damien informed her as he glanced around the sudden change in area. "Not bad." He flashed her that infamous grin of his, the one that complimented his teeth so well.
"This is nothing," Ariadne shrugged. "I've had to create three whole levels before,"
"Dreams within dreams is too unstable!" Yusuf exclaimed in anger, and perhaps a hint of fear.
"You've gone in that far?" Damien sounded impressed. "Why?"
"Um, this isn`t something I`d prefer to discuss with someone I`ve just met," She stopped walking suddenly as she met up with a lake. "Where'd this come from? I never put it here..." She looked back at Damien; his bright blue eyes were sparkling with delight at her sudden predicament. "That wasn't very nice." A giant bridge rose up from the water, causing waves of it to sweep on to the shore. She paralleled Damien's bow from earlier. "After you,"
On the bridge now, they continued to walk, Ariadne in front. She could feel her thoughts wandering again. How was Arthur? Had he called her back yet? Was he willing to forget about their recent fight?
Ariadne suddenly noticed a figure walking towards them on the seemingly never-ending bridge.
"Shoot," She mumbled in annoyance. Letting your mind wander in the field was always a bad idea. Especially if it was about something... Emotional.
"Something wrong?" Damien regarded her recent comment.
"Oh, nothing much. Just my subconscious out to get me," Ariadne huffed and instinctively grabbed Damien. The figure was too close for comfort now, she could clearly tell it was Arthur.
"What, who is it?" Damien shook her off, Ariadne felt a slight sense of loss as he did so, though she was unsure as to why. "Oh, your dealer." He rolled his eyes.
"My... Dealer?" Ariadne looked from Damien to Arthur in confusion.
"Your dream-dealer, obviously," he stepped in front of Ariadne protectively. "Look, if he kills us, it's not a big deal- we only have a few minutes left here anyway."
"But what's a dream dealer-"
"Ariadne, who's this?" Arthur had stopped inches away from Damien, cocking his head to the side as if he was a curious child. "I don't believe we've met."
"Arthur, he's no one, you should get out of here now-"
"No, no I don't think he's 'no one'," Arthur took a step closer, his and Damien's noses were touching now.
Ariadne sucked in her breath. "Damien, who's subconscious are we in?" She asked quickly.
"Yours," he breathed.
Arthur pulled out a gun. There was a shot in front if her, and Damien disappeared. "Now we're alone." This Arthur was reminding Ariadne of someone very familiar.
"What do you want?" If what Damien said was true about there only being a bit of time left in the dream, then perhaps she could just stall her subconscious into waiting it out, doing so to spare her of any pain of having to die to escape.
"That's the problem," Her subconscious-Arthur had a confused expression now. "I'm not quite sure." He looked back at his gun.
Ariadne felt her heart beat painfully against her rib-cage. But why? "A-Arthur I don't think you should use that again," she quickly spit out, feeling a very real feeling of fear creep into her heart.
"But, Ariadne, you hurt me- don't you think it's fair that I hurt you as well?" Arthur slowly raised the gun again. Ariadne, having little experience with people and guns before did the only thing that came instinctively at the moment.
Not for very long though. As she began her sprint, the sound of a gun-shot not far from behind rang out, and then suddenly, there was a very sharp pain in the back of her skull. Then it flooded everywhere- her forehead, neck, her spine. Time seemed to slow down as she fell to the ground- but no, that wasn't the ground...
The room felt cooler than before, Ariadne sat up as though she had been pushed violently forward, clutching the back of her head, still feeling the pain coursing through it for a moment. She sucked in her breath, valuing every bit of oxygen that she met in her lungs.
You're not dead.
But it still felt so very real.
"So what was the big idea?"
Ariadne jumped slightly at the sudden tone of voice that came from behind her. "Oh, hey Damien..." She turned around to meet his piercing blue eyes.
"Why did you bring your Dealer into the dream?" Damien ran his pale fingers thought his hair. "Were you getting bored of my company?"
"No, I wasn't," Ariadne felt herself finally calm down, fumbling with her totem. That was not how she had imagined her last bout in the field to go. "And why do you keep calling Arthur my 'dealer'?"
"Is that his name, Arthur?" Damien threw himself down on the couch next to her.
"Stop avoiding my question!" Ariadne felt herself becoming angry. Maybe it was because of the last all-nighter she had pulled just a few days ago, maybe it was because she had skipped out on coffee at the cafe with Arthur. Or maybe it was because she couldn't take any more craziness in one day. No matter the cause, she could feel it bubbling inside of her now, like a boiling pot left unattended.
"All right, jeez!" Damien threw his hands up in front of himself, as though surrendering to something. "A Dealer- well, Dream-Dealer –is somebody who supplies your dreams for you, and you pay them accordingly for the amount of time they gave you in the dream. Just like what we're doing now,"
Ariadne felt a horrible feeling sink inside her as Damien's words took root in her mind. So there was such thing as black-market dreaming, and she had just given herself into it. Did this mean she owed Damien money now? And that he had assumed Arthur was in on the same sort of money-making scheme he was as well? She slowly wrapped her arms around herself, realizing the situation she had put herself in. This was probably going to turn into an ugly situation.
"Ariadneeee," Damien waved his hand in front of her face. "You in there?"
Ariadne snapped her head up and arms away from her body. "Erm, yeah, right here," How am I going to get out of this?"S-ooo, you mean to say that I owe you money?"
"I would've thought you had done this before with your earlier Dealer," Damien smiled slightly. Was he catching on to Ariadne's unknowingness?
"Well," Was it okay to let him know about Arthur's real job? "He, um, isn't my Dealer. In fact, I didn't know about this whole Dream-Dealing business before. Arthur has a friend with the machine who let me use it once." It wasn't far from the truth. Right?
"I just wanted to try it again, that's all."
"Ohhhhh, I see!" Damien hit his head playfully. "Well, since you didn't know, I'll make it half price, 'kay?"
Not exactly what she had been hoping for, but do-able, hopefully. "Uhhh, sure," Ariadne grabbed her purse. "How much?"
"W-ell, an hour in the Dream Field is 5 minutes here, the usual price is $56, but I'll give it to you for a mere $28," Damien tapped his head.
A mere? Ariadne dug into her purse for her wallet, pulling out he wallet and a few other things in the process. The rest of the objects clinked to the floor, but Ariadne paid them no heed. Damien glanced at the fallen items and then reached down to pick them up. As she pulled out two crisp ten dollar bills, a five, and a few coins she looked over at Damien and noticed him poking around at the objects (what were they?) he had picked up. She quickly snatched them from his hand, dropping them in her pant pocket. "Here you go," She grumbled at him.
"What, aren't you happy you got to go back to the field?" Damien looked genuinely curious this time.
"Well, it didn't turn out quite as I had planned," she stood up in a huff.
"Well, then," Damien stood up as well, digging around in his pockets. "Take this," he produced a very bent business card. "In case you ever want another go. No finder's fee either next time!" He gave her his infamous grin.
Hesitation. Acceptance quickly followed.
Damien's grin twisted into a smirk as Ariadne took the card from his hand. "I certainly hope to see you soon."
The ringing of a cell phone interrupted the sudden quiet surrounding the room. Ariadne realized that the sound was coming from her purse and she immediately took it as a sign to get herself out of Damien's apartment as soon as possible. "I'll be going now," she said quickly as she grabbed her purse and coat, then swiftly exited the apartment.
Sighing with relief as she felt the awkwardness leave once she closed the door, Ariadne went to tend to her still-ringing cell. Not even bothering to check caller ID, she flipped it open and began walking towards the elevator. "Hello?"
"Oh, Ariadne, hey!" She stopped short as her heart seemed to skip a beat. "It's Arthur, um, you called earlier..."
"Yeah," Ariadne quickly sucked in her breath and remembered that she had been walking towards the elevator. "Look, I feel bad as I said earlier and I was just wondering if I could make it up to you somehow." Why was she silently begging for him to say yes?
"Um, I guess so... I mean, it's not that big of a deal-"
"I really want to do this!" Ariadne was even unsure of how that had managed to come out. "It's just, uhh, please Arthur?"
"Well, alright, what did you have in mind?"
What did she have in mind? "Well, how about we retry that coffee-date?" Date... The word felt worlds away from what she was used to. But it wasn't really a date. Right?
"Sure, let's give it a try," Ariadne hoped that Arthur was smiling. It sure did sound like it.
EDIT: Whops! I forgot to put an author's note XD Well, not much to say, I'm really sorry it was so late though! .