Summary- Because sometimes even our nightmares have a hidden happy ending. After awaking from a nightmare, Arthur invites Ariadne to dinner. After 3 glasses of wine Arthur gets more than he bargained for. Arthur/Ariadne, rated T for a kiss because I'm paranoid.
Disclaimer- I do not own Inception or any of the characters. If I did the movie would probably have been of lot less awesome. But it probably would have had a lot more Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it, so…J
PS- Updated for some grammar errors that are hopefully fixed now!
Ariadne had observed all of her teammates asleep at one point or another. She had learned enough about the human mind by this point to know that the way one slept could be an insight to their personality. Of course, when a teammate was dream sharing, that was a different story. Sharing dreams wasn't a real sleep, it was induced and the subjects typically lay asleep on their backs, unmoving. No, she had observed most of them asleep by their own means. Be it late nights in the work station, sharing a hotel room or a long car ride somewhere, Ariadne had seen most of them. She liked to see if she could fit the personality to the dreamer, sometimes obscurely, and sometimes she really saw similarities.
When Dom slept, his blankets were typically strewn everywhere. He tossed and turned quite a bit in his sleep, never really settling. Ariadne reasoned that this was because he was a person that wasn't at peace in the real world, so in his sleep he wasn't either. He never really settled on a belief, on whether he wanted to be with Mal, or if he believed she was a dream. It was true that after visiting someone's dream enough times, one didn't dream on their own anymore. But Ariadne supposed that you could still have subconscious thoughts while you slept, they just didn't manifest themselves in a dream-like state. When he was sleeping in chair, or in a car, he still usually turned at good bit, but he usually sat slumped slightly with his head limp, chin almost touching chest.
With Eames, he slept on his back, covers down around his waist; hand over himself, sometimes down by his side. Ariadne's reasoning behind this was because the natural human need was to use the blankets as a sort of a safety cover to protect themselves from the unknowns of the nighttime. Eames was a naturally fearless person, so it would make sense that he didn't use the blankets as his protection. When he was in a chair, he typically sprawled out, with his arms and legs flopping wherever they pleased.
Yusef and Saito didn't sleep much around anyone; they were private people and tended to keep to themselves.
Arthur was the only one she couldn't figure out. Firstly, knowing his nature she would have expected him to be like Yusef and Saito, who would take their sleeping positions as a personal thing and keep to themselves. But Arthur didn't seem to mind who saw him sleep. Or, another theory that Ariadne held was that he typically didn't sleep much on his own time and so when he wasn't busy with anything he fell asleep. Ariadne had never seen Arthur sleep in an actual bed despite having worked with him for months and staying in the same hotels a good deal. But she saw him sleep frequently in chairs. They both liked to stay late to do their work. They agreed that it was easier once it was quiet, and they could be alone with their own minds. Because of this, Arthur usually fell asleep in a chair after they had been working for two or three hours by themselves. If fact, it was usually Ariadne who woke him up from these sleeps.
When he was asleep, Arthur was always motionless. In fact, Ariadne wasn't sure exactly how long into their late night that Arthur fell asleep because usually, she was working so hard on a project that when she turned to say something, she saw him asleep. He never rustled or made any noise. He sat with his arms crossed and his head usually resting against the chair or car that he was sitting in. He wore a troubled expression on his face, one that could also be taken for a look of concentration. Ariadne was never sure if it was because he was someone who never stopped thinking about his work or if there was something subconsciously that bothered him. She had never thought of asking about it. She thought that would be rude, to impose on someone's sleep state like that.
So when she thought about it, the only other person that she hadn't seen sleeping was herself. Despite all her best efforts, she could never remember to stay still when she woke up long enough to take in her surroundings. She had thought on occasion about asking a member of the team, but asking a teammate to observe her sleep was another thing she deemed creepy.
On this particular night, Ariadne and Arthur were, once again, working late. She was building multiple mazes out of the few materials that she had in front of her, her mind working faster than her fingers could build. Arthur was looking over files, glancing now and then at a computer screen, typing some things in and occasionally writing some things down. He was gathering information on their new target, a head of a corporation that they believed was working with some men in a ploy to dominate half the globe.
Ariadne occasionally looked over at Arthur to see what he was doing. He was usually staring blankly at a computer screen, his face without any form of emotion. Sometimes she could catch him right in the middle of finding out something disappointing and his face would fall. Begrudgingly, he scribbled something in a notebook and sighed. Other times, she would catch him when he found something that was very beneficial to the case, and he would repeat the same process except that he would be wearing a genuine smile, not a huge one but big enough for Ariadne to know that something had definitely gone right.
Arthur also sometimes glanced over to Ariadne. He told himself that he only looked because he felt responsible for helping her in any way, and sometimes when he looked at her she would seem obviously confused, stuck at a point where she needed an answer about the particular job or about the dream world itself. This happened to be one of those times.
"Do you need some help?" he asked.
"I need to know more about the personality of the target. I need to know, when faced with a choice, which way he'd be more likely to go, right or left." She said. He lifted his eyebrows at this.
"I'm not sure that's something I can find out with research," he said, getting up and walking to the place where she sat, observing the models she was creating. He could see the intersection she must have been talking about because both directions, to the left and to the right, were blank. "Is it important to the design?" he asked. The mind of an architect was still unfamiliar to him, and sometimes he wondered why Ariadne asked the questions that she did.
"Well no, not particularly, But if we need to have a certain event to happen, or have our target find something out about themselves, it could be helpful to know which way they'd rather go. If they'd rather go right then I would plant the information to the left because that would give the target a subconscious idea that he has to make changes if he's going to become the man he's meant to be," she said, all the while glancing from Arthur to her model on the table. Listening to her talk, Arthur could understand why Ariadne was the one that Cobb had picked for an architect. When she explained her ideas to him it was almost though he was talking to Cobb, the ideas were so intricate.
"Well how exactly do you want me to find out which way he would go?" Arthur asked, curious himself now.
Ariadne was quiet for a moment, and then turned to Arthur.
"Right brain left brain." Was all she said. He gave her a slightly confused look, and she specified.
"Can you figure out if he's more right brained or left brained? More creative or more factual?" she asked. He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then nodded. She smiled, and he couldn't help but smile back at her. He stood and walked back over to his desk. They both continued working silently until Arthur shared his findings with Ariadne, who thanked him generously and went back to working.
It was almost 12 o'clock the next time that Arthur looked at the clock. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. He decided to give himself another 30 minutes. Arthur was someone who hated to stop working, despite the fact that he was so tired that the letters on the page often blurred into each other. Arthur usually had a hard time sleeping except when he was dream sharing. His mind was too full to stop thinking and he couldn't fall asleep. Which was one of the reasons that when he wasn't working on anything specific, he tended to fall asleep. He spent most of his time sleeping in chairs.
He was finishing up with his research when he heard a whimper from the other side of the room. He turned to find Ariadne asleep. Her feet were on her chair and she was hugging her knees, head resting on her kneecaps. He smiled at the sight of her, observing how cute she looked when she was sleeping. He continued to work when he heard another whimper, but this time it was louder and possible more urgent. He turned again to see Ariadne with a pained look on her face. He realized that she must have been dreaming. He tried to remember having a dream without dream sharing, but it had been many years and his dreams had long since stopped. He decided that he would let her continue to dream and wake her up when he left, which had been his plan anyway. That gave her 10 more minutes of uninterrupted dreams. The last few perhaps she would ever have.
He would have stuck with his plan if it hadn't been for her wails that had turned louder and more panicked. She started to move around. Arthur knew that she was safe in her own dreams but he felt the need to wake her, to free her from any panic that she was feeling. After all, what good was dreaming if it was a nightmare?
He walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder gently.
"Ariadne," he called her name but she didn't wake. He shook her gently and her eyes flew open and she screamed.
"I'm sorry. You were having a bad dream." He explained. She nodded, and sat up.
"I thought you stopped dreaming after you entered someone else's dreams," she queried. He nodded.
"You do. But you haven't done it enough times. You still have your dreams. But you won't after this next job. You should enjoy them while they last," he explained. He started to walk away, but she called after him.
"Arthur," she only said his name but it was enough to make him turn. He faced her. "Since Inception I've only had nightmares. Horrible nightmares…is that normal?" she asked him. He sighed and pulled up a chair next to her.
"When it comes to dreams there isn't a normal. There's no right or wrong. But having nightmares is a common effect." He explained.
"When you first went into a dream…what happened?"Ariadne asked. He was silent for a moment but continued.
"The first time I ever went into a dream was when after Mal died. It was my own, which doesn't cause any side effects. It's when you go into other people's dreams that it gets iffy. The first person whose dreams I entered was our old architect's. Cobb was teaching me about the job. He put through a number of tests to help me prefect my depth of reality. He picked his way through my mind to bring back memories and numerous painful experiences. In essence, he was bringing my own personal Mals into my and other people's dreams. They were just projections but it was…more than I could handle at first. It took getting used to. But to answer your question, my last few dreams were nightmares too. Horrible ones, just like you said." She nodded.
"Why nightmares, do you think?" she asked. He sighed.
"I've tried to figure that out for years now. I can only assume that once we know what's possible in our minds, we naturally spend all our conscious and subconscious time thinking about it. An idea is…" he stopped here, because she already knew what he was going to say. And she finished the thought for him.
"The most resilient parasite." She finished, and they both laughed at the overused statement. At this, Ariadne yawned.
"It's late. We should get home. You need to sleep." He advised. She nodded and picked up her purse from the table.
"I don't know that I really want to go back to sleep after that dream." She stated. Arthur sympathized with her statement, knowing well what it felt like to want to avoid sleep.
"If you'd like to join me for something to eat I'd enjoy the company," he asked. He himself was planning on going to some sort of a café to avoid the inevitable sleepless night. Ariadne looked at him. Arthur had never before engaged in any sort of out of work relationship with her or any other member of the team except maybe Dom.
"Uh, yeah that'd be great," she said. He nodded, and collected the rest of his things.
"I'll drive." He said. She nodded, and they walked out together. As Ariadne walked to his car, she couldn't help but think about the situation. It was useless pretending that she didn't have feelings for Arthur, ever since the first time she woke up from her own dream with Dom. He had been the first thing she had seen then. Even since then, every time she awoke from a dream she made a point of looking for him before she could convince herself that she was safe. They walked through the streets to the small parking lot that occupied all their cars. Her car was on the opposite side of the lot, and it occurred to her that she had never seen Arthur's car before. She saw only one car besides her, and surprisingly it was the one car that she had always thought that belonged to Eames. It was black, a c5 z06 (link on profile) and looked nothing like she imagined Arthur would enjoy.
"Whoa. Nice car you got there," Ariadne said, surprised. He laughed in amusement.
"I have free time between jobs," he said and opened the door for her. She slid in and admired the inside which was just a sleek as the outside. He closed his own door and sat in his seat, putting the keys in the ignition. He pulled out of the parking lot, and they were on the road.
"Do you have somewhere you'd like to go?" he asked her. She shook her head.
"Wherever you like to go is fine. I don't get out much," she said and he laughed. She smiled. He drove for a few minutes before they finally stopped at a little café hidden in a street corner. He opened her door and they walked into the restaurant. They were seated at a table, and while Ariadne was looking over her menu, Arthur was looking at her. He couldn't deny that he found her attractive. She was smart, and creative. Not to mention that she was beautiful. She was able to keep all the men at the office in their place, and it didn't' matter who was talking to her about what, she managed to keep up with them. And it was true he had enjoyed that kiss in lobby more than he wanted to admit. But right now she looked so vulnerable and scared. He started to think that maybe the dream had affected her more than she admitted.
"Ariadne, are you alright? You look scared." He commented. She looked up.
"Hmm? Oh, I was just…" she trailed and sniffed, covering her eyes with her hand and rubbing her eyes.
"I'm sorry, it's just the…nightmare…" she said. On an impulse that he couldn't control, Arthur reached across the table and took her hand away from her face and wrapped it in his own. She looked at him with surprise but he just continued to hold her hand, bringing both of their hands to rest on the table. He squeezed her hand gently and rubbed circles with his thumb, hoping to calm her down. She looked at their hands and smiled. He returned it.
"You know, if you talk about dreams, sometimes it helps them to feel less real. It may make you feel better." He suggested. She nodded but before she could start, he stopped a waiter and ordered a bottle of wine. She looked at him confused. "Might as well" he added and she smiled again. She didn't start telling him the dream until the bottle arrived. He poured then both a glass and then she started.
"When the dream started…I was walking down a staircase. But the stair case was made of chessboards. I kept walking around and around. Then….I noticed that the steps were…like the Penrose Steps, you know, never going anywhere?" she explained, and drank from her glass. She hadn't realized how thirsty she had been, and drained the glass. She started at it for a moment, and Arthur refilled it. She bit her lip and continued. "Once I realized that the stairs were never ending, they became stairs again and took me down. Far down. Once I was at the bottom, the floor was a huge chess board. With pieces on it. There was a…dead body… in the middle of the board. It had been shot, but it was bound with ropes, like it was being tortured for information." She stopped here and took a long drink. She began again. "I…I saw a shadow…behind a chess piece. It was Mal…she was there. And I couldn't see her but I knew it was her." She took another drink and finished her 2nd glass, which was quickly refilled. "Then the pieces started to move, they circled around me. They caged me in. And then…suddenly I saw blue eyes. Icy blue eyes, just staring at me. I tried to get away, but they held me in. Then I heard his voice. 'I know what you did,' was all it said. I looked up. It was Fisher. I started to scream just before you woke me up." She finished finally, and took yet another sip of the wine, which by now was making her feel more emotional about the dream than she had been before. Tears started to fall from her eyes.
"It was just a dream. You're feeling guilty about what we did, that's natural. It'll pass, you have to understand that." He explained, trying to calm the weeping woman in front of him.
"I know, I just…it was such a real dream…" she continued, willing herself not to cry and calming her shaking breaths.
Eventually she calmed down, and their dinner arrived. By the time that they had finished and were paying for their meal, Arthur could tell that Ariadne had crossed the fine line from sober to tipsy. He helped her to the car, and drove her back to her apartment. They rode the elevator up to her apartment on the 3rd floor, and he followed as she walked to her room. She unlocked the door and giggled.
"Do you want to come in?" she asked innocently. He smiled and figured it would be better to stay with her for a while, and nodded. They walked in and Arthur observed the apartment. It wasn't spotless like his was, but he couldn't expect much from the mind of an architect. Pages of drawings were staked here and there, some littered the floor. Books also were everywhere, strewn across tables. Ariadne stumbled to the couch and sat down. Arthur followed suit and sat down next to her.
"What were your nightmares about?" she asked him abruptly. He looked taken aback.
"I'm sorry?" he responded.
"When you had nightmares. What were they about?" she asked him. He squinted, as if trying to remember one from a long time ago. He debated whether or not to tell her, but decided it wouldn't do any harm.
"They were usually about…memories. Whatever memories Cobb had dragged out of my mind that night, those were what I dreamed about. Mostly it was past experiences, mistakes that I had lived and tried to change but never could. He brought my mother in a lot. We had been driving down an icy road in winter one year when I was 18. I…lost control and we crashed. She didn't make it. It was one of my biggest mistakes and he forced me to live it again. So…I dreamed about that a lot." He shared. It felt like he was delving into his own soul to give her these intimate pieces of information. He was thankful he no longer dreamed.
"That's so sad…" she whispered. "You've been so kind to me, and you've told me all your secrets and dreams and here I've been lying to you." She said, racing though the words. He lifted his eyebrows again.
"You've been lying to me? What about?" he asked. He might have been mad if she hadn't been drunk and possibly not even sure what she was saying.
"My dream. I told you about the dead body on the board, right" she asked, and waited for his nod before continuing.
"Well I didn't tell you that the body was you. I didn't want to tell you before because I was afraid but now that you've been so nice to me I want to tell you," she said. Her words were slurred slightly, but they still made Arthur's heart skip a beat.
"Really?" he asked, remembering how she had whimpered in her sleep. Could it have been him that she was whimpering over?
"Yes. I hope you aren't mad. I think about you a lot, so it would make sense that you were in my dreams," she said. He smiled, and chose his next words carefully.
"It's alright. I think about you before I go to sleep too," he said, interested as to where this discussion would take them. He felt slightly like he was talking to a child because of her innocent state.
"Really? Is that why you always look like that when you sleep?" she asked him. He looked surprised.
"Uh…" he stuttered, unable to say anything.
"I'm sorry. But I have this bad habit of observing people when they sleep, to see if I can tie it back to their personalities. You always sleep like this," she said, and demonstrated for him before continuing, "and you always have a concentrated look on your face like you thinking of something," she said, and demonstrated that also. He laughed at her impersonation.
"Do I? Well then I suppose it must be because of you," he said simply and she smiled.
"Do you want something to drink?" She asked, and stood up. He stood up also, partly because he couldn't think of anything better to do. She walked to the kitchen but ran into a table on her way. It threw her off balance, and she toppled backwards. Arthur, who happened to be standing behind her, caught her falling frame. She felt his strong arms under her, and tuned to face the man who was holding her.
"Are we dreaming?" she asked simply. It was a small question, but one that haunted them both frequently. The nature of her question might, to anyone else, be unusual, but Arthur understood the gravity of the question she asked. For dreamers like them, it was the question that determined their whole existence. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the red die, throwing it in the air. He caught it, and looked at the number it showed. Six.
"No. We're really here." He answered her. She nodded, and lifted herself up. He never removed his hand from her waist, and his eyes never parted from hers. They were inches apart now, close enough for him to smell the wine on her breath. He lifted one of his hands to brush a piece of her hair out of her face. He moved the hand behind her head, and guided her head so that he could capture her lips with his. Their lips met, and their mouths meshed together. He rubbed her back with his other hand, but then used it to pull her closer to him so that they were pressed together. She shivered at his touch, and feverishly threw her hands behind his neck so she could snake them up and run them through his hair. Finally, he took her hands in his and pulled them away.
"It's late. You should go to bed," he told her, smiling because she was smiling too.
"I wasn't done yet," she stated and moved closer. He allowed her to kiss him, and kissed her back, but pulled away after.
"They'll be a time and a place for that later. I promise." He said with a serious look in his eyes. "Believe me, I'll make it happen," he promised. He took her hand and led her to where he assumed her bedroom was. He was thankfully right. She changed into her pajamas while he waited outside her closet. When she came out, he walked to her and picked her up. He carried her to the bed, and put her down gently.
"You won't stay?" she asked as he helped her to find her way under the covers. He smiled.
"If I did, it would only make tomorrow more complicated." He said. She smiled.
"Does that mean you want to?" she asked. He responded by kissing her again, passionately and longingly.
"Does that answer your question?" he asked. She laughed and nodded. He smiled. "I'll pick you up tomorrow," he stated, reminding her that her car was still at the work station. She nodded, and he gave her a final kiss before walking out the door. He turned her light off before he left and she lamented not being able to watch him leave. She lay down on the bed and smiled to herself. She realized now that nightmares often had an unknown happy ending hidden somewhere behind them.
Author's Note- So really long one-shot time! Probably could have been a two-shot but I didn't want it to be. Oh, and the sleeping positions at the beginning probably aren't accurate if you were to look them up. I just made them up ha-ha. In other news, I got my herbst appliance off today! Link on my profile to take you to a picture of just what was taken out of my mouth today if anyone cares. So please review! Reviews keep Chris Nolan thinking up these amazing ideas! (They also keep Arthur and Ariadne happy, so you know…) Thanks everyone!