A/N – I don't own Inception =( But the people who awesomely read this story and tell me they like it turn my frown upside down, so here's chapter 4 !
Stepping out of the huge hotel and into the bright Los Angeles sun, Ariadne decided that while she was here she was going to enjoy it, and soak everything in. Tomorrow she would leave to go back to Paris. She'd put off school long enough - any longer and even she would have a hard time catching up. There was no need to think about that now though. Now was about enjoying the moment, and as far as moments go, this one was pretty great. It was a beautiful day out and she felt more rested than she had in a while. There was also the fact that beside her walked the very brilliant and handsome man she'd woken up next to this morning.
She really hadn't expected him to stay. The moment he left her room she had scrambled for her totem, and even after flicking it over a dozen times she still found it hard to believe. The Arthur that Ariadne had worked with would've waited until she was asleep, left a note with any further instructions, and disappeared. She would never have seen that Arthur again. It would've crushed her. Now looking at her companion, she realized he looked more relaxed than she'd ever seen him, a very good sign. Wearing a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and some khaki dress pants, he looked as though he'd stepped off of a magazine cover.
"So, shall we get some coffee? The front desk said there was a good place a few minutes away." Arthur's voice broke into her thoughts, not that she minded.
"Sure, coffee sounds really good right now." As if on cue, a yawn escaped her lips.
"Not as tired as yesterday, but still not one hundred percent. How about you?"
"I'm getting there. It'll take less time for me to get back to normal than you."
"Lucky," Ariadne laughed.
"Sometimes," he said with a smile. She had an amazing laugh. "But everything comes with pros and cons."
The fresh air and walking had invigorated the young architect, and she felt slightly daring. Hoping that this environment might make a certain somebody a lot more open than usual, she posed a question.
"Arthur, if you had one wish, and could have anything in the world - anything at all, what would you wish for?"
The question was so out of the blue, so direct, so random, that he was taken aback for a moment. What did he say to that? He couldn't tell her anything that he actually wished for. That he had wished for a normal life for as long as he could remember, both before and after meeting Dom. That he wished he were a better person, and not a criminal. That he wished that he could deserve Ariadne. No, he really couldn't tell her what he would wish for.
"I wouldn't mind dreaming again. The normal way, that is," he answered resignedly. Let her take what she will from that. By the look on her face he could tell her brain was already working to dissect his response.
Before Ariadne could ask another question, Arthur stopped at a shop, the mouthwatering smell of coffee wafting through the open door.
"This must be it," he said, "after you."
Smiling in thanks, she entered the building, and immediately felt better as the strong scent of caffeine enveloped her. Now grinning like an idiot, she turned to Arthur.
"Coffee was a very good idea. Way to use those point man skills of yours in a normal, low-pressure situation."
"Doesn't take much to make you happy, does it," he replied, matching her joking matter.
"No, it really doesn't," she answered, her tone more sincere than joking this time.
Sensing that this could very easily go down a direction Arthur didn't want to go down, he looked to the menu board, and away from the searching brown eyes beside him. After the lady behind the counter took their order (two large coffees, and two scones), she inquired whether they would like it for there or to go.
Looking at Ariadne, "You're the architect," was all Arthur said, indicating that she should pick the setting.
"To go, please," she answered decisively, keeping to her plan of enjoying the sun, and after receiving their breakfast, the two made their way back outside.
"So, where to?" Arthur asked after a sip of coffee.
After that statement, the pair started down the sidewalk. They walked in a comfortable silence, both realizing how hungry they were and concentrating on that. Perhaps that was the reason their destination seemed to suddenly appear I front of the two, but in what felt like mere moments, they suddenly stood in sand.
Ariadne hadn't told Arthur about 'waking up' in limbo, sputtering out seawater as the surf crashed into her body. She hadn't kept it from him purposely, but in the limited time they'd seen each other since disembarking the plane it just hadn't come up. That was probably just as well. He may have tried to stop her, or talk her out of this potentially upsetting plan. But she had needed to do this, face hearing the familiar sound of waves crashing against the shore, feel the way the sand moved beneath her. She had needed to make sure she would be okay. If she could face a beach without panicking for her totem, anything else would be fine. Turning towards Arthur with an amused look, she kicked off her shoes, picked them up, and then started towards the water. She didn't feel worried. She felt free.
Seeing her like this, Arthur wished he didn't have to talk business. Following in the footprints Ariadne left behind in the sand, he caught up to where she stood, her gaze upon the horizon, body still as a statue. Her hair being blown by the wind the only thing that moved. She looked as though she belonged here. Hell, she looked as though she belonged everywhere that she went. As for himself… Maybe one day he'd find a place to belong. This idea of his was a place to start. Time to get that into the open.
"So, when do you leave for Paris?" Arthur asked, trying to seem nonchalant.
"Tomorrow afternoon, but I'm guessing you already knew that?" she replied with a smile and a slightly raised eyebrow, as if daring him to deny it.
He did know - of course he did, it was his job, wasn't it? Clearing his throat, he decided that he would get right to it. After all, this was Ariadne, and clearly she saw through his attempts at small talk. He had brought her out to talk about 'matters' as he had told her, and clearly she was ready to do so. Therefore, he nodded in agreement.
"Yes, I knew. I knew because that will be my flight as well, if you're okay with that?" Seeing the confusion upon her face, Arthur decided to get right too it.
"I was thinking I'd stay in Paris for a bit. Dom's out of the game now, and everybody else has gone back to their lives. I have nothing though… the job, Dom, that was it. So I was thinking I might head back to Paris with you and start something there. If that's okay?" That speech had been a lot less business and a lot more personal feeling than he'd initially intended it to be. He just hoped it hadn't pushed her away at all.
It was a moment before she responded. Ariadne had run the entire thing through her head again, making sure that she'd heard him right. He wanted to go to Paris. With her. He wasn't disappearing off the face of the planet. Essentially, he was breaking all of his own rules.
"What about your rules - not being seen together, or having anything to do with other members of the team?" she asked, not accusingly, but rather curious as to what had changed.
Arthur hadn't been expecting that one. He didn't really have a prepared answer to give.
"I know what I said," he replied, deciding just to go with the truth. "I guess Dom rubbed off on me when it comes down to doing things you've said not to. And I really don't have anywhere else to go. I wasn't kidding when I said that I have nothing left now that the job is gone."
"You don't have nothing." Her reply was so quiet that the sounds of the ocean almost stole it away. But he was sure she had said that he didn't have nothing.
Ariadne hadn't meant to say that out loud. Damn. All right, now to move on like it hadn't happened and hope he hadn't heard.
"So, we're on the same flight? Where are you sitting?"
"Well, I booked two tickets. So if you want to cancel yours… I think you would be a much better seatmate than most people I've encountered on planes." There, that was the balance between personal and business that he needed.
"Alright, well at the risk of missing out on my own 'interesting' seatmate, I think I'll accept your offer," she replied laughing.
"Good," he said, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off of him. What a relief she hadn't said no, to any of it really. Now he could go back with her, and while in Paris make sure that she was safe. Maybe he could even go out to coffee with her, as friends as opposed to co-workers? Standing on the beach with her, nothing seemed impossible, or as life or death serious as he was used to.
"Come on, we only have a day left. Let's go see what's down here! I don't want to regret anything when I'm stuck on a plane for ten and a half hours tomorrow."
As Arthur watched her walk down the beach, he realized that neither did he.