A/N: Originally written to fill the following prompt at the amazing LJ community inception_kink: "Arthur/Ariadne-Can we have babyfic, please? and the team raising the baby? and maybe if you're feeling adventurous the kid growing up surrounded by the team?"
where is the off button?
"Where are you going?" Arthur asks, looking up from the business section.
Ariadne's reply is clipped. "Out."
"Out, Arthur, out! I don't know where," his wife responds, trying to keep from screaming at him as she pulls her hair back into a ponytail. "I haven't even been out of the damned apartment since Ancelin was born and I am going to take the afternoon off."
Arthur sits stupefied in his favorite armchair. "Okay," is the best reply he can muster.
Ariadne sighs in frustration at her reflection. These days her signature scarf is less of a fashion statement and more of a method for concealing spit up stains on her collar. She takes a deep breath and crosses the room to where Arthur is meticulously refolding his newspaper and gives him a kiss on the forehead. Then she leans in to the bassinet by the window and presses her nose against her three-month-old son's soft cheek.
Arthur smiles at the affectionate moment.
"I love you, baby," she whispers to the sleeping infant. Arthur likes how she never uses a baby voice with their son. They named him Ancelin- "Little god"- and Arthur is certain that even at three months, the child needn't be coddled.
"I'll see you later," Ariadne says, smoothing a whisp of Ancelin's dark peach fuzz.
The grin slides off Arthur's face as Ariadne grabs her purse and coat and heads out the door.
"Wait-you're not taking him with you?"
But she's already gone, and Arthur is left alone with this unknowable little stranger, who has just woken up...
For a moment, Arthur and his son just stare at each other with their identical dark brown eyes. Then Ancelin crinkles his little red nose, screws up his face, and lets out a terrifying wail.
Arthur is at a loss. Although he insisted that Ariadne take a leave of absence from work while she was pregnant-extracting while pregnant is a very dangerous business- and in the months following Ancelin's birth, Arthur himself had remained at work, priding himself on providing for his family. His dreams became domestic, so downright 1950's that Ariadne refused to share dreams with him for the time being.
She stuck her head in the oven to get out of the last one. When the sedative wore off, he awoke to her glare. That night he dreamt alone-on the couch. The projection version of Ariadne cooked him a very spectacular turkey.
He refused to admit, even to himself, that he preferred the real Ariadne's tastes in takeout.
Arthur has an epiphany then, one that is extremely brilliant and original...well, to him at least. Maybe Ancelin is hungry! He's about to go to the kitchen to prepare a bottle when he remembers: Ariadne fed the baby before putting him down for his nap. Arthur remembers because her wonderful breasts were distracting him from the latest corporate takeover reports in his beloved business section.
A-ha, but if he just ate, then he must have gone to the bathroom!...Hadn't he? Arthur leans over the squalling baby and tentatively sniffs the air. Unfortunately, Ancelin just smells like baby, all powdery and clean. Arthur never thought he'd be unhappy to smell that smell.
Ariadne smelled like new paper and fresh bread and orchids...how long had she been gone? He checks his watch. Five minutes. Maybe he'd better call her.
Ariadne's cell phone is buried in the depth of her handbag where it sits on an end table in the reception area of the spa. She doesn't hear it, as she's already being escorted to the manicure room.
After fifteen minutes of non-stop sobbing on Ancelin's part, Arthur's nerves are beginning to get frayed. He's a proud man, one who doesn't like to ask for help, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And no one knows more about desperate times than the rest of his team.
Tentatively, he transfers the baby from his bassinet to his state-of-the-art stroller, one of many gifts from Saito. In an attempt to make his son presentable to the general public, he uses one of his perfect, monogrammed handkerchiefs to wipe the snot running from Ancelin's nose. The lucky baby has Ariadne's cute button nose-Arthur's all-time favorite nose- in miniature. Arthur never thought he could resent such an adorable nose, and yet, he doesn't exactly enjoy wiping boogers out of it. Ancelin, on his part, doesn't look too happy either, as he screams and twists his tiny body in the stroller, flailing his little arms.
Arthur pushes the stroller into the elevator and hits the ground level button, desperately hoping that people on the street will not think he is kidnapping this child...
The stroller is rolled carefully to the center of the warehouse floor, and the men surround it, tipping their heads back and forth as if trying to solve one of Ariadne's mazes. The only sound is Ancelin's miserable wailing, echoing throughout the empty space.
Arthur nearly shouts over his son's cries, annoyed. "I though Dom was visiting today!"
"He is," Yusuf responds, rubbing at a spot on the bridge of his nose, "But not until three o'clock. That's when Miles takes the kids of his hands."
Arthur thinks wistfully that he would do just about anything to trade Ancelin for friendly James or charming Phillipa right now. He immediately feels guilty for his mutinous fantasy. What kind of a father is he? Dom would do anything to be with his children, and here Arthur is wishing that his was someone else's responsibility.
"Good God, Arthur," Eames says, frowning down at the baby in disgust, "Your progeny's even more annoying than you are. I wish it had taken after Ariadne."
"Shut up," Arthur snaps, a defensive sort of loyalty rising in him and pushing away his resentful sentiments. "He's a baby. And obviously something's wrong and I can't figure out what it is."
Eames looks thoughtful. "Maybe it misses Ariadne's breasts...I would too-"
Arthur's punch to Eames' shoulder jolts the dreamy expression off the forger's face. Eames is about to retaliate when Ancelin's sobs redouble. Arthur fists his hands in his hair in desperation, then realizes what he's doing and quickly smooths his hair again. "Yusuf, could you try something?"
"No, no, no," Yusuf says quickly, backing away from the stroller and its occupant with hands raised in defense. "I'd probably break him."
"Says the man who works exclusively with glass bottles," Arthur snarls.
"Why don't you give it a sedative?" Eames suggests helpfully. Yusuf gives him a look of dumbstruck disbelief before Arthur explodes.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" He shouts at Eames, his face almost as red as his sons.
Despite the fact that it's a rhetorical question, Eames is quite ready to answer. Before he can though, a calm voice is heard from the doorway.
"What's all the screaming about?" asks Dom Cobb.
"It's Ancelin," explains Arthur exhaustedly, his voice cracking with strain. Eames mutters a word that sounds suspiciously like "puberty" under his breath. Arthur ignores him. "He won't stop crying."
Dom studies the hysterical baby with a wise and seasoned eye, then turns to Arthur. "Have you tried holding him?" he asks matter-of-factly.
When Arthur finally responds several moments later, he sounds at once shocked and sheepish. "No. No, I haven't."
Yusuf and Eames turn to Arthur and glare at him in unison. Dom is trying very hard not to laugh. "Alright, well, why don't you try that."
Arthur crosses to the stroller and unstraps Ancelin from the various restraints that keep him in the too-fancy device. He cradles him gently, nervously, in the crook of his arm and sends up three silent prayers. The first is that Ancelin will stop crying; the second is that Ariadne will never find out about this incident; the third is that his son will not spit up on his suit.
Ancelin sniffles and hiccups in surprise, looking up at his father with a look that Arthur interprets to be a mix of curiosity and mistrust. "What now?" he asks Dom.
"Just walk around with him for a bit."
So Arthur just does that. He makes slow laps around the warehouse while Yusuf pours Eames and himself generous amounts of liquor. In no time, Ancelin has drifted into a silent state of sleep, a small smile gracing his face. It's quite a handsome face, Arthur notes with pride.
The baby is then loving tucked into his stroller. "Thank you, Dom," Arthur says, shaking his mentor's hand, "I don't know what I would have done if there wasn't a real dad around."
Dom laughs out loud this time. "Real dad?" He claps Arthur on the shoulder. "You're as real as I am. It's all about practice. You'll get there."
Arthur is optimistic but doubtful. "Really?"
"Really. If you can imagine it, I used to be as bad as you. Worse even. Almost drowned Philipa once," Dom relates, giving the slumbering Ancelin a fond smile.
"Oh, it was an accident of course," Dom says with a wave of his hand. "I just meant that everyone makes mistakes."
Eames, just the tiniest bit tipsy, saunters over the observe Ancelin. "It's quite cute when it's sleeping."
"He," Arthur corrects Eames. "My son is a 'he'."
Eames ignores this. "I wonder what he's dreaming about. Wouldn't it be great to find out...?" His eyes wander over to the battered silver briefcase on Yusuf's desk.
Arthur grits his teeth. "Eames," he says with a kind of false calm, "If you stick a needle in my son's arm, I will slap your face off of your face."
Eames shrugs. "You have to admit...it would be fascinating."
Ariadne returns home just before dinner time, feeling refreshed and put-together for the first time in months. "Arthur?" She calls out, entering their flat. "Arthur, where are you?" Ariadne calls again, noticing that both his favorite armchair and the bassinet are empty.
Running a newly manicured finger along the wall, she wanders down the hallway to their bedroom. Arthur, still in his three-piece suit and tie, is passed out on his side of their king-sized bed. On his chest, Ancelin sleeps peacefully.
Ariadne, never the soppy or sentimental type, finds herself getting rather choked up. "My boys," she thinks aloud. Arthur cracks an eye open and smiles at her. She crawls onto the bed, careful not to make the mattress bounce. Ariadne curls up next to Arthur and rests her head on his shoulder. "You're such a good dad," she whispers in his ear.
For some reason, this makes him laugh.