This one-shot kind of leaked out when I was trying to work on Giant-Sized. It's pretty open ended as far as pairings go, although I think I meant to imply some Arthur/Dom and not a whole lot of Arthur/Ariadne. But like I said, you can pretty much take from it what you wish.
The last line is from "What Part of Forever" by Cee Lo Green. and you can buy Arthur's pens on amazon.
It 's three in the morning and Ariadne is lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, twirling a golden chess piece between her fingers. She is very, very sure that she is awake.
Any sane person, she is sure, should be asleep at this time of night. Especially someone who had come home four hours ago exhausted, spent from a day of sitting at Dom's hospital bedside, waiting for him to wake up. Waiting for him to come back to them. Someone who has woken up at eight in the morning, gone straight to the hospital, and stayed until nine at night every day for the past week and a half should be dead to the world right now. Waiting is hard.
But Ariadne is not asleep.
She tries to play a game that used to help her sleep when she was little, pretending that her soft mattress is a snow bank and seeing how deep she can sink, how still she can be. She tries to revel in the coolness of her down comforter. She tries not to move, but this is all in vain.
Her restless mind always comes back to Dom, comes back to how worried she is about him. And she has seen this tragedy (Is that too strong of a word? She thinks not) take its toll on all of them. Yusef has been locked in his office experimenting with new sedatives for a week; he hasn't been to visit since the first few days. Eames hasn't cracked a joke in days, and his stubble's gotten more intense than ever as the week has worn on. She hasn't seen him without a cup of coffee, black, clutched in his hands since before the Fischer job.
As for herself, she usually doesn't speak more than four or five words at a time now. Simple sentences are a struggle. Answering yes or no questions is her forte. Oh, and she's been drawing quite a few mazes.
The only person who seems unaffected is Arthur. He comes in every morning, hair gelled and shoes polished, and stations himself in the straight-backed chair in the corner of Dom's room. Not too far, not too close. He is their pillar, always there with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap. He answers questions and talks to nurses like the point-man he is, and occasionally attempts to offer some words of comfort to the others, although those words usually aren't very helpful.
She hasn't seen him shake, or show any sign of emotion. She hasn't seen him falter, not even a little bit, not ever.
Who is he? She thinks to herself, amazed at the constant vigilance and eerier professionalism with which Arthur has conducted himself throughout this whole fiasco. She had always assumed that Dom was Arthur's best friend, and vice versa: They would tell stories about the good old days with Mol, fishing trips and their first dreams together. Sometimes she even went as far as to think there was a little more to them than met the eye, but she never asked. It wasn't any of her business.
She supposes it's nice to have that rock, God knows she's leaned on him heavily the past few days. He's the one who found her crying beside the coffee machine on Wednesday and brought her home. He tucked her into bed. He made sure she's okay. But the extent to which he maintained his hard demeanor is eerily frightening. Maybe he's a robot.
She ponders Arthur for a bit longer, but her thoughts always drift back to Cobb and her infinite concern. And then, as her brain becomes more and more tired, her thoughts drift elsewhere, places that don't and never will exist in this world.
But still, Ariadne is awake.
Dom's gone. Arthur's best friend, the only man who's been with him, who's seen him through all the shit that's gone down in his life, the only person who has ever fully seen behind his tough, overly-professional exterior, is gone. Forever.
They had thought that maybe something had gone wrong while Dom was rescuing Saito, that maybe he was just taking a little longer to get back, but now Arthur knows for sure. A week and a half is like a million lifetimes in limbo, and not even Dominic Cobb could stay sane through that. Survive that.
Arthur knows that Dom's not coming back.
As Arthur makes the slow walk through the hospital doors to his black Corvette, it suddenly seems too flashy, too stuck-up. He wishes that it were anything else. Maybe one of those vans that soccer moms always drive, or a beat up Chevy. Something that says he's normal, because he doesn't feel that way now. He doesn't feel anything now.
Sometimes, Arthur feels like the world is tissue-paper thin, like he could reach out and poke little holes in it with one of his Waterman Hemisphere retractable stainless-steel black ink 1.0 mm ballpoint pens so he can see the light come up from behind like stars. It's at these times that he knows he needs to stay his most professional, his most polite, his most put-together, so that he doesn't fall apart. Sometimes he thinks he's crazy. But then again, everyone else probably is too. Cobb was. A little.
Dominic. Really gone. Arthur already misses the feeling of Dom's heavy hand on his shoulder, Dom's gruff voice in his ear. He looks down and sees that his knuckles are ice-white from gripping the steering wheel too hard, and realizes that he needs to do something before he explodes.
Ariadne's hotel is close, he remembers, as his hands begin to shake again. Hopefully all the lights are green. Hopefully he doesn't drive straight through the tissue-paper.
It must be around four in the morning when Airiadne hears a knock on her door. She was just reaching that point where insane thoughts mesh with dreams, and she's a bit annoyed that precious sleep has been stolen from her when it was mere inches away. She considers ignoring whoever it is that wants to bother her.
But then the knock grows more incessant, so constant that she couldn't sleep through it if she wanted to. It's always quiet, but it's definitely there.
"Hold on, I'm coming," she mutters sleepily, nearly tripping over the slight separation of the carpet between the bedroom and living space in her hotel room. The knocking only continues. "Hold on, I said. Jesus Christ."
Ariadne opens the door without checking the peep-hole, then steps back slightly, surprised.
"Arthur," she states, quickly regaining her composure. "You look like shit."
And it's true, he does. Although short, the trip over has not done him any favors. He was as clean-cut as usual when he left the hospital, but during the drive to Ariadne's he has managed to roll up one sleeve, push up the other, loosen his silk tie to the point where it's almost completely undone, and utterly decimate his hair.
Wow, Ariadne thinks to herself. He almost looks like a real person.
But the humor in the moment is short lived. He still hasn't said a word, and when she reaches out to touch his arm, he's cold as ice.
"Arthur," Ariadne says again, this time inquisitively. And soft. Always soft. "What's wrong?"
He can only manage to shake his head and push past her to the loveseat. He just stands there, but his breath is coming quickly and heavily now, and he knows it's only a matter of time until the world rips around him. But he needs to get this out.
"It's Dom, isn't it," Ariadne asks, mostly because she already knows, mostly because he can't say it himself.
"Yes," he replies hesitantly. He suddenly doesn't want to speak, speaking will make it real, speaking will make it hurt. But he does anyways. "He's gone. He's never coming back."
He tried to hold himself together, tries to maintain the perfect, crisp, undetached demeanor he's so used to showing the world, but as soon as the words are out of his mouth, something snaps, and his façade shatters into a million tiny pieces. He can't hear anything anymore, so he doesn't catch Ariadne's reaction, but it doesn't matter.
Nothing really matters anymore.
His knees have already buckled underneath him, giving him no choice but to collapse onto the couch and weep, wet, heaving sobs, crying, he knows, for something he's always wanted, for something that he'll never quite have.
What part of forever don't you understand?
Reviews are always appreciated :)