Ariadne turned to Arthur at the airport. Just behind him were signs in French that she could make out. It was difficult for her to look into his chocolate brown eyes. They may seem empty to the people that pass him on the streets; he looked like a business man. One that was corrupt by the corporate world. That is what he appeared to be but it was nothing more than an illusion to her now. The tough, sly persona had worn off on her.
He was donned in black slacks, and white button down shirt, with black waistcoat over it and crimson tie that just said, "Get out of my way. I'm not here to play games". He wore a black trench coat that he seemed to be snug in. He tapped his foot lightly as he secretly but not so secretly look at her.
She was trying not to make the situation awkward. They stole glances at each other from the side, pretending to focus on their mission: finding their correct piece of luggage. Although she was trying to avoid his face by looking at the gate signs, Arthur's gaze was on her and only her. He didn't even take his eyes off of her when he grabbed her bag and his bag off of the conveyer belt for luggage pickup.
"Come on, let's get you home," he told her softly.
Ariadne was not expecting him to walk away with her bag. He kept moving with it and was not going to stop, even if she wasn't following him. She adjusted her carryon bag on her shoulder and proceeded after him. His pace was a light walk, giving her enough time to catch up to him. He moved smoothly throughout the crowd like he was a thief in the night or a pickpocket in the cities.
"Arthur, I could just take a cab. You don't have to go through all of this trouble to bring me back—"
"No, it's okay."
They took a tram to the parking garage where there was a valet standing aside. Arthur pulled out a small, square piece of paper that was not even crinkled, and handed it to the man. He yelled something in French to his coworker as he fetched the keys from the booth. The man tossed the keys to the young man. The young man nodded and started to jog up the ramp that led to the second floor.
"I planned ahead," Arthur told her. He wasn't a man that played it by ear. He was a man that needed to map out what he was doing before he sprung into action. Except if something dire inferred. Then he would use what little imagination Cobb supposedly said he had. His appearance seemed to intimidate the valet who was standing nervously at his post. But Ariadne glanced at Arthur from the corner of her eye and saw that he just looked tired.
He wanted to sleep. Sleep peacefully.
He wanted to dream. Dream safely.
A silver sports car skidded around the corner and pulled up to them. The younger valet bailed out and handed the car keys to its rightful owner. Arthur tipped him and put Ariadne's suitcase in the trunk. Before she could reach for the door, he acted the role of a gentleman and opened it for her.
"After you," he said softly.
"Thank you," she said with a keen grin.
She slid into the leather seat and placed her carryon bag in the backseat. Arthur pulled around into the driver's seat and closed the door. Alone at last. He turned off the radio that was blasting rather irritating R&B song in French. She thanked him mentally for turning it off. Even though there was nothing but pure silence, aside from the soft purr of the engine, she didn't want to break the serenity of the moment. He pulled out of the garage slowly. It was raining. Ariadne buckled herself in and breathed slowly. Rain. The sight of rain made chills go down her spine. She recalled in her mind how she felt the cold raindrops hit her clothes; how she breathed in the scent of it, mixed in with the aromas of the street. She reached inside her pocket for her totem but remembered that she put it in her carryon. She didn't want to seem suspicious reaching back to grab it.
"You alright?" he asked her.
"Yeah, yeah," she said, her voice cracking on the second yeah.
"Are you car sick already?"
"No, I'm fine. Just exhausted."
"That's what jetlag can do to you. Why don't you take a nap? By the time you close your eyes, you'll be home." His voice was like silk. It was a like he was trying to put her under a spell to make her fall asleep. She twiddled her thumbs together and then slouched in her seat.
"I don't think I can sleep after what we just went through," she admitted.
She spent a week in Los Angeles, but that still wasn't enough time to recuperate. How could she jump back into her regular schedule when she experienced something so dangerously addictive? After the inception, she had the urge to design layouts and build them. By the way she was shifting slightly in her seat made him notice that she was anxious.
"H-how long did it take you to sleep normally?" she dared to ask him. "How are you not affected by this? I-I know that you've done this many times—" Arthur took his eyes off of the road for a mere second to give her a comforting glance.
"I was affected by it, too. Just because I've done this before doesn't mean that I walk away with no emotion. You went through three—"
"Four dream levels and we planted the idea in Fischer's head. We achieved what seemed to be the impossible. It takes time to rest up on doing something that people dream of doing, no pun intended." What seemed to be a small smile flashed across his lips. Ariadne couldn't help but smile herself. She liked it when he gave the slightest hint of happiness, even if it was through one of his cunning smiles. "To be able to go into people's dreams and plant a small thought that may affect the future or the person themselves."
"It's poisonous," she said, bitterness resting on her tongue. Arthur stopped at a red light. The rain falling drowned out the sound of the windshield wipers going back and forth at mach two.
"It's venom that is stronger than the sedative that practically put us in a coma like state." He placed his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently. "You just have to know when to step back and breathe."
"What do you mean?"
"Fall back into regular sleep patterns. It's difficult at first, because you're not controlling your dream like you are when we do it, unless if you know how to lucid dream. When I first started, I was constantly checking my totem. Eventually, I forgot about that and found sleep at last. I was able to hack into people's dreams during the day and sleep peacefully with dreams that were like every other subconscious."
"What did you dream about?"
Arthur raised his eyebrows at her. She was expecting a menacing look from him, but there was nothing but exhaustion that read in his eyes. "Most of them I couldn't remember. Many of my dreams involve me observing people. But since inceptions have altered my process of thinking, I tend to lucid dream more. I know it's my own mind for I wake up."
The light turned green. They continued on their way to Ariadne's apartment complex.
"How long did it take you?"
"Not too long. Two weeks tops."
"Two weeks? I have school!"
"You're covered with excuses."
"What did you do?"
"Thank Eames for it. He's the one who called the college and said that you were put on a new medication that made you feel very drowsy due to some bodily function that wasn't working properly."
"Are you serious? He said that?"
"You have about two weeks to sleep normally again."
"It's not going to be easy."
"I never said it was going to be easy. It's like trying to eat again after voluntarily starving yourself. It's tricky to fall back into a simple routine after stopping it. Sleep is a key importance for your health. You have to drop the idea of inceptions and go back to normal."
"Easier said than done." Ariadne stared out the window and placed her head against the glass pane. She rubbed her arms; the air conditioning was ice cold, even if she was wearing her sweater. Arthur kept his eyes on the road and turned off the air.
"You'll be getting a check in the mail."
"You think that we did this assignment for free? We didn't risk our minds for nothing."
"Well, it'll get me through a few months of rent."
Arthur chuckled lightly. Ariadne liked his laugh. It wasn't obnoxious or strange. It was one that place butterflies in her stomach. She gave a quiet sigh and leaned against the car door.
"Are you sure you're not car sick?"
She shook her head.
"Try and sleep now. Just close your eyes and think of…what makes you happy. Think of what you may be learning in your next class. Imagine, Ariadne. I know that you have imagination."
Ariadne gave him one last look before she turned back to the window and closed her eyes. She focused on the motion of the car, feeling the tires glide along the slick road. She heard Arthur turn the radio back on, but switched it to the classical music station, where the piano streamed with composure through the airwaves. She found it tough to fall asleep. She went into stage one and stage two of sleep constantly, falling in and out of conscious. Stage three of sleep was disabled: deep sleep. Her mind wouldn't get over the fear of dreaming normally again.
At some point down the road she found herself scrunched up in a ball on the seat. And at this same point, she felt that Arthur had covered her body by placing his trench coat over her. She clutched the inside of his coat and shifted in her seat. She heard him give an amusing but quiet chuckle.
Her muscles began to relax again until they were numb. The piano music mixed in with pitter-patter from the rain and she had blocked it out. Arthur was silent the whole car ride. Just when she thought she had finally fallen asleep, he shook her shoulder again the same why he had done before and said, "Welcome home."
Ariadne blinked up at the towering apartment complex and stared at it. Finally. She was home. But her body didn't want to move. She wanted to remain in the car, curled up under Arthur's coat.
"This is your home, is it not?" he asked.
She wanted to say that it wasn't so that they could drive around the block several times. The realization finally hit her that she had to leave him behind.
"No, it is," she muttered. The dreary scene just made the building look gloomy and empty. This didn't feel like home to her at the moment. Arthur reached around the backseat and pulled out an umbrella. Where he got that, Ariadne didn't know. She shrugged it off. Her dashing gentleman killed the engine and opened the car door. He popped open the umbrella and stepped under it, slamming the door behind him. Ariadne heard him open the trunk. Her heart felt like it was skipping beats.
She saw a woman walk by, who gave her a curious look from her to Arthur. Just the thought of him made him appear right next to her door. She reached back for her carryon as he opened the door for her, and she stepped out under the umbrella clutching his coat to her chest. They caught each other's stare before Arthur asked her to show the way. He held the umbrella over the both of them, while carrying her suitcase. They went into the building, arriving in the lobby. One of her neighbors was down stairs, sitting in one of the chairs. He looked up at them, raising an eyebrow at Arthur as he closed up the umbrella.
"This way," Ariadne told her bell boy. They went up two floors before going down the hall of the third floor. She patted her pockets on her jeans for her key and realized it was in her bag. Arthur waited patiently behind her surveying the hallway.
"Looks like a French quarters hotel I had to stay at in New Orleans," he commented. "New Orleans did a good job replicating this type of building."
"What were you doing in New Orleans?" She rummaged through her bag to find her key.
She stopped and slowly turned her head towards his direction. He raised his eyebrows at her and said, "What?"
"You don't look like the Mardi Gras type."
"Hmm, there are many things about me that'll surprise you. Besides, I was there for business. It wasn't all play."
"Oh? And what other surprises are you hiding?" she asked as she finally pulled out her apartment key.
Arthur gave her a crooked smile and didn't say anything else. Ariadne opened the door to her apartment. Her place was rather warm, which felt good against her clothes that were slightly damp. She beckoned him to come in and he did so.
"Where would you like this?" he asked as he pointed at her suitcase. She draped his trench coat over the back of one of her lounge chairs in the living room.
"Uh, can you put it in my room, please?"
He nodded and went further into the living room. He was moving slowly, taking in her apartment. Her notes for class were scattered on her coffee table; binders stacked up on one side of her couch; pens and pencils were the only objects that were placed neatly in a pencil cup.
"Sorry about the mess. I was designing dream layouts and doing some work for my class at the same time before I left." As she looked over how neat and orderly Arthur looked, she was embarrassed of the mess.
"Don't apologize. It feels comfortable in here," he said as he walked into her room. He didn't bother to examine her room, although he did peer in to get a glimpse of it. He turned to the living room standing behind the couch.
"Would you like something to drink?"
"Oh no, I'm good. Thank you, though."
She made her way up to him and finally looked him square in the eye.
"Thank you for helping me through this. For everything. Thank you for taking me home. You really didn't have to."
"You're welcome. I wanted to make sure you got home safely."
"Can I get you anything? Can I do something for you?" She was talking quickly, like she was on the verge of spilling a deep dark secret. "You look tired. Y-you're more than welcome to spend the night so that you don't fall asleep at the wheel."
Arthur chuckled and she blushed. First it was her messy abode and now it was saying something too ridiculous. But he was smiling.
"You're cute," he said as he ruffled her hair. He then smoothed it back out, running his fingers through her hair. This was torturing her. "I would but I can't. My flight leaves tonight."
"Where do you live?"
"I don't really have a home. I just roam around really."
Ariadne felt her heart sink. She looked away from his brown eyes and took a subtle step closer, leaning on the back of the couch.
"Where are you going then?"
"Is it important—?"
"I just want to know where you'll be," she spat out. "I'm back home. Safe and sound. So is Cobb. Eames called you—"
"Yeah, I know."
But of course he didn't pick up. They couldn't help but grin at him and Eames's love-hate relationship.
"I just want to know where…." Ariadne pondered on how to word her sentence. "I want to know where your home will be this time."
"You know I'm not a kid."
"Yes, I know! But I worry about these things—"
"No you don't."
"I do too. I was constantly on Cobb's case."
Arthur shrugged and nodded in agreement to that. "Alright, alright," he said. "I'm going to Edinburg. It's my resting spot."
"You won't be too far away," she said quietly as she folded her arms across her chest. She didn't want him to leave just yet. Her only sense of reality was going to leave her. "What time do you leave?"
She checked her clock on the wall and it read around 6:30.
"You could always take a nap if you want."
"Ariadne, I'll be fine—"
"But you look really tired. You should rest—"
He took her hands in his and that made her shut up. They were wet from the rain, but past the water she felt how warm they were. His hands were giant compared to her small ones; they overpowered her completely. She'd hate to see him angry, and what he would do with them. Some of their fingers intertwined loosely.
"I'll be fine," he told her. "I have to get back for check-in and go through security. It's going to take some time to get back to the airport. Believe me, if I wasn't on a time restraint, I would stay."
"Um," she said. She remembered that his coat was on her chair. She looked at it and then back at him. "Do you want your jacket?"
"You can keep it. I have another one."
Ariadne touched her scarf that she usually wore around her neck. He eyed her hand and then looked in her eyes again. "Since I have your jacket…." She took off her scarf. Arthur was about to object but she placed it in his hand. She took his other hand and placed it over the scarf locking it between his hands. "It's only fair."
He looked at the light floral print that went with any one of her outfits. His fingers grazed the material. "Isn't this your favorite one?"
"It is but I have others. I can always find a new favorite."
"Thanks." Arthur folded her scarf up neatly, placed it in his waistcoat pocket, and patted it. "For safe keeping." To think that staring at someone for a long time without talking would be discomfited, but the silence had fitted better than them trying to talk their way into saying goodbye. She was hoping that he would change his mind, and spend a little more time here. He placed his hands on her shoulders, gripping her tightly. "It's been nice working with you, kid."
"I'm not a kid either," she said with a sad smile. Arthur beamed back at her but it matched hers. "You're always welcome back here, you know. You don't have to call…you can just pop in."
"If only people out in the world were as loving as you, like your projects." Ariadne couldn't help but giggle. It pained her, though. "Thank you." He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "Take care, Ariadne," he whispered. And this was where he was going to exit. Her shoulders felt so light that she felt like she was going to go into zero gravity again. She got an impulse to stop him. Just as he reached the hallway she ran right in front of him. He had his umbrella in his hand, preparing to be blasted by the rain again outside. He was surprised by her sudden urge to stop him.
He didn't go around her, nor set her aside. He stared at her with a content look on his face. The tiredness that rested in his eyes made her feel sleepy and sympathy for him. Here was a hard working man who doesn't get the time of day to even sleep normally like the rest of the world.
"W-will I….?" Ariadne couldn't get it out. Why was she stuttering? Why did she look like a complete ass? What was wrong with her? "Will I see you again?"
Arthur encased his arms around her, trapping her against his body. He rested his face in her hair. She wouldn't care if he fell asleep like that. He deserved to close his eyes and breathe anew. She placed her forehead against his chest; his silk tie stuck to her skin because of the rain. She felt the tears weld up in her eyes but she dared not to let them fall. Crying wasn't her style. This wasn't her at all. Now that everything was over, no business, no designing levels, none of that, it was just her and Arthur. Extractions were no longer between them. All of her feelings were making her brain mush, like she was going into limbo herself. She cursed herself with having such an emotional attachment.
As much as she wanted to keep him here, there was something in her mind saying that she had to let him go. She's had close relationships before, and although she just met Arthur weeks ago, she felt like she was intimate with him on a different level. He pulled her away from him and stared at her for a long time.
"Will I?" she asked again.
"Dream, Ariadne. Dream." He tucked her hair behind her ears, letting his hand linger on her cheeks before finally letting her go. She saw him look at his hands and then back at her. She saw nothing but regret. He looked over his shoulder at her before he left. Ariadne stared at the closed door for what felt like hours. She slowly turned and saw his coat still sitting on her chair. She went over to it and put it on. She curled up on the cushioned and closed her eyes. For once, she wished this was a dream. She wished she could wake up and still be in the car. Opening her eyes didn't help.
This was reality.
Arthur reached in the backseat and grabbed his carryon and another jacket he had to cover it. When he moved his jacket, he found something that wasn't his. He picked it up and examined it. It was a pawn painted gold from a chess board. He held it in his hand rubbing his thumb over it.
"Her totem," he whispered. He checked his watch and saw that he had no time to drive all the way back to her apartment. "This must've fallen out of her bag….Goddamn it." He stuffed it in his waistcoat pocket and continued to empty his belongings out of the car. As he made his way over to the airport, got checked out by security, and waited for his flight that had been delayed for a short period because of the rain, he only had one thing on his mind: Ariadne. He reached in his pocket and felt her totem. His thumb ran over it again, feeling the craftsmanship of her work.
"—Gate 49—" said the English voice over the loud speaker. Arthur boarded the plane with a numb feeling in his legs. He eventually pulled out her totem when he was in the air. He held the pawn out in front of him and then pressed it to his lips. The passenger next to him was eyeing him.
"Lucky charm," he muttered. He pulled out Ariadne's scarf that was compacted neatly and wrapped her totem up in it. His fingers went over the fabric; the soft cotton made him feel sick. It reminded him of her apartment and how he said it made him feel comfortable. Like he was home. His heart sank like the plane was about to take a dive for the water. He looked out the window and down onto the earth. Ariadne, he thought. The power of sleep was not powerful enough. He needed a sedative to knock him out. While everyone in the cabin was fast asleep, he remained awake thinking of how she wasn't going to be sleeping either.
HAHA! Funny thing about this story! First off, excuse my cursing, because I'm not going to hold anything back. Second off: I fucking loved Inception! Especially these two! 3(Joesph Gordon Levitt: You are beautiful. Ellen Page: I've always been a major fan. You both are adorable together). (Clears throat). MOVING ON!
Now, I was trying to stray away from fluff, because I despise it, but I landed in Fluff Land (FL) and made a frowny face D:
But anyway! Funny thing about this story! There is actually a WHOLE OTHER part to this. It switches back to Ariadne's point of view. I finished it, and realized this story could be three separate ones. The ending to this story was the first idea (in the other part) that I had with these two, and I'm debating whether to make that a whole other story or not. But then I looked at the whole thing and said,
"What the fuck, Vicki? THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU HAD IN MIND BEFORE!" And it went off to FL.
And not going to lie, but I was kinda depressed by this ending. And normally, I don't get depressed by my own writing. Because the next part is where Ariadne is talking to Eames on the phone and I love Eames as well (Tom Hardy, you sexy beast). So I am debating whether or not to make this a two-shot...IT'S A ONE SHOT FOR NOW!
I usually do a playlist, but believe it or not, I was listening to, yes, the annoying song 'Airplanes' by B.o.b feat. Hayley Williams (I only like Hayley's part, that's because I love Paramore, but whatevs). And I was listening to a lot of Ellie Goudling. She's awesome too :D
Review or fave. I really don't care (because I'm not proud of this story, so meh). I'm still experiment with this couple.
P.S. I know, they're not in character...but I don't give a shit. WHOO!