Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Again inspired by a prompt on the LJ kink meme.
i. in a bar
Ariadne regrets this already. This place is too loud, too hot, too crowded, too everything. She sits at the counter and nurses a gin and tonic and looks at her watch and thinks, repeatedly, I could have been in bed hours ago.
She's not interested in getting picked up. She is here for two reasons: so she can say she did too go out on occasion the next time her friends call her a square, and to make sure her roommate doesn't make any stupid decisions whilst intoxicated. Also, she supposes, she is here to look fucking amazing in this dress, not that there's anyone around to appreciate it.
Well - that's not exactly true. Plenty of guys have tried to chat her up. The one talking to her now is wearing some kind of vest thing and his sleeves are rolled up to the elbows, one of which he's leaning on against the counter next to her. Ariadne wonders how disinterested she has to look to get him to go away.
"I'm boring you," he says.
"What? Oh, no," Ariadne says. "I'm sure whatever you're talking about is very interesting."
He laughs, a genuine laugh complete with crinkles around his eyes. "Oh, it is... to me, at least," he says, taking a swig of his beer. "I guess that doesn't count for much, though."
Ariadne is surprised he isn't fazed or irritated with her. She finally turns and looks at him fully, paying him actual attention for the first time since he showed up. She takes him in, all poise and tailored clothes, and cocks her head to the side. "This place seems a bit tacky for you," she tells him.
"Could say the same thing about you," he says. "Bet it wasn't your idea."
"That would be correct." Ariadne shakes the ice in her glass before spinning her stool around to scan the dance floor for her roommate. "See that girl over there, dancing with the beefy guy with the tattoos?" She points. "That's my roommate. The one who has ideas like this."
The man nods. "See that beefy guy over there with the tattoos, dancing with your roommate?"
"Yeah, I see him."
"That's my co-worker."
Ariadne laughs. "Fitting."
"I'm Arthur," he says, holding out his hand.
She takes it. "Ariadne," she says, and then waits for the inevitable comment on her name.
There isn't one. "It's nice to meet you," he says, and they both smile.
ii. as kids
The neighborhood playground has a sandbox, and it belongs to Ariadne. Everyone, by now, has learned that.
Which is why the six year old is standing dumbfounded, clutching her building tools (pink and orange plastic buckets and shovels) in utter dismay. Someone has invaded her sandbox. And it's a boy.
Ariadne's only put off for a moment. She marches right up to him, fearlessly, disregarding the fact that he's slightly older than her. "Excuse me," she says with forced politeness. "This is my sandbox."
The boy looks up at her coolly. "It's a public playground," he says.
"So it's not just yours."
The boy goes back to his sandcastle, or whatever it was. Ariadne stares at it, offended. He is ruining her sand with his stupid little tower. He's just piling it up and smoothing it down. Boring, boring, boring.
"What is that?" she asks, distastefully.
"It's a skyscraper," he says.
"No it's not," she says. "It's a hill."
The boy looks annoyed. "Go away."
"No." Ariadne decides it's time to intervene. She steps in and plops down next to him, taking her shovel and expertly slicing away at his sand tower until it's been renovated into something much more square and regal. "There," she says, sitting back. "Now it's a skyscraper."
The boy stares. "Make another one," he demands.
She shrugs. "Okay." Ariadne goes to work, and soon there's a whole city in the sandbox, complete with roads and houses and lots of big, precarious sand buildings. Ariadne enjoys the look on his face as he grows more and more visibly impressed by her little city. She does this all the time. This is why it's her sandbox.
"This is so cool," says the boy.
"Yeah," she says. "It is."
iii. on a train
Ariadne likes to take the train when she's home. A destination isn't important. She just rides and rides. It's relaxing. She spends the time drawing - shakily, maybe, but she likes that. It gives her sketches character. A collaboration between her and the movement.
She generally ignores the people coming and going around her, zoning out, existing in her own little world. But even so, she can't help but notice that the same guy has been sitting across from her for the last forty five minutes.
She risks a glance up, hoping he won't notice, but he's looking right at her.
They stare at each other for a moment.
"Is there something on my face?" she asks, eventually.
"No," he says.
It occurs to Ariadne that she may have cause to be concerned, but she brushes the thought away. She knows a creeper when she sees one, and they are never this well dressed.
"What are you drawing?" he asks, curiously.
"Oh," says Ariadne, looking down. "Nothing." Truth is she hasn't been paying much attention - sometimes the ideas just find their way onto the page. "Just a little something." She picks up the sketchbook and turns it around so he can see.
"A maze," he says. "Mind if I try and solve it?"
Ariadne shrugs and hands it over.
It takes him a couple of minutes. "Not bad," he says, handing it back. "For an amateur."
"Well," she says. "La di da. Such high praise."
He laughs. "You draw those often?"
"I guess," she says. "I loved doing them as a kid, and after a while I got sick of doing other people's and decided to make my own."
"So you're pretty good at them, I take it."
Ariadne gives him a lopsided grin. "Oh yeah. I'm fantastic."
"I think there's a myth about a girl like you," he says, thoughtfully.
"Oh really?" says Ariadne dryly. "I hadn't heard."
iv. blind date
"I don't usually do this type of thing."
"Oh, me neither. Like... never. I never have."
"My friends kept trying to set me up with people, but I never let them before now."
"What changed your mind?"
"Oh, um. I don't know. I guess you were the first one that actually seemed sort of normal."
"Really? They said that?"
"Yeah - well, they said you dressed nice. And that you used big words."
"I sound very interesting."
"I know, right? They didn't seem to know much about your job, though..."
"Well. That's because I didn't tell them."
"Oh. What do you do, then?"
"I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you."
"Ha ha. That's cute. What, are you some sort of CIA badass or something like that?"
"Something like that. And you're... an architecture student."
"Yup. One semester left."
"Got any plans?"
"A couple leads, here and there. Nothing too exciting."
"Oh, so you're looking for something exciting."
v. in a dream
"I'm not sure what you're doing in my head," says Arthur. "But I can't bring myself to mind."
"I'm a distraction," says Ariadne, flipping her hair and feeling ridiculous. "That's all. A projection of your subconscious."
"No, I don't think so." Arthur saunters over to her, hands in his pockets. She gulps. "I've never dreamed up anybody like you."
If this were real, Ariadne knows she would be blushing furiously. "Is that so," she says, sounding more confident than she feels. The mark isn't supposed to realize he's dreaming. She's pretty sure she's screwed up this entire mission.
"Mmm," says Arthur. He's very close to her now. "Somebody hired you."
"No," she says. "It's just a dream."
Arthur laughs. "Right," he says. "Only, this world isn't mine. It's yours, isn't it?"
They're standing on top of a building, towering above an intricate maze - Ariadne modeled it off a trip to Venice she took a year ago, creating a little island lined with canals and cobbled sidewalks.
"It's exquisite," says Arthur.
"I'm sure that if I wasn't a projection of your subconscious, I would be flattered," says Ariadne.
From the look on his face, she can tell she isn't fooling him. But she's not going to give him the satisfaction of admitting it.
"All right," he says. "If you were real, rather than a supremely attractive projection I created, who, theoretically, would have hired you?"
"Well... probably someone from one of your previous jobs." Ariadne shrugs. "Just a guess, though."
"Fischer," he says.
Ariadne doesn't answer.
"What's your name?"
Oh, what the hell. "Ariadne."
Arthur laughs again, shaking his head. "No, really."
"Then I must have made you up."
She smiles. "That's more like it."
"Your mission failed, you know," says Arthur. "Your little friends are all awake now. Saw to it personally."
"Oh," says Ariadne.
"Amateurs," he says, and Ariadne sees the gun for the first time. "All of them. Except you."
"I'm good at what I do," she says.
"That's definitely true." He tilts her chin up gently, regarding her. "We should get together sometime."
"Yeah. Talk shop, you know. And maybe pull you up to the big leagues."
"Tomorrow night good for you?"
"I'll have to check my calendar."
"You do that," he says, and then he kisses her, and it's so easy - so very easy - to kiss him back.
Arthur pulls away after a moment, leaving her breathless. "See you on the other side," he says. "I'll find you."
The bullet is an afterthought.