Ariadne could still feel the crushing blow of the heavy building that had collapsed around her when she woke up. But wait that wasn't what happened was it? She had escaped the building. She felt stiff as her memories slowly came back to her. A strange pain took over her body. Somehow she had been knocked to the ground but as she reached out desperately trying to push herself up she found that the ground around her was soft. So soft that she didn't want to get up. She blinked and suddenly as she realized where she was the pain immediately faded.
She was lying in her bed in her apartment. She was sure of this. She looked around. The lights were dim making it hard to see. It took a moment before she came to her senses throwing off a drowsy slumber. If it weren't for the dizzying worry in her head she could have almost felt relaxed.
Everything around her seemed to indicate that she'd been in a deep sleep. Suddenly she sat upright breaking out into a cold sweat. The bed beneath her was suddenly anything but comforting. She suppressed an urge to scream when she felt a calming hand brush against her shoulder. She looked up surprised to see Arthur standing there in the same dark coat he had been wearing the first night he had visited her. He looked over at her, his brow furrowed and his lips thin.
"You're okay now Ariadne," he muttered. "It's all okay."
Ariadne could barely hear him. She couldn't decide whether she was more frightened or frustrated. What she did know however was that she desperately had to find Cobb and hold him hostage until she found out the truth.
"Don't give me that" Ariadne said trying to shaking off Arthur's touch. She flung back the covers and climbed out of her bed only to fall over drowsily. Her body felt stiff and cramped. She could feel sickness creeping into her veins.
"Ariadne please listen to me," Arthur said holding her up against him as her knees fell weak. His voice was more emotional than Ariadne had ever heard it but somehow he was still calm. "We shouldn't have done this to you but it was the only way."
Ariadne fell back onto her bed and was suddenly aware that she was wearing her favourite age old pajamas. She folded her arms across her chest in hopes of preserving some modesty, though that was hard to come by in pink worn nightwear with moo cows printed on them.
Then she realized that out of all the things she should be worrying about Arthur seeing in her childish Pjs was not one of them.
"Did what to me?" she asked almost too scared to hear the answer.
Arthur took a deep breath. "Can I sit?" he asked. Ariadne reluctantly moved over making room for him to sit beside her on her bed.
"I was never infected with Fisher's security devices, the Seekers. They never had a hold on my mind," Arthur began and Ariadne looked at him quizzically. It was such a strange thing to say.
"Then why?" Ariadne didn't even need to finish her question before it all clicked. "It was a trick! You and Cobb made me think it was you with the virus but it was really me, all this time..."
Arthur leant closer to her reaching out to stroke her face. "Please understand that it was the only way, telling you that the Seekers even existed was risky enough, if you had have been aware that you were infected they would have only become stronger."
Ariadne felt her tight breath release. She felt something like relief wash over her but there was also a growing sick feeling in her stomach. The thought that something foreign had entered her mind intent on destroying it was terrifying.
"If we alerted you in anyway to their presence they would have only been more vicious," Arthur explained his face very close to her own.
"Would have? Does that mean I'm cured?"
"We think so," Arthur said with a tired smile. "But it's too early to tell how much they affected you, you've only just woken up from the treatment."
Ariadne's relief quickly turned to disgust. She felt violated. Even though they couldn't notify her she still felt used. That they had made such big decisions about her body without consulting her made Ariadne feel like a child. Anger surged within her and for a moment she thought she was going to be sick.
"Please Ariadne all the hallucinations, skips in time were just the Seekers' method of attack, we had to sedate you so we could clear them from the different layers of your subconscious."
Ariadne nodded slowly but her eyes had narrowed into slits. It made sense but somehow she just couldn't believe it was true. It certainly didn't feel right.
"But I saw Mal," she said remembering the moment all of a sudden.
Arthur nodded. "I saw her too, it was all part of the testing, you may take awhile to recover, there are things that you may not be able to understand, but the major disturbances should cease, at least with time."
"How can I believe you?" Ariadne felt like crying.
"Ariadne," Arthur breathed softly. he reached out to stroke her face but she turned away. "We did what we could to save you, search your pocket for your totem, I guarantee that it will be there now."
Not moving her eyes from him, Ariadne reached into the pocket of her Pjs and immediately felt the cool touch of metal. She pulled out the chess piece turning it over and over in her fingertips, checking every inch of it just to be sure. She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized that it was her own. The tension in her shoulders relaxed.
"All that happens now is real Ariadne, you can choose to believe whatever you wish, but I can promise you this is real," this time she didn't flinch as he raised his fingertips to her face cupping her cheek in his hand. Ariadne melted with relief, she suddenly have have the energy or will power to argue, especially when Arthur was looking at her like that.
He twirled a piece of her hair around his fingertips watching her with a soft amusement.
"I'm sorry I shot you," Ariadne said smiling. "Even though it wasn't really you."
Arthur smiled. "You're forgiven, the Seekers would have destroyed you if you hadn't done it."
Ariadne had no idea how someone could talk about killing so lightly but here they were.
"Hopefully it's something I never have to do again." Ariadne smirked.
Arthur smiled his eyes facing downwards.
Ariadne bit her lip for a moment. There was something that she was eager to ask but was scared that it was too trivial. Then she realized she may never get another chance.
Ariadne was almost put off by his suddenly stern expression but she proceeded. "You know when you were helping me look for my totem in my room?"
"Yes?" Arthur's eyebrows furrowed suggesting that he didn't quite understand what Ariadne was getting at.
"Was that part a dream?" Ariadne couldn't help the slightest suggestive wiggle of her eyebrows and immediately felt foolish but then saw Arthur's blush and knew that he knew exactly what she was hinting at.
"No," Arthur said turning around to play with a strand of loose hair. He looked directly into her eyes. "That part was definitely not a dream."
Ariadne stared at him for a moment, suddenly unable to breathe but she let him slowly close the gap between them as their lips met. They were just as soft as they had been before. Ariadne's eyes slowly closed as Arthur titled her head back so he could deepen their kiss. Suddenly he was all she could think about.
He continued to kiss her as his arms slipped around her drawing her close. Ariadne shivered a little the touch of his skin she let herself fall back to her bed and Arthur crouched above her, his usually neat hair falling into his face a little. Ariadne smiled as she brushed it away.
"Nothing like this is ever going to happen again Ariadne," Arthur promised. "You're free to walk away from this and soon enough things will return to normal, no more flickering visions, no halluciantions, no suddenly waking up in different places, it's finished."
Ariadne wrapped her hands around Arthur's neck and brought him close to her. "I'm so glad to hear that."
Arthur lent down to kiss her again. Ariadne felt the world around her melt. For the first time in a long time she felt at peace. She couldn't have said exactly how long it was they lay there like that, it felt like years and a mere moment both at once. Whatever the case Ariadne was happy she smiled at Arthur as he moved up from her bed. She watched him straightened out his clothes.
"I've got to get back to Cobb, it's probably best you rest here."
Ariadne rolled over to her side. She understood but knowing that Arthur was leaving made her sad at the same time.
"I'll be back soon," Arthur said after he had gathered his belongings. He walked over back to Ariadne and kissed her forehead. "I promise."
Ariadne nodded smiling. She felt a cold shiver run over her and through the room. She suddenly felt uneasy about being left alone, half expecting for the room to dissolve around her. She clung to her blankets as if this was going to stop it from happening.
Arthur smiled at her as if he could guess her thoughts. "You'll be fine Ariadne, I promise."
Ariadne nodded again she could feel herself growing sleeping, which was pretty strange considering all the sleep she'd just had. She pulled a blanket over her and watch Arthur gather up his wallet and keys.
He turned around to her and smiled but something about the way he smiled made Ariadne stiffen. It was so unnatural, almost forced in a robotic sense.
"Arthur?" she said about to ask him if he was ill or something when his form slowly began to flicker before her eyes before he disappeared all together.
A/N- Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed!