I don't own Inception or any of the characters, neither in dream nor in reality…

Arthur's Nightmare

Ariadne rounded a corner in her leisurely stroll through an impersonal, hyper-modern business district, all flashy glass facades and looming sky-scrapers, and stopped short in her tracks.


The team had unanimously decided that she needed more training if she was going to work with them again, and as Cobb was busy getting re-acquainted with his children, Arthur, Eames and Yusuf had set out to teach her. Yusuf actually didn't do so much teaching as monitoring, it was Arthur and Eames who had her hide from potentially hostile projections in dream-built cities constructed like intricate mazes, who taught her self-defense and to use a gun.

Arthur, especially, insisted that she had to be able to tell dream from reality at all times, especially when they were working with multi-layered dreams which could get quite confusing. They had been training for a couple of days now, so Ariadne was prepared for the occasional paradox or unexpected turn.

She was not, however, prepared for this.

Cautious Arthur with his back against a wall was uncommon enough, but prudent, uptight, controlled Arthur with most of Eames wrapped tightly around him, his arms around the other man's waist and shoulders, making little sounds of pleasure, was beyond the pale.

At the sound of her steps – she was wearing high heels, why was she wearing high heels? she never did – both men broke apart and Arthur slid out from behind Eames, taking two large steps to the side as if trying to put a safe distance between himself and the forger.

"Okay, this has to be a dream," she muttered, reaching for her totem.

Arthur was straightening his waistcoat, trying to hide his embarrassment and rather obvious blush, but Eames turned, raising his brows.

"How do you know?"

She raised her hand to show him the golden chess piece.

"Okay, fine, you win." Eames rolled his eyes. "Getting better all the time, aren't you? How did you figure it out?"

"Er… Eames, I hate to burst your bubble, but it wasn't really hard to do. I just walked in on you guys!"

"So…? That doesn't convince me of this not being reality," Eames smirked, "try again."

"Fine. I just caught Arthur making out in public, while he was supposed to finish a job. And with you, of all people! Besides, Arthur's hair is all messed up and his suit is wrinkled. This HASto be a dream, and I'm guessing, it's actually Arthur's nightmare." She eyed the suspiciously quiet point man, who was trying very hard to look as composed and detached as possible (and failing miserably…).

"Okay, I'll admit that spotting Arthur in a wrinkled suit would be pretty much impossible anywhere outside a dream," Eames replied, grinning, "but I'm not so sure about the nightmare part. Who knows, this could be darling Arthur's secret fantasy that you've just rudely interrupted."

Ariadne shook her head. "No. Never. And you know why, Eames? Cause if it were Arthur's fantasy, it wouldn't be in public, it wouldn't be on a job, and it definitely wouldn't be you."

"Arthur?" Eames asked, his eyebrows raised once again, but this time looking at the point man.

Arthur looked up from the floor, but carefully avoided the forger's eyes. "She's right," he mumbled and Ariadne was halfway through a "Told you so, Eames!" when the kick threw them all out of the dream and back into reality.

"Had a good time down there?" Yusuf asked, noticing Eames' grin when they all sat up.

"You bet." The forger stretched languidly, before turning to Arthur, who was brushing imaginary dust of his clothing.

"You're such a hypocrite, you know?" Eames lent over, grabbed Arthur's tie once again, and pulled him close for a kiss that left the point man breath- and everyone else speechless. "Cause really, she's wrong."