Consider this a story told in a series of vignettes. They're not quite in linear order; be warned.

Nolan and allathem own what's recognizable. This is for fun.

"Give it one year," he said, all solemn eyes and sharp cheekbones; in this mood, there was nothing there on which to hang an emotion. "It's not likely anyone will contact you for a job besides us, yet, and we're keeping it under wraps for Cobb's sake." When Ariadne nodded at this, though frowningly, a faint look of approval passed over Arthur's face. "If you want to work in this field, you need to make sure it's what you want, to the exclusion of everything else."

A moment's thought ate up a few seconds of the warm, fuzzy silence of the expensive hotel room they were in. The sounds of the street outside were merely faint impressions being swallowed up by sturdy carpet and two-layered curtains. Ariadne's voice pushed through the quiet: "How do I contact you, then?"

"Here." One huge, long-fingered hand pulled a business card from some inner pocket; the satiny off-white linen-rag paper was heavy in her hand and bore the embossed name of an anonymously named law firm in New York City. At her questioning glance, Arthur's lips quirked into a quick, deprecating smirk, and his eyes rolled heavenward. "Eames. Just leave your name – nothing else. I'll get back to you."

She almost asked how before remembering how ludicrous the question would be. Instead, she asked, "What if I make my decision early?"


"Oh, helpful, Arthur." She was gently derisive – not as trenchant as Eames, but the rolled eyes and smirk got her message across.

Arthur's shoulders sagged a bit when he leaned back into the almost-comfortable armchair across from Ariadne's; he averted his eyes. "Remember what it's cost Cobb. Think about what it'll cost you, being so young." Her glare went unnoticed. "Consider. Think. Wait."

He rose, the fine wool of his three-piece hissing softly as it settled into its familiar, clean lines. With considerably less grace, Ariadne stood, too, and followed him to the door.

"That's it, then?" Aware of how needy it sounded, embarrassed but defiant in her right to ask, Ariadne shifted her weight and continued, "All of you – you crazy bastards – you're in my life for two months, and then I go back to charrettes and form-Z, and that's it?"

Amused now, Arthur tucked his hands into his trouser pockets, one clearly fisting around a loaded die. "Anyone can do anything for a year," he said. "It'll be over before you know it."

When Ariadne, after a pause, lunged forward and wrapped him in a firm, self-conscious hug, Arthur froze for just a moment. Quickly, lightly, knowing he'd lose the chance if he hesitated longer, he brought his hands out of their pockets and up and behind her. A light pull forward, one of his hands covering each scapula, kept Ariadne from retreating in embarrassment. He, with the memory of Eames' voice in his head urging him to dream big, finally got his arms 'round her and gave her the friendliest, least threatening hug he could muster.

Then he released her with a pat on the shoulder, one backward look, and left the room.