a/n This is my first non-drabble fanfic for Inception, which I LOVED, so go with me on this one.

Chapter One; The Request

"A ten year high school reunion, Ariadne? You're only 25."

She blushed, frowned, fidgeted, played with a pencil on her desk. She had thought about asking Arthur long and hard. He was far preferable to any of the other guys, even though they were good friends and she enjoyed working with them. "I graduated early."

"Three years early?" The pointman's eyebrows rose, and surprised amusement colored his voice. "I suppose I should have known. After all, you are a genius."

Trying to grin and glare at the same time never worked, but Ariadne continued in the attempt.

Arthur continued, his tone as calm and kind as always. "Let me guess; Following this early graduation, you took several years off to see the world and that's how you ended up in Paris."

Her face grew an even brighter shade of red.

"So did you want to ask for us to avoid planning a job that week?"

Ariadne bit her lip, and Arthur put his hands on her desk, leaned in, and watched her work up the courage for something. Then she blurted out, "Will you go with me?"

That set him back on his heels. "Are you sure?"

She nodded, then dropped her face onto her desk and crossed her arms over her head. What she mumbled next, he barely caught. "I don't have a boyfriend and they'll all make fun of me."

The man wanted to laugh, the reasoning was so basic and instinctive. But he knew he would hurt his friend and colleague if he let loose the chuckle threatening to escape. "What exactly are you asking, Ariadne?"

Finally, she turned her face up, still avoiding his eyes. Her fingers traced over the maze design from the latest job. "Would you come with me and pretend to be my boyfriend for the reunion?"

Arthur hesitated. He knew this probably wasn't a good idea, with the way things stood between them. As casually as possible, he asked, "Why me? Why not Dom or Eames?"

The Architect laughed and rolled her eyes. "That would be a disaster. Eames would spend the entire time hitting on all the other girls, and they'd all figure I had some kind of cheating player for a boyfriend. And poor, innocent little Ariadne wouldn't know any better.

"As for Cobb... He's a wonderful man. But Mal's still the way who has his heart. He still wears his wedding ring and I couldn't ask him to pretend he loved me instead."

"Which leaves me," Arthur continued in a wry tone.

"No!" Ariadne protested, jumping to her feet and grabbing his sleeve. "It's not that you were the last choice! It's just..." The blush was back, and Arthur watched, humored, as she tried to find the words. "You're a gentleman. And you're handsome and collected and people like you and you make me feel like I deserve respect and if I show up with you, every girl or guy who ever made fun of me, saying I was too young and naive to finish high school that early, would have to swallow their words."

She peeked up at Arthur from under her lashes, scared of what he would say or how he would react to her babbled explanation.

Instead, his smile was perfectly, cunningly gentle. "It would be my pleasure, Ariadne."