Posted to LJ but I figured I'd post it here, too. I loved this movie and I love these two as a couple for some bizarre reason. Do not hurt me please. At least this way Eames get Arthur all to himself.

I don't own Inception, thankfully; I'd probably ruin it if I did.

Robert Fischer doesn't remember the last time he dreamed.

It's not as though he has time to, really. Each day is a passing flurry of paperwork to fill out, phone calls to make, stockholders to reassure, distracting secretaries to avoid, people to please, worries to hear, and more questions to answer than ask. Dreaming is out of the question – such fanciful activities are hardly appropriate for a man of his caliber, and he has this odd feeling whenever he goes to sleep that he has no need to dream, that he's already dreamed the dream to end them all, and he can't remember a moment of it.

He is sitting at his desk now, his back sore against the uncomfortably stiff back of his new leather swivel chair, and he absentmindedly spins it, watching as the paintings on the wall pass by in pastel blurs, and then he stops, because it's giving him a headache. He pinches his fingers to the bridge of his nose, and he realizes how tired he is, and how much he wants to retreat into the outrageous confines of a dream, but then his cell phone rings and he forgets this feeling, answering it with a simple greeting of "Fischer."

(It feels wrong to use it. That name was his father's.)

Ariadne has a cat.

The cat's name is Protogeneia and she is very rude to everyone except Ariadne, and Ariadne loves her dearly because when she isn't sleeping on important designs or yowling cantankerously for food she is a very dear animal, and she is Ariadne's only companion at home. Ariadne sometimes hates that she lives alone with her cat – it's embarrassing – but generally, she doesn't mind it too much, unless Eames drops by and makes some crack about it.

Ariadne has her own business. She graduated college with a degree in Architecture two months after the Fischer Job (that's what they call it – she doesn't like it). She has since managed to open and run a rather high-end architecture business in which she designs posh homes for equally posh clients, and sometimes she'll whip up the occasional building, but there's nothing quite like mazes for her and there never will be again. She always forces herself not to start plotting one up during her lunch break, and she has to refrain from glancing at the weekly ones in the paper and wondering how they'd fare as a dream level. She doesn't particularly like what she's become, and sometimes she lies awake and wonders how things would be different if she'd simply not flipped that pad over and drawn a baffling circle on it, or if she'd kept herself from going back to the warehouse that afternoon. She could have survived perfectly well without all of that business. She hadn't really wanted to go back anyway... had she?

At this point Protogeneia would always appear and ask for food and Ariadne's thoughts would dissolve.

She still gets visits from the majority of the dream members, except for Yusuf, who went back to Mombasa. Eames jokingly calls them The Dream Team. She laughs every time he says it.

Most of the visits are occasional, but she supposes it depends on who's doing the visiting; Eames pops in a couple of times a month, Arthur shows up once a week with a bottle of wine because he is philosophically opposed to not being a gentleman, and to appearing at anyone's residence without some sort of gift; Cobb has only come a few times, but Ariadne doesn't mind; and Saito... well, Saito appeared only once, when she'd had a particularly nasty boyfriend who'd wound up hitting her, and he offered many an appealing action, actions without consequence, but Ariadne, though touched – and a bit perturbed – by his concern, had politely declined him and phoned the police on the lout who'd given her a black eye. (Arthur had seen it and panicked.)

Ariadne hears the mail truck spluttering up and then driving away, and she strides outside past the symmetrical arrangements of foxgloves and irises and lilies and pulls a wad of letters from the ground beneath her mail slot (her front gate is very high and painted blue).

When she's back inside she flicks disinterestedly through them, tossing the clothing catalogues onto the couch and the bills onto the table and the letter from Fischer Enterprises onto the—


Ariadne's breath catches like a needle in her throat as she does a double-take on the return address on the envelope. Her eyes must be deceiving her. There is no other explanation.

Protogeneia creeps in from out of nowhere, arching her back affectionately against Ariadne's calf, rubbing her head against her ankle, and sneezing. She sits back and stares curiously at Ariadne, her large golden eyes protuberant, her pupils large.

With shaking fingers, Ariadne flips the envelope over and pulls it open tenderly, careful not to rip the folds of it (she does this with every envelope). Her eyes skim it and she vaguely comprehends something about her being hired to design Robert Fischer's new house, how they've taken interest in her talent and are offering her some stupid amount of money with a great deal of zeros, but this is all inconsequential compared to the elegant scrawl at the end of the letter, written out in deep blue ink, and beneath it, in a small, meek font, the unneeded translation: Robert Fischer, CEO. She knows he probably didn't write it himself, because what sort of man talks about himself in the third person, but she still can't help but be put off by the name, by that infuriatingly innocent name; in a bit of a panic, she drops the letter and runs to the telephone, nearly tripping over Protogeneia, and dialing the first number that comes to mind.

"Arthur," she croaks breathlessly. "Can you come over here right now, please?"

(She's damn lucky he's staying in Paris this week, he says.)

Robert Fischer very rarely yells at anyone, but he yelled at his latest secretary this morning when she told him he had no sense of humour.

Robert Fischer has a perfectly good sense of humour, thank you very much.

At the moment he's sitting in his chair again, taking advantage of the fact that there's no one else in the room and spinning around in it some more, this time enjoying it a lot more than he probably should have. He's still spinning in it when he hears a knock on his office door. Startled, he nearly falls out of his seat, but he manages to avoid such an unfortunate occurrence, straightening himself and his tie and his shirt and his lapel and folding his hands on his desk before replying, "come in."

He doesn't know who the devil it is, but he never does anyway.

The door swings gently open, pushed by small, soft hands. In the threshold stands an impossibly petite young woman with her thick brown hair braided into a bun, clad in a rather trim gray blouse and a bright red cardigan and well fitted jeans and iboots/i, of all things, and she looks up at him and suddenly he can hardly speak, because he's certain he's seen her before, somewhere unattainable and hazy and brimming with snowfall and impossibly high balconies and endless seas.

"Hello," she voices politely, her fingers still resting unsurely on the doorknob. "Um, I was told I may or may not have been hired by a Mr. Robert Fischer to design a house...?"

"Oh," Fischer manages to eke out. "Oh, yes, um. Of course." He has no idea what she's talking about. "Yes, yes, right; come in, please."

She smiles, looking relieved, and closes the door silently behind her, her eyes roving over the paintings on his walls and the volumes of books on his mahogany shelves. She says something about how he has good taste, but he's too busy concentrating on the unnerving familiarity of the way she walks.

"Um." He shakes his head, attempting to clear it but only making it more befuddling. "I'm sorry; what was your name?"

"Ariadne," she replies evenly. There's no need to tell anyone her surname, not with a first name like hers. It's not something people easily forget.

"Ariadne," he repeats, testing it out, and he feels the tiniest shiver creep up his spine.

She gestures to the chair in front of his desk. "May I?"

"Oh." He nods. "Yes, of course. Please." He realizes he's been saying the same few monosyllabic words since she walked in and feels awkward. Typically he's a bit more eloquent than this.

There's a brief, questioning silence, and Ariadne fidgets. She speaks first.

"I received a letter yesterday from you—"

"Uh, chances are I didn't... write it," he interrupts inadvertently. There are usually so many things on his desk for him to sign that he doesn't even know what he's sending off. "My secretary; she..."

"Yeah, I figured," Ariadne replies, nodding understandingly, smirking just very slightly. "I wouldn't expect someone like Robert Fischer to write his own letters anyway."

He finds her sarcasm to be quite charming, unfortunately.

She clears her throat. "Anyway – as I was saying, a letter came in the mail stating that I'd been, um, apparently hired to design a... a house for you."

He frowns. "I'm sorry?"

"A house," she repeats slowly, her eyebrows raised ever so slightly. "I... I work independently, you see; I'm hired by various clients who deem my work to be worth their trouble and then I create... er, well, I come up with blueprints for whatever they're asking me to build." She pauses. "I'm – well, I like to think I'm the best in my field."

"Modest, I see," Fischer says, quirking a smile with a wry eyebrow above it. "Well... to be honest, I wasn't even aware that I needed a new house, but I suppose if you're here and somebody thought it'd be a good idea, then... you're hired."

"Oh, well, I'm glad you offered before you decided." Ariadne leans forward in her chair. "So... what sort of place are you looking at, anyway?"

"Um," Fischer begins, but his cell phone suddenly rings obnoxiously, one of those default tones that's supposed to sound like a real telephone but just sounds like a bunch of tuning forks being shaken around in a knapsack, and he glances at her apologetically before picking it up.

"Fischer," he says, his voice clipped. "Yes, right; um... give me a moment, would you?" He tilts his face away from the phone toward the girl opposite him and presses the receiver against his neck. "I'm... this is an important call; I can't really..."

"No, of course," Ariadne nods again, but she doesn't look quite as understanding as she did before. She stands up to go and Fischer's throat clenches and—

"Wait, no," he exclaims without forethought. "Let's discuss it over lunch, all right? One o'clock? There's a restaurant just down the street—"

"Um..." She looks hesitant and shifts nervously, her eyes flicking to various things but never directly to him; after a moment's consideration she replies, "all right."

Relieved, Fischer smiles in appreciation before returning to his phone call, and his eyes do not stray from her form until she closes the door behind her.

(It's Peter Browning on the phone and he's as pompous as ever.)