"Matthew Gray Gubler is a complete namby-pamby," Arthur says contemptuously as the credits roll.
Ariadne sits up from his left arm, which she'd been settled comfortably into for the past ninety-four minutes, her hazel eyes wide with incredulity.
"That's really all you can manage to say?" she exclaims in nothing short of consternation, her eyebrows twisted sorrowfully. Arthur snorts and pushes a hand over his hair (which is pointless because it's all slicked back anyway). She looks even more stunned by his insolence. "Don't you have any taste?"
"My goodness, Ariadne, it's only a damn movie." Arthur smirks. "The way you've been talking about it, you'd think it was about as exciting as reading War and Peace in the rain. It was a bit of a letdown."
"That's not exciting at all," Ariadne says absentmindedly. "And putting that ridiculous simile aside, how can you say that? Matthew Gray Gubler is perfectly acceptable and maybe even a little endearing, and—"
"Really, I'd expected you'd have better taste." His voice is solemn.
"Better taste? We're all entitled to an odd duck or two, Arthur, and this is mine." She folds her arms angrily and pulls a face strikingly similar to a pout. "Plus we all know you secretly laugh at Juno..."
Arthur bristles, clearly surprised that she possesses such scandalous knowledge, but says nothing in protest. Ariadne sighs and pulls her sweater tighter around her slight shoulders, not noticing that its crimson threads have begun to fray. There is silence for a while, except for the muted music accompanying the credits, which Arthur watches just for the sake of seeing the words (they excite him very much).
As they end, he finally turns to glance at Ariadne, and wilts a little when he sees the utterly dejected expression on her face. He sighs a little, mentally cursing himself for surrendering to her wiles, before mumbling, "stop that pouting. It was all right. I suppose."
She brightens infinitesimally, and Arthur takes notice, marveling, as always, at how easily she recovers after he demeans himself by apologizing or admitting something he could otherwise easily conceal. She's devilishly good at pulling the truth out of people, to such a point that he can't decide whether he finds it charming or aggravating. As she smiles, though, he notices the lines that form around the corners of her lips and wants to color them in with kisses.
"You know," she says, a bit mischievously, and Arthur suddenly gets a feeling of immense dread, "your hair wouldn't look half bad if you unslicked it and wore it like Tom's."
Arthur stiffens, his cheeks reddening. "That is completely out of the question."
"Oh, come on; it'd look cute." Ariadne only uses that word on the rarest of occasions. This is one of them. Arthur grimaces so vividly that if Ariadne didn't know any better she'd think that she'd just mortally wounded him.
"That's absolutely repulsive," he practically spits out the words, putting a hand protectively over his hair and scowling sideways at her. "That wine obviously muddled your coherency, because there's no other explanation for the words you've just uttered."
"God, listening to you talk is like reading a war novel," Ariadne says fondly. Arthur is almost insulted.
After another momentary silence in which Ariadne partly wants him to kiss her and Arthur partly has to go to be bathroom, Ariadne looks pointedly over at him and says, "it's your turn, you know."
Arthur blinks as though dazed and returns her gaze. "Pardon?"
"It's your turn," she repeats, more clearly. "I knew I should've bought you an ear horn for Christmas. I showed you mine; now you can show me yours."
Arthur is ashamed of the fact that he takes note of the sexual connotation. He can hear Eames whooping proudly in the back of his mind.
"My movie, that is," Ariadne quickly amends, turning red. Arthur smirks.
"All right, then." He hauls himself, gangly legs and all, off of Ariadne's saggy, enveloping yellow couch and heads for the DVD player, pulling a battered case out from beneath the machine. (He stuck it there earlier; they've been planning this for a while.) He hides its cover from Ariadne as she cranes her neck over to see the title (he's been keeping it a secret) and prods the little silver button and swipes the (500) Days of Summer disk with one finger before putting in his choice for the night.
"I don't know why you won't just tell me what it is," Ariadne says grumpily. Arthur just grins, a rare and intricate action.
As the title comes up, Ariadne nearly falls over.
"With the coming of the second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turn hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point, but... not everyone could get to Lisbon directly. And so a tortuous roundabout refugee trail sprang up. Paris to Marseilles. Across the Mediterranean to Oran. Then by train, or auto, or foot, across the rim of Africa to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones, through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca - and wait - and wait - and wait..."
(She's never seen it before.)
When it ends his arm is back around her and she's nestled against his chest and she's sniffling lightly with her hands clenched under her chin, and she looks like a little girl, and Arthur is satisfied, because his movie managed to make her cry. Surely that must have meant that she liked it; women liked movies that made them cry.
She starts to cry a little harder, and Arthur, a bit concerned, squeezes her arm curiously. She brushes her tears away with the back of her small milky hand and Arthur is tempted to wipe them away himself, but that's an awfully wishy-washy idea anyway.
"All right?" he asks gently.
She nods unconvincingly.
He tucks a finger under her chin and tilts her head up. Her cheeks are glistening with the moisture and her eyes are like agates in the candlelight. With a crooked, wry smile, hardly able to believe what he's about to say, he whispers, "Hey, now. Here's looking at you, kid."
She laughs, so loosely and so freely that he can tell it's a relief for her, and her tension dissolves and she keeps laughing, though there's still a hint of a cry in her eyes, and Arthur flushes and averts his eyes.
"That was degradingly stupid of me to say," he coughs, mortified.
"No it wasn't," Ariadne protests fondly, weaving her fingers into his. "I thought that was wonderful. Really wonderful. You have excellent taste."
"Thank you." He dips his head swiftly, still embarrassed. "I know."
She snorts loudly, running her hands over her face and holding it in them, inhaling deeply.
"Kisses like that one in reality are highly implausible, however," he grumbles, sounding extremely disappointed at what he's saying. "No one ever kisses like that."
Ariadne raises her eyebrows teasingly at him.
"How do you know?" she asks slyly.
Arthur, taken aback, replies, "well, I... it's just, it's obvious! It's a romanticized, improbable mess! Normal people do not sweep themselves into each other's arms and speak so grandly. It's just... highly illogical."
Suddenly, Ariadne's face is inches away from his; she's leaning over and her hair is tumbling over her right shoulder and she smells like autumn and red roses and she pecks him on the cheek. "You can't know unless you've tried it."
He cocks and eyebrow bemusedly at her, trying to figure out if he's interpreting what she's saying the right way. One of the candles they've set up flickers and goes out and the room dims around her face.
"And besides," she beams radiantly, "I'm sure you've dreamt it anyway."
Arthur will never admit that she's right, nor that she's always the one in the soft grayscale curls and flowing white dresses who glows against his sunsets.
(Arthur often dreams in monochrome and sepia.)