Author's Note: 8 months…has it really been that long since I updated? College has thrown away any and all semblance of a social life, and forced me to put away my writing binder for a few months. Though I didn't expect to be gone this long! I'm sorry :( I've missed this story, and I promise I'm not abandoning it. I will finish this story, even if it takes me forever. I can only hope you'll stay with me that long!

Chapter Seventeen

She didn't understand why he kept coming. Late at night, when she was the only person still up working, he came and sat. He never did anything. Never tried to talk to her, never tried to get her to talk, nothing. It was as if she was a spooked cat, and one small movement, or in this case, conversation, would scare her away.

She wasn't surprised that he had figured out the guard's schedule. He was, after all, Arthur, and she knew him well enough to know that his time spent in captivity wasn't spent by him doing nothing. But what was this accomplishing? He never spoke, and only sat close enough to her for her to know that he was there, never too close to where she felt uneasy. She felt his eyes on her sometimes, but strangely, not enough that she was ever uncomfortable. He never pressured her to talk. Ariadne wondered if he was just biding his time and waiting for an opportune moment or if he was simply waiting for her to start.

She went first.

One night, weeks after Arthur had shown up at the warehouse, Ariadne spoke.

"What are you doing here?" she asked quietly.

If he was surprised at her speaking, he didn't show it. "Sitting," he answered, in just as soft a voice.

Months ago, she would have rolled her eyes and smiled. Now, she just shook her head. "That's not what I meant. Why do you come out here every night, just to sit?"

"Because I don't want you to be alone," he replied, shrugging. He watched her face for any flicker of emotion, just barely catching the flash of anger that swept across her face before the emotionless mask was back in place.

She let out a weak laugh, but the sound was bitter. "I've been alone all my life. Why change things now?"

He was silent before answering her. "You have me, Ariadne," he said, his voice low.

"Yeah, and look at where that got me," she snapped, nearly forgetting to keep her voice down. She knew she had no right, but she was angry. He raised his eyebrow, and she instantly regretted what she had said. Looking away, her angry deflated as quickly as it had come. "Sorry," she said, her voice lifeless. "This is no one's fault but my own."

In an instant, he was out of his chair, his hands raised in a sign of surrender when he saw her guarded look. "This is not your fault, Ariadne." When he saw her lower her eyes to the ground, he took a few cautious steps forward. When she didn't move, he took that as a good sign and continued forward. He stopped right in front of her and knelt to look up into her eyes. When she looked away, he put a hand gently on her cheek. "Hey," he whispered. "Look at me." Slowly, reluctantly, she met his eyes. Briefly, he noticed that he had never seen her look like this; so distraught, so…broken. "This is not your fault." When she started to shake her head, he put his other hand on her other cheek in order to keep her from moving. Against her will, her pulse started to race, and Ariadne knew she was going to have a panic attack if she didn't calm down. "It's not," he repeated, his whisper caressing her skin.

I can't lose him again.

He didn't say anything else, just knelt there and held her cheeks. They sat, simply starting at one another. Slowly, her heart rate began to slow down. When his watch gave a small beep, she knew it was time for him to sneak back into his room. Arthur stood up, though his eyes never left hers. Leaning down, he gave her time to move away, but to his surprise, she remained in place. He placed a soft and gentle kiss on her forehead, leaving his lips there for a few moments. Her eyes fluttered closed, almost against her will. Her eyes remained closed when he walked away, and continued to stay closed until she heard the nearly inaudible click of his door being shut.

She cupped her hand over her mouth to silence her cries, letting the tears run freely down her face. If only she could believe him.

A/N: Don't worry, I'll have the Eames chapter up right after this. I know I don't deserve your reviews, but I really want to know what you think…