A/N: So, that's my attempt in post-Inception fic, taking place directly after the Job. Because it's me writting it probably there'll be angst, but not as much as in "Confusion", I want to give it a little more action. And I'm very aware that there's a lot of stories like that, but well... Every one of them is different and I have some ideas I really want to put into paper. All language and grama mistakes are mine, my only explanation for them is that English isn't my first language. I hope you'll like it and even if you don't, please leave a review. Constructive criticism (which also includes correcting my language mistakes) are always much appreciated.
The title of this story comes from song Rabbit Heart (raise It Up) by Florence And The Machine. Of course I do not own this song. I also do not own Inception or any of its characters. To me belongs only my own plot and my own characters.
The sunlight is so bright that forced Ariadne to close her eyes. However, she doesn't mind it all; it's a perfect excuse for tears forming in her eyes. She curses silently, wiping away dampness from her cheeks with her hand.
She would never ever cry because of them. Not because Saito or Yusuf. Of course not because of Eames nor Cobb. And definitely not because of Arthur.
Her heart flutters violently. He's not far away from her, talking with man, probably cab driver. His head tilted slightly to right side, gesture as always gentle.
Don't look at him, it's just stupid.
But she's still looking. It doesn't take her a long time to realize that something's wrong. Something in Arthur's face and the shape of thing in other man's hand, strangely familiar.
Ariadne feels a little nauseated when she realizes that nobody else, not even one person is aware of what's happening right now. She observes Arthur taking seat in can and her foots take an involuntary step. Before she's able to even think, she's getting into the same cab, a fake smile on her face.
"I'm so sorry!", she speaks and giggles a little, hoping to cover her nervousness. "I thought it's free! Maybe we can share?"
Arthur stares at her and for the first time since she met him he looks completely shocked. Yet he recovers within seconds.
"I don't think so.", he answers coldly. "I'd rather you get off this car.". Something in his eyes plead her to do so, but Ariadne's too determinate even to notice that.
"I insist. I insist, Arthur.", she speaks, surprising herself. It startles also Arthur, who's looking at her wide-eyed for a second.
"Get out.", he snaps finally. The man sitting in front passengers seat narrows his eyes slightly on this words.
"I think lady is staying.", he says lazily.
"She has nothing to do with anything!", Arthur protests fervently.
But driver already starts engine. Car is ridding slowly and Ariadne stares through window, purposefully avoiding looking at Arthur. She feel strange. Her reason screams at her loudly that she's doing the stupidest thing at her whole life. Yet, something in her is telling her that she couldn't act differently.
She couldn't leave Arthur.
When car stops, she let one of men pull her out of car.
"Don't even dare to move", he warns her, ready to use gun in his hand.
Ariadne gulps, watching Arthur getting out of the car.
And then chaos regains.
Ariadne misses the moment when Arthur hits on one of the man and miraculously he's beside her, covering her. He shoves her hard on the ground.
"Don't move.", he hisses.
Ariadne isn't sure what happening after that. There is gunfire, that' certain. And muffled groan of pain, but that everything she can pictures. Suddenly she finds out that Arthur is standing beside her again and he gives her car keys.
"You drive. Quick.", he commands and everything Ariadne can do is obeying him.
The mist in her head falters finally, while they're driving. She looks at Arthur, who sits silently beside her, his face almost expressionless. Only the tight line of his lips tells Ariadne something's wrong. Then she notices.
She almost brakes at the middle of the road at this sight. She feels her hand start shaking and she clenches them tightly on steering wheel.
"Arthur, you're…", she starts, but Arthur stops her with cold "Drive" and she obeys. Obviously Arthur knows where they're going as he gives her directions.
When they finally reaches their destinations it turns to be an old and abandoned factory. Not far away from it Ariadne can see a couple of houses and something that looks like bus stop.
"Get out.", Arthur tells her, his voice still cold. He winces in pain when he steps out from car, but his pace is steady and even.
As soon as they enter the empty halls of factory, Arthur turns to Ariadne. Now she can see how utterly angry he is; his eyes are flashing flashlights at her.
"What were you thinking?", he hisses at her.
"I…", Ariadne stammers. Honestly, she can't say what she was thinking at that very moment. It was a pure instinct that made her went into that cab.
"I tried to help.", she says at last, fully aware how stupid it sounds. To her utter surprise it makes Arthur's anger slightly falter.
"Help.", he repeats with the hint of surprise and laughs bitterly. It makes him shrink in pain and Ariadne hurries to him.
"Don't.", Arthur stops her. "Don't even try to touch me.", something in his tone makes Ariadne obedient once again.
"There's bus stop near from here. You'll go there and drive to the nearest city with airport. Then you'll take the first flight to Paris. Your luggage is in car. Take it and leave.", Arthur says flatly, avoiding her eyes.
"What?", Ariadne manages to say. "You're hurt and I…"
"And you've already screw up everything, so don't bother yourself and leave. Now Ariadne."
Ariadne can say he's not angry anymore. His tone is emotionless and flat; he doesn't need her, in fact he doesn't want her to be with him. Now Ariadne's the one who feels angry. She tried to help him, after all and still trying and he treats her as an obstacle, he needs to remove from his way.
"Fine.", she says flatly and leaves.
As soon as Ariadne left Arthurs sits at floor. He presses hand to his chest and then looks at it; his fingers are covered in blood.
"Damn you.", he whispers. "Damn you, Ariadne."
He struggles to his feet and forces himself to go to car. He knows the bullet didn't hit anything vital; otherwise he wouldn't be able to walk, but pain and blood loss are slowly fighting him down. Hopefully there's first aid kit in the car's boot. Before he starts fixing himself he glances shortly toward bus stop. The fragile form of Ariadne is clearly visible and even from this distance Arthur can say how angry she is.
"That would be better. For both of us.", he says quietly as if fragile architect could hear him and heads back to factory.
When he finally drives away, his wound cleared and bandaged, there're no longer any signs of Ariadne.
Ariadne feels like she could kill somebody, she's only not exactly sure whatever she should choose Arthur or herself. Her heavy bag digs unpleasantly into her arm and bus stop still looks so distant that it almost makes her cry.
Or maybe it's the overwhelming feeling of slough?
She's very aware of fact that everything went in the worse possible way. She tried to help and now she's lonely walking to bus stop in the middle of nowhere, leaving wounded Arthur behind her.
She bits her lips, lost in thinking. The truth is nothing makes sense at all. Apparently Arthur's able to fight off those men. So why he decided to go with them? Or maybe he did what he planned originally?
And then another thought hits Ariadne. What if he fought with them because of her?
Ariadne froze and looks back at factory, the picture of Arthur clear in her mind.
No, she decides quickly. He was determined to remove her from his life, she's sure about it.
She almost fell asleep in bus, the exhaustion of inception and the rest of the day catching her. Yet, she pushes it aside. She's not sure how her dreams will look like and she doesn't want to check it in front of eyes of other passengers.
When she finally reaches city, she's way too much tired to even think about flying back to Paris.
"Sorry, Arthur.", she mumbles quietly stepping into first hotel on her way.
Going sleep she is afraid of dreams, she can have, scared that they could be nightmares.
But she doesn't have nightmares.
In fact she doesn't have any dreams at all; apparently she already joined fully the society of dream-sharing business and lost her ability to dream.
Ariadne groans, still feeling exhausted. She takes her phone from nightstand, because maybe, maybe, Arthur changed his mind and send her some kind of message. Or maybe anyone is still interested in her and wants to know if she's fine.
Zero calls. Zero text messages.
Apparently nobody does care about her.
"Fine.", she says. "So fuck you all."
She stands up and pretend that this strange feeling inside her isn't sadness.
Arthur wakes up and immediately regrets that. The whole body is hurting and room starts to wave in front of his eyes as soon as he opens them.
He wishes he could close them and curl under comforter, but he can't; there're too many things he has to do.
Besides Arthur never lets his body win with his mind.
And his mind is telling him that right now he needs to stand up, check the wound and probably call somebody.
Arthurs obeys all this commands; he stands up slowly, biting his lip. He draggles himself into the bathroom and curses silently after looking at his appearance in the wall mirror.
He looks like a mess. And it's not what he can afford himself to. He examines his wound and finds out there's fresh blood on the bandage. He curses again, this time louder. He had to harm it, while he shifted his position during sleep.
Apparently the probability of need to call somebody becomes necessity.
He sits carefully on bed and dials number.
"Yes?", voice of young woman answers.
"Kathy, it's me.", Arthur tell her quietly.
There's a long pause on the other side of line.
"Oh.", woman finally says. "You're in the city?"
"Yes. And…", Arthur hesitates, he's never been good at asking for help.
"You're in troubles.", the woman guesses. "Where are you?"
"Well, in some hotel…", Arthur quickly searches his mind for the name of it. He recalls it with relief. "It's called "Black Cube. Room 234.", he adds.
"Fine. I'll as soon as possible.", the woman answers. "And… Arthur?"
"It's good to hear you again."
The flight to Paris is vague, Ariadne feels like nothing around her is real. Is that really no more than 48 hours since she left this city? She can't believe at all.
Everything seems different; people, streets, buildings, even her own small bachelor flat. She drops her bag absently and sits on the bed. She can feel comforting weight of her totem in jeans pocket; she tipped it a countless times and result was always the same.
I'm not dreaming.
Surprisingly this certainty isn't as soothing as it should be. Ariadne knows that she would be much more happier if she could wake up and go to the certain warehouse. Hear cheerful "Hello, love!" from Eames, get waves of hand from Yusuf, little sad, but still warmth smile from Cobb and official, but pleasant "Good morning" from Arthur.
But it's all over and Ariadne's never been the one to regret and cry for too long.
When she couldn't get what she wanted, she was always able to find something else, better. And here, in Paris, she has everything she could want.
She stands up and takes away sheets of paper lying on the floor. There're sketches for inception job, so she tears them apart providently.
When she puts them to rubbish damp she feels almost nothing. Like she didn't spend so much time sketching on this papers, thinking how to make them perfect, like she didn't see all of this in reality, even though it was only the reality of Dreams.
Ariadne doesn't want souvenirs of any kind. It's enough that she's unable to get rid of her totem. All she wants is to go back to her old life, when she was happy with things she had and her dreams didn't contain creating impossibilities and extremely handsome and, in the same time, cold man in tailored suit.
The bishop will always be somewhere and no matter how deep she'd hide it, it'll be the constant recollection of what happened, what Ariadne did and with whom.
Ariadne looks around her tiny flat; is there any remainder of dream-sharing left?
There's one more thing left. It's nothing big, in fact is the tiniest sheet of paper.
A simple note, nothing more.
I went to buy some coffee, Eames managed to drink all of last bag within a couple of days.
You know I can't work without it.
I'll be back soon.
She put it in her wallet, not sure why she did; she'd never been a sentimental one, but she couldn't bring herself to throw it away.
But now she doesn't find it so difficult; he kicked her from his life with a couple of harsh words and anger shining in his eyes. Ariadne won't let herself be disturbed by that.
At least she hopes so.
When she goes out sunlight grosses her eyes, but this time she's prepared. She wears sunglasses and goes her usual way to University.
There's so many things she need to do; find out whatever she's still on the list of students or they've already crossed her name from it, speak with most of her friends and explain her strange behavior from last time.
And have some talk with Professor Miles.
"Arthur? You actually wanted to take care of this wound only by yourself?", in the voice of young, dark haired woman Arthur clearly hears disbelief and anger.
"The bullet didn't hurt any vital.", he mumbles under breath. He feels somehow stupid right now, since the first thing he did after Kathy came was losing his consciousness.
"Oh, sure! Nothing vital is hurt, so the blood loss, or simple fact of having a hole in your side doesn't count at all?", Kathy smash him lightly on arm. "Really, I thought of you better than that."
He catches swiftly catches her hand and kisses it softly.
"I own you.", he says seriously.
"I'm not doing that because I want to have a debtor in you, you know that perfectly well.", Kathy answers and takes her hand away, but there's smile on her face. "You need to lay for at least a couple of days."
Arthur frowns and closes his eyes.
"Arthur, look at me. I'm serious, you need to take care of yourself. And I'm not talking only about it.", she gestured toward his bandaged side. "I'm talking about all this scars…"
"Kathy. Please.", Arthur stops her. "We've talked about it before. I know you don't like what I'm doing, but that's already decided."
Kathy rolls her eyes. "Not liking isn't the words I'd use, but fine. I know you too long, to fight with you when you have this kind of look in your eyes."
She reaches and absently strokes his dark hairs.
"How much time is left, before you'll tell me I need to go away, because it's too dangerous for me to be here?", she asks, trying to sound light.
Arthur closes his eyes once again "We still have some time left.", he answers quietly.
"And you want tell me what happened and what supposedly will happen?"
Arthur laughs gently. "You know, I won't."
Kathy laughs too and shrugs. "It's always good to have a try.", she pauses for a second and then asks: "And your last job? As always?"
Arthurs still silent for a moment. When he answers his voice is somehow unsure. "Not exactly. My friend… Well, I think I can say his greatest dream came true.", he smiles, a genuine broad smile, on which Kathy cannot answer differently than smiling herself. Then she turns her head, as to not look directly at Arthur.
"And when your greatest dream come true?", she asks seriously.
Arthur doesn't answer and they stay in comfortable silence for a long time.