It's a miracle. I have updated in less than a month! I have become obsessed with Ariadne and Arthur from Inception and to celebrate it coming out in TWO DAYS, I'm posting this early to get everyone pumped up for the movie release. If you haven't seen the movie, I'd suggest going to see it. It's really good in all aspects, not just the Ariadne and Arthur part. This will be a group of oneshots based on ideas and prompts.

Written for the prompt: Ariadne and Arthur bonding through one of them getting hurt by the enemy by capture, escape and then comfort with a lot of angst.

Warning: oneshots may be extremely short or extremely long. Some will be rated Mature for a reason, others not so much.

Disclaimer is on my page.

/|\

The street was swarming with people out window shopping. It was almost Christmas after all. Ariadne could feel the cheerful Christmas vibe from people as she walked down the sidewalk but oddly enough, she didn't feel it herself.

Snow sprinkled her vision with white, mixing with her icy breath as it escaped her mouth. She was tempted to blow out as hard as she could and watch her breath disappear into the sky, but decided against it before she succumbed to silly childlike tendencies.

A man passed her, his head tilted down and Ariadne thought nothing of it until he glanced back at her, his eyes meeting hers with intent.

When he turned the corner, she was inclined to do the same because this was no accident. Something inside of her told her to walk in the opposite direction, to avoid this man because he was danger. But for some strange reason, she decided to follow him. The phrase curiosity killed the cat came to her mind but she brushed the thought aside.

He walked into a café a couple of streets over, heading for the booth in the back corner. Ariadne hesitated right outside the door, but a woman coughed behind her and Ariadne opened the door before she could register what her hands were doing.

Warmth washed over Ariadne's face, returning feeling to her numb nose and fingertips. She rubbed her fingers as she headed for the back corner booth, sitting silently across from the man. He continued to look at the menu for another moment before glancing at her over the top of it.

"Didn't think you'd follow me," he casually commented, his eyes flickering back to the menu. He frowned in thought, contemplating what to get, Ariadne guessed.

She opted not to respond, her throat heavy as her heart beat erratically in her chest. Why was she here again? The temptation to get up and leave made her stomach churn. She shouldn't have followed him. The next time a stranger urged her to follow him, she was definitely walking in the opposite direction.

The man's eyes found her again after setting down the menu. He didn't wave over a waitress. The act made something in the back of Ariadne's mind sound alarms, but she couldn't place her finger on it.

"We need your expertise," the man finally said after another minute of staring at her. It unsettled her how his eyes took in every feature of her face as though he were committing it to memory. As far as she knew, she might never see him again after this.

"On what?" Ariadne asked, her gut twisting in suspicion. She strongly hoped he wasn't talking about her skills as an Architect. The palms of her hands became clammy and sweaty and she buried them in her jacket pockets to try in an attempt to calm down. Her fingers curled around her totem.

"You know what." The man's voice had gone from neutral to hard, hard as the ground beneath her, hard as the totem in her—

Ariadne's heart froze, her blood chilling in her veins. She kept her face emotionless, hoping her eyes remained confused and curious to mask the building fear inside of her.

The man continued to stare at her intently, his eyes failing to understand her own recognition.

"I'm just a college student," Ariadne tried, her hands shaking in her pockets. She clenched her totem in her right hand, finding little comfort in its sharp ridges.

The man chuckled, his face losing its edge for a moment. Ariadne fought the urge to flinch at the unpredictability of this man. It scared her to know that she could possibly be in a dream with a man she didn't know. It scared her even more to know that when she woke up to reality, he might be there as well.

Ariadne forced herself to smile. She glanced at the counter and abruptly stood.

"I'm going to go to the bathroom then we'll discuss what you need my expertise for," she informed him before heading towards where the bathrooms were. The man didn't stand up to follow her but opted to watch her from his perch in his booth. She could feel his eyes burning into her back, the tension between them, but she didn't dare make a run for it.

By the time she was down the hallway and in the bathroom, door locked, her heart rate had calmed slightly. With cold, sweaty hands, she took out the totem and crouched down, placing it on the floor. She tapped it lightly, hard enough that it should have tipped over. Instead, it wobbled, back and forth, until it settled.

With her heart in her throat, Ariadne stood and placed her totem back in her pocket. She stared at herself in the mirror as she tried to figure out what to do. The reflection of her face showed her panic, her face pale and her lips turned down in a frown. It was likely that when she woke up, he'd be there too, so running would be pointless.

A knock on the door startled Ariadne, making her breath catch in her lungs. Without a plan of action, Ariadne opened the door, crying out when she was shoved backwards. Her back connected with the wall with a smack, her knees giving out as she sunk to the floor in horror.

The man loomed over her, his eyes darker than she remembered. His lips were set in a disappointed frown, one that made her skin crawl. This had seized being a dream and was now a nightmare.

"Thought you could run Ariadne?" the man mocked, smirking when Ariadne flinched in realization that he knew her name, that he knew more than what he was letting on. "Well, you can't. But you already know that. I give you credit for trying, though."

"What do you want from me?" Ariadne forced her voice to remain strong, to not tremble like her hands were clenched at her sides, her knuckles white.

"Like I said before, we need your expertise." The man went to the door and made sure it was locked before coming back over and crouching in front of her. "If you're good enough for Cobb's crew, then there must be something special about you."

Ariadne's mouth went dry at the mention of Cobb, of the past. Unwillingly, Arthur's face appeared in her head before she could stop herself.

No, forget the past. It's over and done with, gone. They left you to adjust back to normal. After showing you what was possible, they disappeared to continue on while you were left staring at their backs as they faded away.

Ariadne pushed the piercing thoughts from her mind.

"Hit a sore spot, did I?" The man sneered at her, pulling out a gun from under his jacket. "Now, let's get out of here, shall we?"

With the barrel aimed at her forehead, Ariadne should have been terrified. And she was, but not at the bullet that would be lodged in her skull, but at what she'd find when she woke up.

The gun fired before she could prepare herself for the unexpected.

/|\

The hotel room was bright and nicely furnished with golden arches on the walls and dark wooden panels.

The kick brought Ariadne back to reality with a shock, her lungs struggling to find air as she gasped, her head lulling to the side on the couch. It was difficult to think when her mind felt as though it was filled with water, slow and murky.

"Rise and shine, sweetheart." A man loomed over her, his face marred with a scar down the left side, the other side covered in stubble. Ariadne knew he was trying to sound nice, like a good guy, but even in her muddled state she didn't believe it.

She pressed her lips together and forced herself to remain quiet, ignoring the odd sensation of being alive when she'd just been shot. Her vision swam before her eyes, something that has never happened before. The drugs must be different than when she was with Cobb.

Stop it, she scolded herself. Focus on where you are now, not where you were.

With a slow blink, Ariadne looked around the room, her eyes focusing on the man sitting up from his spot on the bed. He looked the same as he had in the dreamscape, his dirty blond hair disheveled and his gray shirt wrinkled.

His brown eyes snapped to her as he stood. The bright light bounced off his face, helping Ariadne memorize every feature.

"Get her up," he demanded abruptly, stepping closer as the man with the scar on his face grabbed her upper arm and hoisted her up. Black dots danced across her vision from standing too quickly and her legs gave out, making her stumble.

Scarface's grip on her arm tightened, causing Ariadne to wince as he dragged her to the dining room table and dumped her in a seat carelessly.

The blond haired man sat down across from her, making a tent out of his fingers on the table's surface. The dark wood reflected back their reflections and the blaring light overhead.

"Now, back to business," the man lazily drawled, his eyes flickering up to Scarface who stood behind her chair as though she was going to try and make a run for it. She wanted to laugh at the thought. Like she was going to try and escape when her mind was still hazy.

But it was clearing, slowly but surely. All she had to do was bide time until the right moment. She wiped her sweaty hands on her jeans secretly, her eyes glued to the man in front of her.

"We need an Architect to help with the extraction of information," the man continued while leaning back in his chair, "A one of a kind Architect."

Ariadne's mouth went dry and it took her several swallows to speak. "Extraction of information from whom?" she asked hesitantly, trying hard to ignore the excited tingle of going back into the dreamscape business. But the excited feeling disappeared when her mind and heart caught up with her. The only people she wanted to be in the dreamscape with were gone, had disappeared in the airport over a year ago.

"The President of the United States of America."

Ariadne's eyes widened before she could compose herself. Arthur's face flashed before her eyes and for the first time she openly admitted to herself that she wished he was there, his hand reaching inside his jacket for the gun that lay hidden there.

But he wasn't and she was all alone.

/|\

"NO! Let go of me!" Ariadne slammed her fists against Scarface's chest, trying to break free. She twisted her arms, ignoring the searing pain as her skin bruised under his rock hard grip. It proved useless as he pulled her backwards towards the couch, tossing her onto it easily with a glare.

Faintly, the clock on the wall ticked in the background. It started to chime as the hand hit twelve, resonating in Ariadne's ears and making her skin crawl. She'd always viewed the dreamscape as a place of beauty, magic even, but now, she saw it as her own personal hell.

Never before had she been forced into dreamscape; it'd always been a choice, one she'd taken easily and freely.

Without thinking of the consequences, Ariadne kicked Scarface in the groin. She didn't wait to see the look of pain on his face or to see what Blondie was up to. Her feet were carrying her to the door before she could register that she running.

There was yelling behind her as her fingers unlocked the door and wrenched it open. Someone grabbed her shoulder but she twisted away, her elbow coming up and connecting with flesh. A curse rang in her ears as she sprinted down the hallway, a magnificent golden carpet under her feet and chandelier lights swinging overhead.

The elevator comes into view, the golden doors sweeping shut and reflecting back her panicked face. Her finger punched the down button just as the doors shut, her heart threatening to pound out of her chest.

For a moment it seemed as though the elevator had gone to a different floor, but the doors suddenly opened. Shouts could be heard behind her and she squeezed through the barely opened doors, her fingers shaking as she pressed the close button rapidly. It seemed to take forever to close, shutting off the two men running towards the elevator with the promise of revenge on their faces.

Exhaling the breath she'd been holding, Ariadne pressed the ground floor button, praying that the elevator will bring her to it before her kidnappers get there. It did and her eyes darted around the foyer as she hurried for the door.

No one stopped her as she exited the hotel and started down the street. She was a couple of blocks over before she stopped and hailed a taxi, her mind too frayed to think about where she'd go.

"Where to miss?" the taxi driver inquired as Ariadne slid into the backseat, her eyes roaming the unfamiliar faces outside the window, hoping that they stayed unfamiliar.

"Just drive," Ariadne demanded softly, her hands folded in her lap as the world picked up speed outside the window. Her hands had seized shaking. "When I figure out where I'm going, I'll tell you."

/|\

It took Ariadne exactly two minutes and fourteen seconds to recognize where she was. If the French billboards didn't give it away, the Eiffel Tower in the distance certainly did. It brought back pangs of longing that she'd tried to bury, old memories that she had put in a box and shoved into the back of her mind.

What stumped her, though, was how she'd gotten from Italy to Paris without knowing it. When had they jumped her and drugged her? How long had she been out before they put her in the dreamscape?

It scared her knowing she didn't have an answer for these questions.

An idea popped into her head suddenly and she leaned forward and gave the driver an address, hoping she had remembered it correctly.

When the taxi slowed, Ariadne was greeted with the familiar sight of the warehouse washed in the glow of the street lamps.

The taxicab driver turned around, his eyes expectant of payment. Ariadne dug through her pockets, relieved to find her wallet in the inside pocket of her jacket, right where she always kept it. She took out some money and handed it to him before exiting the car. It moved down the street and disappeared around the corner, leaving Ariadne alone in front of the warehouse.

The thudding in Ariadne's chest made her want turn around in leave. It would have been so easy to do if it Scarface's face didn't suddenly flash before her eyes, making her shiver at the realization that someone was after her and she was all alone.

With that thought, Ariadne dug out the key buried in the soil next to the path leading to the main door. It had been Arthur's idea. No one would think of digging around for it and Ariadne hated to admit that he was right.

The warehouse was just as Ariadne remembered a year ago. The looming shadows and musty smell brought her comfort that she didn't think she'd feel as memories flashed before her.

Her fingers clutched the hair at her temples, her eyes wide as she took in everything. The lawn chair caught her eye, making her breath catch. Without thinking, she approached it and sat down, the plastic molding to her shoulder blades in a familiar way.

With a sigh, Ariadne closed her eyes and pretended that she was sinking into her dreamscape, Arthur right next to her, his head tilt towards her with his eyes focused on her before they fluttered closed.

Ariadne sat up with a sigh, her eyes snapping open as she stood and headed for Cobb's old office. Dust was everywhere, blanketing every surface, even the windows.

"Please let there be something," Ariadne muttered as she started to rummage around, disappointment building when she found nothing.

A thin hand slammed the desk in anger. It was old fashioned with a board that covered the feet area, shaking when Ariadne's palm met the surface.

Ariadne stared at the chair she'd seen Arthur sit in so many times for hours, researching information on their heist. The doorway that Eames would perch himself on and make snappy comments to whomever his eyes landed on first.

An idea was forming in her head before she could register that she was moving. She seemed to be doing that a lot, following her instincts and intuition, something she'd never done before she'd discovered the dreamscape.

Getting to her knees, Ariadne peered under the chair, her heart jumping when she saw a small piece of paper folded into a square peeking out of a tear in the corner.

Exhaling loudly, Ariadne pulled the paper out of the tear and unfolded it, sitting back on her heels as she read.

Ariadne,

1-756-529-8990

Arthur

Reading it again, Ariadne wondered if Arthur had been waiting for her to call him, if he'd thought that she'd eventually seek him out. She wanted to laugh at how on the dot he'd planned this out. Her eyes found the phone on the desk, the receiver covered in dust. She stood and picked it up, relieved to hear the dial tone in her ear.

Halfway through dialing the number, a crash came from the front of the warehouse. Inhaling sharply, Ariadne quickly finished dialing the number and grabbed the phone, pulling it under the desk with her.

With a racing heart, Ariadne desperately waited for Arthur's voice on the other end. She wanted to cry, an odd sensation she hadn't felt in a long time.

"Hello?" The deep voice washed over Ariadne, making her trembling hands still for a minute. Her ears picked up voices in the warehouse, coming closer, harsh sounding, hurried.

"Arthur," Ariadne whispered, her voice breaking as she heard footsteps outside the door of the office. Her breath caught in her lungs, making it difficult to breathe. They passed by the door, heading further down the hall without pausing.

"Ariadne?" Arthur suddenly sounded worried, something Ariadne wasn't accustomed to. "Ariadne, where are you?"

"Paris," she told him, her mouth pressed against the speaker, afraid that they'd hear her if she talked any louder. "In the warehouse. These men, they want me to help them draw information out of the Presi—"

"There you are."

Ariadne screamed, the receiver slipping out of her sweaty palm as she was dragged out from beneath the desk. Blondie winced at the shrill of her voice as she punched out, her fist connecting with his jaw.

"Will you stop doing that?" Blondie bit out angrily, his hands snatching her wrists forcefully to prevent her from doing more harm to his face. His nose was bright red and turning black and blue, her earlier struggle having rendered his nose broken.

Ariadne cried out as nails dug into her skin like hooks, preventing her from escaping.

"No!" Someone pulled her hair away from her neck, baring the skin of the back of her neck. She felt a sharp pinprick and her stomach dropped, dread filling her. Not again, please, not again.

The room slanted sideways as Ariadne fell to her hands and knees, the receiver next to her left hand. She could faintly hear Arthur shouting on the other end, helpless to what was going on and she went to grab it.

Blondie's hand appeared in front of her face as he grabbed the receiver. "Speaking?" he asked mockingly, his smirk making Ariadne's stomach roll. The urge to be sick overwhelmed her as her forehead touched the ground, her surroundings fading in the corner of her eyes. She tried to fight it, but it was too strong.

"Ahh, Arthur, it's been a while."

Ariadne wanted to punch Blondie in the face for dragging her into this, for forcing her to drag Arthur into this. As black dots consumed her vision and mind, she clutched the piece of paper tightly in her hand, promising herself that she'd be damned before she let anything happen to Arthur.

/|\

The skin on Ariadne's shoulder burned easily under the hot metal. Her teeth clamped together to keep from screaming, but it broke through anyways, echoing throughout the blaring white room with mirrors for walls. A fireplace roared in front of Ariadne, failing to warm her frame as her body shook both in pain and a bone chilling coldness.

"How about now?" Blondie asked quietly, his fingers playing with the top of the metal rod. The bottom of the metal rod shone a bright red, some parts yellow, others white.

"I'm not going to help you," she muttered through clenched teeth, her head hanging forward and her hair pooling in her lap. She weakly tugged at her wrists bound behind her to the chair but the rope cut into her wrist bones and made her inhale sharply in pain. Faintly she wondered if the pain would ever stop.

Blondie approached her making a tsking noise. He reached out and twirled a piece of brown hair around his finger, failing to see her flinch or the glare she sent through the curtain of her hair. What she would do to have a knife to saw his fingers off with.

"Do you really think you have a choice in this anymore?" Blondie questioned as he tugged on the brown strand. "I'm just being nice and trying to coax you willingly."

"That'll never happen," Ariadne spat, surprised at the hard edge of her voice when her body felt as though it were falling apart. "Never," she added to reinforce her point.

Cold fingers brushed the hair over her shoulder, baring her neck to him. The hot rod pressed down hard on the skin. She could smell burning flesh, cloth, and hair as her nails embedded themselves into her palms. Her voice rose in pitch as she swore at him and cried and eventually she was pleading, begging for him to stop dragging the searing metal down her spine.

"I'll stop when agree to help me," Blondie yelled over her screams of pain and horror and hopelessness.

"No!" Ariadne grunted, realizing too late that her teeth had cut her lip open and that blood was running down her chin, mixing with the sweat and tears.

She took in her broken frame in the mirror, her face smeared with sweat and blood and tears. Smoke rose from the tips of her hair in some spots, singed from the rod. Her chest heaved in agony but her lungs couldn't take in enough hair. With each ragged breath her back burned, the pain unbearable. She'd never felt this much anguish before, didn't think she ever would.

A door opened behind Ariadne. Blondie put down the metal rod on the table next to the fire and disappeared behind her. There were murmurs that she couldn't make out over her own harsh breathing and the heartbeat in her ears. Her eyes lifted to stare in the mirror, her breath catching in her lungs as surprise overtook her before the heart clenching pain of betrayal kicked in.

The man strolled over to stand in front of her, all too painfully familiar.

"No," Ariadne whimpered as her head turned to the side in refusal to accept that he was standing in front of her, her voice choking on the lump in her throat as tears welled in her eyes. "No, Arthur."

He crouched down in front of her, his brown eyes level with hers, his face a solemn mask. With long, lean fingers Arthur reached out and stroked her cheek, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Ariadne blinked several times before she concluded that Arthur wasn't a figment of her imagination.

"Shh, it's okay. I'm here to save you but I can only do that if you help him," Arthur asked her softly, leaning closer until Ariadne could feel his warm breath on her face. The pain seemed to evaporate from her body by his close proximity. She forgot where she was, that Blondie was looming behind her. "We're all on the same side. If you help him, you'll help me and yourself."

Something felt wrong. Ariadne's gut twisted and alarms rang in the back of her mind, but she couldn't think of what.

"But it's the President," Ariadne argued quietly, her eyes unable to leave Arthur's face. His hair was slicked back, just like she remembered it a year ago.

"He's a bad man." Arthur knuckles grazed her temple. His fingers were cold and stiff. Ariadne had always thought of Arthur as warm, never stiff, always ready for action.

"He's a bad man," Arthur repeated, his knuckles running down her jaw soothingly. Ariadne found herself nodding before she could stop herself. If she helped him then Blondie and Scarface must not be as bad as she originally thought. Arthur was a good man, trustful.

But still, Ariadne found it hard to believe that Arthur would help such evil people. It'd been over a year since she'd last saw him, though. People changed, simple as that.

Arthur exhaled heavily as he straightened, his eyes moving to Blondie behind her. Without a word, Blondie cut the ropes binding her wrists.

Ariadne rubbed her wrists in relief, wincing as her back erupted in stabbing needles of pain that made her sight go blurry.

"We've still got some time left so let's get to the details, shall we?" Blondie said giddily while he rubbed his hands together in excitement.

Ariadne stood with a gasp, her body aching everywhere, some places worse than others. With trembling knees, she tried to step forward but they gave out. Strong arms wrapped around her, holding her upright.

The nagging feeling in the back of her mind was back. Something was off, way off.

"Thank you." Ariadne pulled away and rubbed her arms, suddenly so much colder than before as realization dawned on her. With a burst of adrenaline, Ariadne approached the fire and grabbed a metal rod off the table, pleased and terrified to find the edge sharp, sharp enough to pierce skin.

Turning, Ariadne found Arthur and Blondie staring at her in caution. Their eyes followed her hand as she went to reach into her pocket, faltering when she noticed she wasn't wearing her jacket. Her totem was gone.

"You're not wearing a tie," Ariadne informed Arthur, a fake one in this dreamscape (or at least she hoped it was a dreamscape). Without her totem, she wasn't one hundred percent sure, but she knew that Arthur would never forget to wear a tie when he was wearing a dress shirt. Never.

Without pausing, Ariadne lifted the metal rod. Her back screamed in pain, making her taste blood as her vision swam. Her arms didn't shake as she plunged the rod into her chest and straight through her heart.

Arthur and Blondie were yelling as they ran towards her. It all happened in slow motion as Ariadne's eyes drifted shut and her heart stopped beating.

/|\

There was a flash of pain in Ariadne's body as her eyes snapped open. She gulped in air as her hands clenched at her chest, the pain unbearable. Then it was gone, along with the remainder of the dream. She was back in a hotel room, one as extravagant as the last one but different.

Standing, Ariadne tore the wire out of her arm and stared at Blondie and Scarface out cold on the couch. She was tempted to punch them, but opted instead to head for the door, a plan of action forming in her head. The warehouse wasn't an option anymore. Getting on a plane would take too long and driving by taxi would cost too much. The only option left was to take a train, but to where?

Someone's hand grabbed Ariadne's hair, making her scalp explode in sharp pinpricks. She didn't realize she was screaming until her back hit the wall and her teeth snapped shut, cutting off her scream and enveloping the room in quiet. Her knees felt weak but she forced herself to remain standing, preparing for the fight.

Blondie was staring at her with a ferocious glint in his eyes as though he wanted to strangle her and she didn't doubt for a second that he would. His hands clenched and unclenched, his knuckles quickly turning white.

He was right in front of her, his hands wrapped easily around her neck as her nails clawed at his face and arms, when there was a knock on the door. Scarface stared at it uncertainly before heading over to it and opening it a crack to peer out.

Ariadne jerked as Scarface stumbled backwards and tumbled to the ground, the back of his skull blown to pieces and all over the carpet and wall. She hadn't even heard the gunshot, the exclamation of Scarface as the life slipped out of him.

Blondie jumped away from her and disappeared down the hall and into another room, looking for an escape. The door of the hotel closed softly, the click resounding through the room like the gunshot that should have earlier.

Ariadne's eyes moved upwards in both disbelief and relief. She took in the shine of his shoes, the dress pants without a single wrinkle, the impeccable dress shirt with the tie down the center, the serious face with the intent to finish the job, and the slicked back black hair without a hair out of place.

Arthur's brown eyes, darkened to a near black, found her as he walked briskly past her and down the hall. His lips were set in a frown of concentration, his eyebrows creased slightly. The gun in his hand was deadly and dangerous like the man holding it.

Muted gunshots could be heard. Ariadne wasn't an expert with guns but she knew that the guns had silencers on them, keeping the rest of the hotel oblivious to what was going on in one of their rooms.

Ariadne tried to ignore the worry settling in her gut as the gunshots continued. If Arthur was shot she didn't know what she'd do. Would she cry at the unimaginable pain that would settle in her chest at the loss of someone so important to her?

The thought startled her, the realization that Arthur indeed meant something to her making her frown in anger at herself. He'd left her alone in an airport, left her to try and adjust to the blandness she saw in life now that she knew the possibilities of dreamscapes. He'd left and the only way she'd been able to get him to come back was when she was in danger.

But was it really Arthur? Or was he another dreamscape trick?

With that thought, Ariadne moved over to where Scarface lay on the ground. Blood had begun to pool around his head, causing Ariadne to wince in disgust. With the tips of her fingers, she moved his jacket aside and grabbed the gun in the waistband of his slacks. It was cold and hard in her hand.

She stood just as she heard footsteps approach her. Without looking, she knew who it was by the relaxed gait, by the way her shoulders uncoiled from his near presence.

"Ariadne." Arthur's voice was soft, coaxing, like in her dream, but it was coaxing her to put down the gun. She refused to fall twice for his tricks.

"Don't move," Ariadne warned him, turning and aiming the gun at him without hesitation. After seeing him in the dreamscape, she wasn't sure when he was real or not anymore.

Arthur stilled, his gun nowhere in sight as he raised his hands slowly, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. Ariadne stared at him in distrust before her eyes dropped to his tie, her lips pressing together as she pieced everything together.

Without taking her eyes off of him, she stuck her hand in her jacket pocket, relieved to be wearing her jacket again and to find her totem. She pulled it out and set it on the table, tapping it lightly. It fell with a clang, rolling towards the edge where she caught it and shoved it back into her pocket.

"You're real," she muttered to herself as the gun dropped from her hands. It was a stupid move considering the gun could have fired accidentally and shot one of them, but she didn't care. Her mind was trying to process everything that was going on.

Arthur caught her before she could stumble and fall backwards over Scarface's body. His hands pulled her away from the body and before she knew it, she was encased in warmth and the smell that was purely Arthur: leather and peppermint. She faintly wondered if he had a thing for gum.

And then the warmth was gone but the smell remained. It engulfed her and calmed her like a sedative.

"We'll talk when we get somewhere safe," he told her as he headed for the door, expecting her to follow. After everything that had happened in the course of the past couple of days (her guess at how long she'd been kidnapped since she had a bad enough time guessing at the date as it was) Ariadne was more than relieved to let someone else take care of her and protect her.

They headed down the hallway briskly and took the stairs. Arthur hailed a cab and Ariadne found it more difficult than she originally thought it would be to keep her eyes from roaming his face in newly found, yet familiar interest.

It was silent in the cab and Ariadne forced herself stare out the window and guess at where they were going. It felt like hours as the world sped by in a blur of lights and brick buildings.

With drooping eyes, Ariadne tried to stay awake. Until now she'd been running on pure adrenaline and hadn't realized how much she yearned for a warm bed and the feelings of comfort.

There was a sharp intake as her head landed on something firm yet soft. She felt safe, safer than she'd ever felt before in her life. Stubbornly, she refused to admit that it had anything to do with the man next to her who had turned into a human pillow. The thought made her smile, earning a curious look from Arthur.

/|\

When Ariadne woke she found herself staring at the peeling plaster on the ceiling. Her mind tried to process where she was, but all she could come up with was the taxi she'd been in before she drifted off.

Reaching for the totem in her pocket, she dropped it onto the side table and taped it, relieved to hear it clunk on its side and roll onto the floor.

"Don't worry, it's not a dream."

Ariadne's heart jumped as she sat up, her eyes immediately finding Arthur at his perch on the windowsill. She sorely wanted to tell him that she could barely tell what's a dream or not anymore, especially after the last few days.

"I was just making sure. You're wearing a tie but still," Ariadne told him without thinking, biting her lip when she realized she'd said too much, that she'd implied she knew Arthur like the back of hand. In some ways she did.

The curious tilt of Arthur's head made her turn her back towards him and sit on the edge of the bed, unable to meet his eyes.

"What did they do?" he questioned her softly, a hard edge in his voice, his approaching footsteps making Ariadne's skin break out in goosebumps. She hesitated before looking up at him, surprised to find him crouched down in front of her, his hands coming to rest on her knees gently.

"They tortured me and when that didn't work they tried to use you against me," Ariadne said to him with a frown, her eyes unable to look away from his. "He did was Eames does and I honestly thought it was you—"Ariadne's voice cracked and she realized that tears were running down her face. "I thought you were there to save me and then I found out it wasn't real."

Arthur's arms wound around her, hard muscle pressing into her cheek as she rested against his chest, her hands clutching at the back of his dress shirt tightly. She felt him rocking her lightly, his cheek pressed against the top of her head. Never would she have pegged Arthur as a hugging type of person, but here they were, arms around each other and she was already feeling better.

"I won't ever let anything like that happen to you again," Arthur murmured above her, his breath stirring her hair lightly on the top of her head and making her shiver, not in coldness but something else, something indescribable.

Ariadne pulled away from him, ignoring the sudden feeling of longing of having his arms back around her. She stood up and headed for the window, staring out at it, out at the real world. Who were they kidding? Sooner or later they'd go their separate ways again, her reluctantly, him willingly.

"Ariadne?" Arthur's forehead was creased in worry, his eyes trained on her as he stood but didn't come closer, opting to keep a distance from him. What was he afraid of? Her pulling out a gun and aiming it at him again? She wasn't doubting reality this time.

"You can't promise that," Ariadne whispered, her voice rising as anger flooded her. It shocked her that she could get angry so easily but, hell, this past week had been a roller coaster of fear and her being kidnapped and being fucking tortured and tricked and given false hope. She couldn't stop the accusation in her voice. "You left last time, what's stopping you from leaving in a couple of days?"

Arthur didn't say anything and Ariadne wondered if he'd left the room. Turning, she forced herself to hold her ground as Arthur looked down at her, his own eyes holding an anger that mirrored her own.

"Do you know how long it took me to find you?" he demanded furiously, a crack in his calm façade that Ariadne had never seen before. He didn't wait for her to answer. "Six months, two weeks, and five days. I tried to find you Ariadne, I tried so fucking hard, but you'd just dropped off the face of the planet. You're just as much to blame for this as I am."

Ariadne didn't know which was more surprising: him admitting his own fault or admitting that he'd been trying to find her. A tingle erupted in her stomach.

"I was so glad when you called me but then you were screaming and I couldn't do anything about it," he admitted without hesitation, his jaw clenching before he continued, "It tore me apart inside and I wasn't sure what I'd do if I didn't find you in time."

He fell silent, his brown eyes dark enough to be called black, his chest heaving.

Without thinking, Ariadne grabbed his tie and pulled him forward, pressing her lips against his softly. Her hands clutched at his tie like a lifeline, afraid that if she let go, he'd run.

Pulling back, Ariadne opened her eyes and stared at Arthur, her eyes wide. What she'd just done began to register. She dropped his tie, choosing to ignore that it was wrinkled with obvious finger impressions.

Ariadne was mentally going through how many steps it would take to get to the door of the room when warm, smooth lips pressed against her own. Without thinking (something she seemed to do whenever Arthur was near which unsettled her) she kissed him back with an intensity that made her toes curl.

He pinned her against the wall with his hips as their kiss became hungrier, rougher, something they'd been yearning to do since they'd first met. His teeth caught her bottom lip and tugged it into his mouth, sucking on it wetly. Pulling away, he kissed down her jaw and nipped at the patch of sweet smelling skin under her ear.

"I've wanted to do that forever," Arthur murmured into her ear as his hands ran down her back, his blunt nails biting into her flesh. He groaned, his fingers finding the hem of her shirt and yanking it over her head, beating her to it. It was thrown somewhere unknown behind him, his own shirt following.

She thought for sure he'd pause to fold it and set it down carefully. The thought made her giggle.

Arthur's lips curved into a smile against her neck as he kissed his way to her collarbone. "What's so funny?"

"I just…thought for sure that you'd fold your shirt." Ariadne blushed at being so open with him.

He smirked and pulled away, ignoring her frown, and going over to pick up his shirt. Ariadne watched him with narrowed eyes, pushing away from the wall when he purposely folded it slowly, shaking it out to start over.

"You…" Ariadne couldn't finish her sentence. She hadn't pegged him for being a teaser either but she was starting to realize that there were things about him that she didn't know, even simple things such as his favorite color. She wanted to know everything about him and the intensity of the feeling made her stomach flutter in excitement.

Going over to his turned back as he folded his shirt for the last time and set it down, finally, Ariadne kissed him on the shoulder blade before nipping hard, running her hand over his shoulder as she moved to stand in front of him.

They stared at each other for a long time, neither saying a word as what they were about to do sunk in. They were about to step into uncharted territory and it was both terrifying and exhilarating.

His hands grabbed her hips and backed her up until she was sitting on the bed. With skilled fingers, Arthur unbuttoned her jeans and pulled them down her legs, inhaling sharply when he eyes traveled down the length of them.

Leaning forward, Ariadne kissed him with everything she had, grabbing onto the back of his head and caressing the back of his neck with the lips of her fingertips. He shivered and they were moving, skin against skin, and before long they were under the covers.

Her breath beat against his throat in short bursts as he slid her panties down her legs. He disappeared under the covers and she cried out as his fingers spread her thighs and delved into her with an intent and preciseness that was all Arthur.

It wasn't long before her skin was covered in a light sheen of sweat as he reappeared and settled against her, burying himself to the hilt inside of her. Her fingers danced across his chest before disappearing over his shoulders, her nails digging into his shoulder blades as her legs wrapped around his hips tightly in an effort to pull him deeper, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath.

They stared at each other before her eyes fluttered closed in ecstasy, his fingers gripping her hips roughly as his hips snapped against hers with increasing force and speed. Keening, Ariadne buried her face in his neck, her mouth kissing his pulse point and tasting the saltiness of his skin.

They tipped over the edge in harmony, Ariadne's forehead pressed against his shoulder as she cried out loudly, her right hand buried in the hair at the nape of his neck. Arthur groaned huskily, his lips finding hers as they slowly came down from their high, their fingers intertwined above Ariadne's head.

Arthur stared at her, his eyes roaming her face as though he were trying to memorize it to memory. His hair was messed up and Ariadne found it as sexy was when it was slicked back. She felt as though they were sharing a special moment, him out of his normal element of perfection and her out of her normal quietness.

Arthur's eyes landed on her lips and he leaned down to lightly kiss her, drawing back before coming back for another quick peck as though he couldn't get enough. Ariadne was tempted to tell him that she would never get enough of him but she swallowed the words, deciding to save them for another time. Maybe tomorrow morning.

Arthur's arms started to shake with weariness and he settled down next to her, his hands pulling her close. Ariadne tangled her legs with his, hearing him groan as his hand grabbed her leg and hoisted it onto his hip, pressing against her.

"We're never going to sleep if you do that," Arthur warned, his heated eyes crinkling as he smiled down at her. Ariadne rolled her eyes and shoved his shoulder, satisfied when he landed on his back. She seated herself snugly on his stomach, bracing herself with her hands on his chest, her lips tilting into a wicked smirk.

"I don't mind if you don't."

He shook his head quickly, his hands sliding up her stomach to palm her breasts, his fingers drawing circles around her nipples tauntingly, relishing in her moan as her head fell back. Arthur leaned up to nip at the underside of her jaw, his teeth making her whimper for more.

Ariadne silently wondered how they'd gone from being in different countries to being in the same bed together but as Arthur's hands slid back down her body and found the sensitive skin between her thighs she decided that she didn't care.

They were happy and that was all that mattered. She'd be damned before she let him walk away again.

/|\

This took over a week to write. It drove me insane. Also I just want to thank all my readers for holding in there and dealing with my random updates with different stories and pairings. If you like my randomness, feel free to go over my livejournal to see more randomness. There is a nice smutfest going on for Ariadne and Arthur that I am taking part in.