Author's Greeting: Hello! This fic is my take on what I think could have happened between Arthur and Ariadne during and (hopefully) after Inception (if Inception were a love story of sorts, focusing on these two instead of the whole, what is a dream vs reality, man in anguish over dead wife, moral ambiguity of invading a person's subconscious-thing-that Inception was about). Basically, this is a self-indulgent take (i.e., what I want to see happen) over the course of the A/A relationship.
Warnings: This fic is fluffy. A chapter or two down the line will have a mature rating.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inception but I have borrowed some lines from the movie. Main title and chapter 1 title come from lyrics in Ellie Goulding's song: I'll Hold My Breath.
Chapter1 rating: PG
Chapter 1: I'll Hold My Breath
Ariadne watched him walk past her towards her university's School of Architecture building. She had been staring off into space, daydreaming about a museum she hoped to design someday in a picturesque park. He caught her eye and disrupted her musings with his slightly unusual presence; he was out of place in this setting, carrying a brown paper shopping bag and not dressing like a typical college student. He paused before going into the building, looking like he was debating something in his mind. Whatever it was didn't stop him from entering. After he disappeared inside she didn't give him a second thought.
She had been and is currently sitting on the edge of a quiet fountain in the plaza near the Architecture building. Her left leg is curled in front of her, the right one dangles over the fountain's ledge. An open sketchpad lies on her lap. Stephen was after her regarding her final project. They parted ways earlier that morning when she told him she needed space, a place to think, maybe gather some inspiration. He understood; he could never think in his own broom cupboard of an office, he liked to say.
She is engrossed in a design she's creating. Bent over, her hair creating a curtain between her and everything else, she doesn't hear anyone approach.
"Ah, Ariadne, I thought I might find you here."
It is Professor Miles. Standing next to him is the man she had been observing earlier.
"Stephen, you aren't here to get on my case again, are you? Because if you are you can save your breath, I'm working on something right now." Smiling, she indicates the sketchpad she in her lap.
The professor gives a small laugh. "No, I didn't come here to do that, although I'm glad to hear you're working on your project. Actually, I came looking for you because I want to introduce you to Mr. Cobb."
She rises from her seat, sets aside her sketchpad on the fountain ledge and quickly sizes up this Mr. Cobb. On closer inspection she can see that he is a handsome man. His clothing looks expensive and is tailored to his medium build. He is sporting a goatee that she decides makes him appear his age, mid-thirties. Without it, he could have looked a few years younger. His hands are in his pockets and he doesn't have the brown paper bag from earlier. His most intriguing feature is his blue eyes. They are not the eyes of a happy man. They look lusterless and maybe a little bit…desperate.
"Nice to meet you," she says politely.
He nods an acknowledgement and Professor Miles continues. "If you don't mind, Mr. Cobb has an offer he would like to discuss with you."
"An internship?" she asks, hopefully.
Smiling, Cobb replies cryptically, "Not exactly." He makes a move to indicate she sit down. She hesitates when her mentor bids his goodbye.
"Don't worry Ariadne, you can trust Mr. Cobb."
Before he walks away he gives Cobb a brief look. She wonders if it means, 'don't contradict me.'
Cobb motions for her to sit down again. Ariadne does this time, closing the opened sketchpad and putting it in her portfolio. He sits in the vacated space and pulls out his own small pad of paper and a pen. He hands them to her and she takes it with a question in her eyes.
"A test," he answers.
The man is a bit infuriating, she later decides. It was like he had these great secrets and he is teasing her with them. And damn her curiosity, but she needs to find out what those secrets are. This is why she is agreeing to accompany him to a warehouse a few of miles from the university. She wants to understand those secrets.
"Have you ever heard of shared dreaming?" he asks as they walk along some small Parisian streets.
"No, what is it?"
"It's a whole new way of creating and showing people your creations, all while you sleep."
"Is this any different or better than doing it in waking life?"
"Yes," is his brief answer; he pauses before elaborating, "because you'll be able to do and build the impossible."
She has to hand it to him. He knows exactly what to tell her to pique her curiosity.
Ordinarily, Ariadne wouldn't just blindly follow a man she just met to some warehouse on the outskirts of Paris; she is more sensible than that. But Stephen told her she could trust Cobb, and she trusts her mentor.
And, there is that matter with Cobb's eyes. It is as if they are calling out to her. There is a hint of desperation in them. Like he needs something, or someone to help him figure out a puzzle he desperately needs solved.
They arrive at the warehouse after about thirty minutes. It's on a small street in a surprisingly quiet section in Paris. The adjacent buildings look empty. They enter through a large wooden door that is intricately carved. The building is huge. The ceiling is vaulted high and there are windows everywhere covered with old Parisian newsprint that has yellowed with age. Large Corinthian column supports are strategically placed within the large space and along one wall are some rooms. They are probably offices or workspaces. Most of the remaining area is open floor space littered with work tables and mismatched chairs. In one corner she sees some lawn chairs strewn about. There is also a well-dressed man standing next to an open case.
Seeing them enter the man approaches, walking confidently, his face serious. Ariadne can't help but stare at him. He is well put together and extremely handsome. His buttoned-up shirt, waistcoat, tie, slacks, and shoes are all coordinated and tailored perfectly to his lean form. His shirt sleeves are rolled up to reveal corded forearms. His dark hair is slicked back, none of it out of place. He stops in front of them and places his hands in his pockets. His dark eyes have a bit of a mischievous look to them. One side of his mouth quirks up slightly.
He is, in a word, perfect.
Cobb introduces him simply as Arthur.
His perfection has rendered her stupid. This is the only logical explanation as to why she continues to stare and not reply to his greeting.
He reaches out a hand to shake hers and she at least has the presence of mind to stick hers out. She can tell he is sizing her up and she wonders if he thinks her stupid too. In a quick fit of vanity she wishes she had put on some make-up this morning, maybe worn a different outfit, run a comb through her hair.
His hand is warm; his grip firm. After he releases her hand it tingles from the contact and a warmth travels up her arm. She's pretty sure he can tell her breathing quickened. He doesn't appear to be affected by her.
Cobb stares at the both of them, eyes darting between one and the other. His face doesn't betray any emotion. Turning to Arthur he says, "I'm going to introduce Ariadne to dream sharing. Get everything ready."
Arthur seems to know what this command means and without a word he heads back toward the lawn chairs and the open case. He starts pulling out tubing.
Cobb leads Ariadne to the lawn chairs.
"What is he doing?"
"In order to share dreams we need to be hooked up to that machine." He indicates the open case that Arthur is working on. "A sleeping agent is injected into our blood stream which causes us to automatically enter the dream state. Arthur is getting the IVs ready."
"Is he going to be joining us in the dream too?"
With his back turned to them, Arthur answers, "I'm going to be monitoring the machine, making sure everything is working properly."
Ariadne is disappointed but also starts to feel self-conscious. She should probably be asking questions regarding the shared dream process itself, not what Arthur will be doing.
But if Cobb thinks her silence toward the dreaming experience is odd, he doesn't say anything. Instead, he takes a seat on a lawn chair. Ariadne sets herself down on one nearby. Arthur walks over and hands Cobb a tube.
"Arthur will get you ready." It's the last thing Cobb says before injecting himself and relaxing back in the chair. He falls asleep quickly.
Focused on Cobb, Ariadne startles when she hears Arthur's soft, deep voice beside her.
"You'll need to roll up your sleeve or take off your jacket. I'd prefer it if you take it off."
He's kneeling so close she can smell his aftershave; she wants to breathe him in. Turning her head she stares at him. He stares back, a ghost of a smile on his lips. She tells herself that he's not flirting with her; it's just her overloaded senses that make his suggestion sound intimate. Still, she turns her head away to hide a flush as she makes a concentrated effort to remove her jacket.
Arthur takes her arm, bringing her palm up. His touch is gentle and she starts to wonder what it would feel like if he touched her body in other places. The thought causes her to tense up.
"Relax, you'll only feel a small prick."
After swabbing her wrist with alcohol, he gently inserts the needle in her wrist then attaches some tape over it to keep it in place. His amused expression is the last thing she sees before she succumbs to sleep.
I'm in awe of all the great Inception fics out there. I wanted to try to add to the archives. Don't be afraid to tell me what you think.
This fic was/is supposed to lead to sex. Yeah...I'm not there yet.