A/N: I would like to extend a special thank you to Snotwing, who brought to my attention the complete lack of quotation marks in both the first and second chapters. I've figured out the problem, and fixed it. I have yet to finish up with Chapter 3, as I'm currently working on my novels, which are at the editing stage ( least favorite part D: ) But THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of the viewers! Even though I've only received one review, I'm very pleased to see it's actually being noticed. Now, if only Four Weeks in June would get the same response… :\
Anyway, enjoy the less confusing version!
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"Cobb has asked me to keep an eye on you," Arthur said one sunny winter afternoon as he unpacked a PASIV unit.
"How thoughtful of him," Marielle grumbled sarcastically. She was removing her pea coat and hanging it on the back of a chair.
Arthur simply smiled to himself and shook his head, deciding against responding to Marielle's remark. He concentrated on adjusting the dosage of the chemicals so as not to launch Marielle into a permanent slumber.
"How long did you say it's been since you've done this?" Arthur asked her.
"About two years, give or take," Marielle said to the room in general, wandering around and inspecting items and papers laying scattered on the desks. Arthur nodded and adjusted the PASIV a final time. Marielle turned her face up toward the sunshine that spilled through the windows near the ceiling as Arthur turned toward her.
"The sun feels so much warmer in here than it does outside," Marielle observed. "It feels safe in here."
Arthur didn't respond, but stuffed his hands in his pockets, and waited patiently for Marielle. She took a deep breath, then turned to him.
"Are you ready?" She asked, her arms folded across her torso.
"As ready as I'll ever be," Arthur replied. "You can have whichever chair you like."
Marielle glanced over at the setup, and couldn't help but smile. Bothe chairs were identical, and positioned ever so carefully. How very Arthur, she though. She walked over and fell into the chair on the right of the PASIV, and shook her arms loose. Arthur came around and sat on the other chair facing her, leaning his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together.
"When I'm ready, I'll sigh," Marielle said. She pulled a tube from the device, and inserted the tiny needle into her wrist, taping it into place.
Arthur nodded, watching as she fell into her customary meditation, and wondering to himself if Cobb's fears were justified.
Marielle learned very quickly how boring Arthur's dreams were. Once in a while he would surprise her with something out of the ordinary, like an elephant wandering the city, or a clown working at the bank. Marielle quite liked the elephant; it was her favorite animal, and she had squealed with joy when she saw it. It didn't take Arthur very long to find her after that.
"You're very good at this," Arthur commented as they pulled the tubes from their arms. "A bit out of practice, but it seems very natural for you."
"Yoga in college helped," Marielle replied casually. "That and the year I spent in Nepal worked wonders."
Arthur turned to her.
"You've been to Nepal?" he asked curiously.
"Yeah," She replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "I went there for my religious studies course. Meditation and psychology can work very well together, if applied appropriately."
"Cobb never told me that."
"I don't see why he would," Marielle said, rising to her feet so she could stretch. "It's not that important."
"No," Arthur agreed, "but it's interesting. And now that you've joined the team, it's become important."
"Always the gentleman," Marielle said, yawning. "I'm thirsty, do we have anything to drink in this place?"
Arthur gestured toward a blue cooler sitting under one of the folding tables, and Marielle wandered over to inspect it. Inside she found expensive-looking water, some cheap sodas, and a few beers. She could tell which belonged to whom, and opted for a beer, knowing Eames would probably have counted his stash before leaving earlier that day.
"Want a beer, Arthur?" Marielle asked from across the room.
Arthur looked up, and shook his head.
"No thanks, I'm fine."
Marielle paused, then dug out another and kicked the lid closed. She walked back over to Arthur, and stuck the beer in his face. He didn't take it, at first, and Marielle thrust it into his hand impatiently. She sat down across from him, and cracked the beer open. Arthur placed the beer on the floor beside his left foot.
"Drink it, Arthur," Marielle said before taking a sip of her beer. "And don't you dare give me that crap about your body being a temple."
Arthur smiled, then glanced at her from the PASIV he was clearing up.
"If I drink it, will you promise not to force me to drink another?"
Marielle tipped her beer toward him, smacked her lips, and cast her eyes to the ceiling in mock thought.
"Ah," she said, squinting her eyes. She looked back at him, and declared, "No deal. You have to help me finish off Eames' stock of beer before I'll leave you alone."
Arthur raised his eyebrows, creating his distinguishing ripple of forehead wrinkles, and he glanced over his shoulder at the cooler.
"How many of them are left?" he asked cautiously.
"That I can't tell you," Marielle replied. "Only I can know that. And Eames."
Arthur chuckled quietly, and Marielle smiled. She was younger than Arthur, but not by much, and had known him for as long as he'd worked with her brother. He'd become a sort of family friend, and she'd always been irritated with his professional, stoic attitude and obnoxiously precise behavior. It had become a fun game for her to try and get him to open up. She had succeeded only once, and even then it had been an accident.
"We shouldn't drink too much," Arthur commented, popping the cap as easily as any man could, and taking a long swig. He swallowed, and closed his eyes. If Marielle hadn't known any better, she would almost say he seemed to be enjoying it.
"You have to get up early for a hot date tomorrow, Arthur?" Marielle teased, sipping her beer daintily.
"Not me," Arthur replied before another sip. He tilted the beer toward her. "You."
Marielle didn't believe him.
"Me?" she asked, pointing to her chest with her beer. "Not likely."
"Arthur smiled at her in a small way.
"Let me clarify," he said, wrapping his hands around his beer and leaning toward her. Marielle leaned forward too, as if about to share an exciting secret.
"Tomorrow we're going to share a dream with Ariadne," Arthur said, taking another deep swig from the beer. "God, it's been a long time since I've had a beer."
"Always drinking those girly appletinis, Arthur?" Marielle asked sarcastically, ignoring the nervous twitch in her stomach at the prospect of sharing a dream with Ariadne.
"I'm more of a gin and tonic man," Arthur replied, after some slight reflection.
"Always the bore," Marielle sighed, climbing farther into the chair to recline against the back rest. She crossed her legs at the ankle, and rested the beer on her stomach. Arthur scratched his knee self-consciously.
"So what kind of exercises are we going to do?" Marielle asked more seriously. "With Ariadne," she added after a moment's pause.
Arthur didn't respond right away; instead he took a second to observe Marielle's expression. She was focused on the label of her beer, scratching at the corner of a bit which was peeling away. She turned her face to look at him, as he hadn't replied, and Arthur noted the expectant look she cast him.
"She's got a few mazes for you," he replied, and cleared his throat.
Marielle gazed at him momentarily, picking at the corner of the label on the bottle absent-mindedly, and then turned back to her beer to take another sip.
"I hope she's not putting any of your paradoxes in there," Marielle commented. "Those got old the first six hundred times you put me through them."
"It made you work a little harder for the prize at the end, though, didn't it?" Arthur replied without giving it much though.
Marielle's head whipped around, and she glared at him angrily.
Before she had a chance to remark on Arthur's last comment, she was interrupted.
"What the hell is this?" Eames declared, stomping into the room with a bad attitude. "Tell me that's not my beer you're bloody drinking."
"Relax Eames, we'll replace it," Marielle replied lazily, turning to Arthur to roll her eyes. He half-smiled at her, interested to see how things would develop.
"Have a bad day, Eames my love?" Marielle asked sarcastically, taking a very accentuated gulp of the beer to frazzle his temper some more.
Eames smoldered for a second at the foot of Marielle's chair before storming over to a desk to ruffle already disorganized papers. "That's none of your business," he declared grumpily.
"Are you looking for something, Eames?" Arthur asked carelessly, downing the last of his beer.
"That's also none of your business," Eames snapped, grabbing at something and heading over to the cooler. He pulled three of his beers from inside of it.
"I'm taking these with me," he professed.
He stalked out, slamming the door behind him.
"Well then," Marielle said, finishing off her own beer in a couple of deep gulps. "Ready for another?"
"No, thank you," Arthur replied. "Ariadne should be here soon, we're going to be going over the mazes for tomorrow."
Marielle, feeling a bit put out, nodded in assent.
"That's fine, I should go anyway, I have some things to do," she replied, getting to her feet.
"You don't have to leave," Arthur replied, gesturing for her to sit back down. "Here, we'll have one more beer, and then you can decide whether or not you want to go."
Marielle settled back into the chair as Arthur returned to the blue cooler. She laced her fingers together and laid them on her stomach, and watched Arthur as he rummaged around for the beer. She felt a knot form and drop through her, and looked immediately at her hands.
"There's only two left," Arthur said as he walked back to the chairs.
"That'll do fine," Marielle replied, sitting up and reaching out for the beer. Arthur handed it to her, and returned to his seat across the PASIV. "Arthur?"
Arthur picked a piece of lint off the leg of his pants, placing it gingerly on the table beside the PASIV device. He looked up at her.
"Yeah?" He asked, before taking a sip of his beer.
"What have you all been doing since Dom left?" Marielle asked quietly, fingering the mouth of her beer bottle. "He's less predictable than he once was. It's like I don't know who he is anymore."
Arthur paused, thinking carefully before speaking.
"We've been through a lot," He replied. "Dom's always been more passionate about everything than I, you know that. He had a much more difficult time. I had nothing to leave behind."
Marielle glanced over at him from the corner of her eye, her face blank of expression. She tore her gaze away from Arthur's eyes, and inhaled deeply, exhaling with a sigh. She took a large gulp of her beer, wincing slightly at the carbonation that burned her throat.
"You may not realize it, Arthur," she said, pushing herself up from the chair. "But you left something behind, too."
Before Arthur had a chance to respond, Marielle, with beer in hand, grabbed her coat and threw it over her shoulder, pushing her way through the heavy warehouse door and out into the dying sunlight.