Kicking Slowly

A/N: Hello, peoples (and this is a word)!I have recently watched Inception, stayed up all night writing in my notebook, and this is the result. A/A love! Whoooo! My goal is to make a 35 chapter fanfic, so support me! And without furthur ado: Slow Kicks! More at the bottom!

Soundtrack: Center of Attention- Jackson Waters

'Love hurts whether it's right or wrong.' - Avril Lavigne

Chapter One: Friends at Cobol

She can feel Arthur's lips tracing patterns along her cold skin. His fingers as he plays with her own. His smile. She can see it all, feel it all. Can smell the briny and salty smell of the ocean, the feel of the wood beneath her bare feet and the bite of Arthur's cold zipper on his leather jacket. The lurch of the ship and the laughter of other passengers. Arthur's arms wrapped around her. She revels in it all, accepting it in stride. Arthur whispers something into her hair, and she turns her head. "Hmmm?" she murmurs, and he plays with her scarf.

She digs her hand into her pocket for her bishop, and places it onto the rail. She pushes it with a finger. "I said-" he starts.

It doesn't fall.

And then she's in a hotel room, a wipsy green dress fluttering around her figure, a scarf dangling from her fingertips, and a cigerette in her other hand. A gun is under her dress, and she can feel it press into her skin. Arthur enters the room, brandishing a gun, and she slides her own out. They observe each other from behind the barrel, each wearing a poker face. He cocks his head. "Would you shoot me?" he asks with all the indifference of a person who didn't care. "I thought you loved me."

"I did. But that was the past."

"Do you know what it is to be a lover? To be half of a whole?"

She falters as he repeats Mal's words. Then he pulls the trigger. She gasps and slides to the floor as he catches her body and kisses her fluttering eyelids. She takes a deep, shuddering breath, and hisses out words he has to strain to hear.

"I love you."

"I know. I love you too."

Then he slides her eyelids shut.

Then they're in the lobby. Projections -she remembers it- are staring them, and she's getting nervous. This means something bad, she's sure. Only she can't remember what. "Quick, give me a kiss," he mutters. She leans in and he leans in, and it's the briefest moment of skin brushing against skin, a tingle rushing through her fingertips and the urge to wrap herself around this perfect man. But then he breaks away, and she has to bring things back to reality. "They're still looking at us," she murmurs. He smiles at her. "Well, it was worth a shot."

She smiles back.

A riot scene. Is it? A crowd of people, mixing violently and her arms held back. She can hear Cobb shouting, screaming something. Then a woman comes through the crowd, and they part for her like Moses parting the Red Sea. Something silver and huge glints in her hand, and Ariadne panics. "Wake me up! Cobb, wake me-"

Something is thrust into her stomach and the pain consumes Ariadne. Then her eyes are open and Arthur's fingers are moving at her wrists, pulling out the needle.

Then her eyes are really open, and she stares at her ceiling. Dreams of Arthur. Always of Arthur. She wades through her blankets and slips on her fuzzy red slippers and stretches, listening for the pop! of her muscles. Then she stands and contemplates the bishop on her dresser. A dream,she thinks,if this was a dream, then Arthur will burst through this door and wrap me in his arms. Only I have the look to this door, and he will come in. But he doesn't, and, still uncertain, Ariadne tips the totem over with two fingers. It topples, the small whisper of wind fluttering the sheets of fresh papers and designs that rest there. She sighs with relief and regret. Relief because the sunlight that dances on her skin is real; regret because she's only ever had one kiss with Arthur, and she wants more. A lot more. So many hugs and kisses that she won't be able to count them on all her fingers and toes and bodily limbs.

She plucks a scarf (green, with blue and red polka dots) a set of clothes, and a hairband from her dresser and walks into the bathroom. She stares at the tangled mess she calls her hair, and, a bit resigned, she begins to comb it through. She brushes her teeth. Then she undresses and hops into the shower.

One day ago

He's at the conveince store when he gets the call. He glances at the caller ID before flipping open the phone and putting it to his ear. "It's me." He looks around the store before putting the phone to his ear again.

"Arthur, do you see a tail? Have you been out today?"

Arthur looks around again and spies a man lurking in the corner. Once he makes eye contact, the man looks instantly at the pack of twizzlers he's holding. "Yes, I see a tail. And I've been to the dry cleaner's, too." There's a scuffle at the other end of the phone: someone vainly trying to access the phone, and Eames holding them off. "I'm at Cobb's house. Get to Ariandne. She might have a tail as 's already at the warehouse. I'll meet you there, at the University. Tommorow's Monday, right? She'll be at the University?" Arthur checks his things out and makes his way to his car before answering. He's also trying to ignore the stirring in his gut.

"Yeah. We'll go there. They might try to get her there."

" 'Kay, mate. See ya there. Oh, and by the way, Cobb's not coming. He has to protect his children-" There's yelling, and a little girl is talking into Arthur's ear. "Hello, Uncle Arthur. Uncle Eames told me that you and Auntie Ari have been-" Phillipa pauses to giggle, "kissing. Is that true?" Arthur glances at the phone. "May I speak to Uncle Eames please?" he mutters. Had Eames been spying on them in the hotel? "No. Uncle Eames is begging me not to give you the phone."

Arthur unlocks the Toyota and enters, setting his things on the seat next to him and starting the car. "Well, I'll speak to him later. Uncle Arthur is driving now, so I have to go. You and James be good, okay? Let's try not to give daddy a heart attack." The girl voices her assent and Arthur hangs up and peels out of the parking lot.


What she has for Arthur isn't obsession, she decides on the way to the University. Not obsession. Affection? Quite possibly. But it feels so much more then that. Endearment? Gratitude?

She thinks of Arthur then- his beautiful chisled features, his slicked back hair, and his dark eyes that can see straight into her soul. She pulls open the door to the University, once again cursing at how heavy it is, and it's like a dream. Everything happens so fast.

She's inside and heading to the staircase. She's just about to put her hand on the smooth marble handrail when gunshots ring out. Everyone starts screaming at once and drop to the floor, covering their heads and cowering against the dusty floor. Except not Ariadne. She just stands there, in complete and utter shock, a familiar tingle rushing to her fingertips. She has her totem in her hand now-when did she reach for it?- and pushes it over in the University floor with more force then nessecary. It falls, and she snatches it back up and pushes it over again. Her hands are shaking, she realizes.

More gunshots -one striking a marble statue by the staircase- and another student yells at Ariadne to get down. She does so, still shaking. She can't breathe, and she's developing tunnel vision. It was Arthur she saw rushing past her, she's sure of it. Complete with his leather jacket and breifcase. She's sure of it, absolutely positive- it was him. The rush in her fingertips confirms it.

People are shouting some more, screaming and Ariadne sees Arthur again, dissapearing into the shadows behind a statue. Chaos is errupting. A security gaurd arrives and is instantly ambushed.

There's another gunshot, and police sirens wail closer and closer to the University. The light fixture above a clump of students shatters. A hoarse voice shouts something. She sees a man lurking on the other side of the staircase, and he's holding a gun. She loses all sense of feeling when he levels it to her head. His finger is pressing into the trigger-

-Right before someone shoves her out of the way and she careens backwards. Her head collides with the wall, and her savior answers the gun man with shots of his own. Her eyes are shut tight. She smells him before she opens her eyes. The smell of expensive wine and cigerettes, the smell of leather and hair gel. The smell of perfection. The smell of Arthur. And when she opens her eyes, it is him.

"Arthur?" She can barely murmur the words, and all the dreams come rushing back- the boat. The hotel room (the one she can't even understand), and the gentle pressure of his lips on her eyelids. Mal, and her huge knife, and waking up to Arthur's gentle presence. And many more dreams. Many, many more dreams. With countless kisses and hugs, and guns and knives, and Arthur's reassuring voice. But her dream- Arthur can never compare to this Arthur, the real one with a real smell that she's only been so close to smell one other time. Arthur. His names sounds like heaven on her lips.

"Are you okay?" His dark eyes flit around the lobby of the University once before focusing on her. She nods mutely. "Good. Your tail from Cobol Engineering doesn't want you to be."

She finds breath for a few words. And she's hyper-aware of how close he is. A miracle she's able to talk.

"Cobol Egineering?"

He shifts, moving from her and a muscle in his jaw twitching like mad. He nods crisply and pulls her with him, heading to the back. Ariadne spots someone, a tall dark shadow. Their movement isn't noticed because now everyone is dashing for the exits in what can only be described as 'a mad frenzy'. All Ariadne can think about is the soft and gentle pressure of his hands on her own. Maybe that's what he's thinking about, too. And maybe unicorns will fly over her head. Because Ariadne is willing to bet her tution money that the immaculate point man wouldn't be thinking about kisses. Not in a critical moment like this.

The tall shadow is Eames. He sees her the moment she recognizes it's him, and he tosses her a strained grin. "Hello, love. I'd duck if I were you."

She obeys without a single doubt as both Arthur and Eames return fire. She hears Eames mutter an oath as a bullet richoets off a wall near them. Arthur begins to pull her to the back door while Eames remains and shoots at the gun man. He finally answers her question.

"Cobol Engineering hired Cobb and I to preform an Extraction on Saito. But he found us out, and they don't accept failure, as we've learned. Our last Architect was thrown off a roof."

Ariadne shivers. "But I wasn't there for the Extraction. Why are they following me? And apparently trying to shoot me?" Arthur glances at her for a second, but doesn't answer. Her stomach plunges into her feet and then rises into her throat when Arthur and she reach outside. "Get into the blue Honda civic. Eames'll accompany you." She feels a pang of sadness: their reunion was possibly at least seven minutes long. "Aren't you coming?"

He gives her a smile that speaks volumes, and heat courses through her face as she steps into the car.

"I have things to take care of and people to meet."

This is possibly the vaugest thing Ariadne has ever heard, and she won't accept it. "But-"

Eames is in the car then and hurridley telling the driver to speed away. "Keep your head down," he advises. She does so, watching Arthur's form dissapear furthur and furthur from the car. She wants to reach for the bishop and check if this is reality, but when she puts her hand in her pocket it's not there. She searches her other pocker, and all possible places it might be, but it's not there: anywhere. A blossom of dread bursts inside her chest, and she starts to feel around Eames, searching for his totem.

"Whoa, there, mate, we have plenty of time at the warehouse-"

"No, you pervert," she snaps, "do you have your totem? Can you-?" He gives her a look, lazily reaching into his suit pocket and pulls out a poker chip. He spins it on the car armrest, and it falls. She breathes a sigh of relief. "What happened to yours?" She takes in a deep breath, preparing herself for the scolding she's sure to get. "I left it at the University when I saw Arthur."

He cocks an arrogant eyebrow (if eyebrows can be arrogant, but in this case it certainly looks it). "What, you've been dreaming of us, love? Can't say I'm surprised- I am a rather dashing fellow." She looks out the window and doesn't answer as she hears him mutter, "Just Arthur then. Bloody-"

She does have dreams of Eames, but only as he drags Arthur's lifeless body from an otherwise empty hotel room. And after watching The Hangover, a tiger who ate babies. But still, the way Eames has said it makes Ariadne shiver.

"What makes you think I dream of Arthur? Or you guys?" she demands. Eames chuckles, amused, but Ariadne is not. He never does answer her question.

.Somewhere else. +*+*+

"You said a possible job."

"And an escape from your friends at Cobol."

"Eames and I don't need help."

"But...this one might?"

The aged buisness tycoon flashes a picture of Ariadne at Arthur, and he reflexivley tightens a fist. "I can protect her too," he insists, and the man gives him a pitying look. It's a look Arthur doesn't get often, and he glares, trying oh-so-desperatly to ignore the stirring in his gut at the mere mention of Ariadne. "You can't hide from Cobol forever. If you do the job correctly, then I can offer you a reprieve," he points out.

"But what you're asking us to do is ridicolous!" says Arthur, refraining from slamming a fist on the table. Arthur grinds his teeth, thinking. "We can do them at different times, even though that has a risk as well," he says slowly. The tycoon puts the picture down and Arthur has to stop himself from snatching it back up again. Just to study her face, he tells himself. He's ripped from his thoughts as the buisness man speaks again.

"It's quite simple, Arthur. Like eating cereal and watching TV at the same time. A person of your caliber can do that, correct?"

This is absolutly twisted, Arthur thinks. To perform an Extraction and Inception at the same time. Is this even possible? He grinds his teeth, thinking. "It depends on who the target is," Arthur admits. The buisness tycoon grins, showings a mouth full of clean and perfect teeth. "Adam Turnser is your Mark. Heir to a bottled water company. I want you to-" here he leans across the desk and slids a manila folder bursting with papers to Arthur, "Incept the idea that he'll retire early off his killings and leave the company to his stupid daughter, Makla, and to Extract whether or not he's planning a new kind of bottle. What does it do? What does it look like?"

Arthur picks up the folder and begins to flip through it.

"Everything's in there, son. Photos, birth certificates, even where he went to the dentist as a child."

Arthur closes the folder and looks up at the buisness man. "I'll be in contact. To let you know if we'll do it. And when." He stands and leaves the University office that the buisness man has rented. The man is twiddling his fingers as Arthur shuts the door. He makes his way through a mass of hysterical people and police officers, and spies a golden bishop by a potted plant. Ariadne's totem.

He picks it up and stares at it. Then he pockets it and continues outside to his car.

The warehouse is exactly as Ariadne remembers it. The lawn chairs set apart from one another, and the tables. The only things that are missing are Cobb, Arthur, and his PASIV device. Even Yusuf is here, cheerfully mixing compounds and other unrecognizable things to Ariadne's eyes. He grins at her when she enters. "Take a seat on over there, mate. We're gonna be here a while," Eames says. She does, perching on the edge of a lawn chair and staying far away from Yusuf and his...chemicals. She has a million questions, but one is the most dominant. "Why am I here? I mean...why was that guy shooting at me?"

Eames pauses in unwrapping his sandwhich. "A tail from Cobol was shooting at you. The same tail was shooting at you. We had a tail too- Arthur, Yusuf, and I. But they were only watching us. They weren't shooting..." he trails off, then starts again. "So we're basically hiding here." He catches sight of Ariadne's face and hurridely starts again. "Don't worry, you can still go to your classes and stuff. And you might not be bored out of your mind. Arthur says he's looking into a job offer."

Ariadne nods just as Arthur enters the warehouse, brandishing a manila folder.

A/N: Please review, this took me like...forever and a weekend to write. In fact, my fingers hurt. A lot. Don't let my finger pain go to waste! And if they seem off character, sorry. I've only watched Inception three times... Must get onto furthur studying... A/A love! Whoooo!