This fic was written for a prompt over at LJ: Five times the men of Inception come visit Ariadne at school; her friends wonder who these men are.
Fic Rating: R for language and adult themes (sex)
Warnings: This fic is heavy on OC
Author's Greeting: -}- A rose for you everyone who reviewed. And a happy face :)
"I can't believe you're leaving for Tokyo. That's like, a world away."
Ariadne, Martín, Darcy, and several of the architecture graduates have just exited Professor Miles' lecture hall after enjoying afternoon tea with their professor one last time before heading off to their prospective post-graduate destinations. The friends exit the architecture school building and walk out into the late afternoon sunshine and the nearly empty courtyard.
"Darce, Tokyo is still on planet Earth. And you know, just because our traveling technology isn't as far advanced as the aliens' doesn't mean it's not any good. Plus, we do have some pretty handy technology like telephones and high speed internet that can connect us in a heartbeat."
"I know, but that doesn't mean I'm going to miss you any less." Darcy captures Ariadne in a tight hug. "And I swear to god, Ari, if you don't show up to my wedding I'll postpone it, hunt you down, hogtie you, and drag you back to Austin with me."
Ariadne laughs. "Don't worry, I'll be there. I wouldn't miss it for anything." Brad had proposed to Darcy the night they graduated, almost a week ago. The two girls had cried tears of happy joy when Ariadne said yes to being her maid of honor while Martín remarked that it was like Darcy had just proposed to her. "I intend to be the best maid of honor ever."
They take a seat on a familiar bench, one they've settled in after their Tuesday morning class almost every week of the school year.
"Well, then you'll need my help planning the bachelorette party. God knows if you do it by yourself there won't be any hot, six-pack wielding, well-endowed…strip…strippers there." Martín's voice fades out and his eyes glaze over. He's already planning the debauchery in his mind.
The girls leave him to his fantasies.
"Anyway, I promise I'll be there. You can count on me flying all the way from a world away so I can do the Texas two-step with your bow-legged grandpa Rowdy."
"You won't have to. By that time you'll be two-stepping with your own cowboy."
Ariadne laughs again, but this time with much less humor. "I appreciate your confidence Darcy, but I'd still make sure your grandpa knows I'm coming."
Darcy ignores her levity and takes her hand, much like she did those many months ago when they were discussing her love life, or lack thereof. "Ari, by the time my wedding rolls around you're going to be with a guy that's so sweet on you, we'll have to pry him off you with a crowbar. I know it. I haven't felt this sure about anything since knowing that one day I'd marry Brad."
This makes Ariadne look directly at her friend. Darcy had told her many times before that she knew, ever since she was just ten years old, that one day she would be marrying Brad. It was a certainty that never wavered and now is actually coming true.
Still, that doesn't prove that Darcy could be right about her.
"How can you be so sure about me?"
"I think I just knew after seeing you with the first of your league of handsome and extraordinary gentlemen."
"C'mon Darce, not that again." Darcy continued to refer to Dom, Yusuf, Eames, and Saito as her own league of gentlemen who according to her, for no other reason than they adored her, came to her aid right when she needed them most.
Ariadne, despite her best efforts not to, has referred to them as such in her head a time or two.
"After seeing you with your rather attractive and amazing gentlemen friends," Darcy amends, "I knew for certain. They started arriving like…individual heroes that each had a unique and uncanny ability to help you out when you needed it most."
"But I don't need a boyfriend."
"No, but you deserve someone who will love you for the wonderful person you are. Everybody needs that, to be loved by someone."
Ariadne can feel the tears starting to well in her eyes. "Darcy, underneath all your alien theories and conspiracies, you're just a big sap. Never change." The two girls laugh and share a hug.
"I promise I won't. And really Ariadne, would it be so bad to be with one of those guys? I think a girl could do a lot worse. They seem like quality guys. Not like Martín's boyfriends."
Martín reappears from his daydreaming. "My ears are burning. What did I miss?"
"We were just commenting on the less than stellar parade of men you've attracted over the years. Marcel not included."
Martín smiles brightly at the mention of his new, and very steady, boyfriend. After several years of fruitless searching and the past four months of mostly self-imposed celibacy, Martín found Marcel, a shy and sweet pastry chef from Martín's now favorite pâtisserie. The two were taking it slow and Martín seemed happier than ever. "Yes, who knew that you could develop a healthy and meaningful relationship if you based it off of friendship and not sex?" Martín shakes his head in bewilderment. "I should write a book on this phenomenon."
"It's nothing new Martín, I've been telling you that all along." Darcy rolls her eyes.
"Oh, have you? Must have tuned it out along with all the alien conspiracies you spout off."
"Anyway, we aren't focusing on you, even though we're both very happy for your newfound fidelity. We're talking about Ari and how she's going to meet the man of her dreams." She turns back to address Ariadne. "Maybe he's waiting for you in Japan. Or," Darcy gives her a suggestive look, "maybe he'll be someone you've known all along."
"Are you talking about one of the guys from her league of handsome and extraordinary gentlemen?" Martín butts in. "You still think it'll be Yusuf?" Darcy nods but Martín shakes his head. "I still think you're wrong. She's going to end up with Mr. Saito. That's why she's going to Japan, to be Ari-chan, his mistress."
"That's not why I'm—"
"What? No way! Ari's not the kept woman type. She'll end up with Eames before that happens."
"Eames! You guys, this is ridic—"
"Eames is gay! Or bisexual, at least. No, Dom's our best bet."
"I told you guys, Dom and I are just—"
"You may be right, Dom is the best candidate…wait, no, I still like Yusuf! He's so nice. He's smart and sensitive. He saved all those poor cats. What woman can resist a sensitive man who saves cats?"
"Sounds like you can't. Besides, Mr. Saito's got enough money to buy a whole cat farm. Or a whole island of cats."
Ariadne gives up trying to interrupt her friends' matchmaking and tunes them out. She has a lot on her mind anyway, what with this whole business of starting a new life thousands of miles away from Paris, her family, and her friends.
In a few days she will board a plane from Saito's airline, cementing her acceptance of his offer. Soon, she'll be in Tokyo where a variety of opportunities await. It's her chance to start new with a real job that she can tell people about. Saito even arranged and set her up in a swanky ultramodern apartment, complete with cook/housekeeper and an interpreter/Japanese tutor. She'll be making more money than she needs, living in an exciting, rich culture.
And he even promised her the chance to construct and experiment in a world of dreams.
It's a new adventure. It's everything she wants. And yet…she can't shake this unsettling feeling that she still wants—needs—something more. It's a feeling she developed after her 'internship'. She thought it would go away by accepting Saito's more than generous offer, but it hasn't.
Maybe Darcy's right. Maybe that 'thing' that's missing from her life is being loved—and loving someone in return.
Sighing, Ariadne tunes back in to her friends who are still arguing over the merits of each individual team member. A smile breaks out on her face and she shakes her head. She's going to miss these two when they all go their separate ways.
"Ariadne, Darcy and I can't decide. Who do you think would make a better lover for you? Dom, who Darcy insists can't be completely inept in bed just because he has kids; or that sinfully sexy Eames, who, just by the look of him must be capable of satisfying anybody, anytime, anywhere? Remember, you can only choose one. And it should be Eames."
"Who? He's not even one of the choices. Are you even listening? This is important. Arthur doesn't even sound like someone who's capable of satisfying someone sexually—hey! Where are you going?"
Ignoring her friends, Ariadne leaves a confused Martín and Darcy to make her way over to the courtyard fountain. She finds herself completely drawn to the familiar figure sitting on the fountain's ledge wearing a pair of expertly tailored, dark-gray pants; a plain white collared shirt underneath a blue sweater with sleeves rolled up—revealing a pair of forearms that may have featured in more than one of her daydreams; and a perfectly knotted tie a shade or two darker than the gray of his slacks.
As she makes her way towards him, he stands with his hands in his pockets, looking hesitant and confident all at the same time. The little smile he gives her is so boyishly appealing that she can't help but return a wide grin of her own.
"Arthur? What are…you doing…here…?"
Her voice trails off as his hands gently frame her face. She watches him focus on her lips, which draws her attention to his own. Their eyes meet for a brief moment.
She doesn't know whose lips reached out to the other's first, but it doesn't matter because when they come together in a soft, tender kiss, the contact is not so much out of need as it is out of necessity.
All too soon, the kiss ends and he's breathing a soft "hello" against her lips.
Their eyes seek each other for a moment before, by an unspoken agreement, their lips meet again. His smile against her mouth encourages her to bring her body flush to his as kisses are traded over and over. Their tongues taste and discover while their hands keep themselves busy eagerly exploring both familiar and unfamiliar territory.
They draw apart, only because Martín has loudly exaggerated a throat clearing noise not once, but twice.
When they release each other it's reluctantly, despite the fact they're both almost out of breath.
"Darcy didn't want me to interrupt but I told her it was rude of you to put off introducing us to the man who you're allowing to suck your face off."
"Sorry…" Ariadne pants. She doesn't look particularly sorry.
Arthur smiles and sticks out his hand to introduce himself to her friends.
"Hi, I'm Arthur."
"Well, 'just Arthur', I'm Martín." He blatantly checks Arthur out. "It's nice to see that a handsome face goes along with that tight ass you've got going on back there."
Sighing, Ariadne tries to explain her friend, "You'll have to excuse Martín—"
"It's okay, Ariadne. I'm not shocked or offended." Arthur smiles back at her.
"You shouldn't be. Those are compliments."
Arthur laughs. "Thanks. You know, you kind of remind me of someone I know."
"Someone outrageously handsome?"
"He would say so."
Martín gives him another critical eye before pronouncing, "You're alright, Arthur. You make a good first impression. You're handsome, a snappy dresser, good humored, a bit mysterious, and have a well-toned butt. And excellent lung capacity, apparently." He directs the last one at Ariadne who makes a face that he ignores. "I bet you could bring a virgin down to her knees. Which…" Martín directs his scrutiny to Arthur's pants, "by the looks of it, would be a bit daunting for the virgin."
"Oh, god." Ariadne brings a hand to her forehead.
Amused, Arthur says, "Thanks Martín. I'd say you've sized me up pretty accurately. Every inch of me, in fact."
Ariadne looks at him in surprise, trying not to let her gaze wander down to his pants. She's unsuccessful and Arthur gives her a wink.
Martín, meanwhile, barks out a laugh.
"Cocky too. I like that. A lot. Ariadne, Arthur's very cocky, take note."
She uselessly glares at Martín, who's having way too much fun at her expense. Thankfully, Darcy pulls some of the attention away from her.
"Don't mind Martín," Darcy addresses Arthur, "he's special. He was born without the ability to be tactful. Hi, I'm Darcy."
Still smiling, Arthur takes her hand. "Nice to meet you."
"So, Arthur, tell us, how you know Ari? Did you have anything to do with the internship last year?"
"The internship?" He gives Ariadne a quick look. She gives him a nearly imperceptible nod. "You mean the Los Angeles office park project?" He smiles back at her, looking pleased to know that she kept her cover.
"Yeah, the internship." Darcy continues to put an emphasis on it.
"Yes, actually, that's how we met."
"Interesting. You know Arthur, you're the fifth guy we've met from the internship."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, and you know what the other four guys from the internship did? They all came to Ariadne's rescue in one way or another."
"And are all really attractive." Martín adds. "But don't worry, you've pretty much got it going on too."
"Thanks, Martín, but what's this about the other guys coming to Ariadne's rescue?" He raises a brow in Ariadne's direction.
"Darcy has a very active imag—"
"Well, it all started when Dom Cobb—" Darcy begins to explain.
"You know, tall, blonde hair and blue eyes; a total dreamboat." Martín interrupts.
"Yeah, I know him." Arthur's mostly successful at holding back his laughter.
"Well, Dom got one of our professors to ease up on our course work. Miles was being unreasonable and Dom straightened him out for us. He used to be one of Miles' students."
"Darcy, we don't know that Dom had anything to do with that."
Darcy ignores Ariadne and continues. "And then there was Yusuf, who's my personal favorite. He saved twenty-five cats from being executed!"
"You have twenty-five cats?" Arthur gives Ariadne a confused frown.
Darcy clarifies. "No, it was the psychology department's cats. Ariadne was just worried about them, as we all were. Yusuf saved them all from being sacrificed!"
"The cats left us a note saying they went back to Egypt to be worshipped. We think the tall, dark and handsome Yusuf took them back." Martín supplies, helpfully.
"Don't listen to them Arthur, the police haven't figured out what happened to those cats. We don't know that Yusuf—"
"It was Yusuf, I know it!" Darcy is undeterred.
"He gets it, you're in love with Yusuf. Let's tell him about my personal favorite, Basil."
"Yeah, Basil. The British one, you know; well-built, handsome as fuck, great set of shoulders and arms, hands of an artist…thoroughly…kissable lips…"
Darcy and Ariadne roll their eyes as Martín goes off into his own little Martín-and-Basil-filled world.
"Martín, remember you've got Marcel now."
"Mmm, yeah, he can come too." Martín's face takes on a goofy grin. "I'm sure Basil won't mind. The more the merrier."
"He's talking about Eames." Ariadne clarifies for Arthur.
"Oh, that Basil." Arthur's directs an amused glance Ariadne's way. "Yeah, I know him."
"Basil helped Ariadne get a prestigious junior architect internship position over her arch nemesis by writing her a glowing reference."
"References are a specialty of his," Arthur says off-handedly before turning to Ariadne, still clearly amused. "What's this about you having an arch nemesis?"
"Her name is Genera Montenegro and she's hated Ariadne since the day they first met. Ariadne tries to be the bigger person about it, but they hate each other's guts."
"I don't hate Genera's guts."
"See? She's denying it, trying to be the bigger person. Well, not physically bigger; Genera's like, 5'7 and Ari's…not," Darcy finishes when Ariadne frowns at her.
"So Eames helped you conquer your arch enemy?"
Ariadne isn't certain, but she thinks she detects a hint of jealousy in his voice.
"Yeah, but Ari granted mercy and let Genera think she got the position over her."
"That is big of you," Arthur teases. "Maybe not physically bigger since Genera is 5'7 and you're—"
"Hey!" Ariadne hears Darcy giggle. Everyone is enjoying all of this a little too much.
But she's prevented from defending herself against the comments about her size when he leans down to whisper, "I've heard that good things come in small packages."
She crosses her arms and puts up a front of being annoyed which is ruined when she cracks a smile.
"Anyway," Darcy is determined to keep on going, "Ari turns down the job offer, causing her life to go completely to shambles—"
"When guess who comes swaggering in out of the dark and dusty recesses of the architecture building, but a man cloaked from head to toe in expensive Armani, bearing a deceptively mysterious aura and who's richer than…well, he's just extremely rich," Martín finishes.
Ariadne shakes her head, giving up correcting her friends' exaggerations.
"Was it Mr. Saito?"
"Yeah, how did you know?" Darcy seems disappointed that Arthur 'guessed' correctly.
"It was the 'deceptively mysterious aura' that gave it away," Arthur replies, tongue-in-cheek.
"And I do give very accurate and helpful descriptions," Martín adds.
"Well, can you guess what he did for Ari? I bet you can't—he offered her a job, in Tokyo!" Darcy finishes before Arthur can take a guess.
"Have you accepted his offer?" he asks Ariadne.
"Yes, I…my flight leaves in four days." It feels like she'll be leaving tomorrow. She doesn't know how long Arthur is planning on…well, she doesn't know how long Arthur is planning on staying, or what his plans are. Will he stay or…
She's not alone in watching him contemplate her revelation. Everyone waits with bated breath to see how he'll respond.
Finally Arthur turns to her, placing his hands in his pockets, looking boyishly cute and hesitant, much like he did earlier.
"Do you think there'll be an extra seat on that flight?"
"What? Are you…you want to go to Tokyo?" She doesn't want to get her hopes up but they do anyway when she sees the smile on his face.
"I wasn't planning on it until about a minute ago." He smile grows wider at her confused frown. "But I guess I have to if I want to be with you."
Martín and Darcy grab at each other and give happy little squeals of delight.
Ariadne doesn't pay any attention to them. She's too overwhelmed by what Arthur's just confessed. "Really? Is that why you're here?" She needs to know for sure. She doesn't want there to be any doubt in her mind.
Arthur doesn't give her any. "I'm here because I've missed you." He reaches out to pull her towards him; she doesn't resist. "Did I not make that clear earlier?"
She finds herself answering his smile by wrapping her arms around him. "Not quite. Why don't you try again?" She tilts her head back as he lowers his, their lips reacquainting themselves once again.
"Just so you know…" he says, in between kisses, "I can't make your professor Miles give you a break on any assignments—mostly because you're not in school anymore." She smiles against his lips. "And I've never been good at magic tricks so I've never made a rabbit disappear, much less twenty-five cats…" Ariadne kisses him on the chin. "And I'm not sure a reference from me would ever hold much weight," she spreads kisses along his jawline. "And I don't have any job offers up my sleeve…"
She stops kissing him when he cups her face in both of his hands and looks intently into her eyes. "I came here just for you. I hope that's okay."
"It's more than okay."
"Ariadne," Darcy whispers, sidling up to the once again engaged couple, "I'm leaving my cowgirl hat on your bed. You can keep it. Oh, and Arthur, you're my new favorite."
"Ariadne," Martín whispers, sidling up on the other side, "I know it's been a while, but remember, it's all in the hips and also the tongue if you're going to—ow!" Without breaking contact with Arthur, Ariadne's fist connects with his arm.
"What are they talking about? Why are you going to need a cowgirl hat?" Arthur asks when he's finally able to detach himself from her mouth.
She smiles at him playfully. "You'll find out. It's something I'm going to do. Just for you."