A/N So I'm not sure where this came from, my roommate and I were watching Inception and aside from our irrational love of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I've come to greatly appreciate the Arthur/Ariadne pairing. Inception also made me like Ellen Page a lot more than I had previously. Go figure.
No one noticed the soft smiles that they shared, expect perhaps Eames though since he's teased them about every topic imaginable, it was hard to tell. Arthur hadn't expected it to happen, normally he was a rock in the ocean, nothing short of an earthquake could move him. Yet his girl, though 'girl' wasn't a fair description for she was only a few years younger than him, had shaken him right out of place.
When Eames would makes some cheerily rude comment about Arthur being boring, she'd snort, catching Arthur's eye. He'd glare at Eames before smiling back at Ariadne. She smirked because even though Eames claimed him to be boring, she knew the truth. Maybe he wasn't as flamboyant as Eames or broodingly intense as Cobb, but that just meant he was good at the subtleties, which considering his job was a very good thing.
The team had been completely focused on the job at hand, so much that they didn't notice when Arthur glance over at her a little more often than usual, or when his lips quirked up in a half smile when she said something exceptionally smart. He greatly enjoyed seeing the other men's eyebrows raise when Ariadne said or didn't something that blew them away. He was glad to know he wasn't the only one.
He couldn't pinpoint the moment it started, though when she'd shot up in the lawn chair, prematurely woken, he had felt a brief moment of panic. He'd brushed that off as standard concern. He was a gentleman after all, a panicked and nearly screaming young woman was supposed to mater. That's what he told himself while he soothed her, telling her 'it's okay' over and over, doing his best to calm her. Strictly business, he said as he held her hands in his, running his thumbs over her astonishingly smooth skin. No one noticed that he stood just a little bit closer to her after that. In fact, he never seemed to be more than five feet from her if he could help it.
And he couldn't seem to help it. Cobb was off in Mombasa, recruiting the ever obnoxious Eames, leaving him and Ariadne alone for hours on end, which considering how long spent in the dreamscape, truly felt like more. He had hours to memorize the way she walked, the way she smiled when something surprised her, and his favorite, the looks of awe whenever something was built that she hadn't even begun to imagine.
Maybe he felt it easier to connect to her because of all he knew about her. He felt vaguely guilty about having to go through her life piece by piece, but it was part of his job. They needed to be sure that she wouldn't be a threat to them. He'd smiled when he'd found out that she'd have a white pet rabbit named Franklin. Her favorite color was red, though she liked yellows too, and greens, anything bright. She liked things that stood out, things that were meant to be exciting. When he thought about it that way, it wasn't surprising at all that she became so enamored with the dreamscape.
No one paid attention when they walked together, often hanging back from the rest of the team. It wasn't on purpose, more like they accidently fell into sync. When everyone peeled off for lunch or dinner, he and Ariadne seemed to always find themselves in each others' company. It was chance, he'd assured himself. It wasn't unusual to see them working together, heads bent low. And if their hands brushed accidently, well, they were working in close quarters.
Arthur had pretended that it didn't irritate him when Eames leaned low over Ariadne's shoulder to check her work. When he saw the other man smile and greet her with "Hello darling! And how are we this fine morning?", Arthur did his best to not let his eye twitch. He fought off a deathly glare when Eames set his hand on Ariadne's back, leading her across the warehouse. His fist clenched at his side, which Eames noticed with a grin, sending a wink over his shoulder. Arthur rolled his eyes and went back to his own work.
He was a planner by definition, it was what he was good at and what they relied on him for. But in the hotel lobby when Fischer's projections were circling, he had not been planning to kiss her. No, that had been a completely spontaneous decision. He didn't indulge in those often, mostly because when he needed to be spontaneous was usually when things were going to hell and he desperately needed to improvise. As bad as a connotation as he had with improvising, he actually enjoyed it. Leaning over and kissing Ariadne was one of those on the fly decisions. 'It was worth a shot' he'd said. Well worth it.
Sometimes people crash together with a blinding intensity that consumed them, though most of the time such a flame would burn out quickly. They didn't crash together with a fanfare, they grew together quietly, privately. The occasional brush of their bodies or subtle smile, or moment of standing a bit too close. She'd once told him that she had realized she was in trouble when the feel of him standing behind her, his breath tickling the back of her neck, distracted her to the point where she became dizzy. He'd smiled and told her he knew he was in trouble when he couldn't forget the smell of her, even long after she'd left.
He'd followed her through the airport after the Fischer job, even though every rule he had told him not to. Dom was the one that broke every single rule, not Arthur. But he had to know what was going to happen to her. She'd seemed fine when she'd woken up, but people don't just pop out of Limbo without any side effects. He told himself he was following her for her own good, he needed to make sure she was safe. Of course, that was bull. He followed her because if she was gone, she was gone for good. If he let her go, there's no way to guarantee he'd see her again, that he'd let himself. Driven by his own rules.
He'd taken her to his hotel instead of sending her right back to Paris as was planned, promising to buy her another ticket later. The fact that she let him was a testament to how shaky she was feeling. He'd made her eat, but when he suggested she get some sleep, she became a bit irrational, insisting she was fine. After prodding, she finally confessed that she was afraid to go to sleep, not sure what would happen. He promised he'd be there when she woke up.
That's how he ended up cradling her in his hotel bed as she woke up screaming from the nightmare. Well he couldn't very well leave her after that, could he? He took her back to Paris, promising he'd stay close by. 'Close by' turned into 'living in Paris', which turned into 'spending most of the week with Ariadne'.
The first time he kissed her in without being in a dream was gentle, careful just in case she pulled away. She didn't. The first time they slept together was slow…at first. Much to his surprise, Ariadne was very enthusiastic. They moved in together only a week after he first told her loved her.
Arthur didn't particularly care how it happened, just that it did. Looking back, he had no idea how he'd gotten over his rules and managed to snag her. But that's what she did, she moved him. She was his own personal earthquake, shaking him up every few minutes. He looked down at Ariadne's head laying his lap, attention on her book and leaned down to press a kiss to her temple. She smiled up at him, and just like every other time he saw that smile sent in his direction, he figured he could take a little geological instability.