A small bladder was a serious problem for Ariadne who had to get up at one in the morning to go. When she came out, she saw Arthur's side of the bed was empty but already made. Ariadne slipped on her monkey slippers and fuzzy bathrobe to go look for him.
"I'm gonna need more coffee." She muttered to herself, feeling like a Frankenstein monster the way she was walking. The first place she looked was the roof. In their apartment, there was a sliding window that led to a spacious 'yard' six stories up. They had a view of the whole city to admire.
The singing of sirens and honking horns woke her up a little more as she went to the patio. Arthur was sitting in the swinging porch.
"It's one in the morning." She took a seat next to him. "What are you doing out here?"
"Couldn't sleep." He said simply.
"Another nightmare?" Ariadne was really starting to worry.
"It's just a dream." He excused himself.
"I want you to tell me everything you remember." She was now in therapist mode as her ability to find problems came in as strong as her derby mode. Arthur was silent for several moments. "I'm not going to comment or anything. Please," Her hand cupped his shoulder. "I can help you."
"You can't help me," He growled. "You're far less experienced than me."
"That's true," She admitted. "But if it wasn't for me playing therapist on Cobb, he would have never seen his children again. I did an inception on my first assignment when I wasn't supposed to and you only did an extraction. I've been to Limbo. You've only gone two levels deep. Yes I'm an amateur, but a damn good one at that. Don't you get it?" Ariadne shook her head. "I love you Arthur. I want you to be happy again."
"Just promise me you won't intrude into my nightmares. I can't let you see what's happening. It's torture and it feels worse than getting shot!"
"I might have to," she told him. "I don't care if you get mad at me."
Arthur bowed his head down like a depressed dog. Ariadne could see an invisible rain cloud hovering over him. "I'll tell you what happened." His girlfriend sat back like a moviegoer, allowing him to proceed. "I was in a cottage with Uncle Andre. He said I was running around the woods looking for you and that I got bitten by an animal. He said your name and I got angry and accused him of kidnapping you." Arthur was telling the story like the narrator of a ghost story. "I went down to the basement and found you tied up and gagged and you had cuts and bruises all over and you were crying..." He took a deep breath. "You told me he would never stop tormenting me until I died."
Ariadne blinked as if she was shaken. At that moment, she could feel something worse emerging. He literally remembered the whole dream, which was always impossible.
"Besides the death of your uncle, what else could be causing all these nightmares?" She questioned.
Arthur nodded his head. "Nightmare Syndrome. It's rare but it happens only to people who go inside other's dreams."
"Is there a way to treat it?"
"You have to fight it," He said. "Confront it yourself and conquer it."
To her, it didn't seem so hard. But in Arthur's business, what sounds super easy really isn't.
"Why can't you do it?" She asked. "What has he done to you to make you so scared?"
The Architect was then seeing a rare sight. Tears were coming out but it was Arthur's eyes instead of hers.
"He molested me." His throat was clogged up as he began to bawl. "Every time I was left alone with him, he molested me!" Arthurs face went into her chest. The heart underneath was moving at the speed of light as she put her arms around him. How could God be so cruel to let a pedophile hurt him, of all children? This was his uncle too! Arthur's been molested by him for years and he never had the courage to cry for help. Not until now.
"I thought my teen-hood was screwed up." She whispered, kissing the top of his head. "I'm sorry you had to go through that... I'm just shocked that nobody found out."
"Even Lance couldn't get the hint."
"You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to call Miles in the morning and ask him how to approach this. In the meantime, you just try to stay awake."
Arthur didn't respond. He continued to cry on her until the sun arrived.
In the morning, Arthur decided to make breakfast for Ariadne as usual. The amount of attention required to make an omelet would help him stay awake a little. Ariadne came downstairs in her business clothes and purse, ready to go.
"How are you feeling?" She asked as she poured him more coffee.
"Violated." He grumbled after being reminded the night before of his dark past.
"I'm sorry." That was all she could think to say. "Today, we'll get this handled."
"You don't even know the code to the safe with the PASIV in it." he referred to the PASIV in his study that was locked up in the bookshelf.
"Well we're gonna need it." She pointed out.
Arthur sighed. "Ariadne, I think it's a bad idea."
"It's a risk worth taking." She reminded him. "So I'm calling Miles during my lunch hour and getting the info we need. How many cups of coffee did you drink so far?"
"Just three." Arthur turned off the stove when the two omelets were finished to perfection.
"If that doesn't work, try the computer. I hear they stall melatonin for a bit." She finished the omelet and headed out the door for work.
Arthur was once again alone in his apartment until one. At one fifteen, he went to a small office building to teach hopefuls how to sing. Today, Claudia Grey had a lesson with him. He dreaded this as her voice could kill a bird. She wanted to be an opera singer but she was in no way cut out for the job. After those painful two hours, Arthur went back home for peace and quiet.
Ariadne still wasn't back. It was three-thirty and she was usually home by six. Sitting in his study, he was still thinking over about the confrontation. Was it too dangerous to fight? 'These nightmares are like a cancerous tumor,' he convinced himself. 'If I ignore it, it will only get bigger. Soon, it will never be tamable.'
Spinning backwards in his chair, he typed the password into the vault. 'I might deny doing this.' Arthur brought out the PASIV and inspected it as he waited for the therapist to get home.
"Arthur, he told me what to do." Said Ariadne as she was coming through the door. Despite getting the promotion she desperately wanted, concern took over excitement. "You ready?"
She was surprised to see him already on the couch. The PASIV was sitting on the coffee table, already open.
"Your right Ariadne." He said. "If I don't fight this, I could die. I can't do that to you."
Ariadne dropped her purse as diamond-like tears came out her eyes.
"A life without you is like a night with no stars." She confessed in an undertone. "I'm happy that you realize that."
The moment she sat next to him, her boyfriend set his arms around her and kissed her forehead. "I'm not leaving you." He pulled out two tubes from the PASIV and gave one to her. "I want to set a few precautions."
"Of course." She listened.
"When we're down there but not together, I want you to try and find me. The dream space shouldn't be so big or complicated. Also, we might end up somewhere I've been before in reality. Double check to see if you have your totem."
Ariadne shoved her hand in her pocket to produce her bronze bishop.
"And one more thing; remember not to change anything while we're there or my uncle will most likely kill you before the job is done."
"I learned that the hard way." She told him.
"Then let's get this done."
Arthur pressed the squishy button in the center. Ariadne curled up against him. His non-pricked arm was around her waist. In seconds, they were knocked out like sleeping lions.
He was certainly right about reality being in the dream. Ariadne got off the sidewalk to see a nice house in the French countryside. It didn't look like a pedophiles house at all. Looking around, she saw she was alone. Crossing the street, she went to search for her mate.
The door was unlocked and she didn't stall herself. Quickly, she walked in and opened her ears. "Arthur?"
The interior of the house was like a ghost town. When no one responded, she went back outside.
Meanwhile, Arthur was in the backyard. It was only a spacious lawn with nothing over it: just as he remembered it. His hand was clenched tightly around his die. "Ariadne, where are you?"
She heard him from the front yard and ran around the house. The jog seemed like a mile because the house was bigger than most typical homes. "There you are."
"Did you see him?"
"No, not yet." She approached him and grabbed his hand, giving it an encouraging squeeze. "Let's find him."
Arthur took in a deep breath like a yoga instructor. "We have an hour."
They went through the backdoor to find themselves in the kitchen. She could feel a pulse in his palm and it was repeating frequently.
"Andre!" Arthur called. "Uncle Andre get over here!" he almost denied saying that.
"It's ok, I've got your back." She said. "What room is he usually in on a typical day?"
Arthur looked back on the times he was attacked. Ironically, they always happened when he was in the basement.
"Get off me!" A juvenile voice cried. "Let me go!"
That set Arthur off like a speed boost. The couple raced down to the basement to see two people: Uncle Andre and a young boy. Andre looked onto him proudly as the little boy cried into the floor.
"Get the kid." Arthur ordered. Ariadne rushed over to the boy's side. He couldn't have been any older than six. He was taken by surprised when Ariadne tried to pull him up.
Ariadne observed his face and looked at Arthur. They both had dark brown hair, narrow eyes and oval shaped face. He was wearing a private school uniform. "Get away from me!" The child snapped.
"I'm here to help you." She said. "I'm going to keep you safe, alright? You can trust me."
Arthur glared at Andre as his fists clenched together. Ariadne was back at his side with his younger-self in lifted in her arms.
"You abused me." He started as anger loaded up like a powerful bazooka. "You sexually abused me and then lied to my parents and my siblings about what's been going on here! You threatened to kill me if I told anyone!"
Ariadne looked onto Arthur satisfied for facing his fear.
"Kill him." She commanded. "As if you always wanted to."
"I have always wanted to." He said to her, his eyes still locked on Andre. "You tried to ruin my life and now you think you still can by killing my girlfriend and abusing a projection of myself when I was five! I waited for you too fucking die before I told her the truth!"
"It took you this long." Andre smirked. "Go on. Kill me. You've attempted to do it before and you failed. You'll run away like a scared little boy! You always have!"
"Not this time." Arthur brought out a handgun from his belt and counted to three in his head. Three shots torpedoed toward Andre. One hit his head, another hit his chest and the last one hit his crotch.
They both watched as Andre's projection fell to the floor. He suffered the way Ariadne had in the past two nightmares. To Arthur, it was pure joy to watch the bastard suffer.
"Your in Hell where you belong." Those were Arthur's final words to his fear.
They did it; they realized there was a big problem and they ran towards it. Most people would dash to a hiding place. Arthur and Ariadne were like a king and queen for their actions. When the king was attacked, it was the queen's job to help him fight in the battle. Without the queen, the king would have perished.
But without the attacks, the king wouldn't have been the powerful and valiant point man he was.
Now they could wake up and continue ruling their kingdom of reality.
"Let's go." He said.
"What about you?" She asked. "I mean little-you."
"He's a projection. When we die, he dies."
Ariadne put little Arthur down. "We have to go now."
"Thanks for killing him." Little Arthur praised. "I wanted to tell someone for a long time but was scared."
"I know. You should have exposed him." Arthur advised, taking his gun and giving it to Ariadne. "Ladies first."
Both their eyes opened to be back at home. Arthur turned his head to face hers. For moments, they were once again lost in each other's eyes.
"I'm not going anywhere." He said. "Not without my queen." Arthur pushed the hanging strands of her mahogany hair behind her ear.
"I will always stand by you." She whispered. "How do you feel?"
The fear of sleeping again was a thing in the past. Arthur would forever be shaken by his past, but it would no longer haunt him in his sleep. From then on, he would resume sleeping through dreamless nights.
"Braver than ever." He said as a rare smile came upon his face.
"Wait, you could be braver?" She teased. Arthur brought her closer and kissed her lips for ten seconds.
"As noble a king is, he is no king without a queen." Arthur recited the metaphor that he learned from his recent experience. "So tell me, did you get the promotion?"
Ariadne grinned and nodded her head. "They were so shocked."
Arthur chuckled and brought her even closer. They remained tangled into each other for the rest of the day.
Until they submerged in their dreamless slumbers.