Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Christopher Nolan, et al. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This story was inspired by the 6/18/11 word #185 on the 15_minute_fic livejournal community.

Summary: Ariadne and Arthur, a little tag to the paradoxical architecture scene.

If You Have Any Questions After the Lecture

Ariadne woke from the first training session in a slight daze, both from information overload and from a nagging inability to remember the exact details of the things Arthur had told her. She closed her eyes and pressed the tips of her fingers to her temples, trying to clear out the haze obscuring the past two hours.

The past ten minutes, really, but it felt like two hours and she'd learned two hours of material. Or she ought to have, if she could just get hold of it. She grimaced and pressed harder, grasping after her suddenly slippery thoughts.

"Don't worry if you're losing details," Arthur said.

His voice was right next to her ear. Ariadne's eyes snapped open and she twisted on her lounge chair, one hand rising reflexively to guard her face. Arthur had crouched down beside her and his hands hovered near her upraised wrist.

"May I?" he asked. Ariadne blinked. Arthur seemed to take that as permission to unfasten the cuff and slide the cannula out of her vein. His hands were warm and dry, as steady as if he'd done this a thousand times before.

"It's always difficult to remember dreams at first," he said as he coiled the cuff and line and stowed them back in the PASIV case. "If everyone could remember shared dreams perfectly from the start, we'd be out of jobs. Any mark would know immediately what had happened. It's easier if you know going in that you're dreaming, but it still takes time and practice to train your mind to retain more than the bare bones of a dream."

"But, with Cobb-" Ariadne started.

Arthur's mouth quirked in a tiny, wry smile. "Traumatic death is very memorable. Do you remember what you and he were talking about before Mal appeared?"

"Of course I-" Ariadne said, and then paused. What had she and Cobb been talking about for an hour before she started playing with the physics of that not-quite-Paris? She couldn't remember.

"Like I said, it's difficult at first," Arthur said. He crouched down again, putting his face on a level with hers. "It helps to run through the details as soon as you wake. After a while you can do that in your head, but in the beginning it's best to write them down or speak them aloud to reinforce the memory. So. Tell me what I just taught you. I'll fill in anything you miss."

Ariadne closed her eyes. She pictured the clean, straight lines of the office building Arthur had built in their dream, and the quiet delight on his face as he'd demonstrated how to cheat physics and turn everyday spaces into mazes. Then she opened her eyes and met Arthur's gaze.

"In a dream, optical illusions can be turned into reality," she said. "For example, the Penrose stairs can be used to trap projections in an endless loop, a garden path can be twisted into a Möbius strip, an intersection can be set up as a devil's fork..."

Arthur interrupted occasionally to clarify nuances she'd forgotten, but the more Ariadne talked, the more she remembered, and eventually that same quiet delight crept over his face again.


AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.