Disclaimer: Inception does not belong to me.
Arthur yawned, and stretched. Ariadne was still asleep; her long dark hair spiralling across the crisp cream of the pillows. Leaning over, he kissed her on the cheek. Sinking back down on the pillows, he sighed.
This can't last forever.
He shook his head. Maybe this was a dream. But whilst he was in this, it was real. He had what he wanted, what he thought he'd have for the rest of his life. He bit his lip as he turned again to the Architect. She was uneasy; he realised that. But, he thought with a slight trace of bitterness, she would wake up, and go on to another life. She could move on.
I can't even move.
He got up, and swinging his legs round, pushed himself out of the bed. Ariadne stirred, murmured, but her eyes were closed. He headed for the closet, and after rummaging through a drawer, pulled out black sweatpants, a t-shirt, and grey hoodie. Picking up a pair of sneakers, he headed to the bathroom to dress.
A few minutes later, he headed downstairs, and outside. Opening the front door, he breathed deeply, and began to run.
Ariadne blinked, the light lemony light starting to wake her. She turned, and lying her hand flat on the empty space next to her, gave a start.
Biting her lip, she began to get out of bed. She grabbed her soft white bathrobe from the back of the door, and headed downstairs.
No answer. Anxiety beginning to bubble in the pit of her stomach, she headed for the kitchen.
Arthur ran. Before the stroke, he would run at least four times a week. Ariadne once complained he made her feel lazy. He'd laughed.
"You don't want a flabby husband, do you?" he'd teased. She'd shaken her head, smiling. He stopped for a green light, watching the cars race by. As soon as the road was clear, he ran across.
The park. It unfolded in front of him. He'd been running in this park many times before. In all seasons. He'd even run in snow. The park had always given him a feeling of solace, of safety, of-
Are you out of your mind?
He stopped. Is this a dream, or a memory?
He blinked. Out of habit, he reached in his pocket. No totem.
Arthur bit his lip. He had no totem, no means of reassuring himself of what was a dream, and what was not. He turned, and began to run back to the house.
Ariadne carefully measured coffee granules into the filter paper. As she poured water into the machine, she strained her ears, listening for any sound that indicated Arthur's return. She put the lid back on the coffee machine, and flicked the switch.
No sound of Arthur.
She hurried back upstairs to the bedroom, and began to search in her pockets, looking for her bishop. No sign. Suddenly, she heard the front door slam.
"Arthur?" She began to run back down the stairs. "Arthur, are you-"
She stopped. He was standing in the hallway, looking pale. She went over. "What happened?"
"I went running," he said, his voice slightly terse. He looked at her. "What's wrong?"
"Well, I woke up, and you weren't there." She immediately regretted what she'd said; it made her sound weak, and slightly pathetic. He blinked.
"I went for a run." He looked at her. "Do I need permission?"
"No!" Ariadne felt offended. "That's not what I meant!" She turned and headed back to the kitchen. "But we're in a dream - you're not there, I think that you've woken up!" She opened a cupboard door, and pulled two mugs out of it, setting them on the counter.
Arthur shook his head. "OK." He tried to steady his breathing. "I didn't think of that, I'm sorry." He looked at her. "I guess being able to move...well, it just took over."
She nodded. "OK."
"Is it?" he looked at her. "Is it ok? Because we're in a dream, and if I wake up, I can't signal to come back." He looked at the counter. "If I'd been hit by a car-" he shuddered - "the impact would have woken me. And I'd be back in my hospital bed, just gazing at the ceiling."
She went to him. "Arthur." She looked at him. "Arthur, have I started something we can't handle?"
He pulled her to him, and stroked her back. "No," he said, his voice gentle. "My stroke started something I can't handle. I can't handle being a prisoner in myself; its that simple." He pulled apart from her, and looked her in the face.
She looked at him. "OK." She turned slightly, then turned back. "But Arthur...don't you think we need to keep track of this dream?"
"Keep track of the dream," she repeated, slightly stubbornly. "With the totems."
A sense of hot, burning shame began to overwhelm him. He looked at her. "I-" he paused. As he looked into her large brown eyes, he realised he couldn't lie to her. "I took your totem," he whispered. "I'm sorry."
"You took my totem?" Her eyes widened. "Arthur, you touched the bishop? Its useless to me now!"
"I know!" He slumped, and put his head in his hands. "I know! Ari, I don't have a choice!" He looked at her. "I know this isn't going to last. So why don't we just accept that its a dream, and therefore, not need a totem?"
She shook her head. "I can't believe you're saying this!" She took a step back. "You were always so adament about needing a totem!"
"That was before I had a stroke." He looked at her. "Before I became a useless lump lying in a hospital bed! You did this!" he practically shouted, his voice and body rising off the seat. "You created this dream so we could have a life! Do you want to pull the plug on it?" He looked at her, his eyes narrowing. "You'll be ok, you can move on, find somebody else. I'll still be there. Going nowhere! This is the only chance at happiness I have!"
She shook her head. "No," she whispered. Her eyes were widening. "Arthur, I'm so sorry. If I'd known this would happen to you-" turning, she fled the kitchen.
"Ariadne!" he shouted after her. "Ari!"
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