Landing-The Fantasy

This is a two part, semi inspired by the part in 500 Days of Summer when it shows Tom's expectations, and then the reality. Sorry for A/A fans, it is quite a bit the opposite. But no slash either.

His stomach churned nervously as he heaved his suitcase off the carousel. It was lighter than he remembered, and he over-balanced slightly. He could feel Eames trying to catch his eye, but ignored him. He was done with those people, with everything. If this turned out the way he so desperately hoped. His sharp eyes darted over the crowd of people waiting outside customs, lips pressed together, praying as he'd never done in his life. He'd left the message last night, after dialing the number he'd sworn he'd never dial again. He'd begged for forgiveness. Now it was time to see if she had listened. He reached into his pocket, fingers brushing past the die and alighting on a smooth metal circle. He took it out and slid it onto the fourth finger of his left hand. It felt so right there, so perfect, and he knew in that instant that she would be there. Yes. There.

He shouldered his way forward, a desperate pounding sensation filling his chest. Faster. He barely paused, pushing through the final gate. She was in his arms, her body warm and real. So real. He kissed her, there in front of everyone, not caring in the slightest. His hand was in her perfect, luscious hair. The desolation of three long years dissipated in that instant, in that one kiss. Everything was alright.

The Reality

Ariadne wrestled her suitcase onto the floor, and wove her way unsteadily through the throngs of people. The wheels squeaked, and she stumbled once or twice. Her legs felt soft, like marshmallows. Probably an after-effect of the Somnacin. Her vision was a little blurred as well, but she was sure this would wear off in time. She bumped into a man wearing a suit, and muttered an apology. A second glance made her realize that it was Arthur. She gave him a small smile, but his eyes were fixed across the hall, past the final gates, to where a crowd of waiting relatives and friends stood crammed together, wearing nearly identical expressions of anticipative excitement. She looked back at Arthur. His eyes were narrowed in concentration, scanning the crowd, and he was walking forward all the time. She followed at a distance, suddenly overwhelmingly curious about whom he was intending to meet. At the center of the waiting crowd, he turned on the spot, head raised hopefully, face revealing more emotion than she'd ever seen before. After a solid five minutes, his shoulders drooped, and he negotiated his way outside, toward the line of cabs. However, he didn't hail one. He merely dropped down onto a bench and stared at his intertwined fingers. His hands caught the head light of a passing car, and she saw a burnished silver gleam on his fourth finger. Suddenly, Ariadne knew who Arthur was waiting for. Pity squirmed in her chest. She watched him sit there, standing out of sight, but he didn't look up.

Over the roar of cars and busses, Ariadne heard a small voice say, "Tommy?"

Arthur's head shot up. He raised himself to his feet, suitcase forgotten. Ariadne turned her head. She now saw a blonde woman, taller than herself but shorter than Arthur, standing several feet from the bench.

Slowly, Arthur walked toward her. His head was lowered, and Ariadne couldn't hear his next words. She woman shook her head. Ariadne edged closer, still concealing herself behind a telephone booth.

"I'm glad you did," Arthur was saying.

"Tommy, you're a lying bastard," said the woman, and Ariadne blinked in surprise. But her tone was gentle, and she was smiling. "But you're the lying bastard I fell in love with."

"With whom I fell in love," Arthur corrected softly.

The woman laughed. "Exactly." She kissed him lightly on the mouth.

Ariadne back pedaled several paces, realizing on what she had just intruded. It seemed so impossible, and at the same time just as impossible that she'd never considered the possibility of Arthur having a life outside extraction. He was a grown person, who surely hadn't spent his entire life inside of dreams. But still…that kiss. She shook her head. Best to put it out of her mind. She wasn't going to see him again, ever, probably. She was happy that he was happy. Wasn't she?

A/N: Sorry about the irresoluteness of the ending. If anyone has any suggestions for continuations, or just regular comments, I'd love to hear (read) them. Thanks for reading!

-esking