Chapter 3

Thanks to all readers and reviewers! You make my day brighter. You should be very proud of yourself. You should also feed your water buffalo, because everybody has one. It's true. Everybody's got a water buffalo. Yours is fast, but mine is slow. Where we get them, I don't know but everybody's got a water buffalo OOOOOOOOOO! (We all also have baby kangaroos, but yours is pink and mine is blue.)

Disclaimer: I don't own Inception or VeggieTales, but I still own Caspian's soul. It is also an excellent rag for washing the floors.

He'd dreamed about this moment a million times since he'd left, over a year ago. He'd imagined the tiny entry hall with the three coat hooks, the little table where Laura tossed her keys. He'd savored the image of their small, neat kitchen, and the living room with the black and white TV. From where he stood, he could see the bedroom and the bathroom. It was all exactly the same as he'd remembered. He was in a perfect bubble, and nothing could pop it.


Ariadne didn't know what to do. The man wouldn't leave, but she had nothing to tell him. She knew nothing. She couldn't tell him what she didn't know. She felt tears prick the corners of her eyes, and was suddenly overwhelmed with a fiery anger. This wasn't her. She wasn't the wimpy, demur college student she'd been five months ago. She didn't take things for granted, or obey just because she was told to. She was the Architect. She'd played an instrumental part in the fall of one of the modern world's greatest empires. Who was this man to tell her what to do? So he had a gun. Great freaking news for him. She'd fired a gun before. She'd shot someone right in the chest. If he wanted to threaten her, fine. Two could play at that game.

"Listen, Buster," she said, leaning forward. "If you were a cop, you'd have flashed a badge and taken me in for questioning. You didn't, so I'm gathering you don't have legitimate approval for this little chat you're eliciting. Which means that you are threatening me, and I can press charges for that. I can make one look at a waiter, and he'd have security on top of you before you could ask me another question. Look around," she continued before the man could speak. "See that red-head over there? Yeah, that's the chick from 'Mad Men'. You don't think there's security here? Who's side do you think they'd be on between a five-one college girl and an old creeper with a hand gun? So I'd think very carefully about how you phrase your next sentence, and before you do, I repeat I don't know where Arthur is, so back the hell off and leave me alone."

The man smiled to himself. "That's very impressive speakin', Ariadne," he said. "Fine. I won't ask ya again. You've made your point. I just wanna make mine before I leave ya to your lunch. If I find out that you haven't told me what you know, there won't be a body to represent the other side of the argument." He stood up and wove his way out of the restaurant. Ariadne's stomach flipped over, but she sat tall and firm, refusing show any sign of weakness. She watched the man until he disappeared through the gate of the garden. She returned to her iced tea. Arthur's business was his own. She'd seen more than enough evidence that he could handle himself.

Of course he could. He was Arthur…Damn it. She was too curious for her own good. Why did they want Arthur? She cursed and tossed a hundred down on the table, and left.

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