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Chapter 25: International News
He woke hours later. His eyes opened groggily and adjusted to the light after seconds of being cross eyed first. Everything was silent except for the sound of his own breathing. His mouth felt papery and dry and he looked around the room in innocent curiosity before it all came flooding back. Arthur jumped up in the bed faster than recommended, resulting in dizziness. Without permission or assistance he left the room (he'd noticed he'd been moved to Recovery) and found the Nurses' desk. "Could you give me the room number of Ariadne Bourgeois?" He repeated her name in the form of spelling it. After typing and clicking the Nurse informed him that there was not an Ariadne in Recovery. "Will you check intensive care and emergency?"
"There's no room assigned to an Ariadne in the hospital, I'm sorry."
His eyes shut; he swallowed and choked out, "What about the, um—will you check…Could you check the morgue, please?
"Arthur!" There was a strong hand on his back and the Brit suddenly appeared,
"She's in the O.R. again, they haven't readied a room yet."
The Point Man breathed a Thank God and followed Eames while he explained the events Arthur had missed, "They managed to bring her heart rate back up yesterday and the blood took fine but her kidney had already shut down so they had to follow through with the transplant after all. The first one went black as soon as the vascular clamps came off it and they had to rush another over. She seemed fine overnight and the better part of this morning but just an hour or so ago her nurse found nothing in her urine but blood. Ariadne's body rejected the second kidney."
"But you've found another right?"
"Yes. The good news is some of Saito's men found Hera and Ganymede. The boy was too far gone to use his organs but her sister was hooked to a PASIV and still technically alive. They brought her here but when they unhooked the PASIV she was declared brain dead…but we can still use her kidney and being Ariadne's sister, she is the perfect match."
"But the cancer?"
"Was breast cancer, it shouldn't affect the kidney once transferred over." They reached the elevator when Eames halted and put his arm out to stop Arthur as well, "You will behave yourself if I take you up there, won't you? We can't have you popping your stitches open for the third time. They won't let you past the waiting room… Are you sure you can handle this?"
They stepped aside to let other passengers go ahead of them and then Arthur shook his head, "No. In fact, I'm sure I won't. But if she gives up or miraculously recovers I need to be right there as close as they'll let me no matter what."
Satisfied, Eames pulled him onto the elevator and guided him to the Operating Room waiting area. Already there-reading the paper—was Cobb and next to him with his hands folded in his lap and bags under his eyes was Professor Miles. An hour later the Doctor came out, "Mr. Cobb…" But the bundle of nerves next to him was standing at attention already, "The surgery was a success." Professor Miles stood, thanked the doctor and shared a hug with Mr. Eames. Cobb patted Arthur on the back as he shook the Doctor's hand rigorously. Arthur ran his other hand through his hair and allowed himself to be overjoyed. He grinned like a clown, "When can I see her?"
"Well-she is still unconscious. Her body has been through quite some trauma, near heart failure, several surgeries, pumped with anesthesia…not positive when she'll come to. She is going to be under Nurse Watch for the next 48 hours to make sure there are no further complications. We had to triple her dosage of anti-rejection medication so her immune system is down; we can't have anyone else in the room."
Deep breaths. Eames caught Arthur's eyes and gave him a warning. "Is there anywhere I can stay? I'd prefer not to leave the hospital."
"Unfortunately the closest is the hotel across the street."
The 48 hours were brutal. He slept none, ate little, and spent most of his time watching her through the window of her privy room. But when it was time and her forty eight hours ended with a successful check-up, he was allowed into her room. The nurse led him in. When he entered his smile shrunk. She was still asleep, with IVs and hearts monitors hooked up to her, wires and an oxygen mask. The nurse kindly gave him a moment alone with her.
He walked to her side and looked down on her, placed his hand on the side of her face, "That's my girl. Death be no match…You're so stubborn. You know that? Unbelievably stubborn…and brave…and strong, right? You're the toughest woman I know. You're going to get through this." He nodded to her but it seemed more like he was nodding to himself. He took her hand in both of his and knelt down by her bed, "You have to get through this for me, ok, Ari? I need you. You make me human. I don't—"He shook his head and dropped it. "I don't think I can live without you." He waited a minute or two, analyzed her like he'd done so many times. He gave her time to reply though he knew she wouldn't. Then his body climbed into the hospital bed with her and spooned her carefully, trying not to jumble or pull any wires. "Look I'll make you a deal…I promise that if you wake up for me, you can ask one hundred questions and I'll have to answer them all honestly. You love wheedling information out of me." Arthur brought her hand up to kiss it and then chuckled, "Remember that time you tricked me into telling you my real last name? You asked me why my parents picked Arthur and I told you the story about my uncle. Then you asked me why they picked Nolan and I gave you the most condescending look, I know, and I told you that they couldn't pick it…that's what I was born as. Then you gave me that evil-beautiful grin of yours and I kicked myself in the butt for letting your big brown eyes get the best of me again." Arthur left kisses on his path up her shoulder, "I love you. You know that?" Then he smiled to himself and tenderly brushed a strand of hair from her eyes, straightened a wrinkle in her hospital gown, "Don't act so surprised. It's your faul—"
The door opened, "Excuse me, Sir, could you leave the room for just a moment? I need to check her vitals and change out some equipment."
"Right, of course." He stood and placed a kiss on her forehead before he promised, "I'll be right back, Sweetheart."
Her room looked like a jungle again. The boys had all brought in flowers for her. Pink and red peonies from Professor Miles, an elaborate and exotic assortment sent by Mr. Saito, daisies and hydrangeas that the kids helped Cobb pick out, Sunflowers from Eames (he bought a bouquet of tulips as well because he had been to the flower shop with Arthur and felt like a bit underdone by him) and of course a variety of roses from The Point Man. James had insisted on a Get Well balloon even though the hospital gift shop was out of stock so a pink 'It's a Girl' balloon (because "Ari is a girl, daddy") sat in the corner of the room by the reclining waiting chair. Several pictures laid on the counter by the sink (ones the kids had drawn in Saito's agents' company while the adults sat at the hospital). Ones of them holding hands and Ariadne being a princess and Ariadne being an astronaut and Ariadne with hearts all over her and a picture of James with a ton of buildings in the background that he said he made for her 'cause she likes buildings so much. Even in the dark, her room seemed lively and bright. Cobb came to visit every day but mostly stayed in the hotel or around the city with the kids. While picking stuff out to buy her had been fun for a while, they got really upset when thinking about Ariadne being hurt and James especially didn't understand why she wouldn't wake up. So Cobb thought it best to keep their minds off of it. Miles stayed every day until visiting hours were over. Eames and Arthur—who were so used to spending every second with her by now—spent the nights in her room. Eames slept in the reclining chair and Arthur either slept sitting and leaning against her bed or in the bed with her. Of course, he had to get up every time the nurses came in but it was well worth it to feel her breathing against him.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Some alarms had started to go off, waking the boys up. Eames rocked forward in his seat and stood while Arthur shot his hand to the emergency nurse button. When the nurse arrived she assured them that it was just letting them know her IV bag needed to be changed and that everything checked out fine still. It didn't hinder him from calling them every time something beeped though.
"And you're sure she'll be able to breathe once you take that off?"
"Yes Sir, we wouldn't do it if she couldn't."
He held his breath while they detached her air supply. Since her chest continued to rise and fall, he let his do the same. It was one step closer to her being alright. She hadn't really woken up yet. Not coherently. Fluttering eyes and mumbling weren't considered as her coming into consciousness. Most of the time what she said couldn't be deciphered but sometimes she would mumble "Arth" (or what sounded like it to him) and always The Point Man would be rubbing her temple, kissing her hairline and assuring her of his presence. Whenever she would twitch or flinch or her hand would fly through the air like she was reaching for something, her hand would be enveloped in the warmth of his, peppered with his lips and he'd whisper in her ear, "I'm right here…you're ok, I'm here." Sometimes the moments felt so intimate that Eames got uncomfortable. He would normally pretend to read the paper or look out the window when she would have those episodes and Arthur turned into this mush of a man the Forger never dreamed he could be. Eames was always the one to go to the cafeteria and bring back coffee or meals for Arthur because never left the room. In fact, he'd bought him some magazines and a book of crosswords to keep him busy but Arthur never cracked them open. He watched her like tv, read her like a book, listened to her like music. Even Eames who'd been around them for months now hadn't understood the fullness and completeness in their feelings for each other until the past few days.
When she blearily opened her eyes a week later and the Doctors deigned it safe to remove her heart monitors, Arthur was grabbing lunch in the cafeteria. Eames had forced him. With the start of the new week Arthur's anxiety was on a high. His friend could see the worry that she might not wake up was taking its toll. After Arthur's dream and hallucination that she had woken the night before, Eames was insistent he get out of the room. Eames, however, was in her room. When she groaned, he looked up to meet her eyes and immediately dove for the nurse button. The nurse checked her blood pressure and gave her some water for her dry, scratchy throat before the Architect squeaked, "Where are my friends?"
The nurse happily answered, "Well, one of them is sitting right over there."
The forger stood with his hand in his pockets and flashed her a genuine, adoring smile. Ariadne beamed at him and weakly reached one arm out to motion for him to come closer. He hugged her first and then leaned his hip on the edge of her bed, "And the Oscar goes to Ariadne Bourgeois for best near death performance."
She narrowed her eyes, "And the Oscar goes to the Forger for best panicking in a supporting role."
"Well, I'm glad to hear you deemed me worthy of winning this time but I must admit: my fellow nominee Arthur gave a much more moving and manic performance than I."
"He's ok?" She tried to sit up more and Eames moved to help her and re=fluff her pillows.
"A little roughed up but he's fine. I forced him to go eat lunch. He hasn't left your side. He's been sleeping in here with you."
Ariadne looked around her hospital room and laid eyes on the recliner in the corner, "On that thing?!" She breathed out, still weak from everything.
"That would be a sight!" Eames belly laughed, "Actually, that would be my uncomfortable resting place. Arthur literally sleeps in the hospital bed with you every night."
"You boys are so clingy." Ariadne teased through her scratchiness and Eames winked at her. "Thanks Eames. I appreciate you sacrificing your back alignment for me."
Eames patted her foot, "Nowhere, I'd rather sleep…Does it hurt?" He pointed to her stomach.
"Yes…a lot…but less than it did when it happened if that makes any sense…" After looking to the side and thinking for a bit she added, "and my chest feels weird when I breathe—like kind of tingly?"
This made Eames tense. Was something else wrong? His hand flexed, ready to press that magical Nurse Call button, "Uh oh, why do you think that is?"
Ariadne's evil smile surfaced and her hand plopped onto her chest, "Too…Much…Air!" She fake choked and then laughed. (It was kind of like wheezing because her voice was still fragile.) Ah, The Forger howled at the inside joke that made fun of the Point's overprotective nature. He was glad everything hadn't affected her sunny disposition at all. Eames' eyes caught movement at her window. Arthur was walking back and he'd been pulled aside by the nurse. She must be telling him that Ariadne was awake. His head sharply turned and looked into the room. Eames offered, "Arthur's back. I'll give you two a minute and grab Miles and them."
He stepped out and patted Arthur on the back as Arthur stepped in. Ariadne smiled sweetly at him. His head started shaking and his dimples appeared. The Point Man started laughing and ran his hand through his hair while he strode across the room to kneel at her side. "How are you feeling?" He placed his hand delicately on her stomach and she winced. Her stitched up gash was still sensitive. He pulled away like wildfire, his eyes wide and upset. "I'm sorry Ariadne, I f—"
"It's ok." She grabbed his hand and lightly returned it to a less sensitive place on her stomach. She kept her hand resting on his, "I'm feeling ok. Woozy and weak but I'm alive."
Arthur slid his hand out from under hers and anchored her neck with it, "You scared the shit out of me."
Ariadne joked, "I mean, don't I always?" It's true. She was always saying and doing things that worried him. Sneaking out of the suite, slicing her arm open while he and Eames were out, getting caught in the fire, being so forward about her feelings for him. Had she ever gone a day where she wasn't scaring the shit out of him?
He cracked a smirk but moved his caressing hand from her neck to cup her face, "Don't you ever do that to me again. I don't think I could handle it."
She further picked at him and tried to make light of the matter as she always did, "I know. Eames told me you were a basket case. Said you needed a valium."
Arthur brushed it off, "They were stitching my bullet wound. It hurt."
"You have an unnaturally high tolerance for pain…" She countered in a whisper after her voice timed out.
The Point Man's eyes saddened and his thumb rubbed her cheek, "Not the kind of pain I was in." His head dropped to her hip.
Ariadne felt bad then and turned her head to kiss his palm warmly, "I'm sorry." She ran a shaky hand through his hair, "Come on, I'm up. Don't act so droopy. You're depressing me." After a tug on his locks, he picked his head back up.
"What were you thinking?"
"That I was bleeding anyway and I might as well get good use out of it…You said improvise!" Then she brought the conversation to the lighthearted, frothy place it could be, "And it's not like I had any red thread I could use, Theseus."
"Don't call me your Theseus. I wouldn't abandon you like he did her."
He drew back, mock offended. "She didn't really care for him."
"Then who could you possibly be?"
Arthur kissed her forehead, "Arthur."
"Wow, I didn't know I had an Arthur in my myth." She feigned surprise.
The Point Man grinned at her again, "Yep. Your Arthur. For as long as you want me."
"How sweet and—convenient—of you to give in to me after I almost died!" She played with him.
Arthur scoffed, "Please, I gave in long before that."
"Oh really?" She shook her head at him with a huge challenging smile plastered across her visage with what strength she mustered.
Arthur shot her an arrogant look and then rested his forehead on hers so that their noses were pressed together. He whispered suggestively, "It seems you've forgotten about the incredible night I gave you in the hostage quarters…"
Ariadne inhaled a sharp breath and turned her head away from him. He sat back victoriously and drank in the view of her. Her cheeks were lit with a scarlet color, her eyes were wide and sparkling and she bit her lip to keep from smiling.
Arthur's conceited voice flit through the air, "Oh, I guess you do recall..."
She coyly returned to eyes to him through her lashes while the blush died down. She tried to glare but all he could see was a smile in her eyes. "It was decent."
She broke into a fit of giggles, "Very, very, brilliantly decent." Arthur laughed while she grabbed his tie and pulled him close for a soft reunion of their lips.
Then the door flew open and two kids ran in excitedly. Cobb patted her foot and Arthur tentatively- and hesitantly—left her side so that Miles could hug her and the kids could approach. "Look Ari! I gots you a get well bunny!"
"James, Daddy bought it…"
"But I picked it out!"
She placed it right beside her on the bed and tucked it in, "Thank you James, I love it!"
"I helped too!"
"And we drew you pictures!" The one James proudly handed her had a big rainbow with a dinosaur—or it looked like one—holding a big red flower and 'gett well soon ari so we can plae cassel and sords agin. Jam3s luvs you!" The one Philippa showed her was one of Ariadne in [a very beautiful hospital dress] with flowers in her hair and flowers around her room (which in reality was covered with them a la all of the men) a big heart above her bed and the words. "Feel better soon! I love you, don't worry you still look pretty. Love so much, Pippa."
"These are so good," Ariadne smiled, "But Pippa what's that long black and white thing by me?"
"Uncle Arthur! He's always right by you. Seeee? That's why I put a big heart over your bed!"
Her and Arthur share a grin over the kid's heads.
It was 7 am when Arthur got the call.
He'd been up since five. He showered, brushed his teeth, put on the infamous three piece suit, gelled his hair and sat down to an omelet and cup of coffee while reading the New York Times. He was in-between jobs and expecting to meet up with a potential client this Wednesday. In the meantime, he was free to roam New York and wrap up the most recent job the team had worked together. The last payment was supposed to be wired in by lunch.
Cobb's name flashed across the screen of his phone. Normally they kept little contact and when Arthur called to check in, it was always periodically. The two friends had developed somewhat of a schedule of it. Upon answering, Arthur hadn't been able to utter a word before Cobb ambushed him with a question, "Have you been watching the international news this morning?"
The Point Man cleared his throat and turned the page of the paper. The stocks page proudly displayed its statistics and some doctor was explaining why coffee was bad for you (again.) "No, I hate politics. You know this."
"Yeah but Miles just called. They're doing a story on the renovation at the University. Ari's blueprints for the new wing are showing!"
Arthur turned on the tv and called The Architect into the room to see. "Ari! Your designs are on the news!"
She came running and squealing into the tv area in her pjs but then realized, "You don't think that's a problem do you? The Cobol agents—"
He shook his head and revealed the secret he'd been waiting to tell her, "Saito squared your problem with their new CEO yesterday morning. We don't have to stay under the radar anymore. We're free of them. Enjoy it, Sweetheart."
Ariadne beamed and jumped up and down with excitement, fumbled with the remote to record it on DVR while still trying to watch her designs and name flash across the screen. Arthur kissed her hair and took pride in his girl's accomplishments since the last time he'd heard about her-a year and a half ago on the International News.
To all my readers (the ones that spoke and the ones that didn't), reviewers, alerts/favorites of not only the story but me as well: It was a huge honor to write this and share it with you. You have kept me inspired and made me strive to write better for you. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed creating it for you! Its been a whirlwind and I almost wish I didn't end it here. I'd like to hear from all of you lovely people again! Please look out for my next stories! I have a Oneshot entitled First and a multi-chapter fic named Hooded (in which the team deals with a serial killer for a job) both Ari/Arthur. Of course. Lol.
Thank you so much again. So much adoration from me and our favorite fictional couple! -PrettyPrettyPlease