Disclaimer: Inception does not belong to me.

"So, what's the problem?"

Arthur sighed, looking into the cup of dark liquid in front of him. He'd wondered, ever since he'd entered the coffee shop, if this was a good idea. And now, faced with the prospect of opening up, he was beginning to think it was a bad one.

"Its..." he paused, swivelling the spoon on the saucer. "Its..."

Cobb leaned back in his chair, looking at the younger man. "Ariadne?"

Arthur nodded, a feeling of guilt beginning to pervade him. "Yes."

Cobb frowned, his forehead creasing. "What is it?"

Arthur rubbed his forehead, unsure of how to frame his words. It sounded, he ruminated, like a betrayal. Ariadne would never forgive him, he knew. But he couldn't continue the way he was.

"Its..." he paused. "Its she's so..."

"So what?" Cobb asked, puzzled.

"Smothering." Arthur exhaled, relieved the word was finally out. He'd been prevaricating on how to say it, but decided honesty was best. "She's smothering me, Dom."

"How?" Cobb raised an eyebrow.

Arthur sighed. Ariadne's behaviour, he thought, was slightly irrational. He frowned, combing back through his thoughts.

The first few dates had been wonderful. After he'd asked her out, he'd realised quickly that she was lovely. Thoughtful, intelligent, and fiesty, Ariadne never ran out of conversation or ideas. Arthur had at first felt worried by her impulsiveness, which had made Eames seem calm, but he realised that it benefitted him. After having been seen as boring and humourless, Arthur felt that Ariadne's lightness made him less reserved. Brought him out of his shell.

So how had it changed?

He could remember the first time. They'd arranged to go out for dinner, and he'd told her that he'd meet her at the restaurant. His intention had been to finish research on a new case, but he was surprised when his phone chimed into life. Irritated, he looked up from his files, and answered.



"Hey," he replied, his voice softening. "What is it?"

"Arthur, let's not go out to eat this evening."

He blinked. "What?"

"Let's not go out to eat." His eyes narrowed. Ariadne's voice carried an insistence he'd never heard before. "But, Ari, its what we arranged..."

"Come over. I'll cook."

"Ari, that's really sweet of you, but-"

"Arthur." Her tone was almost domineering, as though daring him to argue with her. "Come over in about an hour, ok?"

He'd swallowed. Feeling bemused, he looked back down at his paperwork.

He'd left, and arrived at her small apartment an hour later. When he'd entered, he'd been surprised. Not only was the apartment lighted by soft candlelight, but she greeted him at the door. He blinked - she was freshly made up, and wearing a dress he'd not previously seen.

"You look lovely," he said, sincerely, taking her hands.

She'd smiled at him, lifting up her head. He'd kissed her, and they'd preceeded to walk into the main room. She'd ushered him to sit.

The meal she'd prepared was delicious - steak, salad, and, wild rice - but he'd also felt slightly disturbed. He'd arranged to take her out to eat. He'd never expected her to cook.

"Ari, you didn't have to do this," he'd said, gesturing with his hand.

She'd blinked, and shot him a worried look.

"Is it not good?"

Arthur frowned at the memory. That was what had stayed frozen in his mind - the look of consternation on her face, the expectation that what she'd done had not been good enough. He'd looked at her, surprised.

"Ariadne, its lovely. But you didn't have to go to all this trouble!"

"Its no trouble!" She'd exclaimed. "Why should wanting to do something for you be trouble?!"

He'd had no reply to that. They'd finished the meal in silence, him suddenly afraid that saying anything would cause her further discontent. At the end of the meal, he'd got up, deciding to break the silence, but she'd merely come straight to him, tears in her eyes.

"Its not a crime to want to do something nice for you," Cobb said, gently. Arthur shook his head.

"Its not that. Its the way she behaved...as though I was in the wrong for even considering that she shouldn't have to do that for me." He rubbed his face. "She's so sensitive."

"And you think she's smothering you."

"Its as though she's afraid to let me out of her sight."

Cobb swallowed. "Talk to her."

Arthur shook his head, almost sadly. "Not sure I can."

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