Disclaimer: Inception does not belong to me.

Arthur looked up as Ariadne walked over. "What is it?" he asked, his expression and tone cordial.

She swallowed. "I need to talk to you," she said, politely. He frowned slightly.

"Ari, its not really convenient right now. I have to check something with Cobb -" he glanced at his watch - "and then meet with a client." He smiled at her, his features softening. "Can we talk later?"

She shook her head, stubbornly. "No, I really need to talk to you now."

"Ariadne-" Arthur's voice now held a hint of exasperation. "I said, its not really convenient." He rubbed his forehead. "I have -"

"Arthur, please."

The slightly desperate tone in her voice threw him off guard. He looked at her, and to his shock, saw that tears were threatening to form in her eyes. He swallowed, realising he had no choice.

"OK. Five minutes." He began walking towards the private office at the back of the Warehouse, Ariadne following him. As he opened the door, he noticed Cobb was looking towards him, frowning. He took a step to the side, ushering Ariadne in.

"OK, what is it?"

She swallowed. "I...wanted to talk to you about last night."

"What about last night?"

"Well, I don't think it ended very well...and I..." she paused, unsure of how to continue. Arthur's face was an expression of astonishment.

"Ari, what is it? It was a lovely evening." He swallowed, feeling that he was merely parroting trite sayings to her. "You cooked for me, it was...wonderful."

"So why did you leave suddenly?" she demanded. "Was it me?"

Arthur shook his head. This morbid sensitivity was something he felt he could not handle. "No, it wasn't. Ari, please, I don't have the time for this." He stopped, suddenly noting how tears were beginning to well up in her eyes. He exhaled slowly. No matter what he said, he was grimly drawing the conclusion that he would be seen as the villain.

It was not a position he was comfortable with. Turning, he decided to leave. Ariadne stared after him, an anguished expression on her face. Ignoring it, he strode out of the door.

Eames looked over at the Architect. She'd been sitting quietly - too quietly - for the last hour. She was sketching her pencil over a sheet of paper, but also staring into space at several points. He frowned, and turned to her.


She blinked. "Yes?"

"Are you allright?"

"Of course." Lowering her head, she focused on her work. Eames did not want to second guess, but he could have sworn there were traces of tears on her cheeks.

"It'll be a very simple hit. No question."

Arthur swallowed, looking at the woman before him. Ashley Clarke was in her thirties, he surmised, and had a cool, slightly hardened look - expensive make up, designer suit, slightly tough expression. He leaned back in his seat, marshalling his thoughts.

"Extraction is never simple." He looked at Cobb, who was in the process of taking a sip of espresso. "Especially when you want us to extract from your brother."

Ashley smiled, her dark red lipstick leaving Arthur feeling slightly repelled. "My brother is responsible for the decimation of my late father's company. The sooner he forgets he was ever involved, the better."

"Ms Clarke..." Cobb swallowed. "This is a sensitive case. I-"

"If you think you can't handle it-"

Arthur leaned forward. "No, we can," he said, firmly. Cobb turned to him, his eyes widening. "We can do this job."

Ashley smiled, her teeth bared. "Excellent. I'll make arrangements for you to fly to Vancouver. Just the two of you?"

"Four," Cobb said, annoyed. "We also require two other members of the team."

She shrugged. "Well, money is no problem." She began to get up, pushing back her chair. "I'll be in touch."

Stunned, the two men watched as she began to leave the restaurant.

Ariadne swallowed, and looked over at Eames. The Forger was reading some papers. She began to get up. "Eames, I'm just going down to the basement. Check on some models."

The Forger nodded, not even looking up. "Um hmmm."

She rolled up her blueprint, and began to walk downstairs. As she entered the basement, she smiled. There, next to a lounger, was a PASIV. Walking over to it, her heart began to pound.

She shouldn't be entering the dream state again. But it would help her - help confirm to her that she was doing the right thing. Arthur needed her - and he needed, she felt, to stop being so condescending and sullen when she expressed her concern. Settling down on the lounger, she plugged the PASIV into her arm.

"We can't take Ariadne," Arthur muttered as he and Cobb began to walk two blocks back to the warehouse. "We can't."

"She's the architect!" Cobb snapped, turning to him. "And you were so quick to say we'd do this job!"

"Cobb, at the moment, she's a liability." Arthur shook his head. "She's-"

"She's what, Arthur?" Cobb turned and faced the other man, not caring they were in the centre of the street. "What is she?"

"She's-" Arthur looked at him. "She's smothering me. She's almost morbidly sensitive. She's-"

"Arthur." Cobb looked at him, coldly. "You sound like a teenager. You and Ariadne are professionals. You're both on the team. Leave your relationship to one side!"

Arthur opened his mouth, then closed it. In silence, he and Cobb walked the short distance back to the warehouse, a swirl of dark thoughts occupying the Point Man's mind.

Reviews are always welcome and appreciated, thank you!