Chapter 1: Projections

Arthur's pov:

She was gorgeous, a brunette, small, maybe 5'2 with big green eyes on a very elegant face. She was wearing a simple black dress and talking to a very well dressed couple near the wine and cheese table. Unfortunately she was simply a projection of a very wealthy man, John Carmen. John was the head of a very successful law firm, J.R. Law. The R stood for his partner, Ronald Harper.

This woman was amazing. The way she moved, behaved... The way she looked was extraordinary. This lady, this projection, I needed to know her. I hoped and prayed she was the projection of someone John truly knew, not just a passer-by from the streets his conscious had brought in. "Quit staring" I snapped back into attention and looked at Cobb, he had a slight grin on his face, he knew. "I don't blame you darling she is smashing" Eames glanced towards the projection before looking back at me with a good clap on the back. "We need to get going", Cobb cut in again.

We began to weave through the projections looking for Ronald in hopes of extracting information explaining the conflict between him and John. John had hired us to find out what rumors Ronald had been spreading that would explain why his clients were neglecting him and why everyone was fixated on Ronald.

It turned out I was the luckiest man alive, after asking John about his previous clients and who they were he pointed all their projections out. This goddess ended up being one of them. Unfortunately, being a client I got no information. Not even a name, but it was a start knowing she was real and that she was close. This news formed sudden hopes of finding her up above.

After locating Ronald and extracting the rumors being spread of John lying to judges and forming his own ideas and charging ridiculous amounts, we heard the music. Yusuf was beginning to wake us from the dream. I had to see her one last time, to memorize all her features, all her beautiful features so I could find her up above. I walked quickly back to the wine and cheese table, but she was gone. Looking around frantically I caught a glimpse of the top of her head through the crowd, her chestnut brown hair and beautiful big green eyes. I think she felt me staring because she paused her conversation with whomever and looked straight at me. I felt my heart race in my chest but only for a moment- I woke up.

A few days later I stole Yusuf and went back to John Carmen telling him I needed to revisit his subconscious and make sure we were right. It didn't have to be done and I don't think it even made any sense at all to do this but he seemed to believe me. I needed to get back there, I had to find her.

I constructed the dream as a cafe and hoped to god she liked coffee or tea or even a biscuit. I walked inside and sat down at a table and waited.. nothing. I walked outside and took a look around the surrounding street and shops, nothing but other random projections were inhabiting this dream. Damn. Where could she be? I reconstructed the dream back to that ballroom with the wine and cheese table hoping she would be some classy memory of John's that only fills this kind of surrounding.

I built the place exactly as it was the first time I saw her. I feel like such a creep but I don't care, some things just need to be done. However, some things just don't work.

I began to lose hope when my lucky streak picked up again. There she was, sitting at an elegant table with three others. I'm just gunna go sit down with them. Yup. I'm doin' it. I began to pump myself up and build the courage, practiced lines in my head and all the things I could say to her to make me sound cool and get information about her that could simplify things. But just my luck, as I approached the table I heard it, the music. Dammit Yusuf, I looked at my watch, he was right though the time was almost out. I almost ran to the table but there were so many people I had to push and throw my way through. As I approached her I slowed down and straightened my suit and gave my hair a quick check with my hands. I took a few more steps ignoring the music that was still ringing in my ears. As I approached the table and opened my mouth to say something she turned her head and looked right at me. I couldn't speak, I froze, I couldn't even think. She smiled, she was so stunning. I stuttered slightly as I regained my courage. 'It's ok that I'm acting like such a loser it's just a dream... she doesn't really know me.' I kept telling myself that as I tried to calm down. The music got louder and I began to panic again, "hello," holy Jesus her voice is like music to me. "Hi- " I was cut off as I woke up. My eyes opened and I realized I was just in an office with Yusuf and John looking over me. I sat up and put my head in my hands as I remembered that all of it wasn't real and I didn't actually meet her. "So? Is it correct?" John's voice blasted me out of my thoughts, "uh, ya, ya it's right" I mumbled out. "Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I'm very great full for your thoroughness on the job." Yusuf chuckled silently knowing it was all a lie and we left.

We walked to the car in silence until it was broken by Yusuf, "So, did you find her?" I glanced at the Arab to my left, "ya, I did, but I took too long. I woke up just as I said hi." I looked away and sighed, "And I can't really use that excuse to get into John's head again." Yusuf chuckled, "ya, that excuse didn't even make sense." I huffed as I sat down in the car and started the engine. There was no simplifying this. I had to find her on my own, the old fashioned way.

For days I saw her face in my mind as I scanned my brain hoping to discover a way to find her, I had to find her, but how? How could I find her without a name or any information about her? I tried talking to John but he stuck to his morals and rules of client-lawyer-confidentiality. I had nothing to base my search on.

After days of racking my brain I began to give up, as painful as it was, when my streak continued. I was the luckiest man alive. I saw her, the top of her head, that chestnut hair and those vibrant brig green eyes. Grocery stores are amazing places, however, now comes the task of finding a way to talk to her and introduce myself without looking like a creep. It's a weird feeling knowing you know them but they have absolutely no idea who you are.

I didn't want to look like a creep but I definitely felt like one as I followed her through the aisles hoping she would drop something I could pick up for her, or maybe have too much to carry, or can't decide between basmati and Uncle Bens rice so I could have some excuse to talk to her. Unfortunately my streak failed when she made it to the automatic checkout successfully, but holy shit my luck jumped back into play. I could hear her curse as the checkout machine gave her problems and darted over to lend a hand, luckily I'm good with electronics.

"Hey, having problems?" I stuttered out with an awkward smirk.

"Hi" she said quickly, "yeah actually this... thiiiing... won't let me cash out" she huffed as she gestured frustrated towards the machine.

"Here, lemme help you," I had more of a voice this time as my courage began to work up. She took a few steps back as I got closer. I wish she had stayed put though, I want her close to me, I want to feel her, to know her.. I want her.

I poked away at the machine until I fixed it and got her groceries rung through for her, the whole time I could hear her making little frustrated noises behind me, embarrassed she couldn't do it herself. "Thank you... for your help", I turned my head and straightened up a bit, "you're welcome, anytime, my name's Arthur by the way", I stuck out my hand to shake hers, my formal habits beginning to take play. "Haylie" she said shaking my hand with a chuckle. Haylie, I repeated in my head, what a beautiful name, it suited her. We chatted for a moment about nothing in particular, but it was the most amazing conversation for me.

I went back to the warehouse where Cobb and the others were waiting, "where's dinner?" asked Eames, noticing no bags in my hands. Damn. I forgot that part. "Feed yourself," I responded quickly, "I just had the most amazing luck. I found her in the grocery store" Eames just stared at me, "found who". "HER! From the dream, I found her finally." "Found who, that broad in the black dress from the lawyer job?" "Yes, aaaaahhh finally, it feels so good to know she's real," I flopped down onto the chair beside me. "Did you get her number?" asked Yusuf, I simply blinked back at him, got up, and walked away. Damn.