I haven't gone to bed yet…so technically its still Tuesday like I promised. Hahaha. Thank you for the response on last chapter! For those of you that checked out the picture before reading this what was your reaction?! Play by play. I was so excited/anxious about that reveal.
Thanks to: cinematherapy: I've heard of people who've been in love with two people at once. I think she does care for the other man. I mean, she has to a little to marry him right? Lauraa-x: Ha, I wanted her engagement to come as a shock to the readers as much as it did to Arthur. Which hopefully was the same reaction to the reveal of her fiancé. It's Arthur…he's always got a chance. Lol. Gavin isn't the only one who could upset Arthur that much. In fact, I think this guy does more. What can I say, Ari makes Arthur do some extreme things. Am I right? Whatshername76: Nah. I would hope Arthur wouldn't really kill him. I mean I know he's capable of it but it really wouldn't get him any brownie points with the Architect so…I hope he's smarter than that. Ju: Yay! Thanks! And you're very welcome! Neverland: Aww, thank you for the encouraging words. You're a sweetie! I'm glad you like them. Guest: We'll see… kamarooka: No probs. I know right? Arthur's a dumbass. I know…part of me wants them just to kiss and makeup too. That's the struggle of making it realistic. My pairing suffers a bit. CoffeeFilters: I know. Socially inept, this guy. Maybe if he settles down on the crazy and reverts back to that romantic man we saw in Germany there might be a freakin chance! Yay! Buddies. It's decided. EveningStar2305: Ah YAYAYAYAY! I love new shippers! Welcome to the fandom and A/A lover family! I'm so glad you like it that much! And yes. It's actually Dom Cobb.
Thanks new Story Followers and Favorites: CoffeeFilters and EveningStar2305
Thanks new Author Followers and Favorites (so honored!): EveningStar2305 and Nadhzel13002
Remember when you all said you wanted Arthur to go through hell for it? Be careful whatchu wish for.
Chapter 27: Send in the Clowns
The rapping on the wood of the door was so thunderous the framework of the building could've been threatened by it. No doubt the sleeping form inside woke with a start, suspecting a fire or earthquake had happened upon them. The pounding as Dom pulled on a shirt and padded his way to the impatient caller got louder—in time with each of his sleepy steps. When he came face to face with the Point Man, he was still so out of it he didn't see the deep scowl. Instead, he scolded, "Arthur? Is it you making that racket?" Far off in the distance the Extractor hears the ding of the elevator, footsteps clomping down the hallway and who he thinks is their British Forger harshly whispering, "Arthur! Think about this…this is not the place. For bloody sakes, keep it down you wanker!"
"BASTARD!" What jolted Dom fully awake was the sudden collision of his head on the floor, nearly missing the corner of the wall by the bathroom. With his head spinning, the Extractor blinked profusely did his best to get up with his friend towering over him like Godzilla. It still hadn't occurred to the blonde what Arthur was there and going to pieces over. He regarding him like he was insane…sleepwalking or something…Cobb held out his arms as if to steady his friend, "Arth—"
"What is this?!" Dom sees Eames skid to a stop at the doorway and look at the two of them wildly but his line of sight was interrupted by a page of glossy pictures held and scrunched so close to his face he nearly went cross eyed. It was when his eyes focused and he saw himself out and about back home in LA, holding hands with a certain Architect that his stomach dropped. "HUH?" The page crumpled in the Point's hand and was tossed aside so another could be shoved in Dom's face, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!" Dom wanted to crawl under the sheets when he recognized he and Ariadne kissing in the car, waiting in the pick-up line for the kids at school. He'd find out eventually but they hoped it would be later rather than sooner and from their own mouths. Arthur balled that picture up too and tossed it at Cobb's face. It didn't make it to the ground before Arthur had the skin of Dom's chest bunched up with his shirt, "I'm going to kill you—"
Eames intervened there. Or tried to. He scurried into the room and pulled the Point Man back by his shoulders, "Arthur—"
Unfortunately Arthur had faster reflexes than any of them. He elbowed Eames in the chest, pushed the breathless Forger into the hallway, "Stay out of this," then slammed the door. The Englishman rubbed his face and started pacing worriedly…he wouldn't put it past the Point Man to truly kill Dom. Especially over Ariadne.
The Forger's short-lived intervention did cause Arthur to let up though. He no longer murderously grabbed and hit at the blonde. He furiously kept his distance. "It's you!?" The taller man pointed at the shorter, "You're her fiancé!?"
Dom inhaled slowly. His thoughts immediately went to Ariadne and how she'd take Arthur's knowledge. Dom kept the secret for her. She didn't want anyone to believe she was with Dom to get back at Arthur and believed that broadcasting it would give people that impression. So they kept humbly quiet about it. And it wasn't like it happened right away…they eased into it without realizing that was what they were doing. She planned to tell Arthur after the job (to tell him during or before would make it awkward and that was before they found out he still cared) or even after the wedding. It was a struggle to keep it hidden and their connection watered down the past few weeks. Nevertheless, he sounded close to apologetic when she sighed, "Yes."
"You knew how I felt about her," shook the Point's head. Eyes disgusted, tone appalled.
The Extractor gave him a judgmental look and tilted his head, "Did I?" One of his hands flew up and fell back down to hit his leg, "Does anyone? Ariadne doesn't even know your real feelings…Hell, I don't think you do either. You just want the opposite of what you have at the moment." Arthur looked rattled. Hair tussled. His jaw ground into itself as he looked at one of the paintings on the wall. Unable to look at the blonde. Cobb let himself plop on the edge of the bed and explain (though he owed none, Arthur was still like his younger brother and best friend. He felt merciful) "It just happened…"
"How long after we broke up?" The Point wouldn't look at the other man. He stared at the floor with an overpowering intensity.
Dom squinted one eye and estimated, "I don't know two or three weeks?"
Arthur's head whipped back up with fierceness in his every cell, "You certainly didn't waste any time, did you?"
"The romance wasn't right away. I—" His hand sliced through the air to keep his thoughts clear and concise and to recite them as such, "I ran into her in New York and she was still upset about the way the job ended so I went to check on her and we just—things happened." Dominic watched Arthur pace back and forth. But while he pitied his friend, he wasn't sorry for what he'd done himself. He would've gone to comfort Ariadne if given a chance to do-over. "We got close. She came to stay with the kids and I for several months. You know James and Philippa love her."
"Do you?" Arthur paused by the window. "Do you love her, Cobb?" Two of his fingers pulled the curtain back to look down at the cement, twenty-something floors below. "As much as you loved Mal?"
Regretfully, Dom hesitated in his answer. "I admit ours isn't the passionate, earth bending love Mal and I had but yes, I do love Ariadne." The Point glanced over at him and Dom couldn't help but shrug and emphasize the depth of his feelings, "Enough to marry her." Those words had a highly negative effect on the other man. He threw away the curtain and started pacing again. Still, Cobb sat and followed him back and forth with his gaze, "Things were gloom and doom for us for so long and when she popped into the picture…" Yes, when Ariadne came to stay with him and the kids for several months they felt like family. No, she couldn't ever replace Mal but he and the kids didn't feel fragmented and separate from the world anymore. Ariadne was always making them laugh, playing around, cooking them dinner. The female presence was nice. There were no secrets, no drama and no pretenses with the Architect. He and Ariadne were completely themselves (something he hadn't been for a long time) together. "I understand how she won you over; it's the effect she has. It's ethereal. She's—" It didn't help his cause but memories of them splitting cotton candy with the children and riding the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier made him sigh happily, "Arthur, she's like my personal ray of sunshine."
"SHE'S MY UNIVERSE!" Arthur yelled, spit flying from the exertion. But the anger subsided halfway through his declaration as his voice cracked and his face fell to a point of anguish.
This made Cobb stand because he wasn't about to sit there and let Arthur treat him like dirt. Like he couldn't possibly care for Ariadne as the Point had… because which one of them broke her heart and which one of them picked up the pieces? Huh? "Well you sure as hell didn't act like it!" Dom got up in Arthur's face and poked his chest hard, with the same ferocity Arthur charged into his room with. He'd already told him he had no sympathy for Arthur's stubborn ways. Not when he acted entitled to her like that. "You shouldn't have thrown Ariadne away like a sack of potatoes when you had her. You didn't want her, Arthur!" He shoved him back like he'd been shoved when he opened his door, "And you made that clear to her. To me. To everyone. You can't get upset with the person who does want her."
"I made a mistake..." Arthur took hold of his friend's shoulders. Half with warning, half with pleading. If Dom could count how many times he heard that exact sentence from the young man since he'd been in Korea it'd rival the number of sand grains on the Californian coast. Still, Arthur kept at it. Kept pushing his agenda down Dom's throat, "You have to postpone it. I came here to get her back. This whole job, everything, is to get her back."
Cobb swatted the hands off of him. Now Dom was borderline nasty. The idea that he'd throw he and Ariadne's relationship away—like Arthur had done—for Arthur was upsetting enough to make him jab,"You know, I think she is finally over you and all that crap." Arthur had no idea what a triumph it was for him to say that Ariadne was happy now. He didn't have to see her after the job in New York, he didn't have to prove to her that someone wanted her day in and day out. He didn't have to make her believe she was needed and special like Cobb worked to. "She can work in the same environment, look at you and talk to you without a hint of what she used to feel. We're happy. She's happy. I'm not going to break her heart a second time for you. For your bruised ego. It's about time someone put her feelings before yours." Cobb decided that was the end of it and nodded his head towards the door for Arthur to go.
But the Point had other plans. He retorted, "You're encouraging her to settle for someone that could never give her what he's already given his first wife. You can't give her your entire heart."
"I can give her all that's left—" he defended.
"Maybe. But you can't treat her like your one and only. That's as much a disservice as what I did."
The Extractor got beet red with wrath. Storming to the door, Dom swung it open, "Leave." The Forger happened to be sitting and waiting with bated breath against the wall opposite of them. But he hopped right up when the door opened and Cobb gritted, "You don't get to dictate to me what's best for Ariadne. You are not the man in her life anymore. I am."
Eames witnessed the acute change in the air. The warmth the hotel provided for its patrons in the winter months was snuffed out. So much so that a chill ran through his spine. He could tell from the minute movement of Arthur's shoulder blades and darkness that overcame his eyes that after those two simple words out of Dom's mouth, Arthur lost all composure. Arthur knocked Dom into the hallway by means of his fist with a battle cry so loud it's a wonder the dead weren't awaken. Dom pushed himself off the floor but barely made it to his feet before he was tackled to the ground. The Forger dove in to pull the Point off but got an elbow to the face that put him out of commission for several seconds. The two men rolled around and met each other punch for punch. Cobb grunted, perfectly striking his opponent in the nose and drawing blood from it, "Get off of me, you selfish coward!" Arthur was thrown back so Dom could get up. Despite the crimson running down his face, the Point Man hopped to his feet and kneed Dom in the stomach before Eames grabbed Ariadne's ex around his middle, securing his arms at his side and fought to hold him back. His feet slipped and skidded but he was effective enough to give Cobb a breather.
"You screw her?!" Arthur rasped, eyes watering, "You touch her, Dom? Cause I fucking swear if you did—" His imagination ran wild, placing Dom in the memories he had of making love to Ariadne. Seeing Dom share that with her. It would've weakened him to the point of collapsing on the ground and giving up had Dom not shrugged, "I didn't do anything she didn't want me to." Ariadne wanting to be with another man like that and Dom encouraging it brought the ire back to his body. He backed Eames into the wall, knocked his breath out and charged at Dom again. Rammed into him, took another punch in the face and stomach but ultimately overpowered the Extractor and got him on the ground again. Other guests began to emerge from their rooms and stare into the hall in panic. "I loved her first, goddammit!" Arthur sat on top of Dom and threw punch after punch after punch after punch. Most of them were blocked because his efficiency suffered from his emotion, "She was mine! SHE WAS MINE!"
One of the guests to dart out of their room to see the commotion was the woman they were tussling over. At that point, Arthur raised both his fists to deliver a blow when she shrieked, "Oh My God!" The Point Man froze when he recognized the voice of the squeal. Only slightly embarrassed he watched her glance over Eames, panting and holding his side in the corner and then felt her gaze judgmentally study he and Cobb. All of a sudden she was standing there on top of them and his arm was yanked to get him off of Cobb. She hissed, "What is wrong with you?!" And then she knelt in the ground and cupped the blonde's face as he rose up on his elbows. "Dom, are you alright?" Ariadne rubbed Dom's jaw with her thumb lovingly. The way Arthur remembered her rubbing his. And it made him swallow the pooling blood in his mouth rather than spit it.
The Extractor maneuvered to sit himself all the way up and wave remorsefully at the other hotel patrons. "I'm fine." The Forger recovered enough to stand and coax everyone into going back to sleep and promising it'd be taken care of. Dom doesn't give Arthur the satisfaction of looking at him as he pointed out, "He's the one bleeding."
"I take it he found out," Ariadne bit her lip. She looked more put out than anything.
"I'll have to have Yusuf come over and relocate my shoulder." He breathed heavily, cupped her cheek right back, "Make Eames escort him back to his room."
Arthur sat slumped back against the wall of the hallway between her open door and another. His nose bled freely onto his clothes and his bottom lip was split open. For the one doing all the punching, he sure looked the most beat up. It hurt worse that when Dom mentioned him was the only time Ariadne regarded him. And all the more that she was repulsed by the sight. "No, I'll deal with the asshole."
She nodded, "He might take it out Eames for not telling him. He wouldn't hurt me," then she smoothed the Extractor's hair back, "Have Yusuf take you to my room, I wanna keep an eye on you in case he did some real damage."
"I said I was—" Her stern look stopped him in his tracks, "Ok, sweetheart." Arthur winced at the pet name and had to avert his head when Cobb kissed her cheek.
Ariadne didn't appreciate the suspicious looks they got in the elevator or the fact that she was in hot shorts and a tshirt roaming the hotel when she could be catching up on much needed rest. Immediately upon arrival in his room, she ordered the Point Man straight into the bathroom to wash his face off while she flickered on all the lights and rifled through his backpack where he kept the first aid kit. After some gurgling, he began coughing like he was trying to get rid of a lung. "Oh God, don't choke on your blood," chastised the girl. Arthur caught her grimace in the mirror when he spat more blood out of his mouth and wiped it with a face cloth. Ariadne held out her fist and waited for him to place his palm under, "Here." Two little white pills dropped into his hand, "Does your head hurt?" It wasn't genuine curiosity it was courtesy.
Arthur followed her out of the bathroom and observed her each move while she turned his bed down for him. He chided, "So now that I'm bleeding all over the place and won't be able to walk tomorrow…you finally care about me again?"
"You mean: now that the Point Man we rely on to complete our job successfully just nearly blew our cover? Yes. I care." Ariadne flopped his pillow from its upright position and stuck her hands on her hips, "Get some sleep. I'm sure you're drunk."
"Are you kidding me?" The pills are swallowed dry, "You're all about professionalism now?"
"Concerning you, yes." It was clear that she still remembered where he kept his supplies because she pulled an ice pack from the side pocket of the duffel at the foot of his bed, popped it (probably good for stress) and threw it to him, "You forget I'm not here willingly. I should be in my room tending to Dom not the jerk who woke me up at one in the morning to babysit him."
"Jerk," chuckled the Point humorlessly before holding the pack to his face, "At least we've progressed back to pet names."
Ariadne grunted and sighed, exasperated. She promised herself she was going to maintain her cool with him but the anger was bubbling outwards. He did that to her a lot didn't he? Make her so mad she saw red. "That was completely uncalled for, Arthur. In the morning—when you're in your right mind—you'll be furious with yourself."
"Uncalled for?" His eyebrows knitted together, "Uncalled for?!" The ice pack flipped through the air and hit the wall above his bed. "He's going to marry you and he kept that from me!"
Her irritation retracted back a hair. She shrugged reluctantly agreeing that it was a little understandable, "Yeah. Sucky way to find out; I know," and rolled her eyes before confessing, "We were going to tell you when the time was right. We weren't even going to do the job and put us in this situation. The only reason we did was for Saito. But we agreed it would be easiest for the three of us to get through it if you didn't know until the job was over. And he was going to ask you to be in the wedding party." The look he gave her made her look down at herself to check whether she sprouted a few extra arms since the last time she looked. She grimaced, "We honestly didn't think you'd care."
"How could I not care?" He looked around the room aimlessly but flittingly, "Even if I wasn't still in love with you?"
Again with the sigh, "Well, to us—"
"Stop saying 'us'." His scowl looked akin to a pout, "You and I are the only 'us' I want to hear."
The Architect's arms crossed over her chest, "Arthur—"
The Point Man was certain that an explanation would fix things. That if he could make her understand his reasoning, the past would erase itself. All Ariadne needed was certainty. He would start with the woman she saw him with at that Italian restaurant in New York. "It was a job. That woman you saw, Cela, she was a cover. Nothing more. We were doing recon on a mark for an upcoming—"
A small white hand held itself up, "Stop. Ok? That whole scenario is dead. I know you have a library of excuses in your brain just begging to be used because that's what you do. You sugar coat and cut out and exaggerate to make people believe you. To make people forgive you. I'm not going to forgive you. I'm just done." Arthur took steps forward to her, opening his mouth to come back with another excuse. She cut him off sternly, "No. I'm talking. You always said that I was the only person you could be one hundred percent Arthur around. Was that another page in the script you have up there?"
"No—" he averred. Scraped it off his tongue.
"When you broke it off I figured maybe if the desire and the happiness and the sparkly eyes were all over than at least we had fidelity." Each phrase grew higher and higher in volume, "At least we had memories of a relationship filled with honesty. But you can't be honest with anyone, can you?" She gestured to him incredulously, "You can't even be honest with yourself."
The hand that gestured to him was grabbed and weaved together with his, "You don't understand! Just hear me out."
"No, I understand perfectly." And it was wrenched back from him. "I'm young. You wanted dreams and adventures and a forbidden fling…and I was dumb." Ariadne's voice which was once so strong, accusing and harsh, cracked, "I wanted you so much that I played into your game. I fed your little fantasy and naively thought that it meant something to the both of us."
"Ariadne, it was new to me." The hands that went to her arms didn't grasp as much as they desperately held on to. Like she was a raft in the middle of the ocean. The only saving grace he'd ever have. "I loved you so much it scared me and I panicked. I was losing myself to you. I didn't know what I wanted, I made a mistake." He dropped to his knees. Hands slid down into hers, his forehead pressed into her stomach anxiously. He could feel her quick and deep breaths and it encouraged him, "I did—I do love you. More than anything. Anyone. And I know that somewhere in there you still love me."
The Architect tensed at the close contact. His hot breath through her shirt. She didn't know what made her want to break down and cry more…the fact that he was doing what she wished he would a year ago as she was lying and crying alone in a hotel in New York or the fact that she'd previously convinced herself she was over him and his touch still felt like the sweet burning sensation of sin. The former overpowered her…but with a negative effect. Remembering how deep he'd cut her made her loathe him and yearn to give him a taste of the utter despair she felt, "Impossible. I think Dom hit you a little too hard." Ariadne pushed his head away from her, "You're starting to believe your own lies," and she marched towards the door. The quicker she got away, the better.
"Why him?" Ariadne found him standing again when she twisted around at fixed her gaze back on him. Hands hung limply at his sides like the bags hung limply under his eyes. "Why—out of every other goddamn person on this earth—did it have to be him?"
The Architect steeled herself, lifted her chin and began, "Three years after Mal died, I followed him to limbo and saved him from himself." She paused and he nodded that he understood. "Three weeks after you ripped my heart out, he followed me to New York and saved me from myself." Arthur slowly walked to her while she kept going. While moisture started to betray her and fill her eyes. "We fit. We're good for each other." Ariadne fought to keep her voice firm and steady. But she sounded more like she was telling herself than telling Arthur. "I know without a doubt that he's not going to wake up in the morning and look at me like I never mattered."
Arthur whispered, standing over her at the door, "You mattered too much. I didn't know what to do with myself."
"We're not all the things the other may want but we're everything the other needs," maintained the Architect. "He doesn't break promises; he doesn't say things he doesn't mean."
"Please…" The Point Man couldn't talk above a whisper unless he wanted to feel the painful bubble in his throat. His head rested against the door next to hers. An inch never felt that many light years away before. His skin hurt.
"Us—you and I—Arthur, all that beauty and the beast bullshit…" He had to lift his head and look back down at her. Ariadne tried to sustain an infuriated face but the streams of water gave her away, "Loving someone so much you can't see straight, being made for someone, that earth shattering ache for them…you were right. It's all make-believe. It's all smoke and mirrors. Wishes in a fountain don't come true." She knew firsthand. Because she lied about wishing for gelato that night. Ariadne wished for Arthur as hard as he wished for her.
Arthur blinked away the water that blinded his vision and protested, grasping her hand, "No. We had it. It's real. Fairytales can be real. I felt it," then he pressed it to his heart, "I feel it when I'm with you…"
"It's a pipe dream. You woke me up to that reality." She gritted. Their eyes bore into each other's. "You broke me, Arthur…" Ariadne's fingers wilted against his chest and curled into a fist, cracking him open in the process. His liquefied soul poured out of his chest and left him empty and the woman sounded as fragile as the remainder of his shell felt. "Dom fixed me." Her free hand went to the door handle and twisted it. "That's why him."
"Please." Seeing the ever stoic robot in front of her reduced to tears was a battle of unparalleled proportion. "Please, Ari, forgive me."
"Dom wouldn't need a second chance." The Architect slipped out and left him to crumble like a pillar of sand.
What a surprise; Who could forsee?
I'd come to feel about you what you felt about me.
Why only now when I see that you've drifted away?
What a surprise. What a cliché.
But where are the clowns, send in the clowns.
Don't bother…they're here.
–Send in the Clowns by Barbra Streisand.
Next day at work is gonna be SOOOO awkward. But next chapter we finally get to take a trip back and see post break-up Ariadne and a little of how her and Cobb came to be. And of course more Arthur angst. Please, please, please write and tell me your reaction about Dom! I've been waiting for that reveal for like….EVER. Plus I enjoy your speculations as much as you enjoy updates! ;)