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Arthur/Ariadne

(been awhile since I've seen the movie Inception, so I hope this is okay)



The latest dream was in space.

Ariadne had been in Ancient Rome, had been underwater a thousand leagues deep, and had been at balls in the old French court. Some people's dreamscapes were so fantastic, so out-there, that she struggled. She loved it. She savored it. She liked the challenge, and space was the biggest challenge. She could construct anything, and basing the idea of space in a globe did the trick for them. Also, great kick.

On the other side, Arthur held the globe in his hands while the rest of them were in space, turning, as they needed to get the designs of a space station for a very powerful person; he'd drop it, timed, as soon as they needed out. Ariadne didn't ask the specifics of it; she had developed her own value system in this line of work.

The idea would get out there eventually. Most ideas did in the end, in the world. There was innovation, true, but build upon loads of other ideas. Ariadne had long ago given up on making something new in the world, which was her origin 'dream' before Cobb found her. This, however, was better than the world: this was pure creation, and no one else had that anymore.

She stared out at the stars, the perfect space, until space suddenly had weight and they fell together.

The risk of it was immense but intellectually, she wouldn't turn away from it. This was what she told herself.

***

When Ariadne was in the world again, everything felt heavy.

The light on the table was blurry, and she held her chess piece in her hand as she rethought about the design again. She couldn't wait to see it in actuality.

"Still up?"

She smiled to herself before looking at him. She'd become used to him. After all, there wasn't a bonding experience stronger than leaving your life willingly in another person's hands.

"I'm reformulating," she said.

"You didn't change anything too much, did you?" he asked.

"You'd be the first to know," she replied. "Trust me."

He looked at her for awhile, eyes on the plans. "I'll trust you to get some rest."

She nodded. "Another hour and I'm done."

He left, and she went over the hour. She stretched and went to the fridge, and found some coffee waiting for her in the kitchen. She didn't know she was that predictable, but she guessed--ironically that was a gambling man's job--to know the predictability. He must have noticed how she liked her coffee a long time ago.

Despite everything, she didn't know if she could say the same. She sighed and went back to the dream scape, making sure everything was right and leaving the coffee to cool on the counter.

She woke up with his jacket covering her.

***

Weeks....was it weeks, later, Arthur went with her to the dreamscape, telling her about the design, and it was surprisingly mild for what they had been handling lately.

"We play the couple in the movie," he said, "And we'd better know how to dance."

"So it's scripted," she said, a bit disappointed, "I guess this is something new." Ironically.

"You can get something new out of anything," Arthur told her, taking her hands and leading her along the dance floor.

"Especially a movie you haven't seen."

"This guy is a professional dancer. He'll know if we're off by one beat."

"Then we'd better practice," she said, because she knew him now. She knew his indirectness intimately, and the consistency was comfortable. She let him lead her, and she grew comfortable, imaging the warmth from his hands.

Then his hands actually grew warm against her palms. "Interesting," he said. "I can't wait till we get a superhero dream sometime," he joked.

She played it off, and the floor turned to glass. "I'm taking a few creative liberties," she told him, and leaned forward, knowing the layout of what he did so well that she'd lead.

"I'd rather kiss in person," he said, throwing down his cards. Taking his chance with pinpoint accuracy.

Ariadne looked down, and the walls turned to glass--to mirrors. "We are in person. Remember, that's important."

"I'm worried about you," he said, and this was too direct for him. What was he doing? White-knighting? "I knew it when Cobb told me that'd you always come back to this. This is the thrill of my life, I wouldn't give it up. But it isn't my life."

She shook her head. "I have...alot of things I do in my spare time that you don't know about."

"I know that. When we wake up, do you want to tell me about them over a cup of coffee?"

"You brought a cup for yourself this time?"

"I meant at an actual diner," he said. "Hell, you might even find out about me."

And that was when--the reflection thing happened. Something--caught, and suddenly the ceiling was mirrors, the ground was mirrors, the walls were mirrors, and there were a thousand Arthurs and Ariadnes except there wasn't an Arthur dancing with her, in front of her.

She panicked, and for once, so did he, as a thousand reflections stopped the dance and fumbled for his totem. And then there were a thousand totems. She didn't know him well enough--or she knew him too well--to find out which one was the real self.

"Stop," she breathed, "Be still."

And there were a thousand reflections saying this, and she thought she'd break him. Somehow the glass would break. Ariadne closed her eyes, blacking it all out, and she heard a glass shatter to her left. She screamed as she jerked up right, into the unmarked walls of their base of operations.

"Oh my god." She jumped to her feet, racing to his side, and she shook him hard. He blinked, and she hated the fear on his face. "I'm..."

"It's all right," he said, running a hand through his hair. "So we do know something new. No mirrors," he laughed, getting to his feet and straightening his clothes.

"...About the diner," she said slowly.

"It's all right."

"No, it's not. The thing is...I don't want to lose you."

His brow furrowed. "That was easy to get out of once I calmed down. I've faced worse."

Now who was indirect? The answer to his question had resulted in shattered glass. Her chess dance had been interupted by his gamble.

She took his hand, feeling the difference. "If we know each other too well, we can't work with each other."

"You mean...you're thinking about Mal."

"Beyond a point, we can't know each other. We can just trust each other. Don't you think it's more...it's better than just knowing facts and dates and trivia about each other?"

"Sure, sure," he said, and he wasn't getting it, and it wasn't like Arthur not to get it: for it not to click.

"I wouldn't trust anyone else with my life," she said. "No one. But you know...I'm not ready to stop yet. I don't know if I can yet."

"You know," he said, tilting his head. "But there's this idea. I know you, but I want to know that I do. I want an anchor here. I want to know your favorite color, your favorite book, how you look when you wake up in the morning."

She swallowed hard, and she couldn't imagine--with all her knowledge--wanting to know that about herself. She had studied books all her life, and she had walked with her head down. Part of the allure was that she was the one chosen for something out of a dream.

He took her silence as another answer, a louder answer than glass, and he nodded, stepped away.

"I'll see you tomorrow," he said, shaking her hand.

She had lost him, she was sure, and she had never thought she would. He could keep his emotional and mental life separate. "I-."

"I don't trust your life in anyone else's hands but mine either," he told her at the door, looking firm and determined and endlessly sure. "I'll be waiting for the day when I can know more. It's worth the wait."

That was the other thing about Arthur. He would always catch her when she fell. She didn't know how she felt about it, she didn't know how to balance it out in equations...but she knew it was that truth just as strong as any totem.

Always.

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