Hello. This is my first Inception fic! I don't own anything but my storyline.
I'm super excited to share this and I hope you guys like what's in store. I have over half the story written already so I intend on regular updates if you guys don't absolutely hate it. Constructive criticism is welcome. Reviews make everyone fluffy :) The sections of Italics are flashbacks or memories.
Without further ado,
Chapter 1: Like a Damn Fool.
7 months, 2 weeks and 5 days since he last saw her. Not that he'd been counting… but another job had come up and it was a very important gig. They needed the best of the best yet again and the team had already assembled. That is, the team minus Ariadne. Eames and Arthur were finding her today to offer her the job. Their new extractor had recommended a former architect of his by the name of Duncan Shelton…
The client, the forger, the chemist and the point man would have none other than Ariadne. And that was that.
They walked through the door at 3:23; the auditorium was unbelievably silent and Arthur met Miles' disapproving eye right away. After looking around he came to the realization that they couldn't disturb her now. The class was in the middle of finals for the term. Eames agreed to sit at the top and wait with him until she had finished and stepped out. Arthur kept his eyes on her back the entire time. He knew he was burning a hole but he couldn't look away unlike the ADD man next to him. Eames was fiddling with his phone and ogling all the remotely attractive girls taking tests. Arthur observed the petite girl in the third row. Ariadne's hair was a little longer than he remembered but still that bold hue of chestnut that trailed down in soft curls. Her favorite red cardigan had been replaced by a striped green and white one; although he couldn't see it, he was sure she was wearing a scarf and he entertained himself in thought of which one she had chosen for the day.
The last time she turned her back to him was in LAX. Not when they landed right after the Fischer job but 3 weeks later when she left Los Angeles. Even though the team wasn't allowed to make any contact, Cobb had made sure to enlist Arthur with the task of watching over her until the coast was clear. It would take 3 weeks to determine whether the entireties of the job had been successful at the least. If someone caught on and started tracking them down…Ariadne was the weakest link. She wasn't exactly trained to watch her back and cover her trails. Cobb wanted someone there to be able to whisk her away in any sign of danger. If the job WAS successful, he would call Arthur, relieve him of his duty and the team would take a 6 month precautionary period before the they could work together again. For 5 days Arthur followed her silently and untraceably.
On the sixth he was too unguarded and managed to be caught by her. He tried to keep his attitude obligatory and strictly co-worker friendly but something in him couldn't handle that. In two days, The Point Man was a goner and the Suitor was in control. They were possibly the best 2 weeks and 2 days of his life; the two spent some time together every day. He'd allowed himself to feel emotions he'd locked away and rendered unusable. She put him on a high, made him feel like he was dreaming …then the 3 weeks were over and Cobb called and woke him up. His level of professionalism had lowered and it was time he followed orders again. He couldn't bear to get much closer to the girl for fear of becoming his best friend and his dead wife.
He drove her to the airport and suggested that they forget everything that had happened…for safety purposes. He bid her farewell without the slightest hint of nostalgia or emotion (this took a LOT of self control because her confused, dejected, somewhat angry eyes bore into his at the gate.)
"Don't expect to hear anything from me for at least 6 months. And I suggest not taking on anymore dream sharing jobs during that period as well. You don't want to become too addicted to the constant craving for pure creation."
"Arthur, I don't understand. In the past two weeks there have been at least a thousand people who have seen us together. Hotel clerks, delivery boys, pedestrians…isn't it silly to start the no-contact thing now?"
"No, it's standard procedure. I was careless. I shouldn't have spent any time with you."
"Then why didn't you just go home after the job? Why stay as long as I did!" The Parisian was getting agitated.
He clenched his jaw, "Because Cobb told me to; he told me to follow you a while."
Ouch. "Cobb told you to do ALL of it?"
He instantly regretted how that sounded. He hadn't spent time with her because he had to. He hadn't checked on her because he had to. He wanted to. "N-no," he softened, "Not all-"
"Because I'm a toddler right? I need to be followed? I need to have a knight in shining armor if something happens…I'm capable of taking care of myself, Arthur."
"And I'm just as qualified to figure it out like the rest of you had to!"
"And the next time Cobb or ANYONE asks you to look after me, I would appreciate it if you didn't. Because I refuse. I REFUSE to be coddled and followed and looked after. ESPECIALLY by you."
Arthur sighed, "Ariadne, come on. You shouldn't be angry with me about this-" His tone was authoritative like he was speaking to a child. He was so calm. She couldn't believe this.
"And why not? What was I supposed to think this whole time? Were you planning to drop me like this from the start? What did the past two weeks mean to you?"
Of course he couldn't formulate an answer under this pressure. What did the past two weeks mean to him? He wouldn't change a second; he couldn't savor each minute with her enough. The thought of the next sixth months was bordering unbearable. The truth was not an option. One word of truth and Ariadne would turn his logic around , make him realize the silliness of this. If she kissed him and asked him to go with her, he'd drop his bags and walk to Paris if he had to. His desire would force him to; her words would make him put her in danger by never leaving her side. If she knew how he really felt, he could kiss the security procedure, Cobb's approval and most importantly her safety goodbye. He wouldn't risk her safety. Ariadne wouldn't be within Jupiter's distance of danger if he could prevent it in any way.
"I don't know what you want me to say…"
Her eyes bore into his. He knew what she wanted him to say though she'd never ask him to say it. Say you love me…well do it Arthur. Because you do. You're ineffably, despairingly, absolutely in love with her. Inebriated by her very presence. Say you love her. Say you'll miss her. Ask her to wait for you 6 months. Tell her how amazing the time you've shared has been. Tell her you wouldn't change it for the world. Say you love her. And like a fool… like a damn fool… he simply stood there with his eyes blank.
A nervous scoff, silence.
And just like that…like a damn fool…he gave her up. "Bye Arthur."
She turned and stalked away from him, oblivious to his face full of regret, watching her disappear into the gate. Ariadne plucked the "I love LA" sticker he bought her off her messenger bag and tossed it to the floor; it didn't go unnoticed by him. He still remembered…with every person behind her that stomped on top of that discarded sticker, he felt stupid and stupider. Arthur felt empty and emptier…the only way he was filled was by the slow downpour of regret. A downpour that churned and made him nauseous.
He was shook out of his reverie by her movement. She stood up with papers in hand, slung that same messenger bag over her shoulder and walked to the Professor's desk followed by some other lanky kid. Arthur may have stared even harder just willing her to turn around and make eye contact; willing her to grace him with acknowledging his presence. Professor Miles stood to hug her farewell until the next semester and just when Arthur believed her free, believed he was fixing to engage in conversation with her…said lanky kid grabbed her waist from behind and swung her around once. Ariadne had not protested. In fact, she tried to stifle a laugh as the boy kissed her cheek. Eames warily glanced at Arthur. In a fit of conceit and arrogance, Arthur stood. Thinking that once she saw him, all thoughts of that man would be gone. His presence would change everything. But that damn lanky guy laced his hand with Ariadne's and quickly and excitedly pulled her up the far left stairs and out the door. Ariadne hadn't even noticed them, him. Arthur sneered at Eames' poor attempt to hide his amusement about the matter.
"It's not funny…Eames," Arthur whispered harshly.
"What's not funny," The forger teased, "the fact that you stood like an idiot and she didn't even recognize your existence? Or your face when he kissed her?"
Arthur righted his posture and ignored Eames' question, "She was our only choice for an architect."
"Yes, Artie, but it's not like we can't find her again. Go ask Grandfather Clock down there where she might have gone… Jesus, when did I become the point man?" The point man brushed it off and headed down.
"Arthur…what a bittersweet surprise to see you here. I was beginning to hope you'd given up on corrupting my favorite student." Miles stood and proffered a handshake.
"Your favorite student is the best dream architect money can buy right now, Sir."
"Unfortunately, I'd agree. But I might be biased." The old man winked.
Arthur got down to business, "Do you know where she might have gone? We didn't get the chance to speak to her."
"I'm pretty sure Ariadne's headed to the Finals Jam over in the west end's common room. A bunch of students are gathering there to celebrate the end of the term. It's mostly the artistic cliques of the school. They're brewing coffee and selling Cinnabons , playing that indie music…there is dancing… the sort of thing she likes."
Yes. Her dancing Arthur remembered all too well.
"Thank you. Please give Cobb and the kids my highest regards next time you speak with them."
LA. Week 3. Day 3.
"Arthur, I didn't pack for anything that fancy."
He tried to coerce her, "It's not that fancy."
"Coming from the man who wears a three piece suit to the grocery store?" She joked.
He uncomfortably unbuttoned his suit jacket and leaned back into his seat, "What turns you off to it?"
"It's a couple's ball," Ariadne deadpanned. Dressing up was not her forte.
"It's just in the hotel ballroom and it's just live music and drinks not a gala premiere." He smirked at her adamant attitude.
She analyzed the tickets and handout he'd brought with him from the lobby into the cab.
He prodded, "I want to take you somewhere nice, somewhere special. You only have 3 days left in LA …I'll buy you a dress for it if you want."
Ariadne sighed dramatically, "No. I'll find something myself while we're out."
"So it's a yes?"
She rolled her eyes and nodded as Arthur excitedly kissed her cheek. The architect couldn't help but smile after he did.