"Love is a temple.
Love, the higher law.
I asked you to enter and then I made you crawl."
-One covered by Damien Rice
Arthur and Ariadne. Their—whatever they have between them-is like the waves of limbo. Pushing, pulling. Rising, crashing. Refreshing them yet drowning them. And how fitting that Ariadne's the only one of them who's experienced the throes of limbo firsthand. Arthur's heard of it but has yet to feel the effects or so is the assumed common knowledge.
Anyone could've guessed that the kiss in the hotel was not where the flirtation would stop. Arthur's cheekier than everyone gives him credit for and it turned out that one peck of her lips was all it took to send him into fascination. But it wasn't a sudden epiphany that magically made her eyes seem brighter or her words seem sweeter. It just intrigued him that she of all people ignited a spark in his belly at the contact. She's always interested him. She's not your typical woman and definitely not the sort Arthur would typically choose to pick up at a bar. She's short and a bit plain with little curves…few men take second looks at her unless it's because they can't believe she's so tiny. What does them in? Her captivating mind, free spirit and enormous heart. Her sarcasm and fiery persona aren't bad either…they're actually very alluring. Ariadne is an alluring woman on second glance; you just have to look again. Ariadne didn't blush or giggle like a schoolgirl once he tricked her…no when they meet eyes again in the elevator she crosses her arms and raises her eyebrows at him, "Do you trick all newbies into sloppy kisses? Because I'd love to see the reaction you get from the men."
As Arthur as ever, he's back to the stoic, forever bemused, robot. He regards her question with poise and feigned innocence, "It was a ploy but only to detract attention."
She chokes on her laugh before chiding, "You are quite the knight in shining bullshit but that's ok we can pretend it didn't happen; it wasn't good enough to be memorable anyway."
Arthur isn't a narcissist but her criticism of his kiss bites at him in the back of his brain for a while. And her stupid coy glances at him through her eyelashes while he's setting charges annoy the crap out of him. And when he finds out she willingly went into limbo with Cobb it does two things: It impresses him (every time he thinks she can't do anything to impress him more, she does.) and it angers him. Whether it upsets him because it was dangerous for her or because she'd gone for Cobb he can't tell. It bothers him more that she spends a week at that level waiting for the Extractor with bated breath and wakes up worrying about him. How is it that Cobb is some god to her and Arthur's what—a peanut butter sandwich? She seems completely unimpressed with him. With other women that wouldn't bother him. But Ariadne isn't your typical woman and the fact that she can be so flirty yet so indifferent with him is again: fascinating. The twists and turns of her personality, the complexities, whatever device she uses that blocks him from being able to predict her— it occupies his mind the plane ride back. So when she gets into the cab that would take her to the Hilton for the weekend, Arthur finds himself sliding in on the other side. "Mind if we share? I think we're going to the same place."
Ariadne smiles and nods but is busy rummaging through her carry on for her phone to turn it back on so she doesn't realize its him. She catches herself when she looks up, "Arth—?" her eyes dart to the cab driver and she grimaces. She was told they were all to act like strangers in the airport and isn't sure if that extends past the automatic sliding exit doors.
He eases and answers her simultaneously, "It's fine." The Architect blows air out of her cheeks and then decides to watch the city pass out their window as their driver pulls out of the gigantic loop that is LAX.
"You know it was just a peck; it wasn't meant to be spectacular."
"What?" Ariadne looks at him dumbfounded.
"The kiss." The Point deadpans and debates shooting himself in the kneecap for even bringing it up to this mischievous pixie of a girl, "You said it wasn't that great."
The Architect clicks her tongue mock sympathetically, "Sub-par at best."
"Well you leaned in first." He shrugs.
"Yes but it was your idea; you'd think you'd put a little more effort into it…"
He's surprisingly defensive, "If I wanted to blow your mind with my kiss, I would have."
With a smirk, she doubts, "Right. And if I wanted to be taller, I would be."
Whatever comes over Arthur makes him take off his seatbelt and slide closer to her. His hands press against her window, "For your information, despite you and Eames' mockery—"
"Does Eames know from experience?" she challenges to his chagrin.
The Architect lets loose a shit eating grin as he moves his head closer and offers, "I could teach you a thing or two about good kisses."
They stare at each other for a hefty minute. Her eyes cut from side to side and her eyebrows lift expectantly at him, "I'm waiting…"
Their second kiss is actually much like the first except it grows firmer as he presses into her and he pulls away slowly. The color in her cheeks hadn't been there in the dreams so Arthur assumes she liked it but she only nods halfway approvingly, "Yeah. That was nice."
He retreats to his seat. They check in one after the other and haul their few bags into the lobby. The Point presses the up button. Out of nowhere, "Just nice?"
She laughs, "You don't take criticism well, do you?"
"What is your idea of a good kiss then?" Why is he even curious? Why on this godforsaken planet did he open his mouth and get further involved in this? Still, he waits for an answer.
"Well, it can't be mechanical. There should be a little feeling somewhere in there. And chemistry between the two people—that might help." She adds sarcastically, whether it's pointed or not is a mystery. (A lot of things about her are a mystery.)
The elevator opens, vacant and ready, and they let themselves in. The doors closes, she hits the button for 26 and 29 and scrunches her eyebrows at his stare, "I'm waiting…" He needs to have a psychology test done because his mouth isn't doing what his brain is telling it to. Arthur thinks shut up and then his mouth eggs the Architect on. Something up there isn't wired correctly; he needs it fixed.
There's a hiccup of her laughter before Ariadne tugs his tie and brings him down to her level. She pauses when their lips are but a hair's breadth away and brushes against him. Before he knows what he's doing, he's jutting his chin forward to catch her mouth with his but she teasingly pulls back. Minx. Arthur feels the tension and the crazy yearning in him when they lock eyes. The anticipation when hers flutter shut and finally—finally—she leans in to apply pressure. Their third kiss is soft, supple, slow. And he can't keep his eyes open if his life depended on it. He won't let her pull away either; involuntarily but not regretfully, he deepens their third kiss and turns it into a fourth and then a fifth. For some reason he pulls the tiny, plain, Parisian closer by her waist, lets her snake her arms around his neck and allows an uncharacteristically uncontrolled moan escape when she rises to her tip toes.
It all ends as abruptly as the elevator halts on her floor. If he thought the rosiness in her cheeks was prominent in the taxi, he clearly hasn't seen anything yet. Ariadne bites her lip, "Tada…" Back to her awkward self, she avoids his eye contact and exits with her duffel.
"Ariadne." She pivots.
Again with the mental dysfunction…Arthur stands with his hand on the door so it won't close, "What are you doing later tonight?"
Her eyes widen and her blush crawls down her neck, "That escalated quickly…"
"Oh—no, I didn't mean-" He sighs, "Would you like to have dinner together?"
"Are we allowed to do that?"
He shouldn't be surprised by her confusion. He's always said that coworkers shouldn't do things like have lunch or go for coffee or spend any personal time with each other especially if they plan on working together again. And since they will most likely work together in the future (Eames has already received another offer and pitched it to them) she most likely figures what they've done will erase itself in the morning and they'll go back to student/mentor again.
But he shrugs, "We're not on the clock…"
Making that exception for her is what he counts as his first mistake. Things spiral out of control from there but all the while the Point thinks he has his feelings under his thumb. Dinner leads to more kissing, which leads to him spending the night in her room. His stupidity is that he terribly, terribly misjudges what he feels (Probably because he hasn't felt emotion in so long that he's forgotten it's symptoms). He mistakes the burning at his fingertips, the butterflies and the swelling in his chest. Arthur sees them as a product of her exceptional technique in physical contact and not the product of his walls tumbling down and the vines of her very being snaking over and covering his fortified barriers. The Point blindly believes that the necessity to touch her and hold her is a newfound addiction to her body. Yet, it isn't the kissing or the lovemaking he can't get enough of…in reality (and maybe he should check his totem to be forewarned) the loose strings he has laying around in the dusty confines of his soul are finding hers and tangling up in them so that it becomes harder to pull away. She'd captured his mind in the days spent roaming the warehouse and each other's subconscious; in plain sight.( He's aware of it. Arthur won't deny that she perplexes him and he often considers how her mind works.) But tonight, she's slinking in between the shadows and capturing his other vitals: The heart. The soul. And our man of small details is oblivious to it.
They fall into an affair. A relationship (they won't call it that) based on fleeting, roving touches and greedy mouths. An accompaniment based on secretive glances, hushed conversations and daring brushes of shoulders and hands around the team. They never have dinner alone again but he'll steal into her hotel room some nights, she'll trick him out of kisses when the warehouse is empty save for them. He should see the effect she has on him: after all he's developed a sense of humor again. He smiles with dimples again. Arthur's foolish for misunderstanding the giddiness that comes over him when they're together as an adrenaline rush from being rebellious for once. For doing something he shouldn't. Something Cobb and Miles have warned him against. It isn't thrill, Arthur, it's veneration.
The hero and heroine of the story go on like this for months and months. When the jobs are over, they'll part ways. No phone calls, no visits. Then they'll pick up where they left off the next time they're required to fly into the same city. It becomes clear to the rest of the team what's going on before Arthur and Ariadne know they've let their guard down. The softness in his face and the sly flirtation in hers when they lock eyes…his tender respect and her quiet admiration when they speak to one another…they know the two have plunged into deep trouble- even when they assure them that sex is all it is. That drunken nights in hotel rooms and relieving stress by form of pleasure is all it is. Except when Ariadne refuses Eames' bait of an offer (just to see what would happen) and Arthur avoids every woman like the plague at the club they drag him to—it can't be all it is.
Arthur recognizes the attachment very, very late into the game: When another dream operation comes successfully to a close and he finds himself at her gate, waiting in the seat next to her with an arm resting on the seat behind her head.
"Would it really be so horrible for you to come back to Paris with me?" She grins and it's playful but devilish.
The Point knows something is incredibly wrong when he wants to rip up his 8:20 pm to Chicago and follow her just because she's asked. Before he can think up a good excuse, her nimble fingers are at his vest buttons and toying with them kittenishly. "Don't you think fooling around by the River Seine and under the Eiffel sound like fun? And if it doesn't, there's always the éclairs to persuade you..."
Arthur does his best to ignore her ministrations of his clothing and lies, "I have a load of business to deal with in Chicago."
"Boo." Her hand drops and she scrunches her face sourly but he can tell she didn't expect different. Small comforts…
Flight 1612 to Paris, France. Now boarding Zone 1.
The Architect leans over and pulls her ticket out of the front flap of her backpack before standing and slugging it on. With a faraway smile she lightheartedly slaps the side of his head, "Bye Point Man."
Sick to his stomach. He's sick to stomach. And he doesn't know what makes him sicker: The fact that she has the power to do this to him or the fact he doesn't know how long it'll be until they see each other again. His feet carry him to her and whip her around into his kiss before he can stop them. He never got that brain test…if there ever was a time he should look into it, its now. "Chicago shouldn't take me long. I'll call you."
Except he doesn't. Because as soon as he says it, he wishes he could take it back. Arthur is way in over his head. Flailing and sputtering in the pushing and pulling waters of limbo. It's all too real and clear now that he needs to get over her. Get rid of all the damage (another misjudgment—for they have been repairs) to his system. So, no, he never calls her after Chicago. Instead, he calls old flames, girls he runs into on the street, women he picks up in bars. And he tries to screw the thoughts of her charmingly sarcastic little face out of his head—still not realizing that where she resides is his core. Surely it should be getting easier to sleep with other women but it only gets harder. He only feels a stabbing guilt for the infidelity and then pangs of anger that he even feels he should be faithful to the Architect.
Ariadne finds out what he's been up to from Cobb. When he and the kids come to visit Miles, they all have dinner. Miles cooks and welcomes them into his cozy abode and the conversation takes a turn in the Point Man's direction—of Miles' volition actually. "Oh he's in Manchester." Ariadne looks up from her mini conversation with Pippa. If he's done with Chicago he could've come with the Cobbs.
"Not as an excuse to see Mr. Eames, I gather," Her professor knows the two men well and jests.
"No—" a chuckle, "to see Ivana Charles…She was always eager to cure his loneliness…if you recall." There's a cold ache somewhere between the pit of her stomach and her lungs. It turns to ice and spreads so that her intent stare at Cobb freezes in its motion. He catches what he said and peers apologetically in the Architect's direction, "Crap. That was—"
"No, it's fine. I could care less what he does. We just use each other for-" She looks at the kids and decides to go silent. Whatever they have isn't worth mentioning.
The next grand dream adventure requires the team to meet at Katsuya (a high end sushi and Japanese cuisine restaurant) a week later in LA for briefing. It so happens that the second he lays eyes on her again, all his hard work to free him of her spell has been for naught. Ariadne traipses up to the collective of men in a deep blue dress with overlace that makes her snow white skin spark in contrast. She's teased her curls into a more voluminous shape and crushes the hopes and dreams of every man she passes in her oxford themed pumps. She's racking up the first, second, third and fourth glances tonight.
She hugs Cobb first, "Long time, no see," she kids, "Don't know how I survived the past week of Dominic Cobb depravation."
"It was easier than Ariadne Bourgeois depravation, I'm sure." He then introduces her to the new Chemist, Ross Koumaev, and she shakes his hand graciously then assures him that she looks forward to working together.
Then Arthur's eyes sparkle when hers glide to him. He lets loose the smile he keeps only for her and croons, "Hey Ari…" He expects a hug or a jokingly snide comment.
Ariadne gives him blankness and monotone, "Arthur." As quick as her eyes grazed over to him, they move on to Eames. "Willy-um." It's a purr of the humorous nature, "I've missed you."
"And I, you, Darling." The blood of the Point Man boils when she exchanges kisses on the cheek with the Forger. It continues to stew as she struts to the table and carries on conversation as if he doesn't exist. When she goes to the bathroom, he follows and waits for her to emerge. Ariadne sees him leaning casually against the wall when she comes out but primps her hair and scoots pass.
"Ari." She twists with arms folded. "Come here." Arthur reaches for her hand and pulls her down the hall and into the supply closet. She's surveying her surroundings with pure boredom when he turns from locking the door. Right away, The Point scratches the itch he had to rest his hands on her hips and backs her up against one of the cleaning utensil ridden shelves. "What kind of a greeting was that earlier?"
Staring back at him, Ariadne looks both tired and uninterested. So Arthur softens his approach. One of his palms slides over her shoulder and down her arm, "You look beautiful tonight; you know that?"
"I've been told, yes," she retorts cynically.
It makes him laugh, "I've missed you," and as he leans in for a smooch, the Architect is the one who laughs and turns her head from him.
"Lay off the fake sentiments, Arthur. You don't have to woo me for the sex." It's bitter. And she pushes past him to unlock the door, "We're on the clock and they're waiting."
He's behind her, hand firmly keeping the door shut. He knows what this is all about. In lieu of calling and visiting her, he ignored and avoided. He shouldn't have assumed she'd welcome him with an excess of warmth. "I'm sorry I didn't call you. I was swarmed with work."
She stays with her back to him and her eyes fixated on the doorknob in her hands, "So swarmed you had time for a visit to Manchester?" Her concern is phony and her smile is fabricated with bogus threads when she looks over her shoulder, "How's Ivana?—It's Ivana, right?"
Arthur wants to jump out a window. He figures he could smooth it over if he knew "Who told you that?" If it was "Eames?" than he could shake it off as a rumor.
There's so much regret piling up when she looks at him as if he's of lesser and lesser importance by the second. But he shouldn't feel obligatory guilt over it. There's nothing wrong with what he'd chosen to do in her absence. "You can't get mad at me for that. We aren't in a relationship."
Ariadne sighs and grits, "I know…"
"I mean if you don't like that—if you want to stop what we're doing—"
"Do you want to stop?" She fires back at him and it hits like a cannonball what he'd suggested.
"No." It's a firm resolve. "I just don't think we have the right to dictate what the other does just because we shack up sometimes." (Its definitely more often than sometimes but he forgoes that detail.)
She shakes her head but she's more understanding now. She agrees, "No, you're right."
He's wrong. Things go mostly back to normal for them. They do it twice in his room, once in hers, once in the closet at the warehouse over a week period—but now he can't bat an eye when she flirts with the new Chemist. He's not allowed to say a word when Ross asks her to dinner twice that week or when she accepts. Arthur would look like a hypocrite if he made a fuss about her going back to Ross' room one of those times. Ariadne would be lying if she proclaimed she doesn't notice the change in Arthur on the occasions they spend time alone now. He holds her tighter, closer. Kisses her more fiercely and possessively. She'd be lying if she said she doesn't like it. If she said she doesn't subconsciously pay special attention to Ross so that the Point pays more attention to her. The team gets off early one night and all head to a bar together. Arthur deserves it when she slips her hand into Ross' on the way in. Why would she entwine her fingers with his? He's made it clear, they shouldn't hold hands. (Because he'd never let go but of course he conveniently leaves that out).
One night he'd asked her casually—if she was starting a relationship with Ross, why did she keep coming to Arthur's room every other night? And she replied with, "You come to mine."
So Arthur retorted, "You let me in."
And eventually she reasoned with him: Her and Ross have what her and Arthur have (no they don't. What Arthur and Ariadne have is not special but it's more special than that)—only Ross likes to hold her hand in public. Arthur didn't let go of her hands the rest of the night but that didn't seem to matter today. It's like he's being replaced…and it's not an ideal feeling. He wants to punch Ross in the balls every time he smiles at her like she's the moon because she's not—she's the entire freakin' sky and Ross doesn't deserve her. But who is Arthur to judge who deserves Ariadne…he doesn't even want her. Does he?
He deserves this jealousy because hasn't he done the same thing to her? He blew her off for some tall, green eyed pair of legs. He held Ivana's hand. He took her to dinner…and all she was to him was a body. Isn't that all Ariadne's supposed to be too? Arthur steps out of his thoughts and regards her…she's having a pretty damn hilarious conversation with Ross and Cobb. Cobb orders another whisky on the rocks and Ariadne laughs that bellied way she does when her mouth opens and her eyes squint shut and her head tilts back. And her carefree nature is almost enough to make him forget his parasitical notions but then Ross leans over to her ear. And Arthur sees himself in the way Ross mischievously presses his face into the side of hers and murmurs something that makes a grin burst out. He acts on instinct. On instinct that Ariadne is somehow his because their casual liaison came first. The Architect's attention swivels to him when he rests his hand on her thigh under the table. She looks at him, then his hand and simpers, "Can I help you?"
"Yes. What do you say we get out of here?"
"I'd say…I just ordered the huge nacho plate and I really want to eat it."
Her attention is a comfort and it makes him more laid back than he's been all night despite the rejection. He even snickers at her eyes (because they're always bigger than her stomach). "You're not capable of eating all of that."
Ariadne's eyes roll, "I'm sharing them with Ross so I only have to eat half; thank you."
Ross hears his name and interludes but she explains about explaining about the nachos. Ross doesn't look at her while she's speaking to him. He's returns Arthur's glower. Once Ariadne turns back to the Point he bows his head and says soft enough to be seductive (but loud enough the Chemist can hear—the prick…) "How about a quickie in the bathroom while you wait, then?" He's kidding, brazenly. (But not really.)
Arthur knows she's fixing to decline when her smile in hesitant. He risks a kiss on her neck, "Come on." It isn't that she says, "Not here," that upsets him. He's not bothered that she's not in the mood. It's that she looks at Ross first and when she realizes he's listening is when she turns Arthur down. Like this man's (who walked in off the street, with barely one job with the team under his belt) feelings are more important to her than Arthur's- never mind that feelings shouldn't be relevant in their case. And suddenly for all the envy he feels…he hates her. It's easier to hate her. He puts the blame on her for kissing him in the elevator and making him come up with this idiotic idea. They have an arrangement between them. It has nothing to do with Ross. Who cares how Ross feels about what Ariadne and Arthur share? He's so put off by the whole situation he gets up and sits farther down the bar to order a whisky of his own.
The next time he catches her eye, several mouthfuls of nachos later, there's a blonde bombshell in front of him and they're hitting it off. Arthur grins boyishly at the blonde. She reads his lips, "Quick, give me a kiss." Like the train wrecks people can't look away from, The Architect's eyes are glued as the woman leans in and he moves with her, open mouthed, slow, his eyes open and staring emptily at Ariadne while he does so. If The Architect's body was made out of porcelain as her skin color implied you would see the cracks multiplying and running across her surface forcing her dangerously close to shattering into tiny pieces. He's doing this out of spite for her and she knows it. He stands, blonde in tow, and leaves the bar with her without word.
Things are tense thereafter. But they pretend the night at the bar didn't happen. (They've gotten good at playing pretend.) And by the end of the week, they're stumbling into his room in a flurry of passion and craving. In his ardent fever, he breathlessly sighs, "You should stop seeing Ross…"
"What?" She stops in her tracks and the mood dies. They're still clothed, only he's down to his dress pants and her shirt's half undone. "I thought we didn't have a say in what the other one does."
"We don't. But why do you need him? This is amazing," he plants another searing kiss, "What can he give you that I can't?" He lets her turn them over so that she's straddling his torso.
"What could Ivana give you?" She's pissed. "What did that blonde bitch at the bar give you?"
Arthur's fingertips graze her hips and he laments, "Never mind them…"
"No. How come when you want to screw other people than we shouldn't care what the other does? But when I do it suddenly it's ridiculous. For some reason when I want to sleep around then we don't need anyone else."
"Ari…" The last thing he wants is to confront this now. He places feather light pecks up her arm and sits up to press his mouth to her neck. Arthur tries to coax her back into their hot blooded disposition—her stomach clenches at each breech of her self-control.
Delicately, she finds the will and pushes him back. Ariadne whispers (he detects sadness), "Do you do this with all of us?"
"What are you—"
"Sweet talk us, kiss us like we're made of glass, make each of us feel like the special one when in reality—none of us are."
Arthur wants to correct her. He wants to tell her that she is the special one. She's the only one he peppers with kisses and whispers tales of adoration to though he's avoided admitting it to himself. He's not fast enough. Or brave enough for that matter. So he watches helplessly as she peels herself off of him and starts collecting her things around the room, "I don't want to do this anymore, Arthur. I quit."
He pushes himself into an Indian style seated position, "Ariadne..."
She sticks her scarf in her back pocket, picks up her belt and fastens it around her waist in the time it takes him to jump from the bed and blurt, "Come on, Ari…I'm sorry for bringing it up."
The Architect re-buttons her shirt, "This was a bad idea," and grabs her bag, " We shouldn't have done this."
"I don't want this to stop."
"Why? Why are we doing this to ourselves? We're putting a strain on our—whatever we have—for no reason. Apparently we can get sex anywhere…from anyone…This isn't fun anymore." She disputes.
He tries to make light of it. To joke with her on the matter, "What, because I picked up some girl at a bar? That was three days ago."
Ariadne yells, "No, because that was our kiss you did it with!" Her shoes seem interesting, she looks down at them with fervor, "I know we're not supposed be special to one another; I know our first kiss shouldn't mean anything but I'm sorry. It does to me. All of this has meant something to me." Arthur can see the sheen of the water she's trying to fight when she looks back up, "That was my kiss. Those were my words and you knew it. You knew it would hurt me so you made sure I saw."
The Point runs his hands through his crusted hair, "I was drunk."
"You were sober enough to know what you were doing to me."
And there's that familiar friend of his coming to play: Regret, jumping around in the pit of his stomach. "And for your information…Ross and I never did anything but have dinner and talk. He never screwed me." His long lost friend, Relief, joins the party and it and Regret start to dance in his chest and skip through his lungs. But they storm away indignantly when she adds as she opens the door:
"I let Eames do that."
Then she's out of sight.
At first he wants to murder Eames. He wants to throw things and break things and punch the walls. But it's not Eames' fault. Eames is not to blame. Neither is Ariadne if he's honest with himself. She was merely following Arthur's example: Using other people to fill the hole she tore out of him. Trying to shift his dependence. Struggling to shove another puzzle piece in her place and make it fit. He's always thought she was asking too much to share kisses and touches and then expect to share souls and lives at the same time. Maybe it was him that was asking too much. More than a lot. To think that they could impart an intimacy like that and not develop deeper feelings. To expect the both of them to discover each other inside out and it not create an inseparable connection. Did he really imagine they would go on like that forever? Stringing each other along and secretly gutting themselves out when someone else stepped into the picture? It's putting them through torture. Ariadne deserves love, to be loved. He's selfish to want her to stay in this limbo of a relationship forever; to never give her love but not want her to get it from anyone else. What goes around comes around. What seed you plant you will surely sew. What you give, you'll get back and all that jazz. He's given her nothing; why should he assume any different in return? If he won't give her the satisfaction of knowing she's the most important person in the world to him, why should he be frustrated when he's treated no different than Eames? There comes a point in your life when you just have to close your eyes and decide what you really want, what you're willing to sacrifice for it and whether you're going to do anything about it. Arthur can't make any sense of those questions though because when he closes his eyes all he sees is her.
His feet start moving. He hears his door close, the hallway walls are whizzing past in his peripherals, the elevator is beeping but all he sees, all he hears is Ariadne. Everywhere. There's this organic, innate need deep in his bones and his muscles (probably the ones carrying him through the hotel on a short leash) that needs her this second. Just her. Not the feeling she gives him when they rock together, not the rake of her short bitten off nails on his back, not the adrenaline rush of sneaking around. He just needs her to smile at him and laugh at his corny (humorless) jokes. Arthur needs her bright eyes and the judgmental lift of her eyebrow. He needs her mouth hurling out a smart ass comment, and her short legs extending past their limit to keep up with his long strides. He needs her tiny punches in the shoulder, her silk scarves (and the knitted ones), her trusty red jacket, her flushed cheeks (or un-flushed), the fan of her always fragrant but seldom brushed hair, the smell of vanilla and graphite that she radiates morning, noon and night. He needs the respect he was sure she had for him at one point, the trust, the faith and by God—most of all, Arthur needs her heart because standing here banging on her door like the hotel is fixing to turn to ash and praying she answers, he realizes she has his. She's always had it. He didn't need a second kiss in a cab or a third, fourth and fifth in an elevator and a dinner and long night in his hotel room and a year and two month affair for it to be stolen. All Arthur needed was one shot worth taking.
Ariadne answers more annoyed than anything. If he's trying to wake the hotel or let's say the United States of America up, he's doing a good job. The heads poking out of their rooms up and down the hall of the seventh floor are proof of his skills. Arthur pays them no mind but Ariadne tries to smile at them remorsefully before she bites Arthur's head off in whispers, "What the hell do you want?!"
He's drinking her in like the first drop of water in the desert and it makes her uncomfortable. It's ethereal for Arthur; it's the first time he's looked at her and realized she's the only person who could ever make him happy. "Forgiveness."
Ariadne's not about to foolishly take him back just because he's graveling at her door. There's no way in hell she'll be one of those girls who trails after a man like a puppy no matter how much she cares about him. She's not going back to that, she can't. She won't be able to handle it. If he can't offer her what she's already lost to him then she needs to move on and find someone who can. She avoids his eyes. He rests his hands on either side of the doorframe, "Fidelity."
Now the Point takes a gamble and steps into her room, "You."
Ariadne rolls her eyes.
He urges, "Just you. No one else." He catches her waist and this time it's not an action fueled by lust. It's light, delicate, like she's really made of porcelain (as the shade of her skin implies) and he's afraid of breaking her. She morbidly muses to herself that he already has. "Don't leave me." Arthur's thumb trails down the side of her face from her temple to her jaw and once there picks up her chin and raises her lips to his. For Arthur, the light of truth and insight couldn't be more fulfilling. Knowing what he feels for her and accepting it makes everything brighter and illustrious. It's grandeur in the largest sense and he does consider himself manic and sappy for becoming so enamored by this but he can't help it. And if this is what the characters that live inside Hallmark think and feel, he can no more badger or blame them for it.
She's powerless to resist him as always and the awareness of that depresses her. Ariadne told herself she wouldn't give in and now she's returning his kiss with as much zeal and enthusiasm as he's (strangely) emoting. She doesn't want it to get to the point where it turns heated because she knows where that leads and she's sick of the infinite loop they've trapped themselves in where stroke and fondle and open mouthed smooches are all that matter so she pushes him off. "Is this all that matters to you? If you only care about all the physical shit than go find someone else's face to suck off."
That shocks him. Because that's not where that kiss was leading. He wasn't trying to put her in the mood for messing around, he was displaying how much she made him feel. "It's not all I care about—" He stills and moves his hands to intertwine them with hers, "I know there's more to us than that…We have something spectacular. Something you can't just decide you want or find in anyone off the street. Sure, we need to work on it but we've got to keep holding on to what we've got."
Ariadne pries her hands from his and backs away like she's afraid of him. Arthur sees her furrowing eyebrows and he's sure that stubborn will inside her is screaming at her, just daring her to cry. "All we've got is hurt."
His head shakes furiously but she's still going, "We hurt each other over and over again." She gets louder as he gaits closer, "That's all we're capable of and it's never going to stop—"
Arthur's hands are anchoring her neck and his forehead is pressed against hers firmly, their noses aligned, their breaths mingling, "You're wrong. We've got love."
She gulps. And though the Architect understands—she doesn't understand…until his voice cracks and she not only hears but feels the shakiness in his breath, "I love you. I do. I'm so in love you and I'm an ignorant, oblivious, good for nothing idiot for trying to fight it and putting us through this hell."
Ariadne fidgets. Bites her lip. The words are still processing and the accelerated beat of her heart is only making it download slower. Arthur nervously quips, "Saying you're just as in love with me would be great." Then she smiles. Her hands run up to his elbows (after feeling her pocket for her Bishop of course) and her thumbs rub back and forth. Ariadne's basking in the moment and she wants to explode with exhilaration (don't count your chickens before they catch because she just might). He interrupts her internal gloating, "I'm waiting…"
They pull back. Her arms go to his neck and his fingers crawl and tickle their way around her waist. It causes her to giggle but she finally replies and relieves him, "I'm just as in love with you."
"Good." Hello dimples. You've come to show off?
"Good!" She retorts for no reason than to be louder.
"Great!" He makes an over-exaggerated face. She doesn't laugh. She's giving him this angelic (but devilish in disguise) smile through the curtains of her eyelashes. It's a look that would make him buy the continent for her if that's what she was fixing to ask…
Actually her request was much better, "Quick, kiss me."
He corrects with a grin "I believe, Sweetheart—"
"Ooh twelve seconds of being in love and we have pet names…" she mocks.
"—I believe" He repeats, "that the correct phrasing is 'Quick, give me a kiss.'"
Ariadne scoffs, purses her lips and uses a hand to dismiss the air, "Pot-ay-to, Pot-ah-to."
Arthur can't help the smirk and he leans down about a centimeter away from her to challenge, "Well their our words. It's our kiss. You'd think you'd put a little more effort into it."
"Are you going to kiss me or not?"
Their 214th kiss is the best one yet because there's eight million different meanings and feelings behind it with the most prominent being sweet, intoxicating love. They sleep together that night but this time he's in his sweatpants and she's in her yellow and white stripe pj's and they do nothing but joke and watch tv and fall into a contented sleep wrapped up in each other. (There were some stolen kisses and ruffling of his once perfectly coifed hair on the way too).
Arthur and Ariadne. Their—whatever they have between them—love is like the waves of limbo. Pushing, pulling. Rising, crashing. Refreshing them yet drowning them. And how fitting that though sometimes trying and overwhelming and other times calm and soothing…
The waves of limbo are endless.
A/N Sup guys? Yeah, I know... I heard the Damien Rice version of One and it would not let go of me and I finally found words in my head that wanted to be typed. So this was kind of just an experiment to get my juices flowing again because I've had MAJOR writers block. For those of you that kind of keep up with my work, you know I've been working on a story entitled "Hooded" for a while now. And I've actually switched around the entire storyline and whatevs for it about four times but I've found a plot I really like and I'm getting crackin so I hope I can start posting it very soon. And since I like to do kind of dark, intense stuff I have a lighter (in comparison) story I'm working on mostly about how Arthur and Ari fall in love because literally in 97% of my stories their relationship is already semi—if not completely—established in some way.
All in all, not my best. Just trying to get the good brain cells floating again and show everyone I'm still alive ahaha.