Chapter 25: You Know.

Saito had met up with the authorities to explain his motivation and the details of the operation so they could figure out how to tie up the loose ends and shut down the Hoods worldwide for good. Grant had to accompany him so his release could be negotiated. After all, he was still considered one of the Hoods so Saito had to pull some strings and work his magic. After giving their statements to the authorities the Team hightailed out of there before the news crews got a hold of them. Cobb had said his goodbyes on the ride over for he had booked a flight that morning to meet up with Miles and the kids in Colorado before traveling home to LA. "Come see us anytime, Ari, the door is open." "Thanks Dom, that's sweet of you." "I mean it. If you ever need anything-even if you're just bored, call and say I'm coming for eight weeks and fly on over." "I will, I will." "Take care of yourself." "You too." They both put their index and middle to their eyes, then pointed them at each other again. He hugged her when they all hopped out of the car.

Meanwhile, Arthur and Ariadne stood in line for tickets beside each other. There were four or five customers ahead of them, Yusuf being the sixth who'd just finished paying. He stopped by them and shook Arthur's hand hurriedly, gave Ariadne a hug over the stretchy line barrier. "The only options I had for Mombasa were tomorrow at 10 am or in eighteen minutes so I've got to run." The two ok'ed understandably. The Chemist grabbed both her hands, "You are incredible. I am so glad we pulled it off and those people are done for. Keep in touch, alright?"

"I will," she beamed and then ushered, "Go, go." Yusuf scurried off. He always made her laugh with his dorkiness and awkwardness. Even though she knew she possessed those qualities as well. The line moved up and Arthur went ahead and pulled out all the information from his jacket pocket. His hand held out toward her, "I need your passport and ID to get the tickets."

Her mouth opened, she looked at his outstretched palm hesitantly, "I can get my own."

Arthur's hand tilted in lieu of a shrug and pocketed itself, "If you prefer but purchasing separately would make it difficult to sit by each other. That is kind of half the point of my escorting you back to Paris."

The air was awkward all of the sudden. Why was the air awkward? Ariadne rubbed her palm on the back of her neck and aimlessly glimpsed around at the people around them in line. The cars pulling up and dropping people off. The busy businessmen hussling about and checking their phones. Finally, she bit the bullet and said what was on her mind, "I think you should go ahead and go where you planned. I'll be fine." When Arthur turned his head a fraction like he was going to say something, she ploughed onward. "I have enough money to stay in a hotel for a while. Miles will be home soon enough to help me straighten out the school crap. I have him and Edith to help me look for an apartment—"

"-Your stuff—"

"I called. They haven't auctioned it off yet. I can get it out of storage. And if I need anything, Eames is going back to London; he'll only be a train ride away. Really, I don't need you. Thank you so much for everything you've done." It wasn't bitter. It was actually bordering cheery and assuring.

The line moved up. Arthur was at a loss. He was actually using the excuse of helping her get set back up to prolong his time with her. There were several things he could've said. He could've asked if she was sure. He could've protested. But in the end, "Is that what you want?"

Ariadne paused for a beat then met his gaze and nodded decidedly. "It's pointless to drag it out." So she knew his ruse…"It'll be tough either way but saying goodbye sooner will be easier."

The Point straightened, "So this is it, then?"

"This is it." The Architect hugged him close and naturally his arms enclosed around her back and he rested his chin on her head. "Goodbye, Arthur." She kissed him on the cheek, then she turned around as the line moved up; she was one away from her turn now.

Wait. A hug? A hug and two words? "That's all?" He questioned the back of her head.

Ariadne regarded him over her shoulder, "What's left to say? Everything's been said."

The Point Man wanted to grab her hand but resisted the urge. Instead, he adjusted his stance and the hold on his bag. "We can't part on a hug and two words."

"You didn't say 'Goodbye Ariadne' yet…We could part on a hug and four. Plus, there was a kiss in there—on the cheek but what do you expect?" She smirked. God, she had that way of making everything lighthearted and frothy. But the sensations in the pit of his stomach weren't lighthearted and they weren't frothy…his eyebrows started to crease. The Architect sighed and rotated her entire body to face him again, "We know where we stand. We know how we feel. Just accept my goodbye. It's genuinely heartfelt, I promise."

No, everything hadn't been said. The girl wanted to tell him so many things. Thank you: but he knew she owed him her life. He knew she was eternally grateful. I'll Miss You: the fact that saying goodbye was problematic said that in itself. Come Back To Me: except she had already beseeched him to do so. No use in repetition. No use in another fight. I'm Sorry Things Happened This Way: he'd said himself he wished their dynamic was different. That it would be easy to live together. That they didn't have such distorted views of the way the other felt and stubbornly wouldn't accept otherwise. Arthur didn't need her to tell him that. I Love You: well…

He had a deep, raw need to say something more than goodbye. Anything. So many things. Perhaps explaining again—examining together—how and when and where and why their relationship came to this. To an end. To a hug and four words in line for the ticket counter at the airport. Maybe telling Ariadne he still wanted her in his life, he wanted to remain friends. In the most sincere of intonations and sentiments. Possibly sending well intentions with her. Apologizing for enforcing this, for thinking he knew what was best. When, if he was honest with himself, he wasn't so sure what was best for anyone anymore. He wasn't sure of much of anything except the growing emptiness feeding on him. Except the fact that although they had to part ways and live two lives instead of one…he still loved her so much and if they never saw each other again and she didn't remember anything else of the Point Man, he wanted her to remember that. Arthur opened his mouth.

"Next." No. No. Shit. His mouth clamped shut. Ariadne had been waiting for him to choke out what was on his mind and he still hadn't the courage to do it. On her way to the counter, she smiled at him with politeness and—finality. As always, he was stone on the outside and battering winds of turmoil on the inside. "Hi, I need the next one way to Paris, France. The Charles De Gaulle Airport." He was honed in on her words whereas the other woman's got drowned out. "Ariadne Bourgeois. A-R-I-A-D-N-E, B-O-U-R-G-E-O-I-S. February 21st, 1990." The Architect obligingly handed over the required paperwork. The lady studied them and typed to make sure they matched then handed them back and asked about luggage, "Just one carry-on." Since there was no luggage to be weighed, the clerk gave the girl the total and went to swipe her card when Arthur was called into the desk next to her.

"One way to—uh—" His mouth formed the beginning of a P before he was aware, "to…" Ariadne wouldn't look at him. "New York. USA. Preferably JFK. Arthur Beck," (alias number four if you were wondering), "November 10th, 1985." Instead of having to fish for them like the Architect, Arthur had the papers in hand for the woman to scrutinize. In the stillness, waiting for the ticket lady to finish looking at them and type in the necessary information, he looked at Ariadne. She felt his eyes on her, must have because she returned the gaze, eyes just beginning to water. The girl put great effort into offering him a fervent smile but couldn't hold it. Her clerk came back with her card and had her sign, "Thank you, Ms. Bourgeois, have a safe flight."

"Thanks." Arthur observed her diligently as her head started to come back to him, but she stopped it, swallowed and let the next customer come forward. His head turned with her, followed her as she moved. Ready to say something, always ready but falling short. She was past the long line of ticket patrons and diving into the sea of passengers, "Ariadne w—"

"Ok Mr. Beck, do you have any luggage that needs to be checked?" The Architect stopped in her tracks and turned just enough for him to see her profile. Her eyelashes blinked visibly even from so far away…she wasn't sure if she'd heard her name or not. "Ar—"

"Mr. Beck?"

The guy behind him complained, "Come on man, we got a lot of people waiting here."

Arthur apologized profusely and focused back on the employees last few questions, "No, a duffle and a briefcase to carry on."

The Architect pivoted all the way around to see if Arthur had said anything. Unfortunately, his body was wholly facing the counter and crushed her hopes. She pulled her carry on tighter over her shoulder and found a break in foot-traffic to jump in.

"Credit or Debit?"

"Credit." Arthur rushed and tossed her the card without even looking at her. Instead he shot his eyes back to the spot Ariadne had been standing and she'd vanished. Scanning the crowd thoroughly, The Point Man saw her brunette head bobble on her way into security. Then she bumped into a familiar looking Forger.
xxxxxx

"Well hello there, stranger!" Ariadne fell into step behind Eames in the long security line. Luckily, the pace was quick moving today and he was able to present his boarding pass, passport and id to the guard before passing. After Ariadne had done the same, she met up with him by the x-ray tables while he was taking off his blazer and replied, "God, remember the last time we went through security together? In Holland?" she giggled, pulling up two of the plastic containers. Ariadne dumped her backpack in one, took out the Ziploc of pain meds and anti-infection cream Yusuf insisted she bring with her and set it to the side. Eames had laid his duffel on the conveyor and pulled out his laptop to put in a separate container with his jacket. Reminiscing and joking, "Never forget it. Seth was a bastard, I loved watching him squirm."

The Architect stepped out of her shoes and placed them in the box while Eames simultaneously undid his belt and slipped his loafers off to place them in the box too. She waited for him and until their belongings went into the machine to head over to the metal detector. You always have to be careful in airports, startle them with the wrong words and you'll be escorted out and banned for life. So she murmured, "It was entertaining…but we could've just snuck some unclaimed fluids or a nail file in his bag. Not a pocket knife."

The TSA agent waved for Eames to pass through. He was clear. Ariadne walked through, clear. She received some suspicious looks because of her head and arm wounds but she was used to that. She came home from jobs roughed up all the time. Once she was back at his side, collecting their baggage and throwing everything back on in that rushed manner, he chided, "Or given him the knife and not pickpocketed his weapon release form. But where's the fun in that?" She adjusted the straps on her backpack while he fastened his belt and with one final check if everything was back in place, they strolled out into the hustle and bustle of the terminals. Fortunately—or unfortunately—the two didn't feel the stare of the Point Man who stood anxiously waiting to pass through the metal detector.

It was natural that they gravitated towards the flight directory to see which gates were in what terminal and who had to take what train or if the plane would be on time. Eames squinted at the screen and then down at the pass in his hand. The Forger's flight wasn't on the board as of yet and judging from the expression on Ariadne's face, hers wasn't either. "When does your plane board?" She plucked her phone from her pocket to check the time, "Ugh…two and half hours. You?"

"Six." He'd examined his watch while she'd looked at her phone because he anticipated the reciprocation of questioning. "What say we procrastinate our farewells for a spell and grab some grub? I'm positively starving."

Ariadne agreed enthusiastically, hopping on the moving sidewalk (and standing to the side so they could ride the length of it without being in the way) and browsing the map she picked up for restaurants. Eames peered over her shoulder, "Should we wait for your bodyguard?" His hazel eyes met dark brown ones while the Point handed the security his weapon release form and shrugged his jacket back on.

"He's not coming with me." Impatient, she handed the map to him and scanned the passing group of souvenir shops and eateries. The Forger chose not to comment further on it and turned and flipped the directory to see where number 12 was in the pink section, "What sounds good?"

"Uhh…anything that isn't Oriental." After countless months of nothing but Japanese delicacies, the thought of sushi and wontons had lost its luster.

He grimaced, "Agreed." Then ultimately decided to give up on number 12 and run his thumb down the list instead. "Mexican, perhaps?"

The Forger had a very weird obsession with Mexican food; Ariadne should've seen that suggestion coming. Over the course of the jobs she'd worked with him on she learned he had random, intense cravings for chips, salsa and enchiladas. He had nightly binges of Doritos Locos tacos if he could hunt a Taco Bell down in whatever country they were in. Their single extraction in Cozumel…lord have mercy. He loved it…despite the fact his digestion system hated it. She deadpanned, "You're fixing to be on a plane for several consecutive hours, Eames."

"So?"

"So as much as I love you…I'm not going to indirectly subject the poor people in your plane to your—" The Architect smirked, "what do you like to call it again?"

He lifted his chin up and stepped off the moving sidewalk proudly, "Burrito Breeze."

Ari faked a gag and broke out into chuckles. They aimlessly perused the terminal, not seeing anything that jumped out at them yet. "God bless the people who have to sit by you for the next six hours and seven minutes."

"How about…" he pulled her to the touch screen directory in the middle of the restaurant section and pressed for number 51. "Rocket's Burgers and Bar?" Pictures came up on the screen. It was one of the corner eateries in Terminal C. But it was all brushed metal tables and bar, neon green, red and purple lights. And dark blue walls with specks of white. Ariadne was tickled with the labels on the sample menu: Cosmic-politans. Galaxy Greens. Blast-Off Burgers. Astro Dogs. Stellar Jello and her personal favorite was a name for one of the drinks at the bar: Super-Sonic Gin and Tonic. She nodded a yes but ribbed, "Sounds 'Out of this World…'"
xxxxxx

They sat at a booth near the front. Eames coolly sipped on his Martian-tini while Ariadne devoured the Orbital O-Rings they'd ordered as an appetizer to share. They'd covered the weather, did a little small talk over how surprisingly nice a person Grant was (she mentioned his exceptional ability to hack and research and said she'd given one of their old extractors-Keener—his number to train him in Point work), gushed over how delicious their food so far had been and reminisced about some of their favorite missions together. After a good long while of past and present he inquired about her future just after their burgers came. "So what's on the agenda once you get home?"

"Ew…I'll be busting my ass to find somewhere to live and retaking the classes I missed last Fall." It was followed by a hum of approval and delight for the first bite into her sandwich.

Eames shoved some fries in, "If you need someone to help you browse for a flat—"

"I have Miles and some friends from school" she put out there.

"—I mean someone exciting," joshed the Englishman.

She rolled her eyes, "Yeah. You're the only one I know of those…"

"Precisely. So if you need my services," his speech paused, his eyebrows waggled, "any of them," he chuckled when Ariadne's flushed face face-palmed and took another bite to hide the amusement, "I'm a two hour Eurostar ride away."

Ariadne washed down her mouthful with lemonade, "Perfect. What are you doing tomorrow?" She tore the half she was working on into a fourth. It was a mind over matter thing she believed because she ate more when she divided it up. Probably because it seemed like less. And Eames did the complete opposite—took the biggest chunk out of the whole thing as he could. He chewed a little, "I guess I'm visiting Paris. Want to get started at 9?"

She shrugged, "Sure. It's a date." She didn't actually think he was serious…but she enjoyed the ole Forger's company and having someone who constantly had her in stitches would keep her mind off of missing a certain someone. Especially since she wanted to get started finding a place soon and Miles wouldn't be back for a little over a week and she dreaded coming up with an explanation to give Clarisse and Edith about her strange and lengthy disappearance.

"You think you're done with the dreamshare world, now?"

The girl took a respite from the burger and grabbed another onion ring from the middle, "No. This didn't scare me away, believe it or not." His eyebrows rose but he continued chomping on his food. "It wasn't the occupation's fault I got into trouble, it was mine for being hardheaded and getting involved in something everyone told me was dangerous. I'll just be more careful of the jobs I accept…"

"You don't suppose—" Eames caught himself. It was best not to do what Arthur would in the situation. Last thing he wanted for the pixie to get upset with him. But she urged him on, "What? You can say it." The Forger sighed. Should he? In the end, he opted to, "Well, the trauma it's left you-certain deep-rooted stuff (for lack of a better term)…you don't think Wolffe or some of the Hoods might manifest into a shade like Mal?"

Honestly, she hadn't even considered that. So she took the time then to do so. "Cobb had unresolved issues. I feel like I had closure today. And I'll cross that bridge if I happen to come to it…I've got Saito's psychiatrist on speed dial." The last part was a joke. "What about you?"

"I think," Eames leaned back, "I'm going to have a relaxing couple of months at home to make up for all the stress." After another sip of martini he added, "And your buddy Grant is going to come up to the West End after he gets back from his parents' place; asked me to help him get a life set up there."

Ariadne smiled, "Good. He needs a normal life. He's a great guy,"

The Forger whistled, "Artie seems to think so. He suggested Grant go to London—well he suggested Paris first but figured that would be a little obvious." His plate pushed back.

"What does that mean?"

"Oh shit, I probably wasn't supposed to tell you that," said he prior to scratching his chin, "Arthur will have my hide."

Ariadne's face got a little darker and from what he'd seen she'd done Wolffe, her anger scared him. "William."

"He wants you and Grant to—" his hands made a twisting motion like they couldn't decide how to entwine together.

She took a cursory bite of fry and raised her eyebrows, "take pottery class?"

"Be together."

Ariadne pulled back as if she'd been hit, "He wants?"

Eames pursed his lips at her and gave her the old 'are you stupid' look, "I'm positive he doesn't really want that. He just wants what he thinks is best for you. And—we had a little convo while you were getting cleaned up and he thinks Grant would be good for you. He'll understand things Arthur can't—"

"Oh good. So at least Grant will understand I'd rather have Arthur."

Eames just sighed exasperated and dropped it. He didn't want to be in the middle and he didn't want to part on upset terms. Naturally, he agreed with Ariadne for brownie points. They hugged and separated casually. No need for long drawn out send-offs because they would see each other in the morning. Ariadne had to take the train back to Terminal E. Her and Eames had made impeccable timing; her fellow passengers were still waiting in boredom in the chairs by her gate. Ariadne plopped her backpack into one of the chairs and unzipped it to drop her box of leftover rings in. The man sitting on the other side turned around, "I've been looking for you. "

She glanced up at the stranger who turned out to be not so much of a stranger. Her and Eames had just discussed the dark haired, darkly clothed friend. He stood and walked around by her with hands in his pockets, " Was beginning to think you might've changed your flight."

"No, uh, I got kidnapped by our Forger," she joked, "We were famished so we hunted down some burger place." Ariadne looked him up and down. "I guess I'm not surprised to run into you. You never actually said goodbye to me."

The man tilted his head and confessed, "My blatant physical inability to do so earlier is only further evidence that…I can't just say goodbye to you."

Ariadne's arms folded over her chest, "Arthur…" She knew he'd been less than enchanted with the way she tried to end things. He wanted a real goodbye. Whatever that happened to be in his head Ariadne couldn't grasp the concept of. "It's not as hard as you're making it. I don't know what kind of send off you expect. The tiniest violin in the world playing while I beg you to stay and you refuse all angsty? I'm not about to become some cliché and kiss you in the airport lobby. I love you, you know that. And you love me and I know that leaving is what you're going to do about it. That trying to force me into a relationship with Grant is what you're going to do about it."

He grunted with a scowl, "Eames."

"I don't have the time or stamina to make this dramatic. My plane leaves in ten minutes. Doesn't yours leave soon?"

The whole time, to Arthur's credit, he kept an even face and his hand in his pockets. "Ten minutes."

Her eyes widened, "Well you better go, daddy long legs. It's at least a terminal away. This one is only for international flights…you're going to miss it."

To her astonishment he was very calm and collected about it. Even shrugged aloofly. Then he dropped the bomb, "I already missed it. My flight to New York left an hour and a half ago." Well it wasn't a bad bomb…an ok bomb, maybe. "I need to come with you to Paris."

Why didn't she seem pleased with that? "Arth—" she huffed, aggravated, "That's just going to make it more difficult for us. If you come than no matter what I know, I'm going to think that I convince you to stay before you leave. And I won't be able to. I don't want the stress of another goodbye. I don't want to repeat the night you left me."

It was here that his detached, casual demeanor wore off. "We won't. I'm coming to Paris indefinitely…unless of course you move." The hands came out of his pockets and cautiously touched the sides of her elbows, "I know I need you more than you need me…and I've always said that the only thing I want—everything I do—is for your happiness." His eyes crinkled at the corners, "Please say that taking me back will make you happy. That you'll be happiest letting me go wherever you go. You said home is where the heart is and Ari, I surrendered mine to you long before you gave yours to me."

Flabbergasted. The Architect was flabbergasted but in a good way. She took a second to look at her shoes, his anxious flexing of his jaw and decided, "I don't care if you come with me or not."

Arthur's face fought to put a mask on, to hide the hurt in his eyes. His hands retracted from her and re-pocketed. He stared down the agent at the counter by the airway doors. "And I don't care if I go with you or not," she continued to get closer to him as if to rub and smear the words in his face, "I don't care if we get separated and have to go months without hearing from the other." In complete contradiction to the biting retort, her arms floated and clasped around his neck. Next, she softened her voice, "I don't care if we have to be apart, Arthur…as long as we're together." Paradox? His glare behind her snapped to a gaze on her. Ariadne's lips formed into a charming upturn, "What would make me happiest is you promising that every time you leave me, you'll always come back home."

"Try to keep me away." Suddenly his arms were back and squeezing her around her waist. Ariadne melded their lips together and slowly but sweetly deepened it with a smile. His voice was breathless and heady after he'd pulled away, "I thought you weren't going to become a cliché and kiss me in the airport lobby."

"Do you want me to stop?" she chided; teased him with a feather light brush over the corner of his mouth.

"No." He turned his head catch her mouth again. "But people are staring."

Ariadne chided, "Funny, isn't that how you got me to kiss you the first time? Because they were staring?" The Point was powerless to stop himself. She had one eyebrow cocked up and that damn infuriating, sarcastic, endearing as frick, simper on her face. He pecked her quickly. "I have an idea…" his ear burst into flame as a result of her thumb getting bored and running along the rim of it, "Why don't you kiss me until they stop staring?"

"If I keep kissing you then before long I won't be able to keep it chaste and I fear that will only encourage more staring."

Ariadne shrugged, "Well it's worth a shot, I think…"
xxxxxx

With the help of Eames, Ariadne and Arthur found a townhome just across the Pont Neuf, a few blocks from the bridge where couples write on locks and chain them to the fencing. They re-painted the bedroom and living area and remodeled the appliances in the kitchen. The Architect jumped back into school with no problem five semesters ago and graduated this morning to be exact. They're getting ready for dinner in celebration. Both of her long overdue accomplishment and deserved degree but also of their first job together since everything happened. Arthur had been doing Point work for simple extractions off and on while she buckled down and focused on schooling. She knew she wanted back into dream share but wanted to wait until after graduation to jump back in. The Point Man set up a two-level extraction job in Greece a week ago and they would leave day after tomorrow.

Arthur is already dressed in his finest three piece, pacing their room and waiting for her finish up. Reservations are for 6:30, it's already 6 and the restaurant is way across town near the Louvre but on tonight of night's he is happy to wait. She steps out of their bathroom with a wave of vanilla. There's already a smile plastered on his face when he turns around to view the graduate girl. A vision in peach, it's signature Ariadne—vintage styled. Like dresses from the fifties, it's a halter with a sweetheart neckline and full skirt. Light floral print. And laced up nude wedges to match. Hair in the natural curls but with an effort put into the distinction of them. "You need to change." He admonishes, "You look too stunning." His grin pops out beneath the scolding glare.

She rolls her eyes because geeze, it's just a simple sundress. He's so mushy. "Har. Har. I would but it's 6:02; I know you're chomping at the bit to get over there on time." The Architect goes to grab the sweater and clutch from the bed to walk out but Arthur catches her waist and guides her so that their stomachs are touching. "Are you happy?"

"…Yeah…"

His head tilts when she draws out the word. She's quick to reassure him because she knows how it sounded. It's not that she's unsure that she's happy it's that well—she's been thinking about the two of them and their dynamic a lot lately. "I've been thinking…and I want—I want us to be just like this forever."

Perfect. That's absolutely perfect. Arthur's dimples threaten to show. He's nervous and relieved all at the same time. He goes to give her a quick smooch before they leave but she blurts, "Will you marry me?" Wow. He rears back and blinks. "What?"

Ariadne repeats, "Will you. Marry me." She's really entertained by the amazement on his face. Arthur shakes his head, "I don't think that's how this is supposed to go…"

"Oh sorry." The Architect kneels to one knee and grabs his hand humorously, "Dearest Arthur, would you do me the honor of being my wife?" Then she adds for extra giggles, "We both know I wear the pants, so."

He looks more upset than she figures he should. He's wanted this for years, you'd think he'd be a little thrilled when she's the one who wants it and gets down to ask him. "But—but I'm supposed to ask you."

"It is the 21st century, Point Man. A woman can propose to a man." She smirks, "Especially if she's tired of waiting…" Ariadne finds that extra funny because he's been waiting longer. He's been waiting for her to be ready.

Disbelief covers his face, "Tired of—" he starts to chuckle and gets down to her level on the floor. They're both sitting on their knees and the bottoms of their feet now. "Well, if you'd only waited about two more hours, Miss Impatience," his right hand fumbles in his jacket pocket and out pops a little velvet box, "I was going to ask you after dinner." The man simpers right back at her.

Ariadne sucks in a breath to rival a vacuum cleaner, eyes enlarged, mouth forming an 'O'…then she realizes how slack her jaw is and closes it hastily. Arthur has to rein in the laughter because her reaction is priceless. One word falls from her mouth: "Shit!" The Parisian is staring at the box with her hands on her cheeks. Her arms drop, she shoots up to stand and looks at him apologetically. "Shit…I'm so sorry, Arthur. You probably had every second meticulously planned and I came in with a wrecking ball to it."

Arthur stands too. It's his turn to take evil pleasure in her shock and squirming. "That's typical for us though," he smoothes it over. "So it feels right."

"Why don't we pretend I didn't say anything? We'll go do everything you had in mind and when you pop the question I'll act really surprised." She kind of smiles sheepishly at him, "I'll practice my face and shell-shocked crying in the car." Ariadne nods. She agrees with herself for Arthur. Her eyes widen all over again and she beats herself up, "You probably had a speech too. Crap."

"Yeah. I worked pretty hard on it. I would've liked a chance to say it."

"Great. Good job, Ariadne." It's too adorable how she talks to herself. For botched up plans, Arthur sure thinks it's going well. He offers, "Well we both know now. Why don't I say it here and we can add another celebratory reason for our dinner?"

Ariadne nods but she's still annoyed with herself. She readies herself and then blinks at him with expectant eyes. Arthur simply hugs her, requests "Marry me," and steps back. Ariadne blinks at him, her eyes cut from left to right. "That's all? You made a fuss over that? It was a hug and two words."

The Point Man's shit-eating grin seeps onto his features, "You haven't said 'Yes Arthur' yet. So it would make it a hug and four words." He feigns epiphany, "Oh! Or better yet, you could say 'Of course I will' and make it a hug and six."

She deadpans, "Are you mocking me? Cause I'm fixing to say No and change into my pajamas."

Arthur starts, "Alright, alright, I'm sorry." After straightening his suit, he kneels on one knee. "You already know what I'm going say. You know I need you. You know there isn't anything I wouldn't find a way to give you, if you asked. And I know that's vice versa. We know that nothing, no one, can keep us apart as long as we're together. A wise woman once told me: 'I love you. You love me. There's a simple and straightforward solution to that.' You're right, here it is…If you want me to wait longer, I'll wait for you to infinity and beyond. I will do whatever you want, whatever makes you happiest. But please say that that's becoming my wife." He opens the box to reveal a stunning, sophisticatedly simple engagement ring. "Will you marry me?"

Ariadne doesn't have to fake the shell-shocked tears of joy. She grabs him by the tie and pulls him up off the ground, "Get up here. You know the answer is yes." He slips the ring onto her finger without ever leaving her beaming lips.

Fin.

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Tada! Full circle. Instead of fighting and breaking up over not being ready to get married, she's the one who brings it up. Woo! That second half was for you lovely people that helped me reach my goal of 100 reviews before the end of the story: lilachiccups, haha your reviews killed me this time around. Basically every time you use all caps, I die laughing. Your 'SHE FREAKING LOVES YOU ARTHUR! JUST ACCEPT IT AND MAKE BEAUTIFUL BABIES TOGETHER!' was amazing and your 'IF YOU RUIN THIS BY…etc' was pretty funny too. Just because come on now, I knew I wasn't going to let him walk away. I didn't disappoint you, did I? hahah. Lauraa-x: Yay, I know Im evil for it but I'm so glad you genuinely thought Ari died in the fight at first. That was my goal, I love tricking my readers…haha. I think Arthur got a little better at actually listening to what would make her happy instead of assuming, huh? And Lazarus76: Thank you, thank you! Hope that was happy enough!

Additional thank you to all other readers and reviewers: Thank you for sticking with me those of you that did. The Hood organization was loosely inspired by The East (still haven't seen it, come out dvd!) and then I had also watched American Crime starring Ellen Page as Sylvia Likens going into it. Which if you haven't seen it, it is a terribly moving but very dark movie about the true story of child abuse in the 1950's I believe. So I know 'Hooded' was super tough and horrible and dark at times and depressing most of it but it was a brainchild and an issue I could not shake. As a writer, I really wanted to explore those thoughts.

Next Story: "With You." Not at all related to this one and you'll be happy to know that there is no dark material. Yayayay. Its not all fluff but nowhere near the content of this one. Its basically a look at Ariadne and Arthur (of course) and how—over the course of a couple years—they fall in and out and in and out of love with each other, starting a bit after Inception. I've never done a story where they're in the process of a developing relationship (except for Follow the Red but even in that they had some form of flirty history). I've never gone from strict co-workers to lovers soooo I hope I can pull it off and if you're interested I'd love for you to join me on a new journey!