Disclaimer: Not mine, at all.
Word Count: 1283
Summary: Ariadne glimpses two sides of a story half-told.
Arthur teaches her how to construct mazes, but it’s Eames who teaches her how to fill them with distractions. Walls are nothing without a splash of wallpaper and, in his words, it lends imagination to it all. Put a plant down and slap a painting every once in a while and the dreamer passes on by, even if the walls are made of bones.
Strange things aren’t so easily noticed in dreams.
She’s in Arthur’s dreamscape now and trails her fingers along a wall made of sand, gravitating in the direction of sounds that she can hear far away and too close all at once.
“...don’t know why you won’t let us...”
The voices echo, but more distant now, as if they’ve grown further away while shuttling back in a hurry to reach her ears. She presses her hand harder against the wall and changes the sand to glass, tests the bounds of her abilities to change this world when there are no figures of Arthur’s subconscious laying about. Or so she thinks.
“You’re in a maze. And you don’t know which way is up or down and you’re surrounded by strangers. You don’t know if there’s ever an exit and you’re lost.” Ariadne closes her eyes at the cadence of a riddle that she’s sure has no answer, hears the hurtling of trains on tracks and isn’t sure if she’s made it real or not. “But it’s all right.”
“And why is that?”
“Because even though everyone wears a disguise, you can always tell when someone you want is there and they know the way out.”
“...very clever, darling.” Cocky and assured. Train whistles subsiding, she knows exactly who’s with Arthur – too far and too close all at once. She keeps walking until she finds herself at a tall picket-fence and peers through the slats, seeing a rose garden that looks too fanciful and majestic to ever be something real. Cobb warns her not to steal from memories, but Arthur is just too precise to ever lapse into such a lazy trap – he’d never go back to some place when he could invent a whole new world. She watches, eyes wide and mouth agape, as Eames leans over to pick a turquoise rose out of a thornless garden, lifting it up and tickling the petals of a delicate and beautiful flower under Arthur’s nose, a broad grin on his face.
This is Arthur’s dream. This is Arthur’s subconscious, filling the world that she’s built with projections that he wants to be there. Which means...
Arthur lightly grasps at Eames’ fingers and holds the rose there for a singular moment, bowing his head forward and closing his eyes, as if lingering in the smell and the touch of Eames’ fingers. Ariadne holds her breathe as she awaits the reaction.
Arthur smiles, slow and steady and calm, accepting and when he opens his eyes, he looks straight at Eames and lets out a fond sigh. “I hate it when you act like a charming asshole.”
“Oh, you do wound me by hating me all the time, then,” Eames replies easily, sliding the rose into Arthur’s suit pocket and tweaking the stem lightly.
Right before their eyes, it changes from turquoise to gold. Ariadne’s influence has slipped and she waits a singular moment for the inevitable. She watches as Eames – not the real Eames, just a projection – turns on her with a furious and nasty glare and she startles, trying her best not to change the design and turn picket fences into iron bars while she waits for the kick.
Ariadne sits up slowly, rubbing at her forehead and staring around. Eames is lingering right above her with a bemused grin on his face. “Find anything dirty in Arthur’s mind?” he asks with a waggle of his brows, but before she’s even given a chance to respond, he’s stepping over her and the fallen chair to slowly deal with a still-dreaming Arthur.
Eames just grins and shoots a wink back Ariadne’s way as he puts one singular finger to his lips. “Now,” he advises, “would be a lovely time to look away.”
Say elephant and what does your whole room become? A whole pack of the grey-skinned mammoths. Ariadne is all eyes as she watches Eames brace Arthur’s chair slowly against its legs, crawling atop him and snugly fitting his legs in a straddle about Arthur’s thighs. Ariadne holds her breath one more time as she watches Eames slide his palm up and down Arthur’s chest, steadily lifting and falling with even breaths.
“Careful now, darling,” Eames whispers, just loud enough for Ariadne to hear. “You and me, we’re just going to have a bit of a tumble.” He wraps his hand around the back of Arthur’s neck, sliding long fingers into Arthur’s hair, his other hand still firm on his chest. “One,” he counts, rocking the chair back and eliciting a creaky sound.
Ariadne should feel disturbed, as though Eames is doing something that shouldn’t be suitable for any ages, but the way Eames leans in and brushes a light kiss to Arthur’s cheek, eyelashes fluttering as he stares at his lips, makes her wonder how much she’s really missed and whether or not Eames knows what Arthur dreams about.
“Two,” he whispers, hooking his arm tighter around Arthur’s neck as he leans in for a kiss. “Three!” he adds, grinning with sheer childish amusement as he uses the forces of gravity to bring the chair plummeting off its legs, causing Arthur to jolt awake and right into a kiss already awaiting his lips.
Arthur gasps loudly and Ariadne watches every minute reaction from the widening pupils (shock) to the protest (the muffled gasp) to the disbelieving acceptance (when he closes his eyes and accepts he’s on the floor with Eames and shattered pieces of wood).
She clears her throat mildly and raises a brow, just to remind them that she’s still in the room.
Eames pulls away and rolls off Arthur, one hand behind his head as he peers at Ariadne and glances at Arthur as if ready to contribute a quip to the conversation. Before anyone can add to the situation, the slow and steady melody of a song begins to play, as if from a dream, and ...
Ariadne gasps as she sits up, prying the IV from her hand and scrambling to get her wits about her before the others do. She sits there at the edge of an ottoman and watches as they both rise from their heavy sleeps.
Arthur does first, catches her eye, before shifting uncomfortably. He refuses to look at Eames, even if Eames is slowly rousing and trying to pull Arthur down into the single bed with him – as she recalls, now, Eames hadn’t given Arthur much of a choice as he’d waited until he was under to join in.
“So?” Cobb asks as he walks briskly into the room, rolling the sleeves of his shirt up. “How are we coming along with dressing up the dream?”
Ariadne stares at Eames and wonders if he knows, thinks he has to, and only watches as Arthur stands abruptly and tries to smooth out his ruffled hair – which Eames seems to be attempting to do for him from three feet below – and adjust his suit.
“She’s doing just splendidly,” Eames assures, eyes only attentive of Arthur. “Doesn’t lack half the imagination this one does,” he adds, leaning up and wrapping his arm firmly around Arthur’s waist to haul him – successfully – back down to the bed.
Ariadne holds her breath and bites her tongue so she can avoid breathing out a scornful if you only knew.