Rating/Warning: Adult (language)
Disclaimer: Written for entertainment purposes only. No money, no sue.
"It's because he looks like a little kid playing dress ups. It's delicious," Eames says, swirling the red wine around in his glass.
Ariadne had met him for drinks and now she does what she always does when she's with one of her boys, remembers how she got to the bar. She'd caught a cab from her apartment because it had started to rain just when she'd stepped out.
Her hair is still a little damp.
Ariadne likes to think it's normal, just a mental exercise to be performed, something she does when she leaves her house like patting her pockets for keys and not the first stirrings of paranoia. "I don't think that's it," she says. She remembers exactly how she got to the bar but not really how the conversation had veered towards Arthur and her, to Eames and hopefully no one else, obvious crush on him.
What Eames says though sticks with her and she can picture Arthur in too-big shoes and a coat that swallows his lean frame. She concentrates on the image and now in her mind Arthur is wearing one of Eames' ugly jackets, still too big because Eames is much broader than Arthur.
She smiles to herself.
"Women always like the cute ones," Eames says, sounding mournful and Ariadne looks at him.
"I thought we liked the bad boys. Wouldn't that suit you?" she asks and Eames throws back his head and guffaws. The other people look their way, reminding Ariadne uncomfortably of projections.
Got a cab from my apartment. It was raining.
Eames leans across the bar and snags a dessert menu. He always manages to find places that have excellent cocktails and lavish food. "You must try the chocolate mousse here, love," he says with a gleam in his eyes. "It's the stuff dreams are made of."
She wonders exactly why she finds Arthur so attractive.
He's unlike anything she's ever gone for in the past. She watches him move around with compact grace, no motion wasted, no hair out of place. At first glance you would say he was almost fussy in his presence but Ariadne is starting to understand that the way he dresses, the way he is, is just Arthur asserting control, keeping himself in check when everything about him is so unordered.
He looks up from where he's working, notes her scrutiny but doesn't react to it, doesn't feel the need to ask her about it. Instead he goes back to what he was doing after holding her gaze for a moment.
Ariadne thinks maybe she does know the reason why Arthur appeals to her. She's a worldbuilder and he's a strong foundation.
She's standing on a street corner. The day is sweltering, or at least it should be but Ariadne doesn't feel it even though she's in a jacket and jeans. She tries to remember how she got to this particular street corner on this particular day and can't.
That's good, to be expected. She's training for a new job.
She also can't remember whose dream they're in. She knows she got told in the briefing but for some reason that's the one bit of information she can't hold onto. She looks about for any tells. Cobb always said not to create from memory but she's learned over time that there are always constant elements depending on whose dream she's in. Eames has splashes of flamboyance in amongst the mundane and Yusuf has unfinished elements to his world, ragged edges.
She spots herself across the road. It was disconcerting at first, seeing a reflection of yourself but it's to be expected. The dream world is populated with people you encounter every day, snippets taken of them and skewed out of context it's true, but still for the most part the same. It's unusual to see a fully realised version of herself and as she watches she notes differences. The Ariadne across the road is wearing a light summer dress, her hair is darker and a touch longer and her eyes when she glances aside are larger.
A hand curls around her elbow and tugs. "We're late," Arthur says into her ear. He's wearing a black suit and a black shirt underneath with blue stripes.
"You felt the need to embellish?" Ariadne asks and points across the road. She knows this is Arthur's space they're occupying. Arthur leans around her to see what she's gesturing at. "Improve on the original?"
Arthur makes an impatient noise deep in his throat. "Don't be dense," he says with a tone of dismissal. "Projections are only ever shallow copies of the real thing."
"Meaning?" Ariadne presses and Arthur looks at her, bringing a hand up to touch fingers all too briefly to her cheek.
"Meaning, you're much prettier in real life."
Ariadne wants to capture the moment and hold it close but Arthur is already looking away, towards Eames who is bearing down on them, waving frantically.
She looks down at herself and sees she's in a summer dress.
Watching Arthur and Eames together is endlessly fascinating.
Mostly because Eames prides himself on being the spanner in the works and Arthur handles him without Eames apparently realizing it. It's a complicated dance, a relationship that teeters on a knife's edge. It's definitely not as complex as the bond between Arthur and Cobb but it's infinitely more entertaining.
Like now, Eames has Arthur in a headlock. While most people would flail and protest, Arthur merely bears it silently and with an air of endless patience, making Eames look like the foolish one which should be impossible.
"Don't detach his head from his body. I've grown accustomed to the way he looks," Ariadne calls and Eames raises his own head, waggling his eyebrows and releasing Arthur with a push in Ariadne's direction. Arthur can't stop himself in time and ends up half on Ariadne's chair and half on Ariadne herself, his hands smacking down on the chair arms at the last minute so she doesn't get hit with his full weight. "Sorry, I'm sorry," he huffs but Ariadne merely wraps arms around his waist and tugs when he makes to extricate himself.
He tenses for a moment and Ariadne starts to think maybe she's overstepped some mark, some invisible boundary in their burgeoning whatever, but then he relaxes, not enough that she still doesn't have his whole weight but that it's clear he's accepting the embrace. Ariadne snatches the opportunity to tighten her arms and rest her cheek briefly on Arthur's back, the satin of his waistcoat pleasant on her skin and the warmth beneath even more so.
Eames makes retching noises from the other side of the room and Ariadne lifts her head to scowl at him. She's pleased that Arthur doesn't feel compelled to rise. "We're not doing anything gross," she protests.
"Exactly darling. The least you could do would be to go the grope. All this chasteness turns my stomach."
Arthur does rise then, straightens his waistcoat and then tears after Eames, both of them howling like young boys at play.