Following the Fischer job, Arthur and Ariadne exchanged contact information. It turned into a series of texts, e-mails, tweets, phone calls and the occasional package of candy and random touristy items from whatever city Arthur happened to be in as Ariadne finished her architecture program and defended her thesis. He still worked with people around the world that he had known before he met her, but he asked her opinion about maps he had to memorize, cities built to do the job without as much personalization or flair. Arthur usually put personal touches in levels he had to dream, and Ariadne had done that for him without his needing to ask. The other architects he worked with did the job, but there was no soul in it.
And they weren't Ariadne.
"This is like some kind of old fashioned courtship," Ariadne had teased him during one phone call. "We don't see each other in person, but we talk all the time and know lots of things about each other. This is like the start of a romance novel."
"Huh. So we should meet up in person again," Arthur said. "You know, go to dinner."
"Yes," he agreed. "We should go on a date."
"Fantastic. Where should we meet?" she had asked immediately.
They settled on a seaside restaurant named Le Peron in Marseilles, which Ariadne could easily take the train to on her vacation from school. The restaurant had small tables inside of it, perfect for intimate conversation, as well as tables on the deck overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The wait staff were all attentive and polite, the food was excellent, the paired wine was perfect, and there was a sense of utter contentment for them both. Though the restaurant was hardly empty, Arthur felt as though they were the only two there.
Afterward, it wasn't that long a walk to the hotel where Arthur was staying. The evening was lovely, so they lingered, a slow meandering step. Hand in hand, Arthur couldn't help but remark that it was everything he had hoped it would be. "This place was a fantastic find. I was here a few years ago, I always meant to come back."
"Hopefully with someone special," Ariadne had teased.
"But of course," he replied with a smile, squeezing her hands. "The food was perfectly done, the sauce very light and complementing the salmon."
"I can't say that I know much about wine, but that worked great with dinner," Ariadne agreed, tracing the back of his hand with her thumb with an innocent look on her face. "Everything just slid down my throat."
Arthur smirked. Oh, was that the game they were going to play? He could play that, too.
"I happen to have liked the texture of the crème brûlée," Arthur said. "Soft and smooth, then just a little bit of roughness. Almost a pebbly kind of sensation. So much fun to lick that."
She made a happy humming noise. "Oh, yes. And licking the length of the spoon? And the curved part of the head?" Her eyes sparkled with amusement.
"Or mounds of cream."
Now she had to smother her laughter. "Oh, really?"
"Yes, really. Dessert is the perfect end to a perfect evening, wouldn't you say?"
"Oh, I love dessert. The frothier and wetter the better."
"Absolutely. It just isn't dessert done right if it's not a mess."
Ariadne's grin was breathtaking, and they stopped outside of his hotel room. He cradled her face in the palm of his hand, his thumb tracing the edge of her mouth. "I like this, you know. It's one thing to know how well we click when talking. Or writing."
"But another to feel it in person? While awake?"
Arthur laughed. "I thought that was a perfectly good excuse to get to kiss."
"So lame. I figured it out right away."
"Liar. It was only afterward, when I almost smiled."
They linked hands together, and Ariadne brought them up to her lips. She dropped a tender kiss onto his knuckles. "This is real. This feeling between us, what we have..."
"And I wouldn't give this up for anything," Arthur replied, voice gentle.
There was a rasp of a match being struck. And both turned to see Eames standing on the steps to the hotel, scowling at them as he lit a cigarette. "Oh my god, just kiss already, you two! You're being perfectly nauseating. Just go on, tangle up your tongues, then head on up and get your bodies into a right lather. I'm going to walk a spell to give you enough time."
"What makes you think that's the point of this?" Arthur asked, voice level.
"And it's really none of your business what we do," Ariadne told him firmly.
"Yes, but I need to work with him," Eames replied, pointing his cigarette at Arthur. "And if he's making that same moon calf doe-eyed look tomorrow, I'll be downright ill. So kiss, have wild, passionate sex, get it out of your system."
Arthur looked over at Ariadne, lips quirking into a smile. "I don't think I'd ever get her out of my system, Eames."
He stuck the cigarette in his mouth, grumbling, and then set to walk down the street. "I'll be gone for an hour, you two. Use it wisely."
They looked at each other, then laughed helplessly. "He does have good ideas on occasion," Arthur began.
Ariadne pulled him down to her level by his tie and kissed him thoroughly, tongue sliding into his mouth. "Let's go to your room. One hour, he said."
Laughing, they rushed into the hotel.