As well as her payout from the Fischer job, Ariadne took memories of a week with Arthur in the dream. Blending in with projections meant they had essentially lived in each others' pockets. During the day they strolled through the parks, visited the museums and galleries, and sometimes they simply walked, taking in the city around them. They went out to dinner each evening, and at night they slept in the same bed, tangled up together, sated and sweaty, sticky and amazed at how well their bodies fit. That was just as true in the real world, they discovered that one night they had before her flight to Paris.
Arthur promised to keep in touch, which he did intermittently. Ariadne finished her degree, took the glowing recommendations on her work to a firm that hired her on in a junior position. She designed parks and office buildings that were ripped apart by partners in critiques more brutal than any she had undergone in school. A few tweaks, then they submitted her designs as their own work. She knew it was the way of things, but bitterly complained about it to Arthur, knowing he would understood the frustration, and her need to see creation at work.
"So what you wanted before isn't all you thought it would be?" he asked sympathetically.
"Something like that," she admitted ruefully, lips twisting in the wry smirk he loved so much.
"So what do you want to do about it?" he asked. He'd never pushed her into dream share. When she asked about it during their time in the Fischer job, he'd told her about life on the run, of keeping track of multiple identities and safe houses, always planning an escape route in case a job went south. She hadn't felt ready for that kind of life, so he'd let it drop.
"I don't know," she sighed.
"How long before they let you take the lead on a project and give you credit?"
"Years," she told him sourly. "I'm better than Pierce and Brock, but they have seniority. And I think Pierce is fucking the boss."
"Talk about nepotism."
"Seriously," Ariadne groused, flopping back on her couch with a moue.
"If there was a way to give you a chance to create safely..."
"I'd go back to dream share," she replied instantly. "I don't know if I'm ready to run all over the world, even if sometimes I get so frustrated with my life here. I can't just cut and run, I can't ignore the friends I made, and I can't wrap my head around being on guard all the time. I don't know if I can ever get used to life as a known criminal. But God, I just want to build something. Even if it's not in the real world, I want to see something and know it's mine."
"You know, you could come with me. I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring," Arthur said gently. "And there's me."
"And there's you," Ariadne echoed with a grin, leaning forward to grasp his hands in hers. "A very compelling reason to go back in."
"Am I?" he asked teasingly, pulling her into his lap. He held her closely as she shifted to a more comfortable position. "I hope so, given how many excuses I give to come to Paris."
"Oh?" she asked, echoing his playful tone. "So you're not here to visit the Notre Dame?"
"Or the Champs-Élysées?"
"Not that either."
"A little cramped apartment in the Quartier Latin?" she asked, giving him a kiss.
"Good answer," she told him.
They kissed, soft and sweet, and Ariadne deepened it. She ran her hand down Arthur's chest, until she reached the end of his shirt. Still kissing him, she slipped her hand up and under it, touching bare skin. "Such a good answer," she said against his mouth, "that you get to see my bedroom again."
Nearly racing to Ariadne's room, they stripped off their clothes. Arthur knelt in front of her to kiss her stomach, fingers tracing the surface of her skin lightly. He gradually leaned forward, which pushed her backward until she fell onto her bed. He worked his way between her open legs so that he could lick into her, spreading her wide with his thumbs. Ariadne ran her hands through his hair as he began sucking on her clit, making her gasp and moan.
He knew what she liked by now, how to draw out her pleasure and how to have it crash against her in waves. Now he varied between the extremes, bring her up high and trembling, then removing his mouth to slide his fingers into her slick channel. Pumping his fingers into her, Arthur pressed his lips to her stomach, feeling the muscles jump and flutter beneath him.
"Arthur," she gasped. "Arthur, please..."
"Since you ask so nicely," he murmured. He pumped his fingers faster and shifted in order to lick her clit at the same time.
Ariadne's whimpers heightened in intensity, and she threw her arms up over her head to grasp and pull at the sheets. She arched into his mouth, letting out a long moan as she came, her entire body loosening.
As she lay sprawled with her legs hanging off the side of the bed, Arthur knee-walked his way to the bedside table. He snatched up a condom from the drawer and grinned at her as he deftly rolled the latex onto his erect cock. Shifting her legs around his waist, Arthur lined himself up and then slid inside her slowly. He continued at that slow pace for a while, making Ariadne gasp and reach for him. "Don't good things come to those who wait?" he taunted.
"Or you could come right now?" she asked breathlessly, reaching down to grasp his thighs and pull him in deep.
"Good plan," he agreed, grasping her hips tightly and picking up speed.
He pumped hard and fast, gasping and groaning a bit at the sensation of her. She tightened and moaned so prettily, and Arthur couldn't last very long, even with the condom. A few more thrusts and then he gasped "Oh, there," before he came.
Ariadne made a mournful sound when he had to pull out and dispose of the condom, but she wriggled into the center of the bed and held out her arms for Arthur when he came back. He slid in beside her, his back to her front, making it a tight fit on her small bed. She pressed her lips against his shoulder and then tightened her arms around his. "I suppose if we work together, we'd have this a lot more often."
"All the time," Arthur promised.
"Definitely a good way to sweeten the deal," she chuckled. "Sold. I'll take a leave of absence and design your levels if it's a safe job."
Arthur shifted in her embrace so he could kiss her. "Perfect. I can't wait."
And really, neither could she.