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Life Could Be a Dream

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"Again?" Ariadne asks.

It's the third time Cobb's asked Arthur to dry run Ariadne's level with her.

Arthur shrugs. "That's what he said."

Yusuf insists they have to stay down for at least an hour. Something to do with a new formula he's testing out.

Arthur and Ariadne walk around her reproduction of the mark's house.

"Well, everything's pretty much where I had it the last time you saw it, besides the gazebo."

Arthur stops walking. "A gazebo? Where is it?"

"In the backyard. I know there wasn't one in the recon photos Eames took, but he said the mark's planning to build one, so we should have it, to keep the dream aspirational, so he's more..."

She trails off because Arthur isn't listening anymore. He's walking out the back door.

She rearranges the furniture in the dining room with aspiration in mind until she hears a gunshot.

She goes outside, sees his body on the grass in front of the white latticework and red roses, and follows him out of the dream.

She awakens in the middle of a commotion.

Eames is on the ground, bearing teeth in grin or grimace, saying he won't be able to tail the mark in this condition without raising eyebrows.

Yusuf's kneeling next to him, dabbing Eames' bloody nose with a wad of tissues.

Cobb is holding Arthur back, who's snarling about how, on top of ruining everything, what a violation it is to touch a man's private property while he's sleeping.

But they all turn to look at her when she stands up.

"What's going on?" she asks.

"Nothing," Arthur has the gall to claim, still braced in Cobb's arms.

"The mark's not building a gazebo, is he?" she asks.

"No."

"Then why did I?" She's looking at Eames, but he's looking up at Arthur, in deference for once. They all are.

Arthur shakes off Cobb, then walks to his workstation, straightening his collar. "Well, now that it's been spoiled," he grumbles. He takes out his black notebook, flips to a page, and hands it to her.

There's the gazebo, just as Eames had described it to her, and some writing beside it in Arthur's tight shorthand. After she reads it, she returns the notebook with a kiss on Arthur's surly cheek.

"I would've hated this," she says. "I wouldn't have told you, but I would've."

"Of course," Arthur snaps. "It wasn't supposed to happen in the middle of a job. But Eames—"

"Cobb and Yusuf were in on it, too," says Eames as he stands.

"Not just that. I would've hated it because I wouldn't want it to happen in a dream."

"Knew it," gloats Eames. "But he wouldn't have listened to me if I told him that. Had to force things."

"You were trying to ruin it?" says Cobb. "I thought we were helping him do it. What's wrong with it happening in a dream?"

Ariadne says, "It should be real."

~

So two months later, when Arthur proposes, he does so in reality.