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Where Madness Reigns Free

Holding onto my sanity (don't leave me just yet)

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Sainte Mere Marie - 2/2 ...Prequel to Arthur/Ariadne

A/N: So I've promised a second part to it. I'm so sorry that it took FOREVER but it's up now. Just a fair warning that this chapter does contain Mal/Arthur...Just in case any of you hate that. I'm just saying that this is a story for BEFORE the Inception job, and before Arthur met Ariadne.

Part 1

It was a chilly afternoon in France, even for autumn. His grey trench coat ruffled and flapped in the wind. Long, lean fingers slowly buttoned the large buttons gently into the opening. He straightened his lapel and smoothed the creases on the jacket. Then large hands adjusted the tie a bit tighter and the pulled on the collar of his iron-pressed shirt.

It had been a long while since he's been in Paris. The last time he was here, he killed two men. Two men whom he will never know as well as he should or could. Oh he remembers their names, their occupations, their age and their family background; and not to mention, their faces. Having a photographic memory was a joy and a curse in his profession.

In each city he visited, he has a mental list of how many people he damaged there. A death list, a heist list, a money list. He remembered bits and peices of his childhood. It seemed odd, he had a photographic memory, yet he could barely remember his childhood. Perhaps it was because he did not like to think of it. He did not like to think of his mother who disappeared on his 10th birthday and never returned. She had packed trunks and suitcases. She had wrapped her head in a scarf and donned sunglasses onto her powdered face.

She left. Not even a goodbye, not even a kiss, not even a hug. He accepted it in a quiet way, as he always does. She was never happy with him or his father. She always told him that.

Your poor mother has to stay here with you. She has to stay with you and your father because you can't take care of yourself. When will you grow up Arthur? Grow up soon, I want to go away and have some fun. Oh Arthur, can't you remember when I used be a star on Broadway? Can't you see the men lining up with flowers and perfume? Why did I marry your father? Because he was rich? Phhst, what good did that do? I miss the stage Arthur, grow up quickly!

People told him that his mother was deluded. That she was out of her mind. But he still kept her company. He brought her breakfast in bed, he sat by her bedside listening to her rant on and on of praises of herself and curses on his father. After his 10th birthday, he had to grow up. His father , Arthur Sr., clapped Arthur on the back and said.

Son, I have no idea why she stayed for as long as she did. Now you've got to be a man.

And Arthur Sr. never talked much to his son ever again. There wasn't anything left to say. So Arthur went to college, desperately seeking for anybody's approval. It seemed that many universities wanted his talent. He ended up studying mechanics and machinery. He went on to developing army machinery and weapons.

He was so sought after by the military, they hired him to work with a few men on a "special" new project. A special new project that seemed utterly unrealistic and foolish at first but soon dominated his entire weeks and months. On his team were many other capable biochemists and mechanics. They spent years on it, hidden from the mass populas. Arthur put his whole spirit and effort into the device. He spent hours building model after model, spent days under the device. When it was finished and checked over again and again, they named it the Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous Device. But Arthur just called it the PASIV.

After the device was created, the military invited a new group to explore and discover this new device. What seemed like a harmless dream sharing device became lethal after the entire group had not woken up after the intended 5 minutes. Arthur had manned the device and waited for them to wake up. After 10 minutes, he knew something was wrong. And sure enough, the six people never woke up again.

After another few long months of studying, they finally found out the reason for this. That was the discovery of limbo and projections. The military then brought in a group of hghly trained scientists that specialized in dreams and a few architects. They were to work on instances and scenarios for the soldiers to work on. That was when he met Mal. And his entire life was turned upside down

There was not denying that she was very attractive and he had felt a very strong pull towards her. She was indeed a lovely person. She had an luring personality and a voracious curiosity. He warmed to her immediately. They would often discuss about dreams and reality. He found out that she had a loose grip on reality and often floated around impossible ideas and wild imaginations. Arthur found himself thinking of her at the most unconvenient times and even dreaming of her in his dreams. When he still had them.

She had him dazed and starry eyed. She was all he thought about during that time other than the project and the dream world. Her chopped brown hair that glinted under the Paris sun and her sharp blue eyes that caught everyone's attention waddled through his mind until he could not stand it. And just as he was about to muster up the courage to pursue a relationship with her, Dom Cobb arrived. 

Cobb arrived with his own keen perception of layouts and architectural design that charmed Mallorie Miles right into his world. He was fresh and new and had a distinctively imaginative air that was similar to Mal. Back then, Cobb had little to suppress him and his creations were sky high. Mal was absolutely captured by this. They were practically inseparable, leaving Arthur with a particular distaste in his mouth and a feeling of being the third wheel in all their outings and discussions. Despite all of this, there was something about Dom Cobb that made him impossible to dislike. Perhaps it was his blunt truthfulness or his sharp attention to detail that made Arthur trust him unequivocally. And it was because of this, Arthur let go of Mal into Dom's "capable" hands. 

After a wedding and two children, it seemed that nothing could possibly go wrong with the Cobb household. Arthur did not keep tabs on them but even so, something seemed off for a few months. He received no news or letter from them and Cobb did not even speak to him anymore. Arthur thought it may just be the pressure of providing for a family or the unwillingness to let themselves be integrated into the dream world anymore. But he was quite wrong.

After a successful job, Arthur decided to lay low in Los Angeles for a while and gave Cobb a ring. He let Cobb know that he was there and if Cobb needed anything, he was there. However, he did not expect a guilt ridden, shocked Cobb to call him up at 2 am in the morning on Mal and Cobb's anniversary. 

A-arthur? Something bad has happened. I-I need your help.

In the entire five years Arthur knew Cobb, he never heard him speak in such a vulnerable tone. He could hear scuffling over the phone as if Cobb was weaving his hands through his hair. Arthur didn't wait for an explanation and hurried over to the address Cobb provided him with. There he was greeted with a quivering Dom Cobb running his hands over his face, sitting on the doorsteps of the hotel hunched over. Cobb led him to the sprawled form of Mal Cobb on the concrete with blood splattered across the grey squares of the sidewalk. 

Now Arthur had seen some pretty gruesome things in his time in the dream-sharing business. But once he saw Mal, he ran to the closest garbage bin and emptied his entire stomach into it. Cobb just stood in the corner with one hand covering his tear stained eyes and another hand on his hip. After Arthur got a grip of himself and cleaned up, he went over to Cobb and punched him in the face. Cobb, slumped on the ground, said nothing and continued shaking. Arthur didn't know whether he felt disgusted or sympathetic,  all he knew was that he needed to get him out of this.

They took a cab back to Cobb's house, where Cobb explained to him what Mal had did to him and how he could no longer be in the county. He did not tell Arthur the entire story about how she became this way. Arthur could not comprehend the insanity in which Mal had succumbed to therefore he did not blame Dom. What he did do though, was help Cobb get an agent and stayed with his children until Cobb left. 

And even after everything that happened, he still agreed to go on jobs that Cobb asked him to be on. And after a few disastrous jobs, they found out that Cobb could no longer be an architect. So he switched to being an extractor. Maybe it was his baggage and developed instinct that made him so great at being a thief. And it was because Cobb didn't want to be a thief that made him so good at being one. But Arthur could still sense the deep rooted guilt every time Mal would appear in their dreams. He didn't know why or how it was caused but, he was certain that there was something going on that Cobb wasn't telling him. 

Despite what happened to Mal and Cobb, he still envied their love. Even after death, he could tell that Cobb loved her and she him. Arthur always wanted a relationship like that with another human being.   Never in his life did he have a withstanding relationship with another female. He had his few one night stands and flings. He blames his mother for his awkwardness and inability to express love for another person. And he curses her for it. 

And it is for this reason that he visits Sainte Mere Marie. Without any motherly figure, she was his only confidante. It would seem foolish that a grown man of his stature would find comfort in a bronze statue in the middle of nowhere, but he trusts her. She's the only one he fully trusts now. 

So that's why he came here today. They just finished a disastrous job involving one of the most powerful engineering companies in the world, Cobol Engineering. He was on edge and extremely pissed off. It wasn’t because Cobb had made Mal appear at the dream when he specifically told him not to let it happen again; although sometimes, he wished that Cobb had just died along with Mal to put him out of his misery. It wasn’t even because of him getting shot in the foot or the fact that they had just lost another architect. Nash wasn’t that great for someone who had done many high profile jobs for other dream-sharing heist teams. And being shot? Not a pleasant experience but he knew it came with the territory.

No, what bothered him the most was that Cobb had agreed to an inception job. An inception job. Of all the crazy notions and explosive imagination Cobb has or had, Arthur had trusted him. Arthur had promised Mal, long before she died, on the day of their wedding to protect Cobb and help him to the best of his ability. She had pulled him aside for a dance while Cobb was talking to Professor Miles. She had given him her sultry smile and whispered her deep French accent into his ear.

If something ever happens to me Arthur, I want you to help him. I want you to protect him to the best of your ability. He trusts you Arthur. He will need you. Promise me you’ll do it, Arthur, promise me.

He mainly remembers how her smooth hands caressed the back of his neck and how the sequins on her white gown prickled his own palms. But he did remember promising her. He did remember telling her that nothing would happen to her. He did remember her soft yet contradicting gaze that implied otherwise.

That’s why he’s still here. That is why he helps Cobb. That is why he does it without questioning anything although all he wants to do it kill the miserable bastard. He wants to strangle Dom Cobb for portraying Mal in such a way in all his dreams. She was never so cold and vengeful when she was alive. How could he skew her image like this? How could Cobb torment the last remnants of his own memory of her? 

Arthur blames him. He blames Cobb for everything that has happened. He doesn't know for sure but, Arthur likes to believe that Mal would have been safe and relatively happy with Arthur if Cobb had never existed. He would have never let anything like this happen to her. But he can't deny the gripping and passionate love Mal and Cobb had. No matter what happened, she would have still loved him anyways. That was their problem, they loved each other too much. He had a nagging feeling that that was their downfall. 

That's why he swore to himself that he would never let love happen to him. That's why he prays that love will never happen to him. He didn't need it in a life like this. One unrequited love was enough in a lifetime. He doesn't want to be paralyzed and frozen by loss like Cobb is. And he certainly doesn't want to feel the emptiness of heart break again. 

He shivers a little as a chilling breeze sweeps past the back of his neck. Like deja-vu, he remembers her hands again. He is haunted by her presence whenever he looks into Cobb's eyes. And here, looking at the the generous expression of the statue, he feels a little at peace. He extends a lanky arm and rests his black, gloved hand on Sainte Mere Marie's shoulder. 

"Bonjour Sainte Mere Marie, comment ca-va? Hello Mother Mary, how are you? We haven't spoke in what...at least two years. Much can happen in two years."

Arthur glanced at the cobblestone ground. 

"You see, ever since Mal died, Cobb has given up. I feel like I should too. She's gone, so why should I continue helping him? I should never have let him take that inception job. But for a moment, I saw a spark of life in him I haven't seen ever since she died. So if we do this...if we do this, he'll be able to return to his home. His family."

He sighed. The wisps of moisture uncoiled in the air. 

"So if we succeed, I will have fulfilled my promise to her."

He shook his head and smirked as he dug his gloved hands into the pockets of his grey trench coat. He shuffled his black loafers above a rock. 

"It's funny how life works, doesn't it Mere Marie? You fall in love with a woman. She falls in love with a bastard. He ruins her and she dies. You clean up after him. That wasn't how it was supposed to work. That was never what was planned. But they always say love is unpredictable and crazy. It's out of hand and emotional. It's everything I stand against and everything that could be deadly in a profession like mine and Cobb's."

Arthur frowns at the still generous looking mother. 

"Why didn't anyone warn them that it could turn out this way? Why did they do it even though they knew it would be so messy? Why does anyone take that kind of uncalculated risk? Why did I take up such a foolish emotion with a woman?"

His hand on the statue's shoulder balled into a fist. He gritted out. 

"Never again, you hear me Mere Marie? Never again do I ever want to experience something like that. I don't want to fall in love again. I have no patience for that. I can't offer another woman what one already consumed. I can't bring such foolishness to my job and my life. It can't stand. I will not allow it. You better make sure of that Mere Marie, you better make sure of that."

Arthur gazed at the statue. Its lifeless eyes still seemed warm and inviting despite everything he just said. The mother's metallic shoulder was so cold, he couldn't tell if it was burning or freezing. After pausing for a minute or two, he opened his mouth. He couldn't conceal his true feelings to the only person he trusts. 

"Sainte Mere Marie, forgive me. I just- I just don't think I can deal with that kind of pain again. I've been let down too many times in a span of three decades. I'm afraid it'll hurt. I'm afraid to lose again mother. I cannot lose again mother. Don't let me lose too much. Pain I can take, but I can't stand the empty feeling. So please...please, don't let me fall in love again. Don't let me be disappointed in life again. That is all. Amen."

And with one final glance at the Virgin Mary, he turned and walked away, with his grey trench coat flapping against the wind. He does not know that just maybe, she's heard his plea and decided otherwise. He cannot know that Cobb would be the one to bring him a paradox of joy and sorrow in the form of scarves and oxfords. 

A/N: So maybe there will be a sequel to this. We'll see where my muse will allow me to go with it. This one is a bit longer than the Ariadne counterpart. And to those who have read it before..so sorry it took so long. Comments are love!

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Glad to see the sequel to this! :D

Just so you know, you wrote in the opening line that Arthur's trenchcoat is dark brown. then, close to the end you write that it's grey. Let me know if you need a beta-reader in the future! :)

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for that. Would you be my beta for future fics? That would be so awesome!


Sorry for the delay--I'd be happy to! :) Just use my inbox--I'll get e-mail notifications so I can get back to you asap. :D

Very interested how the relationship develops from here. Can't wait to read more!

Well, I decided to stop it there because I feel like the first time they meet will be when they are in the inception job. I want to leave the rest up to the reader's imagination. Thank you for the comment though.

I love this!!! <3 Wow, so is there a sequel!!!

Crap... I really, really, want a sequel to this because it's been on my mind the WHOLE day and not reading Arthur's POV while he is falling in love with Ariadne is KILLING me.

Ahh, is it? I actually wrote this a long while back, so it's not that fresh in my mind and the muse kinda died down a little. I could attempt a little something but there's almost no way I can get it done before Christmas, I just have way too much on my plate right now with courses and applications.

So, if you are extremely patient and pester me continuously over the winter break, then maybe I will write something extended to this.

But it's such a pleasure to hear that this little vignette has been on your mind. Brings me great pleasure, dunno about you.

Haha, it's driving me crazy and giving me pleasure. I think I've read Ariadne's over twice!

Yes, I will continue bugging you until you write this. I'll even set a notification to remind me to bug you every week until you write it. :P

I don't think it necessarily has to be a huge long fic. For example, various 200 word snapshots/sceens would be a cute way to write the "continuation" of this fic.

I totally understand about being busy. I'm terribly busy at certain times of the year. >_< Haha, I actually attend one of the top 10 most stressful universities. lol. Figures. Good luck with everything!

I'm not deterred to the idea of writing snapshots but I enjoy longer, fleshed out pieces. And that's normally because I usually get started on something and my muse just goes into overdrive, and I get more and more ideas about it until my brain crashes. And then, I hit writer's block.

I didn't want this piece to turn out that way which is why I ended it here. I thought it was good enough to leave the rest to the reader's imagination, but apparently not.

Interestingly enough, I've actually started a little beginning to the sequel to this. Aarrgh, you've got me distracted! So we'll see how this goes. I've got it written down on a lined piece of paper for once with two pages in ink already done. And it's a direct sort of continuation with these two vignettes, about a few months into the inception job.

But that's all the sneak peek I'll give you for now until I post it...which may not be for a while.

*evil smile*

Yes! I'm laughing very gleefully right now. I prefer reading longer, fleshed out pieces, but not a lot of authors write them. However, I'm very glad that you are willing. :D

It is a pretty good ending, but I'm the type of person who always wants MORE, more, more. Usually I end up wishing that there were fanfictions of really good fanfics. That's kind of ridiculous, isn't it?

You know, after you tease me with that little bit of info it's not nearly enough! May I somehow even convince you to send me the paper drafts after you post the fic? :D (You know, because I'm trying not to sound like a creeper at all...)

Don't worry, you're not the only one who get obsessed with really good fanfiction. I really really enjoy angsty pieces in particular. The Arthur/Ariadne comm also has some pretty amazing oneshots, as you probably already know. I always wish for sequels or extended versions of the really well written pieces especially with some of the amazing writers here in this comm.

I've actually written two pages now, front and back in ink on lined paper. But I spilled a little bit of water on the second page...I don't exactly know why you want the papers because I have a bit of a cold right now, and I don't want my germy papers to infect you. But I guess if you really really want them...

Do you have any to suggest? Sometimes I feel like I've missed the really good ones. I've been through most of Ao3, but you know... it's possible and it's sort of impossible to browse and swim through all of LJ.

Haha... I can spray the whole thing with liquid hand sanitizer (because that stuff actually exists...). Naaah, it's okay. I'm just sort of desperate for any bit of the story that I can get. :)

Well all the really great stories tend to be at the beginning of the inception fandom. If you scroll back to the first few months in the archive, back when the fandom had much more hype, there were some really fantastic authors. Some that I can suggest are:
kore_rising, queen_haq, weatheredlaw, humanracing, vinylroad, la_sikka, eustacia_vye28 and many many more that I can't possibly remember all of them.

But I recommend going onto my old account before: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=angleico3156789 and check out my memories from before. They're all Arthur/Ariadne pairing but this was before I got used to LiveJournal so the memories are kinda weird because I didn't sort them into one pairing...anyways. They are all very very great stories. I suggest you check out this one first which is just seared into my mind from the mindblowingly amazing prose:


Hope you have fun looking through the fics. I love the feeling of the initial rush of discovering a new ship and reading all the amazing fanfic that come with it. Inception has been pretty lucky to have so many incredible writers dabble into the fandom, and especially this pairing had garnered quite a company of beautiful writers. The feelings I have for this comma and this ship is just...marvelous. So, I'm glad to see a little bit more life in this comm yet, so we'll see where it goes.

I don't think that liquid hand sanitizer could rid the pages of the germs because I sneezed and coughed and expelled all sorts of bodily fluids onto it while writing it...But I know what you're saying

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