|Someone To Look Out For Her
Author: kendertaunt PM
One-shot. Eames and Ariadne figure out her place on the team one night.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Drama - Ariadne & Eames - Words: 2,790 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 2 - Published: 08-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7304336
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: My second fic ever, and my first fic ever published. So to say I'm nervous as Hell about this is a bit of an understatement! I wrote my first fic about ten years ago for a different movie that was written for a message forum. So I would love some reviews, good/bad/suggestions on how to improve. I'm also not sure about if it's extremely OOC or not, but decided that it was just too much fun to write it anyway. Plot bunnies that just won't go away, I'm sure you understand. :-)
Disclaimer: Inception belongs to Christopher Nolan.
"I don't care what you think I signed up for, I'm not a bloody babysitter!" Eames' loud voice bounced off the empty warehouse walls. "There's a lot on the line here, and it's no place for amateur hour! You of all people should know this, Cobb, or have you forgotten your last job was botched because of an architect?"
It was early morning, and Eames, Cobb and Arthur had gathered to discuss the details of their latest job, and, as Cobb had planned, to discuss the training of their newest and youngest recruit. Arthur, tailored perfectly in his three-piece suit, leaned against the dirty warehouse wall, crossed his arms, and frowned.
Cobb sighed. "I'm not asking you to be a babysitter. I'm asking you to help us watch out for her. She's a smart girl." He narrowed his eyes. "Real smart. She picked up the dream design faster than I ever did."
"And don't EVER," Arthur finally spoke, interrupting Cobb with a sharp glare towards Eames, "compare her to Nash."
"She won't let us down," Cobb continued. "It's not actually the job I'm talking about. She's just new to certain…" He waved his hand around, "facets of what we do. Truthfully I'd rather not expose her to any of it at all, but the fact of the matter is she needs to know this stuff to stay safe. She needs to be taught how to disappear after a job. How to study a mark without acting like she recognizes him. Hell, after this job, she won't even know how to get access to her money in whatever offshore account Saito puts it in. She's just new. We took an American graduate student studying architecture in Paris and shoved her into to a life of crime extracting information from marks in dreams. That's the kind of watching out for I mean." Cobb ran his hands through his hair, flustered.
"Sounds like bloody babysitting if you ask me," muttered Eames as he turned and strode back to his cluttered desk, signaling the end of the meeting.
Later that night, Cobb bid his farewell from the warehouse, followed closely by Arthur and Yusuf. Eames, noticing the late hour, gathered his belongings and turned around, only to find himself squared off against the warehouse corner and a rather angry looking Ariadne, whose arms were crossed in front of her.
"Why Ariadne, I thought you'd gone home hours ago. I think you should know you're a bit too young and inexperienced for me. And I do like mine blonde," he purposefully needled to get a rise out of her, enjoying the pink tinge that crept to her cheeks as she looked towards the ground. "Besides," the Englishman was definitely enjoying himself now, "I've had the most unfortunate displeasure of having to watch the stick-in-the-mud working next to me making googly eyes at you all day." However embarrassed she initially seemed, he was surprised and more than a little taken aback when she raised her head and looked straight at him with big brown eyes. They regained their focus, and she stood her ground.
"I need to talk to you, Eames," she began. "We can't work like this. Well, maybe you can." She looked exasperated. "I've seen enough of you in the past few days to think you could probably handle anything you come across, but me... I can't blow this chance. We have a job to do. I know you think I'm young and I don't know what I'm doing," her voice began to waver, but her eyes kept their focus. "but Cobb and Arthur hired me for this job because they believe in what I can do. Even Yusuf said I'm handling the sedatives well. In fact, no one seems to have a problem with me being here except you." Flustered, her finger came out and pointed directly at Eames' chest in an accusing manner.
She paused, expectantly. Waiting. Waiting for a response from him. And, for a few seconds, he was stunned to discover he didn't have one to give.
Just when she sagged her shoulders and was starting to turn and walk away, and before he could stop himself, his hand shot out and grabbed her arm, effectively stopping her retreat.
"What the-", she started to say, but he cut her off. "Well," he said, "then we'd better teach you."
He led her over to the battered lawn chairs next to the PASIV device and gently hooked her up to the IV. When he was satisfied he had her settled correctly, he connected himself and turned on the device, sending them both under.
Ariadne was thoroughly confused. She had stayed behind after Cobb and Arthur left for the night to face Eames. In the two days she had joined the team and known him, he had always been unfailingly polite to her, but she knew he thought she was too young to be able to do a good job, and truth be told, his annoyance was distracting her. Ariadne never ran from a confrontation, and she knew that would help her deal with clients as a professional architect. So when she heard the discussion behind closed doors this morning, she knew it was time to act. She'd been given the chance of a lifetime and she'd sooner spend a lifetime designing holes than let a loud, obnoxious thieving forger ruin it for her.
As time approached, though, and as each man went home for the night, Ariadne started to rethink the wisdom of staying behind.
But at any rate, she'd spoken her case well, at least she thought. He didn't need to know she rehearsed it in her head over and over for hours, and it had taken every ounce of strength she had to stay behind in the warehouse, and then again to not bolt once she actually got his attention.
So no one was more surprised than her when, tirade over, Eames actually seemed at a loss for words. Or maybe he hadn't even heard her. It didn't matter; Ariadne's battle of wills was spent, and she turned to give in to her instinct to run when he did the unthinkable – he'd stopped her.
Ariadne wasn't afraid. Eames might have a strong, distinct personality type, and there might be tension between them, but he was her teammate and she'd seen his professionalism enough in the past two days to know that he'd never hurt her. So when she saw him lead her to the PASIV device, and then heard him offer to help teach her, it was her turn to be at a total loss for words.
She had leaned back against the battered lawn chair while Eames hooked her up to the device. She was studying him while he worked; all traces of joking and previous annoyances with her were gone. When she was all hooked up, he looked at her and, for a fleeting moment he was the Eames she'd gotten to know in the past two days. He winked, and smirked. "Catch you on the flip side."
Then everything went blank.
Ariande blinked and found herself and Eames in a small windowless room with nothing but a fluorescent overhead light and a small table. On the table was a handgun.
"Wha… woah." she stammered, taking a step back. She knew the work they were planning was illegal, but she didn't think it was dangerous, and for a split second she regretted letting Eames take her into the dream world. Her heart started thumping as she realized she did not know much about this man. Or about the job. Or about what Cobb and Arthur do. All her previous thoughts about Eames not hurting her flew out the window. She started to feel a little bit lightheaded, and reflexively felt for the totem in her pocket. Relieved that she was indeed in a dream state, she jumped when she felt a warm hand on her shoulder.
"Ariadne, easy," Eames gave her a squeeze. "This is just a shared dream, remember, you are completely safe. This is a big part of what we do, you need to experience it. And you'll need to learn how to do it if you plan on helping us down here." While his voice remained friendly and reassuring, his eyes were piercing her with a serious tone.
Ariadne nodded weakly but when she looked back up at Eames, her eyes were bright and determined. She drew a breath. "I need to learn this. Show me what I have to know."
"First things first – have you ever fired a gun, or even held one?"
Ariadne shook her head lamely. Eames laughed. "It's OK Ariadne – though I must say, I'd be bloody impressed if you had." He picked up the gun. "You know how we exit the dream – we either die or the timer runs out. What you probably don't realize is that most frequently, I'm sorry to say, it's not exactly a death caused by the projections."
"You mean," Ariadne gasped, realizing what Eames was getting at. "That you actually… kill each other?"
"Yes." He said, almost apologetically looking down at her. "And you'll have to learn to do it too."
When she opened her mouth to object, he interrupted her. "Ariadne, sometimes the projections come after us. You already know killing us will effectively bring us out of the dream. Yes, killing us will wake us up – but pain is in the mind. Sometimes the projections aren't out to kill us at all. They are out to hurt us. That's not a lesson for today," he quickly added, watching her face lose some color, "but I can tell you that it's something none of us enjoy."
"There are other ways to exit dreams," he continued. And we'll teach you those, too."
He leaned in close, she could feel his warm breath on her face. "However, if you were in severe agony, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot you right here", he tapped her forehead with his finger, she took in a quick breath. "And," he stood up straight again, "I would expect you to do the same for me to bring me out of the dream. That, my dear, is today's lesson.
"So on that note," his voice lilted and he drew in a deep breath, "and not to draw out the inevitable experience to such a lovely creature - sorry my dear." Ariadne, who had unconsciously leaned in expectantly, saw his right hand raise, a glint of light, and the barrel of the gun point right at her eyes.
Ariadne woke with a start, making a throaty inhale noise. She found herself with one hand clutching her heart, and the other hand out in front of her, the PASIV connector dangling to the floor with the other end still attached to her wrist.
"Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" The familiar English accent was right beside her.
Ariadne didn't answer, she sensed Eames was crouched down beside her, but her mind was still reeling from the realism of the dream.
"Ariadne?" She felt a warm hand squeeze on her wrist.
"I'm OK", she somehow managed to gasp, still clutching her heart; the memory of the flash of light as the gun barrel came up still running through her. She shivered.
"Eames?" His eyebrow went up, expectantly. His hand was still on her wrist; she found it comforting.
"Is it safe to go back under while my heart is beating this fast?"
Eames chuckled understandingly. "Yes." He raised his eyebrows at her. "And, I know that because I had to ask the very same question the first time I had this lesson." Ariadne shot him a grateful smile. "Though, you tell anyone, and I promise I'll leave you in agony in a dream." She caught the smirk out of the corner of her eye and managed a shaky laugh. "Let's go back in then."
"When you're ready. As much as a boring curmudgeon Arthur is, and it would be almost worth it to piss him off, he'd have my head if I worked you too hard the first time out. Although," he continued, "I should really thank you. I thought nothing got through that stony, dull façade until you came long. Frankly it was starting to get a little worrying."
She ignored the last part. "I'm ready." Her voice was steady this time.
"Eames," her hand shook as she grasped the trigger. "I don't think I can do this."
"Yes you can."
"No, I can't."
"Yes, you can."
"No. I can't." The finality in her voice made Eames pause and look up, to see her lowering her arm.
"Yes, you can. In fact, the sooner you do it, the sooner we can scoot off for a post maiming cocktail. I find it helps lower the heart rate immensely-"
"Eames!" The pleading was unmistakable.
Instantly he sobered. "Ariadne, listen to me. You said it yourself. Cobb and Arthur hired you because they saw something in you they liked and they know you can be part of this team. If you don't want to let them down, you have to know how to do this to get the job done. You have to know how to do this to stay safe to get the job done.
"Besides," he smirked, "If apparently I've gone soft for you, you owe me. Contrary to what Arthur may tell you, I don't just shoot everyone, you know."
It took twenty more minutes of coaxing, three false starts, and one complete emotional breakdown, but she'd done it. He'd taught her how to check the safety, and remove it. He'd taught her how to check if it was loaded, and how to quickly and discreetly check her totem to make sure she really was in a dream state before pulling the trigger on a teammate. She'd done it.
She had successfully sent Eames out of the dream before the timer went off.
Eames stayed that night in the warehouse to make sure Ariadne would get through the night with no problems. He'd been there before. He didn't tell her that the first time he went through the training routine, he'd spent the next three nights completely racked with guilt. He also didn't tell her that the first night, he had woken up no less than four times with nightmares and a face soaked with sweat.
So he wasn't about to let her go home after experiencing something like that for the first time.
The next morning, Cobb arrived at the warehouse immediately followed by Arthur. Both men looked a little surprised to see Eames already working at his desk. Their eyes then immediately scanned the room and landed on the small cot in the corner holding a sleeping Ariadne with a familiar blue blazer over her.
Both sets of eyes silently turned back to Eames, questioning.
Arthur took out his die, rolled it, and put it back in his pocket.
"Piss off, Arthur," growled Eames. "She worked late and it wasn't worth going home."
Cobb's eyebrows went up as he took in the dark circles underneath Eames' eyes. "Have you been here all night, too?"
"For God's sake, Cobb, she just needs someone to help watch out for her every now and then. She doesn't need a bloody babysitter."
Author's Note: Would love reviews of all sorts - suggestions, etc. Anything and everything to make me a better writer for next time. And hopefully if this goes well, there will be a next time. Did I mention I was nervous? ;-)