That's all he knows at the moment. The only thing his senses can fully comprehend at the moment.
He feels something salty enter his mouth and he quickly adjusts the 'water' to 'salt water'. He's…in an ocean.
But…there's sand underneath him. He's on a shore…where was he? Why is he here? Where is here?
Who is he?
He realizes with a jolt, that he can't remember anything.
He tries to lift his head, away from the intrusive water, but he can barely manage a few inches. He hears voices coming near him, and then after a few long moments, he feels something lifting him up.
Insistent hands drag him to a building. The minute the sunlight stops hitting him he feels a little better, his eyes stop hurting, but he can barely see when he opens them.
He hears them asking him something. He realizes they have accents. Familiar accents, like someone else he knew…
Who was it?
He tries to remember. These people sound Asian, some sort of Asian. Who does he know who sounds like that?
Wasn't he supposed to look for someone?
They sit him down, and start yelling at him more.
He forces his mind to work. Who was it? He knows he's looking for something.
It's the first word that comes to mind, and he says it, hoping it's right, that they'll stop hounding him for information he doesn't have at the moment.
They all pause. Apparently it's the right name, but immediately they're moving again. They shake him down, looking through all his pockets and mostly coming up with nothing. All they find is a spinning top.
He thinks it's important, but he's not sure.
They drag him to a room with a large table and dimmed lights. The room seems familiar and he tries to place it, but his mind is still blank.
They set him at the end, opposite to the door, and someone places a bowl of rice in front of him. He feels his stomach rumble fiercely and he basically attacks it.
They all leave but two. To keep an eye on him, he supposes. When the doors open again it's an old man and a few other men.
He hears them mumbling to each other, but he can't understand a word. He focuses on the food in front of him, hoping to get his brain working again. He has a feeling he's losing time. Precious time.
The old man takes a seat at the table opposite from him. The spinning top is in front of him, and he picks it up.
This man looks familiar. So, so familiar. Like he knew this man when he was younger, like he knew the man beneath the wrinkles, the aged appearance.
"I used to know a man who used to own a top like this one…," the old man begins. He spins the top and both men watch as it keeps spinning. "Have you come to kill me?"
He looks up at the older man. Kill him? Why would he want to kill him?
"Why would I kill you?"
The old man just stares back at him with ancient eyes. "I have been here for a long time. I have been waiting for you."
He puts down the rice-covered spoon. Is this Saito? He knows this man, Saito. He knows he does. He also knows, for some reason, that he's not here to kill him.
He supposed to bring him back.
Bring him back where? How can he bring him back when he doesn't know who he is?
"Don't lose yourself!"
He flinches. That voice…he knows that voice, he's heard it somewhere before. He knows he has.
But where? Who was it?
The voice, that was echoing through his mind, starts to fade, like wisps of smoke, and as hard as he tries, he can't bring it back. He starts to panic, and he doesn't understand why. Why is this voice, this female voice so important to him?
"You share your dreams with me."
He feels his brain start to throb. It's the same woman, but he still can't place it. Saito, who's sitting silently in front of him, watches passively. Why is he just sitting there? They need to go!
"DON'T LOSE YOURSELF!"
The voice comes back stronger and louder, and all of a sudden images and sounds and people and thoughts fill his mind, and suddenly he realizes.
He needs to get back to her. To reality.
He looks back up at Saito, who has something of a smirk on his wrinkled mouth. He feels like his eyes are clearer, now that he remembers.
"It's time to go."
Saito just nods.
And Cobb…Cobb realizes he's ready to go, too. He wants to. To see his children, his team, her…He's ready to leave the dream behind.
He wakes up.
Suddenly he's not in a dimly lit room with rice in front of him, but in an airplane heading towards the US. Fischer Jr. sits in front of him and he can hear his team rustling around. Slowly, because his eyes are actually still adjusting to everything, he turns to his left.
That's the first thing he sees. Her long brown hair, that's falling over her shoulders, blocking her face from view. She's not looking at him, and for a split second he wonders if she didn't actually wake up, if the kick didn't work. He reaches for the spinning top in his pocket, but stops himself. There's no point to it.
He waits for her to turn to him.
He realizes he can't leave without seeing her face. Otherwise, it'll just be like his children all over again.
He has to see her face.
He can't do anything else until he does.
Slowly, so slowly it seems like his imagination is playing tricks on him, he sees her move her head slightly towards him. He shifts in his seat, unconsciously leaning her way, to get closer.
He watches as her eyes trail his length from his feet up. Curious warmth follows. He sees her eyes rest upon his tie, and then slowly they travel up-
Brown connects with his blue.
He feels a jolt, and immediately knows, he knows….that this is reality. This isn't a dream. It can't be.
Because dreams never feel this real. There's always something just off about them, and right now, nothing has ever felt so right.
He smiles at her.
She returns it.
He realizes he doesn't want to move. But this is too dangerous. He just gave up Mal. He can't do this, not now.
He forces his eyes to remove themselves from her.
It hurts, but he hopes it's for the best.
He looks around at everyone else. They're alright, a little out of it, a little mussed up, but they're alive and okay, and that's all he can ask for. His team meets his gaze and smirk at him.
The Inception was a success. They made it out.
He turns to look at the Mark. He sits there, his hands steepled under his chin. Fischer seems medative, thoughtful, and he has to hold back a smirk of his own. It did work.
The light for seatbelts goes on, and he unconsciously puts his on.
He thinks to himself. Now that he's done, now that he can go home…he can finally see his children. He can finally see their faces; they'll finally be a family together.
But with one less.
Because Mal isn't there anymore.
He ignores the pang in his chest. He has mourned her long enough. He has to focus on the future. He can never take care of the children until he lets her go.
He remembers the limbo.
He recalls every detail about it, and finds it strange for a moment that he can. Normally you can't remember anything about a dream, much less every detail. He disregards it, though, because he doesn't want to focus on that.
He thinks…he's starting to let go some.
Not a lot, but he's on his way. He has a feeling that…in time, he can think upon Mal as just a really happy memory, and not want to cry at just the mere thought of her.
He realizes he's going to be okay.
He hears everyone around him getting up and follows suit. He only glances over there maybe once or twice, he swears, but one of those times, (he thinks the fourth or somewhere around there), he sees her about to stumble, and without thinking (at all) he reaches for her.
He realizes his arm is tingling at the contact.
He makes sure she's alright. He remembers his first job. How shaky his legs were after, they had buckled right out from underneath him. Miles had teased him for days. It was a fond memory he supposes, but he really could've done without the name calling.
"You okay," he asks her. She looks frozen, like a deer in headlights, and he's concerned.
She nods though, "Y-yea…" she stumbles, and he can see her mentally kick herself over her stutter. He just smiles though. Because it's Ariadne.
And he realizes, with definite clarity, that it's thanks to her, her and her faith, that brought him back to reality. He realizes it doesn't matter what she does. Just her presence keeps him grounded.
He nods and turns away though.
Because although he says it's comfortable to be around her, it's still too soon for him. These feelings, he realizes are starting to get to close to other feelings.
And he's just not ready for that.
He walks behind her. He doesn't know how it happens, but somehow it does and he just accepts it. Everything feels like it's flowing for him. Like a dream sequence. He walks by every team member, and it's like he passing through it all, like water.
He panics for a moment.
What if he didn't make it out of limbo? What if he's still dreaming? He feels his heart begin to shatter. This can't be. It just can't.
He almost stops walking, but forces himself to keep going. To just keep going.
He sees Ariadne up ahead and tries to catch her eye, but she keeps her head down. He needs some comfort, some reassurance other than his totem. He needs something other than-
He hand moves of its own accord, he swears. Suddenly he's behind her, his left hand grazing the small of her back.
He realizes he gets immense comfort just from that.
Putting his hand firmer down, he calms down all the way, and is able to look at her with a soft expression, and not with the previous panic. She looks up at him, and he sees her mouth part in surprise, and a little awe.
He realizes he should to let go of her.
He also realizes he doesn't want to. He wants to stay near her, to be around her. Because she does keep him grounded.
But…he also realizes he has to. He has to let her go. He's screwed up her life so much already; he shouldn't even think about ruining it even more. Because that's what would happen if he stays with her.
He realizes this because…that's what happened with Mal.
And he realizes…he'll be damned if he lets this happen to Ariadne.
He pulls his hand away from her back, but makes sure, as a farewell, to convey as much gratefulness as he can into his gaze.
He doesn't know if she understood. He thinks she did, because she just knows him that well.
He walks toward the admittance with trepidation. What if Saito didn't honor the agreement? What if he forgot or something went wrong? What if they arrest him and he never sees the light of day again?
He grits his teeth and forces himself to hand his passport to the security guard.
The man just looks at it, looks up at him, and then looks back down. He stamps the passport and smiles up at him, handing it back over.
"Welcome home, Mr. Cobb."
He smiles a little at the man and nods. Taking his stuff back, he walks through the gate without looking back.
Miles picks him up.
His father-in-law had left Europe to go to the US about a week ago, to check in with his wife and James and Phillipa.
He feels a flutter in his chest. He can't wait to see his children.
On the ride home they don't really talk, he realizes he probably couldn't anyway. His throat is so parched, and he's so nervous. What if his kids forgot about him? What if he was gone for too long? What if they don't want him back? What would he do?
Miles pulls in front of the house and he realizes he's about to throw up.
He gets out, and once again it's the dream sequence effect. He somehow finds himself inside the house, slowly walking towards the glass doors leading outside, where he hears children playing.
He takes out the top and puts it on the table, spinning it.
He realizes he can't watch, and turns away.
He reaches the door and gazes outside. The backs of his children's head greet him, and they look just like his memories, but a little older, a few months, maybe a year.
He realizes he missed them more than he thought. He didn't even know that was possible.
He hears Miles call out to them, and they begin to turn their heads, and he's afraid he'll wake up soon, because this has to be a dream, it's too good to be true, and now they're seeing him, and they're grinning up at him with love in their eyes and he's kneeling with his arms out wide, and they're both running to him, and he finally, finally, has his kids back in his arms.
He clutches them as close as he can, trying to feel them, make sure they're real and not projections. They hug him back just as hard.
He realizes he's crying.
He missed them so much.
He glances back inside, to the table.
It's not spinning anymore. It's not even moving. It's lying on its side, still as ever.
He hugs his children, his reality, closer to him.
This is real. It's not a dream.
He realizes he's so happy he can't even speak.
It's later, much later after he's spent time with his children and caught up on everything and tucked them in to sleep, that he feels another realization hit him.
He wants to see her.
He wants to introduce her to his children.
It'd only be fair, he tells himself. After all, she's risked almost everything to help him, to bring him back to them, it's only right that she should meet them.
He gets her hotel number out of Arthur, whose cell phone number he had filed away. It takes awhile, but now he's on his way toward the hotel, at about one in the morning. He hopes she isn't asleep.
He's suddenly in front of her door, and the butterflies from when he was in front of the house swoop down onto his internal organs again.
What if she doesn't want to see him again?
He realizes he couldn't handle it if she turned him away.
It takes him three tries to actually knock on the door. The fourth is the winner. (It was actually audible.)
He hears something clatter inside and footsteps coming towards him and all of a sudden she's opening the door and he throws everything he feared out the window.
Because he realizes, the moment that her brown eyes connect with his blue, that she wanted to see him too. Her expression tells him everything he needs to know and he feels good.
No…no, he feels...happy.
He saw her not even four hours ago, and he's missed her so much. The look in her eyes tells him she feels exactly the same.
He didn't realize, when he first met her, that he'd need her this much.
But…he's starting to realize, that whatever he thinks his reality, his truth, is, Ariadne will always be there to prove it otherwise, to always shake it up, and show him that it most definitely is not.
And he's starting to realize that he is absolutely okay with that.
Okay, so a few people said they wanted me to continue. Don't really know if this constitutes as a continuation, but whatever, I wanted to make a oneshot where Ariadne's voice or just her presence brought Cobb back, but since there was some talk of continuing, I just made it Cobb's POV of the first chapter, with a few extra scenes. (Because he has to be reunited with his kids, he deserves it.)
I might actually make this into a full fledged story, but I don't know yet…I'm not really good at updating, and I'd rather not leave this hanging like every other chapter story I have….TT_TT
So, I hope this was to at least a few people's satisfaction, I did the best I could, taking a few liberties on the quotes and such, cuz I've only seen this movie once people, on the first day it came out, I can only remember so much. :)
Please review! xD