I saw Inception this weekend and it lew my mind. I started writign this fic straight away because there's just something about these two... Please Tell me what you think! There will be a few more chapters, but I can't say how many because I haven't finalised/written it all yet.
Btw, italics are flashbacks, but still set post-film.
Disclaimer: Inception belongs to Chris Nolan and his outstanding production team.
Two weeks after the job she's back in Paris. Not much has changed, except it's warmer now. She thinks about how much she needs to catch up on since she left with Cobb. Her lectures are the same, her lecturers. Her friends question her impromptu week away, but are satisfied with a half-hearted family emergency and the answer.
When she first came to Paris it was for the city. She could learn architecture anywhere, but in only in Paris could you be immersed in the beauty, the variety. It felt unreal.
Now, Paris is nothing special. It feels as real as the cereal she eats for breakfast and she no longer awes at the building she walks past. They do not compare to the creations she has witnessed. Or that she has helped create.
She stands near the carousel, watching the bags when Cobb passes. She sees him out of the corner of her eye and turns suddenly staring at his figure as it passes through the doors. She doesn't know what she expected, but after everything, it was not this. It was not him walking out of the airport without so much as a goodbye. He introduced her to this world, this possibility. She feels anger bubbling inside her.
"He's going home." A voice whispers into her ear and she turns again, to find Arthur by her side. She didn't even notice him step closer. The anger subdues; that is why he did it, she reasons. That is all he ever wanted.
She looks at Arthur again. "Is that what you're doing now?" She asks, "Going home?"
His face contorts slightly at the mention of home. She studies him like she studies a building; mentally following the edges, scanning the surface, she wishes she could reach up and touch him.
"I... I'm used to following Cobb around," he says simply, glancing at the door his friend walked out of just moments earlier. She realises, whatever she was feeling must be worse for him. So much worse.
"You don't have anywhere to go?" She asks, wanting to invite him home. But her parents live in Michigan, and anyway she wasn't planning to go there. She wasn't planning to ever tell them of this trip.
She believes him. Arthur will sort it out, that's what he does. He'll have a place to go in no time, she's sure of it. But a home... she can't be sure.
"What about you, where are you going?" he asks and she's surprised, although she isn't sure why.
"Uh...I'm getting the next flight to Paris, I guess." She says it so pointedly, as if she really had no other option. And thinking about it, she doesn't. She can't just sit around mulling about what she had seen and felt. She can't tell anyone who hasn't seen it for themselves. Paris is her only option; she needs to go back to school. They will call her if she's needed again, if there's another job. Eames, Yusuf, Arthur, Cobb... they are a team, but they are not her family.
"Are you sure?" Arthur asks, his voice is calm, but she notices his grip tighten on his bag.
She bites her cheek, not sure how to answer. Of course she is not sure. She glances around the busy terminal, scans the carousel and –
"Damnit! That's my bag!" she says, suddenly, pointing at a blue suitcase a few metres down the track.
He drops his own bag and darts down the line. He is fast, faster than he appears. Stronger too from what she's seen and has perfect aim with a gun. For years she has been surrounded by guys who read French poetry and quote existentialists. Who knew that these were qualities she'd come to appreciate.
He returns within the minute, carrying her bag easily in one hand. He places it at her feet. She looks from the bag, to him, and is irrationally speechless. He smiles ever so slightly, as if he's embarrassed at this act of chivalry.
"Do you want a cup of coffee?" he asks and she nods, picking up her bag and following him towards the doors. Fischer and Saito are gone by now, Eames is chatting up some lady near the exit, Yusuf is still waiting for his bags. They walk past them with little more than a knowing glance.
24 hours later she arrives at Charles De Gaulle, jet lagged and in want of a shower and her own bed. It had been a week of sleeping in van and chairs and hard floors. All she wants is a pillow. She inadvertently thinks of Arthur.
She has not kept in touch with any of them. Not even Arthur. Part of her does not want to hear from them. In a way, they have screwed up her life forever. She can never accept reality for what it is now. She can never call a dream silly. She must come to grips that reality takes a lot longer than dreams. She is condemned to a life of inadequacy.
The Paris sun warms her skin through her sleeves and she mindlessly readjusts the scarf around her neck. On the corner of her street she is stopped by tourists asking for directions. She smiles as they are surprised by her American accent and grateful at the same time to have to use their pocket dictionary.
Coming closer to the front door of her building, she realises a figure standing against the wall. She thinks nothing of it, her building was filled with female students, it was not uncommon for a boyfriend to wait for one of them.
She is only a few feet away from the door when he turns around. She stops suddenly, dropping the keys she had prepared in her hand.
He isn't wearing a suit, was the first thing she notices. She has never seen him out of one. Still though, he's wearing nice pants and a simple shirt, and vest over it. It's probably as casual as he would ever get.
"Hi," he says, breaking the silence which was both awkward and comforting at the same time.
"Hi," she replies after a moment. His hair is still gelled back though and she wonders whether it's just like that naturally. She picks up her keys and goes to unlock the door, walking through it without another word. His eyes follow her, and they meet with her when she stands inside the hallway, next to the staircase.
"Well, are you coming?" she asks. He smiles, that smile again and she wonders what he's embarrassed about. Still he follows her in wordlessly.
In her tiny apartment, he sits on the stool by the kitchen counter. She offers him coffee and he accepts, gratefully. She wonders when he arrived in Paris.
"What are you doing here?" Maybe she could've worded that little more eloquently.
He apparently appreciates it though, because he chuckles and takes a sip on the hot drink before answering. "I've always wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe." His French accents trump hers, and she assumes he's fluent. Of course he would be. Regardless, she doesn't believe him for a second.
"How did you find me?" she asks equally as bluntly.
This he doesn't even bother to respond to, he just looks at her one eyebrow slightly raised until she takes a sip of her coffee. They drink their coffees and he brings up French politics, asking for her opinion. She rolls her eyes but answers nevertheless. She doesn't have much of an opinion, and it's heavily influenced by what she thought of politics growing up at home. But that's not the point.
"Wait," she says and moves quickly into her bedroom. His eyes are still on the doorway when she returns and she knows he was staring after her.
She hands him a towel, "Have a shower, we're going out."
He looks at her, eyebrows raised again but this time it's questioning.
She looks back wordlessly and knows he'll do as she says. He does.
15 minutes later he's back, in his own clothes but looking a lot more refreshed. His hair is slicked back, but this time only because it was wet. She's a little excited to see it when it's dry.
"Where are we going?" he asks, holding his damp towel awkwardly. She takes it from him and tosses it in the laundry basket.
"You're in Paris," she turns back to him, "Let's go see Paris."
He chuckles, and she doesn't want to hear about how many times he's been here before. He's never seen Paris with her.