Author's Note: Here we go! This is my first proper attempt at a multi-chapter Inception fanfiction. Hang on folks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind.
I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map,
And knew that somehow I could find my way back.
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you. ~ Cosmic Love, Florence and the Machine
No. No, something was definitely strange. Ariadne hadn't been home in years; she hated this house. That's why she'd left, gone to Paris, gone away. She looked up at the building, letting the corners of her mouth curl downwards in distaste.
She blinked, rubbing her forehead in preparation for the on-coming headache. What was it she was supposed to be doing? There was something. Right on the edge of her mind, the tip of her tongue, just out of sight.
She winced; keeping one hand on her forehead and picking up her suitcase in the other, before starting to climb the steps leading up to the front porch. A gentle wind played with the ends of her hair; the garden was littered with yellow and orange leaves – it had always been her job to rake them. Her mother obviously hadn't hired a gardener. Couldn't afford one.
Don't lose yourself.
The door swung open easily when she nudged it with her elbow; the hallway was empty. She glanced at the picture of her and her mother on the wall, the one she'd always hated because their smiles are so fake they could've been painted on. Ariadne took it down, peering more closely at the black and white faces. It was obvious that she'd been on the verge of tears despite her grin; she remembered having the photo taken.
"Ariadne! Stop it, stop it – you hear me? You need to smile, okay? To show daddy how happy we are. So smile for me - smile."
She gulped, a lump rising in her throat as she hung the picture back on the wall. It was at an angle, but she didn't care, turning her attention to the open doorway at the end of the corridor. She could see the edge of the kitchen table, the refrigerator, the oven. Her mother's back.
"M-mom?" Her voice croaked, so she spoke again, louder to compensate for the tremble. "Hey, mom, it's me. Mom?"
The woman at the table sat up, turned in her chair to stare at her daughter with dark, haunted eyes that looked like they hadn't been so alight with hope in years.
"Ariadne?" She got up, her chair clattering backwards and on to the linoleum floor. "Ariadne…you came back. Baby, you came back."
Ariadne couldn't move; she stood stock still as her mother ran at her, pulling her in to a one-sided embrace that smelt of gin and tonic.
Home was what was best for her in this state. Ariadne had spent hours, hours upon hours, staring at the ceiling of her bedroom and trying to remember what it was that she'd misplaced somewhere in her mind. She pottered around without really being there, settling in to a routine of being nudged along by her mother who didn't notice anything being wrong with the world apart from when she ran out of drink.
She couldn't get it. By then she'd given up, retiring to her notepads and pencils and outlines of skylines. This visit home seemed to be slowly becoming more and more permanent – Ariadne wasn't missing school, her friends. She wasn't even missing Paris, with its beautiful buildings and classical architecture that made her mind whir with inspiration.
She'd been in the back garden when she'd heard the knock at the door. It was a breezy day, but only enough to lightly ruffle her mother's fading hair. The older woman was sat with her eyes shut in a garden chair, a cigarette in one hand and a bottle in the other and her shoes on the floor. She was humming; Ariadne found it eerie enough to not be able to look away. So, she stood in the doorway and watched her mother drink and tip her ash on to the dying grass like it was her favourite thing to do.
Then she'd heard her name whispered on the wind. A whispered scream. Ariadne. It was enough to bring up goosebumps.
Glancing around, she blinked. She looked at her mother – she hadn't heard anything, but that wasn't a surprise. She barely heard a word Ariadne said, before or after she ran away and came back again.
Then there was the knock at the door.
"D'you want me to get that, mom?" It took Ariadne a couple of moments to tear her eyes away from the sky –she'd somehow thought she'd find the source of the shout by looking there – there was another knock.
"Hmmm?" Her mother's eyes opened slowly, blearily and not really seeing. "What was that, baby?"
"The door. I'll get it." Ariadne retreated slowly through the kitchen, the hallway, to the door. The figure of a man was blurred yet visible through the frosted glass.
She opened the door, a greeting halfway through her lips before she'd seen his face. Her eyes moved upwards, starting with the polished shoes, then the pristine trousers, the waistcoat and shirt. Then the face.
Everything tilted like a boat being rocked, and Ariadne ended up on the floor, trying desperately to recapture some of the air that'd left her lungs.
"Ariadne, it's okay – look at me, alright? Look at me." He took her face in her hands, kneeling beside her and forcing her in to soothing eye contact. She found a fountain of calm in his dark eyes. "You're in limbo. Ariadne, you've been in limbo. None of this is real. You're dreaming."
She blinked, dumb and as good as deaf but thankfully not blind. She put her hands over his, her throat suddenly dry and lacking coherent words as she looked up at him. He mustn't have cared that she was gaping at him like a fish, or that she was wearing dirty clothes and that she hadn't brushed her teeth that morning; he took a moment to brush his thumb tenderly along her cheekbone.
"I'm here to bring you back."