Author's Note: DONE. Thank you for the reviews and special thanks for those who have been with me since the first chapter of this story! I don't own Inception.
Summary: Post-movie. It's over. Dom Cobb didn't wake up. Ariadne prepares for the challenge to bring him back out, seeing that she is the only one who can. In Limbo, she finds the many faces of Dom Cobb and the many faces of herself. Cobb/Ariadne.
He climbs over the debris with his gun ready, kicking glass and wall rubbish aside with his boots. Behind him, Eames gracelessly spits out a glob of blood to the side and Arthur and Yusuf angrily hisses at him; Cobb isn't sure why, manners aren't quite the priority right now. The building shudders angrily; following that, the entire world of Limbo shakes, causing the buildings outside to tremble. "Ariadne?" Dom Cobb yelled out after making sure that there was nobody in the building besides his team; there shouldn't be anybody. For all intents and purposes, it seemed like Ariadne found his totem; he could feel it.
"Cobb," Eames approached, "maybe she's on the second floor, or the third or fourth or higher; goodness knows that we each had gone on a wild goose chase with Mal's men over the entire complex." A fluorescent lamp, hanging by a single cord, fell to the ground and shattered. Dom paused as he considered the advice and wordlessly shook his head and pointed at the train tracks. "Right, of course, follow the yellow brick road, how idiotic of me to think otherwise."
Dom side-glanced at his partner before turning back, "Ariadne!" Sometimes, the only way to tolerate Eames was to pretend that Eames wasn't there.
He spotted the woman in a torrential downpour given by the sprinklers looking like a soaked, miffed cat; the sprinklers chose that time to run out of water, just as he was about to enter the floor. How unlucky of her that chance had chosen that of all the waterlines in other parts of the building to fail to save the one Ariadne was in. How long had she been like that? She must be cold. "Ariadne!"
The woman looked up and smiled and it was a different smile than what he has ever seen before. Despite her many injuries, she stood proudly; she was more real. She had changed for the better, for herself; she's stronger. He loved her more for it. What had happened between her and Mal? He took her arms and gave her a once over: grazed bullet wounds, some that she is probably not aware of, with the adrenalin in her, glass cuts, bruises- the whole spectrum. What happened? But he didn't dare ask. "Here," she pried one of his hands off of her and tucked something into his palm: his pewter spinning top, Mal's totem, "I think it might be useful." Cobb felt a rush of clearness to his head, fuller than he had ever felt before, and he looked up. Arthur, Eames, and Yusuf had vanished; there was no proof that the trio had been here save for their foot prints. But if he listens closely, he can hear Eames cracking a lewd joke, Arthur berating him, and Yusuf laughing uproariously.
As Limbo's skies rattles he sees blue lightning stretching across the sky that doesn't go away- there's a crack in this world; the Triangle begins to shake. Windows that weren't already thoroughly shattered begins to tremble and fall. "This place is about to break," Cobb pulls Ariadne closer, "the whole world is collapsing without you or me holding it up."
They exchange a meaningful look; Dom cups her face and kisses her deeply, then he settles contently with his arms around her and his chin resting on her shoulder. She sighs into the embrace and enjoys it for a little while. Then Ariadne says, "Dom, I want to go home."
Dominic Cobb pulls back, stares into her eyes which were tired but happy, and nods. He gently guides her to the windows until they were toeing the ledge knocking small debris off the edge and down below. It'll be a long jump and a pretty harsh kick, but that's what they were going for. "You first, I'll follow you." Limbo rumbles again, he can see the sea rushing in and swallowing the closest, unfortunate row of skyscrapers and he can hear the buildings fall, like glaciers calving. The crack in the sky splits the world and grows black; Ariadne takes a few seconds to stare up in awe.
Ariadne looks over her shoulder, her hair whipping to the side, casting strange shadows on her face, "To take a leap of faith."
"Trust me," Dom insists.
Ariadne scrutinizes him for a minute, searching him for something. Then she was sleepily smiling and pecking him at the corner of his mouth, "I love you."
After watching her leave and making sure that she disappears, he turns back to the room and stares at the ghost of his wife and his children, which he can see clear as day. "This is it then," he started awkwardly; "I tried to make it better for all of you. I could never have expected this happening, but it has regardless." He turned to his wife, his Mal, not Ariadne's, "especially not you, it was a surprise, a good surprise but a short one. And… What I mean to say is- goodbye."
His children, his dear angels, waves enthusiastically at him but don't shift an inch from their mother's side. Mal holds each one by a shoulder and nods, her voice, unhindered by blinding hate, was loving and tender with a hint of a French accent between her consonants, "She's a bright girl. She shines." Mal and the kids fade against the ruins behind, "Make sure that she doesn't lose herself."
Cobb shakes his head and laughs. He leans back and falls.
He opens his eyes.
"Hold up, I see his eyes twitching. They're both stirring." The first thing Cobb saw was Yusuf's forehead, not the first thing one wants to see after spending another lifetime in dream. Yusuf looked up, "Oh look, he's awake. Eames, get the water." Cobb took out his pewter top and spun it on the coffee table: his totem immediately lost balance and stopped rolling. He breathed out and relaxed his pose. The chemist began wiping his face with a hand towel and rinsed it, and then he handed it to Cobb who used it to cool the back of his neck. "Good afternoon Mr. Cobb. You were down there for an awfully long time, had another nice life, did you?"
Cobb grunted in thanks when Eames handed him a glass of water, which he quickly downed half, "Get stuffed." He gently nudged Ariadne with his arm; she had been stirring and struggling to wake up for the past minute. When she cracked her eyes open, he offered her the glass, which she stared at incomprehensively before groaning, sinking deeper down.
"Lemme sleep." She muttered groggily and waved a hand at the offending glass as if shooing it away. Yusuf snickered, though it was tinted with a bit of hysterical emotion around the edges. Another wave of passengers walked by the VIP lounge, another plane had landed. The intercom asked for a Mr. Saito to come to the Customs desk, though Mr. Saito didn't pay it any head.
"Give her a bit of space, it's a lot to take in," Eames said, lounging on the couch opposite of the room.
"You should drink some, Ariadne," Yusuf chided, tilting the cup to her mouth; she drank obediently, "dehydration and dry mouth is a side effect for the concoction and none of us would want your pretty little head suffering from a hangover." Yusuf turned towards Cobb, raised his eyebrows knowingly when he saw the man's hand rubbing soothing circles into her back; he lowered his voice so that she wouldn't hear, "Arthur's coming back with blankets but do try to remember that we still have to pick up our luggage. Whatever you've done down there, though it's none of my business, she," he nodded towards her, "won't remember most of it. It's because of the drug. She'll get small pieces of it, emotions, and feelings, like when an amateur dreamer tries to remember. Some will come to her later in seconds, days, years, possibly never. But," he shot Cobb a look, "I'm sure you recall everything, since you've been in Limbo before…" with the late Mrs. Cobb. "…Oh, look, there's Arthur."
Ariadne didn't speak at all; she groped for her back pockets, bringing out a small golden bishop piece. Yawning, she poked it: it fell. Then, without taking the totem back, she slumped back into Dom's shoulder and dozed off for another ten minutes until the group felt that she was ready to pass Immigration on her own two feet.
They walked through the airport, pretending that they were all strangers, where Cobb kept a close eye on Ariadne's back. She held up surprisingly well, all things considered, though it was obvious that she was still in a haze and unaware of anything beyond her immediate external stimuli. He wondered how much she remembered, of all their years together, for all that they have worked through to finally achieve that common goal. Make sure that she doesn't lose herself. He will; just as soon as Robert Fischer isn't around to be suspicious.
It was only at the Baggage Claim, Carrel four, as they were waiting, that Ariadne's opaque eyes seemed to clear. She shook her head and took out a small sheet of paper, muttering to herself as she read through it, looking a bit lost. He walked over to her as soon as he deemed it safe and gently touched her arm. She glanced up and frowned, "The professor gave me a temporary leave for an internship. He gave me an address to stay in but his handwriting, it's." She handed the slip to him; he read it and felt his eyebrows rise into his hairline. Miles knew that they would succeed. "It's yours isn't it?" She scrutinized him, "You expression says it all." She plucked the paper from his hand and slipped it into her pocket and awkwardly faced him, "So… what does this mean," switching her weight from one foot to another as she struggled to find the correct words, "We were close, weren't we, in Limbo?" Dom nodded. "Really close, almost like…" After unsuccessfully searching for the correct words, she shrugged helplessly. Dom nodded, deliberately.
"How much can you recall?"
Ariadne bit her bottom lip, "Bits and pieces, some of your children… some of… her. Mostly you. I know you. I can feel it but I don't know what happened. We…"
"Are very close," Dom affirmed, wrapping an arm around her, she easily melted into his half hug. He kisses her forehead. "How about this? Miles is outside with a cab, I'll tell you as much as I can at my home. You can meet the kids, stay for a while, we'll talk and sort this out. What do you say?"
Ariadne looks up and grins, any signs of sleepiness were wiped clean from her face as she takes his offered hand and allows him to guide her out of the airport.