Disclaimer: Inception belongs to Christopher Nolan and the October Daye novels belong to Seanan Maguire.
Prompt: October Daye/Inception crossover. AU is okay, but it'd be cool if you managed to fit the movie into the Daye books. By lysythe
Note: Mild spoilers for An Artificial Night and major ones for A Local Habitation. Implied Eames/Barbara and Yusuf/OFC.
Eames didn't just like modern technology. He loved it. Avoiding iron was annoying and frequently painful but there were so many things that made up for it. For example, he could travel for thousands of miles in relative comfort and at a good speed without worrying about expending more energy than his body could withstand. He could go to the store and buy cans of tuna just waiting to be eaten instead of having to catch it all himself.
Yusuf understood cats and by extension, Eames. Eames came and went when he wanted, desiring companionship when he wanted it and shunning people when he didn't. When Yusuf wanted an errand run Eames did it. Because he felt like it. It wasn't that he had any particular attachment to Yusuf. He could find a dozen other mortals just as accommodating. If he felt like it.
This particular jaunt was to the County of Tamed Lightning. Silicon Valley wasn't the usual sort of place one found a knowe full of the Fair Folk and Eames had been surprised at first. It made an odd kind of sense once he'd met the inhabitants. He didn't stay. He might love technology but the wide-eyed, idealistic types who occupied Tamed Lightning grated at him. There were only so many times a man could watch mockery sail over the heads of everyone involved or smash on the rocky silences of humorless dedication to the Cause before he had to find new territory and entertainments to occupy himself with.
He found his way to the knowe by memory. The Shallowing still called to him as he passed lawns filled with his kindred. The local gossip was disheartening to say the least. According to a three-year-old tabby tomcat, there had been no other Cait Sidhe around for a long time. Given that, his four legged cousins didn't have the greatest grasp on time, Eames wasn't initially worried. What concerned him more was none of them could tell him where Barbara had gone.
Unlike the majority of the denizens, Barbara had been good for a laugh and a romp. He didn't quite understand how she could stand Gordan who kept sniffing at him for being a pureblood but he doubted she would understand why he enjoyed Yusuf's company.
He entered through the back of the knowe and found the receptionist. The raven maiden smiled politely at him. "Where's Jannie?" Eames asked in the informal way of the county. It was one of the few aspects he approved of.
"Countess January O'Leary is no longer with us," she said solemnly.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Eames paused. "What happened to Barbara? The cats couldn't tell me."
"We had some personnel issues a few months back," she said primly. That was all he was going to get from her.
Eames sighed. "Is this Dreamer's Glass or Shadowed Hills now?" At her expression, Eames twitched his head in irritation. "I've been in Kenya for months. Not in touch with the local politics." It wasn't the whole truth but it was close enough.
"I'll get the Countess for you," the receptionist picked up the phone and called the Countess to the desk. Another piece of modern technology that Eames enjoyed. All of those pages running about had been funny to watch but not nearly as useful.
April O'Leary popped into existence next to Eames's elbow. She ignored his graceful, manly yelp, jump combination, and smiled at him in a businesslike fashion. He took in the details of her suit and carefully pulled back hair. Had she been human, Eames would have placed her in her early twenties. Her skin retained the unnatural smoothness of a dryad. "Eames," she blinked and smiled. "It's good to see you."
"You've grown," Eames said. "You were about this tall the last time I saw you." He placed his hand near his waist.
"I grew up," April's smile turned sad. "You were asking after Barbara?"
"Yes," Eames felt an emotion tug at his throat. "Yusuf and I had an arrangement with her and your mother." He added the last bit hastily. "We're field testing some of your innovations- Well, Yusuf was field testing and I was procuring..."
"Oh yes," April's face went blank for a moment. "I need to show you something." She pointed down a hallway.
Eames had traveled with April once before and even being more mature didn't change her method of travel. She would appear at the corner she wanted him to take and wait for him. When he caught up, she would vanish and appear at the next turn. Sometimes she would vanish for minutes at a time to take care of the details of running the knowe. He followed her down into the bowels of the knowe, the corridors so twisted that he'd wander for hours if he weren't guided back out. Eventually he reached a storage room.
There were bodies on tables under sheets. He pulled back the first sheet and found Barbara's body. She had puncture holes in her wrist and on her forehead. The ones on her wrist reminded him of the marks a PASIV would leave. He frowned and pulled back on the next sheet. He vaguely remembered Yui from before. She was as lovely as he remembered, her four fox tails looking well groomed. She sported the same puncture marks. The two other bodies belonged to Peter and Colin and had the same marks. "Why haven't the night haunts come?"
"They did but they didn't take the bodies," April said too gently.
Realizing he was breathing harshly, Eames made an effort to calm himself. "What happened? This isn't limbo. They're dead."
"They're not. I... downloaded them into the computer." April frowned. "I didn't know what it meant. There has to be a way to bring them back." Her voice shook with more emotions than Eames could immediately parse. Grief and guilt were chief among them.
Eames took a deep breath. "If they're downloaded could they become like you?"
April shook her head. "They must return to their bodies. My branch was my body and my mother merged it with the system. Their bodies have stopped growing. They can't grow together." She struggled to find words for the concept.
"May I take one of them back to Mombasa with me? I can do a great deal in the dreamscape, I've never tried to reconnect mind with body. Yusuf may be able to reconnect one of them. He's found a way to put twelve dreamers together for hours at a time without worrying about their subconsciouses murdering each other. Maybe he can find a way to put one of them in the dreamspace." Eames shut his mouth sharply. It might mean giving away the secret that the Fair Folk were real. "I'll guard her and cast illusions on her as needed. I promise." Eames gave his promise and meant it even though the reason he was promising was curiosity. Yes, he knew how that story ended.
"Her? Not Barbara. I will allow you to take Yui." April said firmly. "We will give your Yusuf whatever he requires should he succeed."
"He loves a challenge," Eames smiled charmingly. Yusuf would likely be happy with this puzzle for weeks.
"It is done. We will aid Yui as we can," April carefully avoided making a more definitive promise than that.
Yusuf looked down at the body of a small Japanese woman. "She's dead. She's going to start smelling in a couple days."
Eames looked affronted, not entirely unlike Yusuf's cat when Yusuf's wife made a fuss about the dead animals it brought as offerings. "She's in a deep coma. Her consciousness is here." Eames patted a bag with a hard drive in it. "They're not sure quite what they did to get her this way but now they can't get her back. I told them we'd give it a try."
"What were they trying to do?" Yusuf asked in spite of himself.
"They were trying to mix dreamsharing and virtual reality," Eames half-lied.
I'll see what I can do. No promises," Yusuf said sternly.
"Course not," Eames said as he settled into a chair with a good beam of sunlight on it.