Chapter Eight


"Cobb!"

Cobb was already out of the car, slamming the door shut and stalking toward the other car, whose passengers were just beginning to unload. Juliet had the unfortunate luck to be getting out on the side closest to the man. Arthur was hot on his tail but it was Eames who slipped around and intercepted him before he could get to Juliet.

"What did you think was going to happen, Juliet? That they weren't going to go after them? They're my kids! My kids and you look after them." Cobb was trying to get around Eames who was doing whatever he could to keep him away from the girl.

Juliet backed up, her eyes red around the edges. Arthur was at Cobb's side, doing what he could to assist Eames. "I know," she mumbled.

The man was fuming. "My kids!"

"I know!" She shot back. Juliet had yet to back down from an argument, from her father, brother, Cobb in the past, never. Just because she knew she was the cause didn't mean she was just going to allow herself to be yelled at. "And I'm sorry. Do you think I wanted this? I love those kids!"

"I think everyone needs to calm down." Eames gave a pointed look to Cobb. Arthur pulled Cobb away, walking him over to the other car and talking to him quietly. That left Eames, who made sure that Arthur was working whatever Arthur-magic he had before looking at the two women.

Juliet walked back, rubbing her face with her hands but it was Ariadne who spoke first. "Miles is with them, right?" They all looked at the little architect. "Then he'll keep them safe. He knows the game and we all know he wouldn't let something happen to them."

The other woman's eyes looked at her filled with hope but Cobb wasn't so easily convinced. He wanted to be, they all could see that. "Ariadne's right, Dom. We'll get a message to Miles." Arthur stayed behind Cobb, whether to keep him from running or to be able to hold him back, was left up to debate.

"So what's the next step?" Eames, left standing in the middle, cast a glance in either direction.

"The next step is to meet our requests."

Three guns were raised, pointed at the intruder who lifted his hands to reveal that they were empty. Juliet paled and found it hard to breath. "David."

The man, dressed well in a navy suit, looked around the guns to her. "Juliet, how did you like your little home away from home?"

Without thinking, Juliet lunged forward, hoping to tear into the man who'd set her up. Ariadne snagged her sleeve, slowing her down but it was Eames who snatched her around the waist and held her back. No one looked her direction. "Bastard!"

David laughed a little. "Kitty has claws now."

"What are your requests?" Cobb all but growled out. The guns didn't move.

The smile dropped and he was all business. "Call it a job, Mr. Cobb. We're all dying to see you back in action."

"What kind of job?"

"Even I don't know the details. It's all here," David held out a tablet and when no one stepped forward to take it, set it on the ground at his feet. "There's no escaping this. You do the job, you get the kids. Don't do the job and…" He shrugged.

Juliet lunged forward again without much progress. "They're children! How could you just let-"

"They're not my problem. We've all got debts, Juliet, and I'm paying mine. One day, you'll have to too." With that, David turned on his heel, hands still raised in surrender and walked away. No one moved to follow him. They all knew that following David wasn't going to lead them anywhere.

When he was out of sight, the guns were lowered. Arthur finally went and grabbed the tablet, his face unreadable. Juliet, on the other hand, was transparent in her rage. She separated herself from Eames and straightened her clothes. Cobb was staring off and that was fine with her. "All this for a job?"

"Welcome to the business, love," Eames cast a look in her direction.

Juliet returned the look with a glare. "Stop calling me that." Eames shrugged.

"So what is it, Arthur?" Ariadne was moving toward the young man who was scanning over the tablet. His face was growing tighter the more he read.

He handed it over to the small woman and looked directly at Cobb. "We should have seen this coming."

Juliet's eyes widened. "You mean… inception?" It was whispered but they all heard it.

Cobb rubbed his hand over his eyes. "You can't unlock Pandora's box without consequences."

"There has to be some way around it," Ariadne was still scanning but there was clear hope in her voice.

"Maybe," Juliet was hesitant as an idea formed in her mind. "maybe we play their game?" Several sets of eyes looked her direction. "For a while, long enough to find Miles and the children."

Arthur was shaking his head. "They'll never stop looking."

"Either way we have to at least play along, right? We just need time. I can figure this out, I swear. I can make this right." Juliet ignored everyone else and just looked at the father of the children whose lives were at stake.

Cobb's face was grim. He held out his hand for the tablet and began looking it over. She had a feeling that no matter the outcome, they were never going to be friends again. Endangering his children was crossing a line, however unintentional.

"We need to find a place to go through all the information. They'll be waiting for our reply, not hunting us down." Sensible as ever, Arthur urged them back to the cars.

Juliet eased back into the car, this time with Ariadne at her side. The other woman gave her a sad smile but it couldn't erase the facts. Somehow, Juliet had started all of this and somehow she was going to have to find a way to finish it. She just wasn't sure how yet.


Author's Note: Sorry about how long it took to get this up. Suddenly David waltzes in and I'm left with a conundrum. So, yep... so original to bring up inception again, I know, but I figured, if you started something like that and not expect it to spread around the dreaming world. It's got to come back and bite them. Now the trick is to get them out of it. It's easier said that none, that's for sure. I definitely feel like Juliet right this moment.