"between the pillars of your dreams"
Genre: Drama, Humor
Time Frame: Pre-post Film
Characters: Ensemble Cast
Summary: "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile.
For Table I of March I pulled out the Inception guns – a fandom I have had lots of fun reading in, but just now put pen to paper for. :)
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
Mallorie Miles was sixteen the first time her father took her into a shared dream – a weightless floating in the night sky, the stars around her like fireflies, pinpricks of light which she could cup in her hands; and with a flash of awe she knew that this was what she would spend her life exploring.
For Dominic Cobb, the indignity of lowering himself from a Prometheus of dreams and their parameters to common thief (to escape a lie that a dream had created) was something that made him grit his teeth every time he awakened from a job.
He could tease the other man for his taste in suits and fine wines, but there was a central core to every one of his crews, and Arthur was a key part of that nucleus.
In theory, the idea that Saito hired him to achieve was an impossibility – even in the world of dreams; and yet, it was for a dream that he set out to do the impossible once more.
The inner voice that tried to remember lost strands of dreams upon the waking hour was the same who exposed the false reality of a dream while sleeping – whether it be in the fibers of a carpet, or a lack of light in the gaze of a dead wife.
Behind her closed eyes, Ariadne envisioned her world around her as if she was the eternal potter with his mass of clay; and when she opened them the buildings stretched and morphed, creating amazing geometric patterns that raced up to meet the very sky.
"Only you could go into one heist and walk out hired by the man you were marked to Extract from," Eames chuckled upon hearing the full story, shaking his head and pouring Cobb another drink.
"Extraction is one thing," Arthur hissed as they walked across the hangar, his eyes furious, "at least there your crew knows the risks and the rewards – here, there are too many variables, too many things that will go wrong – all for something that may not even be possible, no matter what you say."
Physics and the laws of nature held no weight in dreams; debris flew weightless, and water rushed from side to side as around them the dreamscape fell apart from the inside out.
With a liquid sort of elegance to her movements, Mal lifted her pistol, and then the sound of a gunshot filled the air . . . before he awakened.
"Like that?" Ariadne smirked over her shoulder at her smiling teacher, pride surging through her at the undisguised look of awe that Arthur had on his face as he took in her latest creation.
Normally, his dreams were a haven – a world where she was still alive; but as compared to the tormented peace he normally felt with her memory, seeing her walk in for the first time on a shared dream was a rush of cold water to the head – a first gulped breath that would guarantee a drowning.
"A dream within a dream?" Mal finished his sentence, her eyes bright in the setting light reflected off of the Seine, and Cobb remembered in that moment just why he loved her as they discovered new ways to make castles out of stardust.
"You're just too scared to show me," Phillipa whispered fiercely, looking so much like her mother it hurt, and acting so much like Mal that it was bringing back a very familiar ache to his temples, long forgotten.
"They come here to dream," Yusuf explained, his eyes blank and tone sad, "for some, there is no other way."
Trembling, Ariadne held her hand up against her face, stunned to feel herself whole and intact where just moments ago her dream had been tearing her to shreds.
The designs flew easily from her imagination – the city streets and the grand hotel corridors to the hospital in the mountains; all unending white blanketing her mind's eye with snow falling like gunfire.
Growing up, her father had told her stories of the daughter of Minos who had helped Theseus in defeating the Minotaur and his labyrinth; this, Ariadne decides, is little different.
Eames slid into the passanger's seat, sticking his tongue out at Arthur who moodily moved to the back – and was childishly pleased when his level of maturity was matched by the backseat door slamming shut.
"You're keeping her alive," Ariadne muttered, her eyes wide and horrified and maybe the slightest bit pitying, which struck him harder than he would have liked to admit.
"Tell me you wouldn't ask for my number, darling," purred the rather striking blonde woman – Eames - Arthur had to remind himself, forcing his features into a familiar scowl in response to the other man's antics.
"I had this dream," Dom whispered, his eyes young and incredibly full as he knelt down before her, "of our life before us – of us growing old together, starting a family . . . you agreeing to be my wife."
"Well, in my dream you said yes a lot quicker than this," he said after a long moment of silence, his voice turning sullen as he caught onto the playful consideration on Mal's face.
"You're a thief, Dom – and don't you dare compare yourself to bloody Robin Hood," Miles said, his voice weary as they replayed an old and tired debate.
"You get used to the bullets in this line of work," Arthur said merrily to Ariadne as he pulled her out of the line of fire, "just don't let that indestructible feeling you have right now go to your head in the real world – you won't wake up."
The teddy bear was soft and warm, and if Phillipa concentrated enough she imagined she could smell her father's cologne – and those tears she shed into it at night were almost enough to let her smile at her grandmother in the morning, letting her know she was all right.
An idea first had to be at its basest to be inserted into someones mind; and the way those base truths were almost idealess emotions was something that fascinated her – the make-up of the human mind even something more breathtaking than the cathedrals it could build.
Cobb closed his eyes against the queasy swell of black feeling rushing through him as his crew glared at him, moodily going about their tasks – knowing full well how high the stakes had risen after Saito was shot.
No matter how many times you died in a dream, you never quite grew used to it – and the only thing quelling the rise of feeling in him was Mal's hand in his, her eyes wide on his own as beneath them the tracks trembled like something possessed.
"Your mind always knows when something is not right, even if it can't define the particulars," he muttered softly to her, explaining the low slung glances and sneers on the faces of the passerby.
As Cobb bandaged the deep gash on his wife's arm, dangerously close to her wrist, he was more unsettled by the quiet thoughtfulness in Mal's eyes than the raging words they had exchanged before she had given him the knife.
"And yet, I do believe that a handful of projections will be no more trying than a rather lethal business meeting – both are sharks scenting blood in the water," Saito said coldly, his sharp words (and high funding and promises) winning himself a spot within the held.
There was a trick to fighting without gravity – but it was another talent that grew over time.
"This is what keeps you grounded, lets you know what is a dream and what is not," Mal explained to him, her eyes soft and fond as she watched the spinning top before her until it fell, the sound a dull clatter to his ears.
"That's your totem?" Ariadne asked with a bemused grin, looking at the honest to goodness cowboy spur that Eames held in his hand, his sly smirk telling as much as it hid.
Ariadne felt something heavy and hollow settle in her as she looked at Cobb's tender interaction with his dead wife, her mind whirling as she knit together stray facts and phrases into a reality that she wasn't quite comfortable with seeing.
"You could have said that a bit better," Arthur hissed as he and Cobb dodged yet another round of fire from the projections, "now you made them angry."
"If you can remember that time in Istanbul, with Lars K-something or other – I think it may be time for an experiment along those lines, once again."
"Sweet dreams," he whispered to her, watching her eyes flutter and her mouth tighten, knowing she wasn't so sure if she was lying down to sleep or turning to awaken once again.
"Wake up with me," Mal implored him with a siren's whisper, her eyes utterly calm as she held her hands out to the open air; the wind between the buildings sending her hair around her face in tempest blown tendrils.
The colors of the pinwheel were as bright to his eyes as his father's words were cleansing to his mind; and they lingering with Robert Fisher as he awakened – an idea as if granted by a dream seeding deep inside of him . . . and growing.
"There was more than one way to unravel Gordian's knot," Eames said cheekily, enjoying the spots of colour high on Ariadne's cheeks, "you think too one-dimensionally, darling."
Limbo was fantastic and dangerous – an unreality that allowed unlimited exploration and godlike domination over dreams – and at the sight of the dreamscape, Ariadne unconsciously drew closer to Cobb, unwilling to entertain the thought of being lost to that world.
"It's not over until the French lady sings – and that means it's time to wrap this up now."
"Filled with regret?" Cobb finished in a low voice, his eyes not on Saito, but on the top on the table between them, spinning and spinning; never ceasing.
After building in the world of dreams, the tangible blueprints before her were uninspiring and common; and Ariadne lasted all of two months before she dedicated herself completely to the world that had been opened up before her.
The Fisher Morrow energy conglomerate fell as if someone had lit a fuse under its very foundation; and standing amongst the rubble, Robert Fisher could only smile as he saw the idea of a far off dream that no one else could see.
To Eames, the sound of Arthur mindlessly rustling the pages of his passport was as much of an answer as the point man's continuous gaze to where their rather pretty architect had been lost to the airport's crowd, "You are a bloody fool if you just stand there and watch her leave, Arthur."
Mal had always adored the violence of the ocean – the way the waves ate at the sand, pulling the shore into its hungry mouth until it left the tideline barren and ever shifting in its wake; the human mind was much the same with its ability to dream – and it was that endless yearning she feeds now, asking him to eternally feast with her.
The sound of a child's laughter, the look of greeting and joy on their faces – it was enough to distract him as he turned to his family, the top on the counter behind him still spinning, left to fall or stand unseen.