A/N: Thank you for the reviews, I'm glad you guys are enjoying the story. I'll consider writing more Inception fics once I get a hang of the fandom and schoolwork :)
Disclaimer: Inception belongs to Christopher Nolan.
Chapter 3: Heir
"Eames! Get back!"
Ariadne. Eames only had a few seconds to take in the sight of the knife sticking out of Arthur's motionless body sprawled across the stone floor when a different female voice rang out.
"Drop your weapon."
Eames froze in his tracks and threw his hands into the air.
"I said, drop it."
His pistol fell with a loud clatter.
"Good. Now, kick it over to me."
Eames squinted through the shadows and kicked the weapon in the voice's general direction. "Who are you?"
"I should be asking you that, my dear," the unidentifiable woman responded. "You and your friends are trespassing. You do not belong here." With that, the woman stepped forward, where a ray of sunlight pierced the cave. She had her arm around Ariadne's throat and Arthur's gun pressed against the architect's temple. There was blood streaming down from Ariadne's left shoulder.
Eames stared at the woman. He recognized her from the framed photos he had once seen in Fischer's office.
"You're Robert Fischer's mother, aren't you?"
"Again, I should be the one asking the questions," Mrs. Fischer snapped, her ice-blue eyes filled with suspicion. There was no doubt about it. She had the same features as her son: the same cheekbones and the same dark hair. But unlike Robert, her skin was lily-white. "The girl wasn't so forthcoming with answers, even when I had your other friend at my mercy. Hopefully, you will be more cooperative."
Eames considered his options. If he drew his other pistol and shot the projection, he could be eliminating a potentially valuable source of information. If he shot Ariadne so that she was no longer in danger, the projection would just kill him. If he shot himself, Ariadne would have to deal with the projection on her own before she could complete the job. It depended on how badly the projection wanted to know why they were there.
The only thing he could think of was to keep talking.
"We're friends of Robert's," said Eames.
"You're lying. Peter would never allow Robert to know his secret."
"Peter," Eames repeated. His mind was whirling. "Why are you protecting Peter's secret? You were Maurice's wife."
As soon as the words left his mouth, the answer became obvious. Even Ariadne's eyes widened a little.
"Interesting." Eames drew his second gun and shot Ariadne in the forehead. He could not help but cringe at the small explosion of blood. Waking up his comrades never sat well with him, not even after doing it so many times he had lost count.
Mrs. Fischer released Ariadne's now lifeless body and turned Arthur's gun on Eames. "Why did you do that?" she demanded.
"We have what we want. But now, I want a bit more. Is Peter planning on ever telling your son the truth? Or rather, his son?"
Mrs. Fischer set her jaw. "Robert mustn't find out."
"Did Maurice know?" Eames prompted. "He must've known on some level, deep down. Working late nights and not coming home and all that. Was that why he treated Robert so badly? Was that why he wasn't very upset when you died?" When he was met with silence, he went on. "Of course, he probably didn't suspect his own best friend, otherwise he never would've made him his business partner or Robert's godfather. Tragic."
With a scream of fury, Mrs. Fischer shot both of his kneecaps. Before the pain could fully sink in, Eames placed his gun against his temple and squeezed the trigger.
For a split second, the world was dark and empty. Eames took a breath and opened his eyes. Golden light, panel walls, and modern art filled his vision. He was back.
Eames ripped off his IV line and glanced at the timer. They had a bit over three minutes left till the sedative wore off on Browning. Arthur and Ariadne were already standing by the door, ready to make their escape.
"We'll debrief you after Browning leaves," Eames announced, removing the remaining line from Browning's arm and packing up the PASIV.
"Was it a success?" Saito asked him.
"In a way," Eames replied.
After Browning had woken up, he had excused himself from the room, embarrassed that he had dozed off right in the middle of dessert and that Saito had to shake him awake.
"It's getting late," Browning had chuckled before thanking Saito for his time and congratulations.
"So he didn't suspect anything at all?" Arthur asked after Saito relayed the conversation to the trio.
"No, but he did ask where the rest of his cake went," said Saito.
Ariadne sat down next to Eames. "What happened after I woke up?"
"The woman. Ariadne said that it was Fischer's mother?" asked Arthur.
"Yeah, I recognized her from one of Fischer's pictures."
"What was she doing in Browning's subconscious?"
"She's his secret." Eames paused. "Peter Browning is Robert Fischer's biological father."
Saito looked impatient. "That's very interesting, but did you get any information that will actually help us break up Fischer Morrow?"
Eames proceeded to explain to Saito that Browning knew nothing about the extraction business, much to Saito's disappointment, and that Browning firmly believed that Maurice had nothing to do with it either.
"It's still possible that Robert Fischer did it of his own accord," Ariadne suggested. "You know, to impress his father with all the progress he was making with the company."
"Even if that's true, I can't sue Fischer Morrow on those grounds," Saito said, frustrated. "We'd be implicating ourselves if we tell anyone how we found out that Fischer was trained by an extractor, and we'd all be arrested on the spot."
"How about leaking it to the press?" asked Eames. "There's bound to be some journalists who are willing to protect their sources."
"No. Fischer Morrow is too powerful. They'll just sue them blind. As far as we can tell, they've technically done nothing wrong. And not only is Robert no longer in control, we haven't actually found any hard evidence against him."
Eames shrugged. "Then blackmail Browning into breaking up the company using the truth about Robert Fischer as leverage. It'd be the scandal of the century."
"No, I don't want to risk him resigning and handing control of the company over to someone else. There's no point in blackmailing him into not resigning, either. Fischer Morrow's board of directors can just as easily fire him. It'll have to take more than blackmail to change Fischer Morrow forever."
Ariadne straightened in her chair. "Then we go straight to Fischer ourselves and persuade him to take back the company, or at least the acquisitions he was solely responsible for."
"But he doesn't want the company anymore. He's convinced that his father didn't want him to get into the business in the first place," Eames reminded her.
"Then we'll use the antagonism he's developed for his godfather from our inception and his obsessive loyalty to Maurice to our advantage," said Ariadne, undeterred. "Would the man who had raised him have truly wanted Browning, the man who had deceived him and everyone else, to head his empire?"
Arthur looked impressed. "That could work. We'll convince Robert that it's his duty to make things right. Browning played his own flesh and blood like a pawn, and it's Robert's responsibility to fix it by taking back the company and selling everything off so that Browning won't be able to leech off the Fischers' success."
"Only then will he be able to have the fresh start he wants," Ariadne added.
Eames was still skeptical. "Except for one thing. We can't use inception again. It's too soon. His subconscious would be too unstable after the first one. It won't be able to support even two levels, let alone three."
"Then we'll do it the old-fashioned way," said Ariadne.
"And what's that?"
"By talking to him," Ariadne said simply. "If Browning was able to convince Fischer into just giving him the company, I'm sure we'll be able to persuade him to take it back, or at least a part of it, to truly honour Maurice's memory."
Eames couldn't help but wonder if they were doing the right thing by exposing Peter Browning's secret. It was no longer about business, but personal matters. Yet both his colleagues seemed adamant that Browning had abandoned his son to pursue a career with a friend he had willingly betrayed. Although he seemed to genuinely care about Robert, Browning was a coward for not owning up to his paternity. Browning would deserve what was coming to him.
"Let me do it," said Eames. "I know Fischer better than either of you." It was true. Not only had Eames spent the most time with him, he had seen Robert Fischer at his most vulnerable. He knew what made the man tick.
Arthur nodded. "That's fair."
Eames turned to Saito. "You're paying us overtime."