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Credits See Prologue
Pairing Dom and Ariadne
Rating PG13
Previous Chapters Prologue - To Be Or Not To Be - Ch 1 - Slings and Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune; Ch 2 - Whether 'tis Nobler In The Mind To Suffer
Art Credit: All the amazing art found in this story is done by wickedandcruel. The originals and many more lovely pieces can be found at her Tumblr Your Own Destiny


To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

By Lattelady

Ch 3 – To Take Arms Against A Sea Of Troubles

Moments later they were seated in a dark corner of a small café. Dom leaned back in his chair, his hands in his pockets, his legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles. He pretended to study the chalkboard menu above Ariadne’s head, when he was really examining her. Once their order was taken and they were alone again, he broke the uneasy silence. “Things must really be bad if you’ve given up coffee.” He never thought he’d see the day she’d order herb tea. The woman was a caffeine junky.

“Look...Cobb...I’m doing better.” Her eyes sparked in challenge.

“If this is better, I hate to think of what you must have been like at your worst.” He leaned across the small bistro table and spoke low and harsh, angry but refusing to raise his voice.

“Yes, I need some sleep, but it’s been a tough term. We’ve already been over that. I don’t see what you’re getting so worked up about?” She shrugged refusing to give him any ground or information.

“Are you forgetting Mal and what happened?” He was astonished she’d be so careless. It was unlike her to overlook the obvious and let her life run out of control.

“I’m not Mal.” The statement resonated for her on so many levels it almost brought tears to her eyes. Ariadne knew she wasn’t a sad lost shade of a projection, nor was she the hauntingly lovely woman who was loved by Dominic Cobb.

“No, you’re not.” He agreed looking her over carefully. Even exhausted and filled with doubts she was the strongest woman he’d ever met. “There are always risks in shared dreaming. You’re new to the experience and we--”

“Yeah, I got that Cobb.” Her words flew out, filled with accusation, loneliness and a hint of something else that he didn’t understand.

“I’m just saying that you and I went deeper than any of the others except Saito. But unlike our Japanese friend, you...we...did it a number of times. Damnit,” his temper snapped as her head tilted to the right, bringing her chin out in defiance of anything he was saying. “Bottom line: you should have gotten help.”

“Well, who the hell was I supposed to call...Ghostbusters?” her biting comment was thick with sarcasm. “Who was there for me to talk to about all that had happened and the things that were happening to me?”

He wanted to apologize but words seemed like too little too late. Then he was cut short when the waiter arrived with her tea and his coffee. He did the only thing he could, he covered her hand with his, hoping she still understood him like she used to.

“I didn’t mean---” she began when they were alone, only to be left breathless as his fingers squeezed hers and he cut her off.

“I’m the one who owes you an apology. You wouldn’t be going through any of this if it weren’t for me.”

“You don’t understand.” Ariadne slid her hand out from under his, wrapping it around her cup, trying to regain some of the warmth she lost when she pulled away from his touch. “Whatever this is,” she waved her free hand helplessly, including her, him, sleepless nights, and her protracted descent into borderline whatever. “It came on slowly. At first I thought I was simply jetlagged or my circadian rhythm was shot to hell from too many weeks of drug induced sleep. As time passed and things didn’t get better, it made sense that it was a natural low after the incredible high of creating in dreams.

“And I really was busy trying to catch up. The final project for my thesis...it...changed. What I had planned before I worked with you, seemed dull and ordinary after everything that had happened. I didn’t want to settle for dull and ordinary but the physics were complicated and the building materials almost impossible. I ended up doing two projects in case I couldn’t get the second one to work, I’d still have something to hand in. I was sure once I finished the term, I could get some sleep, but now that’s not so easy as it once was.”

“You have every right to be angry. I abandoned you...we abandoned you without bothering to look back.” He sighed in frustration. He’d been so focused on getting through customs and then to his children that he hadn’t given the rest of the team a thought after leaving the airport.

“Not all of you.” A small sad smile curved her lips as she gazed into the pale water of her tea. She never noticed the glint of anger in Dom’s eyes.

“Well, I hardly count Arthur as help.” He’d seen the other man kiss her in that god-forsaken dream and it had been irritating. He’d assumed it was because it distracted him from his real priorities, which had been Fischer and getting them out as quickly as possible. He didn’t want to think about why it still annoyed him, so he pushed the thought aside and went on with what was important. “Too bad he didn’t stay around long enough to be sure that you really were all right.”

“Arthur?” her brows rose in amusement and she would have laughed if Cobb hadn’t looked so grim. “Not Arthur, he cut out of LAX, as fast as he could with that blonde flight attendant.” She hadn’t known the Point Man well, but he always seemed to find willing and eager woman wherever he went. “It was Saito. When I walked out of the airport his limousine was waiting for me.”

“Saito is worse than Arthur.” Dom’s nose wrinkled in disgust. The Japanese businessman had two ex-wife and numerous girlfriends and mistresses scattered around the globe. At least with Arthur the only problem was that he had a short attention span where women were concerned.

“It wasn’t like that at all.” Ariadne chuckled for the first time in months at the look of doubt on Cobb’s face. “You obviously have information about Mr. Saito that I’d rather not know.” She leaned closer, needing to tell Dom what had happened. She was so damn tired of being alone, this time it was her hand that covered his. “That day at the airport he was...lost...shell shocked...I guess we both were. I think Saito is a man who is used to dominating his world but after he was shot in the dream, things changed, he changed. He was still in control but it became harder and harder to maintain.”

“After I got in his car, he asked if I had a destination in mind, when I told him I didn’t, he nodded to his driver. We went high into the hills above the city until we arrived at an old house that looked like a castle. He didn’t say a word until we were driving through the gates. Then he told me a silent film starlet had built it in the early 1920’s and he thought I might appreciate the architecture. ” As she told the story she could see it unfolding in her mind as it had happened.

“There was a full staff as well as a security team, but they were unobtrusive and never seen unless needed.” She was still mystified how the well trained maids, servers and chefs had known when to appear with exactly what was wanted. Ari had used her totem often during the time she’d spent in that elegant old home.

“I had the guest wing to myself but neither of us wanted to be alone...and sleep...no, wasn’t gonna happen. We spent a lot of time sitting on various patios, walking in the gardens, watching the mountains and the city below. The sun would set and the stars come out and in no time at all the sky would brighten and it would be another day. For some reason neither of us cared for the view of the ocean.” She shuddered slightly remembering the crashing waves and the beach that had led to limbo. “On the second morning, the business news began to carry stories of Robert Fischer’s plans to break-up his father’s company. I don’t think either of us looked at a paper or turned on a computer again the entire week I was there.

“Occasionally Saito would speak about his time in limbo. He only remembered snatches of half remembered dreams about growing older. The one that stuck with him the most was of being a lonely old man filled with regrets, convinced that something was wrong with his life, but unable to prove it. I showed him my bishop and told him everything you and Arthur had taught me about totems. His grandfather had been a woodcrafter and had taught him to make Japanese puzzle boxes as a child. He began working on one before I left. I think if you ever see him again, you will discover he carries a miniature puzzle box with him at all times.

“We had one rather unusual conversation. Saito quizzed me about architecture. At first I thought it was about building in dreams but it wasn’t. I don’t think Dr. Elkins could have been more thorough. He asked about natural lighting, local culture and general environment and its impact on the feel and success of a structure. He had me sketching arches, bearing walls, columns and balconies and wanted to know how they change if different materials were used. I felt as if I were on a job interview.” She frowned, knowing the only thing he would be interested in having her build would be imaginary and no matter how seductive that could be, she would never do it again.

Cobb smiled and nodded as if he was reading her mind.

“I stayed a week, everyday getting further and further behind in my studies. The morning I left, Saito walked me to his waiting car and driver. He smiled and told me he was very glad to be a young man again, even if he did have an old soul now. We shook hands and he thanked me for all I had done for him.” She shrugged realizing she’d needed the companionship of someone who had shared the experience as much as he had needed it. “He gave me his business card and told me to contact him in the spring because he had a project that might interest me. That was the last time I saw him. I hope he is doing all right.”

Cobb sat quietly listening to everything Ariadne had to say, not just the words, but the shades of feelings behind them. As she’d spoken she’d forgotten to mask her emotions and her expressive features had added depth and texture to her narrative. It had allowed Dom to see every moment of loss, confusion and fear that she’d felt during that week when he’d been finding such joy in being returned to his children. A dull ache that was centered deep in his chest began to grow until he had to clear his throat to speak. “Saito is fine. He was in L.A. two weeks ago and we met for dinner. He didn’t show me his totem but I did notice that he’d reach into his pocket from time to time and I wondered.” Cobb ran his thumb along her fingers that were still resting against his, before pulling his hand free to slip it into his coat. Moments later he flipped a familiar looking business card onto the table between them. “I got the same interview and job offer you did.”

“You’re not going to...” Ari looked around. The café was filling with tourists so she lowered her voice and leaned closer, “You won’t be building in dreams again, will you?”

“No,” he slowly shook his head. “I’ve got my children back. I don’t plan on doing anything that might cause me to lose them. I believe our Mr. Saito may have learned that some things carry too heavy a price tag, too. He contacted me because he wants to build a hotel on one of the Greek Islands and he needs an architect.” Dom smiled and nodded toward her. “I get the feeling he thinks we make a good team.”

“But I’ve got at least a year to go before I have my PhD.” She’d never given the Japanese businessman’s offer a second thought because she’d promised herself that she wasn’t going to do anymore shared dreaming. Cobb was right; some things weren’t worth the price.

“The way you are right now you’d be hard pressed to pass kindergarten let alone the PhD program at Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture.” He leaned his elbows on the table and stared her down. “Let me help you. I owe you at least that.”

“I...” She closed her eyes and pressed her fingers against her forehead, covering her face in confusion. She wanted to deny that she needed his help but she was so tired. Would it really be that bad if she allowed herself to lean on Dom Cobb, just this once?

“Ariadne.” His voice was husky and low and only inches away from her as his hands wrapped around her wrists, applying gentle pressure until he could see deep brown eyes filled with doubt. “You could probably tough this out on your own. You’re strong enough to do about anything but please let me help you. Besides, don’t you want to meet Phillipa and James?”

“You want me to meet your children?” It caught her completely off guard. She knew his family meant everything to him but in the weeks last fall that they’d spent so much time together, he’d been careful to compartmentalize his life. She knew that even if he’d had access to his family, she wouldn’t have been allowed near them.

“Of course.” He smiled at the pleasure he saw in her eyes.

“I’d like that. And you’re right, I do need help,” she sighed.

“Good, than you’re coming with me.” He stood and dug some Euros out of his pocket to pay the bill. “First we need to stop at your place so you can pack an overnight bag. I don’t want you staying alone until you’ve gotten some sleep.”

Half an hour later they were getting out of a taxi in a gracious old neighborhood in the outskirts of Paris. Tall hedges lined the property so the house was hidden from the street.

“No,” Ariadne gasped and fumbled for her bishop as they headed up the drive. She would have run for the cab and had the driver take her far away, but it was long gone. “I recognize this place.” She shook her head to make the vision disappear but nothing helped. The stately home she was looking at was superimposed by an ancient and decaying dwelling. Its gardens and hedges were gone and its stone exterior slowly crumbling to dust in the eternity that was limbo.

Cobb wrapped his arms around her waist to keep her from bolting or worse yet, falling. “It’s all right, Ari, this is real,” he reassured her. “Miles and Sabine Elkins were Mal’s parents. You’re not dreaming. You’re safe.”

“This is where she grew-up? You and she recreated this house when you were lost,” her voice shook as she fought for control, clasping her bishop tighter and tighter in her hand. The fingers of her other hand dug deep into the material of his jacket.

“Yeah, I should have warned you.” He slowly dragged his thumb over her knuckles that were turning white from the death grip she had on her totem. “Look at me, Ariadne.”

“I...” her voice cracked. She refused to fall apart in front of this man. Taking a deep breath, she fought to relax her hold on her bishop and him. It was easier to slide the totem into her pocket, than let go of the soft material she was clutching, but she was able to do both. “I...I...ah...I’m all right, Cobb. You can let me go now.” Her deep brown eyes looked into his worried blue ones, daring him to say otherwise. “I’m not going to run away screaming.”

“I was more worried that you were going to end up on the ground in a heap.” Dom wasn’t about to set her free until he was sure. “Is it always this bad?” His furrowed brow and bleak expression were back.

“The last few weeks it’s been getting worse.” She forced each muscle in her body to relax one-by-one, slowly looking over Dom’s shoulder to reassure herself of where and when she was. “Something happens and I’m not sure if it’s real or not. The worst is when I think that all those weeks last fall, everything we did, and then all of you, were only a dream. I...” she laughed roughly and let her arms fall to her sides. “You see, if I don’t know truth from fiction, then I’ve lost my mind.” She shivered looking up into his worried face very close to hers.

“Your mind is just fine.” He skimmed one hand against the side of her face. “It just needs some rest. I never should have gotten you involved, Miles was right.” He glared, angry with himself because he was sure that even knowing what he did now, he would have still brought her along because she had been the one who had gotten him home. Saito may have had the power to cause the charges to be dropped against him, but without Ariadne both he and the powerful Japanese businessman would still be stuck in limbo.

“Stop it. No one has made me do anything I didn’t want to do since I was fourteen years old. I chose to share dreams with you despite the mess you had brewing in your head so stop frowning and stop feeling guilty. I need your help now but back then you needed mine. It’s a fair exchange.”

“Daddy,” a little girl called from the front door.

“Hey Daddy.” A small blonde boy stuck his head around his sister, refusing to be outdone by her.

Cobb waved to his children, his face filled with joy. “You’re right,” he whispered to Ariadne. He had needed her. He just wasn’t sure how fair it was. He’d gained far more than he could ever repay.

Ch 4 - To Die, To Sleep No More


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
Oh, this is incredible. You've got a wonderful grip on both Ariadne and Cobb and I cannot wait for more!
Sep. 3rd, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm glad to know I've got them both down. They are hard to write.
Sep. 4th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
I can't wait to see where this leads!
Sep. 4th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
I gotta say, I love your icon! It always takes longer for me to walk character down a path than I thought it would at the start. Stick with me and I think you will be happy you did. I don't write sad endings.
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Oh-ho... I really do like where this is going (at least I think). ;D Can't wait to read more!
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Glad you like my story and I hope it's going where you want it to as well.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears

The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

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Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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