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Disclaimer: See Prologue
Note I: No one dies despite the title.
Note II: Sorry for the wait, but work has been busy and I thought it was almost ready to post. When I did one last read though yesterday, I knew I needed to work on the beginning further.
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 ; Ch 3 - To Take Arms Against A Sea Of Trouble
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 4 - To Die, To Sleep No More


Confusion filled the entry hall of the Elkins’ centuries old home. It was caused by a five year-old girl and a three year-old boy, who had gotten too little sleep in the last twenty-four hours and whose insecurities had come back to haunt them.

“Daddy you came home.” James’s face was filled with worry, as he looked up at his father.

“See, I told you he would,” Phillipa quickly hissed in her brother’s ear. She’d tried not to have doubts but as the hours passed, it had been harder and harder.

“Of course I came home. Where else would I go when you two are here?” Cobb ran large hands through little heads of hair, one light brown and the other blonde, trying to give reassurance.

“Dom, they were fine,” Sabine Elkins hurried down the hall. “It’s just...” She didn’t continue when her son-in-law nodded in understanding. He’d been forced to flee the country or go to jail when they needed him most. It was something that was likely to echo through their lives for a long time to come.

Ariadne gasped and stepped behind Cobb’s shoulder when she saw the woman coming toward them. It was Mal, only older, same walk, same voice, same skin color and eyes. The tilt of her head was even the same. The children’s voices faded into the background until there were only the three adults. Ari knew they’d been like this before, more than once, two women with Dominic Cobb standing in the middle, protecting one, while longing to cross the line and join the other. Her hand slid into her pocket to grip her bishop as she prepared to turn and run.

“Quiet,” Dom ordered and the children’s voices that had been only a background buzz, almost like waves on a distant shore, stilled. “We’ve got company. I expect you to behave.”

Ari snapped back into the moment and stood her ground.

“James and Phillipa go on back to the playroom and I’ll join you directly. I want to show Miss Bishop to her room.” He reached for the travel case at his feet. “Go on, kids. I’ll introduce you to our guest once she’s had a chance to settle in.”

“Cobb,” Ari felt something break-up inside of her and reached for his arm. “You should go with them. They missed you. I’ll be all right.”

“She is correct.” Sabine smiled. She’d been apprehensive about meeting the young woman she’d heard so much about from Miles and Dominic, though she hadn’t been sure why. “Come with me, Ariadne, I will show you the way.”

“Just let me...” He waved the overnight bag toward the stairs.

“I’ve got it.” Ari looked at him out of the corner of her eyes and wrapped her hand around the handle of her case above his. “You see to your children.”

“Thanks.” Cobb ran his fingers along her cheek as he passed off the bag. He didn’t like the frozen mask she was wearing or the shadows in her eyes, but he trusted Sabine to take care of her.

Ariadne followed the older woman up the stairs to a guest room at the back of the house. It overlooked a garden that was just beginning to bloom. “This used to be my grandmother’s sewing room, but I am sadly lacking in the skill so I redid it years ago. Much more functional, no?”

“It’s lovely, thank you, but I don’t want to disrupt your household, especially when you have family here. I really should stay at my own apartment.” Ari found it unsettling to have a woman who looked like an aged Mal, guide her though the real version of a house she’d seen crumbling in limbo.

“No, no, my dear, it is no trouble at all.” Sabine smiled kindly, trying to relax her wary guest. “I know what housing is like when one is a student but there are times when one needs the quiet and the peace. You will be better off here. We have the space and plenty of nice warm water.”

“That is an incentive.” Ariadne’s lips twitched and she almost smiled. One of the few things she missed about America was a decent-sized hot water heater. Thanks to a healthy trust fund she’d never lived in the typical crowded apartments and rooming houses that the majority of her fellow classmates had occupied. But increased rent in a better neighborhood hadn’t saved her from lukewarm showers on a regular basis.

“The bath is there.” Sabine pointed to the door across the hall. “Dominic uses that one as well. He has always been neat, so you needn’t worry about whiskers in the sink and caps left off the toothpaste and shampoo. The children have the other guest bathroom. Phillipa understands the concept of privacy, but James is still working on it...” She shrugged her shoulders expressively.

“A...well...then I guess Cobb is the better choice.” The younger woman gulped and refused to let her mind wander to that shared bathroom. She’d shared dreams with him and that was far more intimate, so there should be no problems.

“Miles told me you helped our son-in-law get home to his children. For that I am very grateful.” There was a time when Sabine wouldn’t have been so appreciative, a time when she’d wished the man nothing but pain and suffering, a time when it was easier to blame him and even Miles, than to accept that as a psychologist, she should have seen through her daughter’s deception and claims of normal postpartum blues and recognized the symptoms of clinical depression.

“I was just the architect...” Ariadne held up her hand to ward off a conversation that might lead to questions she couldn’t and wouldn’t answer.

“You were far more than that and it appears you have paid the price for it.”

“I don’t know what you mean...”

“Come, let us talk honestly as the women we are.” Sabine put her arm around Ari’s shoulders and the younger woman fought panic. She expected to feel a knife being driven into her stomach at any moment. Rationally she knew that Sabine was Mal’s mother and that was the reason for the uncanny resemblance, but emotionally, she was lost in a maze.

“I...really...” The girl’s muscles strained, wanting to pull away but knowing how foolish she would appear.

“Ariadne, you are safe,” soft French-accented English rang in her ears. “I know about dream sharing and that my daughter lost her will to live when she was in one of those dreams. I know about it because I was one of the psychologists for the two teams Miles formed. It was where Mal and Dominic met.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Ari stepped back, trying to block the memory of a soft voice that broke into her concentration when she needed it most. ‘Do you know what it is to be a lover? Half of a whole?’ She didn’t want to know how they’d met, how they’d loved and created a life together. But most of all she didn’t want to admit why those questions bothered her so badly.

“I’m telling you because I noticed the apprehension in your eyes when you looked up and saw me for the first time and--”

“No, you’re wrong, I’m just tired.” Ariadne took a deep breath to steady herself.

“Possibly.” She tipped her head, not wanting to argue when there was so much of importance to be said. “I am also telling you because I owe you a great deal.” Sabine had to stop for a moment, unsure if she could continue. “My daughter,” she whispered. “My daughter killed herself and nothing will change that. Miles, my grandchildren and Dominic are all that I have left. The children’s happiness means more to me than anything. Those two years their father was gone were very hard on them. You have given them a gift that is beyond value.”

“It wasn’t just me. He would, and did, move heaven and earth to get back to them.” Ari had to blink quickly to keep tears from forming in her eyes.

“But you were part of it. Even if I had not have been told, I would have known just by looking at you. Your eyes, the lack of sleep, the way you always reach for what I suspect is a totem in your pocket. You have all the signs of a person who has had a traumatic shared dream, one that he or she cannot or will not let go of. Dominic looked that way after Mal died. He still looked that way when he returned to the United States. When he was home, where he had wanted to be for two years, the exhausted fear faded from his face quickly. All it took was some time spent with James and Phillipa.”

“Mme. Elkins---”

“Please, call me Sabine.”

“Sabine,” the name rolled off Ariadne’s tongue. It almost fit the woman standing beside her, if Ari could just stop perceiving her as a vision of Mal, the Mal who would have existed in limbo to grow older with Dom. “I---”

“Don not say anymore.” Cobb’s mother-in-law held up her hand as if to ward off evil. “You and Dominic dream shared when he was at his most vulnerable. I know you met Mal somewhere in those dreams. You would not look at me with doubt and reach for your totem, if you had not.” Sabine’s eyes filled with tears, but she didn’t let them fall. “I often forget how much my daughter resembled the woman I was thirty years ago.”

‘You still look like her,’ the errant thought showed in Ari’s eyes until she blinked it quickly away. “I was going to thank you for opening your home to me. I wouldn’t say anything...”

“Let me finish. Then once it is said, it is said and will never be mentioned again. Whatever projection you may or may not have met, wasn’t my daughter. She may have looked like her and sounded like her, but... no...no...my child wanted only the best for Dominic, despite what happened in the end...” It was something Sabine could not reconcile. In order to find peace and sanity, she’d had to stop trying and simply accepted that somewhere, in some dream, her Mal had been lost. The woman who’d come back to reality had changed and kept on changing, drifting away from her family until there was nothing left but sorrow.

“Shared dreams can be...difficult.” Ariadne shivered at memories she couldn’t reveal and wouldn’t, even if she could.

“You did not like the dreaming, did you?” The Frenchwoman smiled in relief.

“It’s pure creation. Like imagination coming to life. That part of it was almost mesmerizing.” Ariadne spoke using her hands as if she were building cities out of thin air. “I liked that part. But it’s not worth being the way I am now, never quite sure when I am awake and when I’m not. Praying for sleep but fearing it too.”

“You sound to me like a very wise young woman.” Sabine smiled sadly. She wished her daughter had been half as wise. Mal had fallen in love with shared dreaming from the beginning. Dom and shared dreaming had become her life or was it shared dreaming and Dom? The older woman had never been quite sure. She did know the two went hand-in-hand as far as her child had been concerned.

“I think you’re giving me more credit than I deserve.” Ariadne nibbled on her lip. “I’m beginning to doubt things I’ve always believed.”

“That’s because you are tired, my dear.” Then in the deft way that was typical of all well-bred Frenchwomen she changed the subject to a much more pleasant one. “We have at least half an hour until our meal is ready. Take advantage of that hot water I was telling you about and change into comfortable clothes. Supper is an informal affair when the children are here.”

She took Sabine’s advice. She showered, washed her hair and changed into slim fitting jeans, a jewel-red tank, layered under a loose fitting ivory shirt and soft leather flats. It took her a moment, but she finally found the multi-colored silk scarf that had been her mother’s, at the bottom of her small overnight bag. After folding it around her neck, she giving it a practiced twist, and tucked it into her shirt.

“Much better,” she muttered to her reflection in the mirror above the small dresser in her room. Ari had lived in France for most of the last nine years. She knew her hostess had been sincere about dressing comfortably, but that hadn’t mean she should look anything less than finished.

She didn’t know if it was her belief in Dominic Cobb or simply the effect of letting hot water beat down on her head and shoulders for as long as she liked, but for the first time in months she was hungry.

As Ari walked down the wide staircase, her fingers trailing along the satin finish of the dark wooden banister, she heard children’s voices and laughter. She stood for a moment, her hand resting lightly on the tall, fat, bottom newel post and listened until she was sure where the noise was coming from. Then she followed the sounds to a bright room, its pocket doors pushed back into the walls on either side, opening the space to the hall. There were shelves filled with toys and books, child sized chairs and a play table, were side-by-side with comfortable adult furniture.

The sight that took Ariadne’s breath away was the tall, broad shouldered man in a green shirt and dark pants. Cobb’s size and energy made the room appear small as he stood in the center, playing with his children. He had both hands wrapped around his little girl’s waist as he held her high above his head. A young blonde boy sat at his feet laughing, amid a scatter of brightly colored wooden building blocks.

“Do it again, Daddy,” Phillipa giggled, her small hands reaching for his face.

“Do what, Peanut?” It was an old game and Dom didn’t think he’d ever tire of it.

“Raspberries,” the pint-sized girl laughed.

“Oh, you mean this?” He flexed his arms bringing his daughter’s face an inch above his and then he rubbed his mouth against her neck, giving her noisy kisses. She erupted in giggles her small body jumping and wiggling, but he held her carefully, gently, securely.

“Your whiskers tickle, daddy.” Phillipa’s words were punctuated by more laughter.

“I can always shave ‘em.”

“No,” the little girl grew serious and kissed his chin. “They mean daddy.”

“Okay, kiddo, then I guess they’re gonna stay.”

“You could do the ones on the rest of your face.” She inspected him carefully, holding both of his stubble-covered cheeks in her hands. “Just not these.” She directed, as she patted his chin and upper lip.

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” his voice was husky with emotion as he hugged her tightly.

“My turn, my turn,” James begged from below.

“Okay, Big Guy, up you go.” He put Phillipa down and picked up his son.

Ariadne watched as Cobb swung James in the air, giving him noisy kisses and making the child laugh. She was transfixed, hardly recognizing the person she’d spent so much time with last fall. This wasn’t the hard driven man who had been willing to risk anything, including the lives and/or sanity of the entire team, to achieve his goal. Nor was he the lost man, filled with grief and guilt, who had kept seeking out a ghost in a quest for redemption.

It struck Ari that the reason Dom had appeared younger when she’d first seen him earlier that day was because he’d looked unnaturally old last fall. This person, this father, playing with his children was the real Dominic Cobb. She’d only known the phantom he’d been forced to become.

Sabine Elkins watched Ariadne from a distance. It was the first time she’d seen open emotions play freely across the younger woman’s face. The girl was good at hiding what she felt, too good for one so young. But that wasn’t what was bothering the Frenchwoman, it was the hint of...almost...longing...affection that she saw openly displayed. That was something she needed to address, but not simply the girl’s feelings, but Dom’s as well. If it was what she suspected, it would explain why he had dropped everything and loaded his family on a transatlantic flight at a moments notice.

“There, you see, my dear,” Sabine came up and put her arm around Ari’s shoulders. “This is what they had lost, but now have back again. From what my son-in-law tells me, you were an essential part of that endeavor.” There was much more she wanted to say and many questions she wanted to ask but first she needed to figure out how she felt about it.

“Ariadne,” Cobb looked up into the mirror over the fireplace and saw the reflection of her standing with his mother-in-law at the entrance to the hall. “This one here,” he held James higher up in the air and made the boy laugh harder than before, “Is James and the giggle-puss on the ground is Phillipa. Kids, this is my friend Miss Bishop.” He was pleased to see that the strained, worried expression that Ari had worn since getting out of the taxi was almost gone.

“Hi. I’ve heard a lot about you two.” She smiled at the children and offered her hand to Phillipa. “I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time.”

The little girl moved closer to shake hands as she’d been taught. “You smell real good.” She sniffed from inches away.

“It’s my shampoo and conditioner, see.” Ariadne knelt beside her and held out a strand of dark wavy hair.

“Ohhh, can I borrow some when I wash my hair in the morning?”

“You sure can.”

“Actually the reason she smells good,” Dom cut in, “is because she’s had a chance to shower, no one was hogging the bathroom.”

Ariadne rolled her eyes and ignored both his compliment and his wisecrack.

“Sabine, is there time for me to freshen up and change before dinner?” he asked. “As my daughter pointed out, I haven’t shaved since L.A.”

“Take your time. Miles has been on the phone for the last hour and each time I check on him, he’s deep in conversation.” She knew she didn’t have to tell Dominic what was being discussed. Her husband’s marathon phone session had followed shortly on the heels of an email from a chemist named Yusuf. She was equally sure that the young American girl standing beside her was the reason for those calls.

“Don’t forget daddy, only the whiskers on your cheeks,” Phillipa insisted.

“You got it, Peanut.” Cobb kissed his children and patted Sabine’s shoulder as he headed for the stairs.

Ch 5 - For In That Sleep....


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 7th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. Glad you liked Sabine. I like her too.
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Dom is going to shave his whiskers a bit?! Oh, how I wish I could see that. Cobb with a gotee (sp?) I do hope that Sabine doesn't go meddling in the wrong direction though... That'd be horrid of her. >.> I think you'll make a her a good guy though. :D I have the faith! Moving onwards!
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
I guess I didn't use the right words for the shaving thing. Cobb always seems to have a few days growth of whiskers on his chin and upper lip. So I wasn't repeating myself ten times in a few paragraphs I used the words goatee and mustache. The rest of his face is clean shaven.

In this chapter he hasn't shaved since right after he got the call from Miles. Basically the guy needs to shower and neaten up his face.

If you want to see Cobb with a goatee, I think LC had one in Blood Diamond. It's been years since I saw the movie.

Not to worry, Sabine is very good.
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
No, no! I didn't mean you didn't use the right words! I was just kidding around! :P I just couldn't imagine him without that small bit of facial hair he had! You're completely fine there! Sorry if I made it sound bad! >,<
Nov. 10th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
That's good to know. I'm older than average fic writer and worry that I'm using phrasing more from my age group.
Nov. 10th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
There is an average for a fic writer? I’m just kidding around. It’s good to have diversity in writing! Plus you can attribute it (the old phrasing [if that’s what you feel it is] to the fact that they're all around older people quite a lot of the time (the kids anyway). As for me, I love it! My father is older (older as in 1940s birthday) and I'm used to all these old phrases that have people looking around confused. You're spreading knowledge!
( 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

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

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
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Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
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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".
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Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

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

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