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Disclaimer: See Prologue
Rating PG13
Pairing: Dom Cobb and Ariadne Bishop
Note: I’m not sure what to say. Most of the information in this conversation is important to the story. I tried to have it take place between Dom and Ari, but it didn't work, so I had these two people tell you what they saw, felt and think about all that is going on around them. I'm not sure they're completely correct, but here goes.

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 ; Ch 4 - To Die, To Sleep No More ; Ch 5 - For In That Sleep.... ; Ch 6 - ....What Dreams May Come
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 7 - The Heartache And The Thousand Natural Shocks


Sabine Elkins’s sleep was disturbed by the muffled sound of a frightened voice calling out, ‘Dom, wake me up, wake me up, Dom’.

“Mal, honey?” she gasped. Caught on that cloudy boarder between dreams and reality, her heart flared with hope that the last three years had been a nightmare and that her child was still alive, then she was fully awake and the painful truth once again asserted itself.

Sitting on the edge of her bed trying to catch her breath, there was nothing but silence, no screams, no happy laughter, no mother-daughter chats, not even Miles’s occasional snores, only the thudding of her own pulse. It carried with it the knowledge she’d been living with for longer than seemed possible: her daughter had killed herself and was no more.

Throwing back the covers Sabine refused to give into emotions that threatened to overtake her. Her Mal was gone, but she still had her grandchildren to worry about. With determined steps, and the soft swoosh of her floor-length nightgown she headed down the hall to check on Phillipa and James. Maybe one of them was the source of the desperate cry she was sure she’d heard? But she found them sleeping peacefully.

With adrenaline still rushing through her veins, she pulled on her robe and picked up the seafoam-green wool throw that was folded on the foot of her bed. Wrapping it around her shoulders, she went downstairs to make some tea. That’s when she saw the light shining under the double doors to Miles’s study and heard the voices of the people who were working in there. She knew without being told, things weren’t going well on the other side of those doors.

Ten minutes later guilt won over self-preservation and she joined her husband in his study where as he sat watching over Dominic and Ariadne who were in the midst of a shared dream.

“Is everything all right?” Sabine sat on the arm of Miles’s overstuffed chair, placing a delicate china cup filled with tea on the table beside them. “I thought I heard someone calling out for help.”

“You did. Were the children disturbed?”

“No, they’re fine” her voice was rough from swallowed tears. “It woke me, for a second I thought it was...Mal.”

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t be doing this, especially here, if it weren’t so important.” Miles pulled her across his lap and held her, nuzzling her forehead and temple.

“I know and I understand.” She rested her head against his shoulder. He had always been her rock and she’d been his with the exception of when their child had died. That had been the one time she’d acted the coward and pushed him away. Sabine nodded toward the small dark-haired woman who was being held tightly by the tall dark-blonde man. “They’re both a bit of a mess, though Dominic is doing better than she is and much better than when we left L.A. last fall.”

“You’re right. I hope this will benefit both of them. It was Ariadne who screamed.” Miles kept his explanation to a minimum in deference to Sabine’s aversion to what was taking place.

“What happened?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but couldn’t keep from asking.

“They’d been dreaming for about a minute. I don’t have many details except that she fell and kept on falling out of reach and was lost from sight. She couldn’t breathe and couldn’t wake up. In her panic she called out for Dom to waken her.” Miles sighed trying not to remember the chilling quality to Ari’s voice when she was caught in the dream, panicked, unable to help herself. He found it too easy to imagine Mal going through the same thing night after night, until it drove her out of a window ten stories up.

“It must have been terrible for her.”

“From what she says it’s been happening for months. Dom referred it as a built-in kick.”

“No wonder she’s not fond of shared dreams.” It was a feeling Ariadne and Sabine had in common, though the older woman’s attitude was triggered by Mal’s death. “It also explains why she’s not getting any sleep. I’m amazed she was willing to try a second time. How did you convince her to do it?” The mother in her had sworn that she’d never be involved in any stage of dream sharing again, but the psychologist was fascinated by the girl’s tenacity.

“I’m not sure I had anything to do with it. She was willing to simply bite the bullet and give it another go. The only thing I could suggest was that we find a way to keep her from falling. That’s the results. I instructed Dom to hold onto her in the dream as well.” He nodded to the intimately posed couple on the couch and then looked down at his wife. “Does it bother you seeing them like that?”

“No,” Sabine whispered as she searched for the reason behind her answer. “I...I...wish Mal had been that strong, she might be alive today if she had been.”

“Ariadne’s always had a resiliency I admired, but she’s been unraveling and hiding it from me since she returned to Paris.” He massaged Sabine’s neck, enjoying the feel of her skin. “I had to practically sit on her to keep her from leaving while Dom was putting the children to bed. I’d hardly call that strong. In fact the word that comes to mind is fragile.”

“Not fragile, frighten of what is to come maybe, but not fragile.” The older woman smiled to herself at the wonder of it. “If she’s been deteriorating for the last seven months, it takes a formidable personality to remain even close to intact,” remembering Mal’s downward spiral, her voice broke. “But...but...she’s tough enough to recognize help when it’s offered and smart enough to reach out for it.” Sabine curled tighter against Miles and accepted the support he was giving her.

“It’s all right, Sweetheart, you don’t have to talk about it any more,” he crooned gently.

“I want to.” She intertwined her fingers with her husband’s. “Maybe it will make up for some of the damage I did in the past.” Sabine watched Ariadne and Dominic sleep. The small slim brunette supported the much larger man, as he held her to keep her from falling. “That girl is excellent at hiding her emotions but right now, when she’s the most vulnerable, she opened up. She allowed him to take control and take care of her. Do you have any idea how much strength that requires? I believe when the time comes and you finally get to the bottom of what is really tearing her apart, she’ll allow him to see her cry, as well. Tears in the face of great pain or adversity aren’t a sign of weakness or manipulation, they are a mighty truth.”

“Mal was that strong.” Miles defended his daughter as he reached over and reset the controls on the PASIV. He adjusted the timer to give Dom and Ari five more minutes in real time and one more hour of dreaming.

“No.” Sabine looked sadly into the past. “Do you remember how happy she was when she first started dating Dominic?”

“Yes.” He smiled. “They seemed like an ideal match.”

“Did you know that when he proposed he told her that he’d dreamt that they would grown old together? At the time I thought he was being romantic but now....” She shook her head in doubt. “Now I think it may have taken place in a tiny stolen slice of a shared dream.”

“They were both so infatuated with dream sharing that it wouldn’t have made any difference to either of them at the time.” Elkins was well aware that Dom had an innate sense of what was real and what was dream, though that ability had been shot to hell when Mal killed herself. His daughter had always had doubts. She’d been the one to come up with the idea of a totem. It had been her guide to the truth.

“There’s more. The night before the wedding she told me that she was sure that Dominic was her other half. She said, ‘This time tomorrow I’ll be half of a whole, just like you and daddy.’ I tried to make her understand that we were a couple, a very strong couple and better together than on our own, but each of us was a complete person within the unit. She only laughed at me and accused me of living with a sober Englishman for too long.”

“You make her sound very young,” a wistful note crept into his voice.

“She was young.” Sabine smiled gently. “They both were and spent large portions of their lives together in shared dreams. Dominic was the architect and Mal was the psychologist assigned to go into dreams with his group. Professionally I can’t fault her for her job with the team.” She reached for her tea and took a sip before handing the cup to her husband. It was an old ritual, to share a nightly cup of tea. One that she’d sorely missed when she’d been gone. “I didn’t learn until after she was dead, how often the two of them experimented on their own. It’s something I should have known because I knew my daughter and how much she loved to step into a dream with him. I wonder how they kept a real life marriage going with all the hours they spent in a fantasy.”

“Were they having problems?” Miles frowned, rattling the teacup in its saucer as he set it down, uncomfortable with what he was hearing.

“Not that I knew of, but it’s inevitable that any married couple has bumps along the way. I worry…and…well…I believe she was slipping away long before anyone realized there was a problem. It happened so slowly that we just didn’t see it, until finally dreaming became easier than real life. I’m convinced that’s why she killed herself and tried to force Dominic to go with her.”

“You’ve been giving this a lot of thought.” Elkins wondered how he’d missed so much of importance in his daughter’s life.

“I’ve had three years to work it out, but it’s only been the last few months that things fell into place. Before I’d been too busy faulting Dominic to listen to the doubts that haunted my sleepless nights.” She yawned and rubbed her cheek against her husband’s chest. “I knew he felt responsible, so I made him the scapegoat.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Miles kissed her forehead. “It was a terrible time for all of us.”

“Yes, but it was worse for him. He lost his wife and children in a matter of months.” Sabine closed her eyes to get her bearings. “I believe that something happened in that last protracted dream they were caught in. An action or choice was made and he was convinced it was the reason Mal killed herself. But he’s wrong, Dominic is wrong.” She nibbled her lip hating to admit the truth, but knew it was an important step to healing. “As a psychologist, I believe that it was already too late for our daughter. She didn’t do well during the nine months she was banned from dreaming while she was pregnant with James. It should have been a sign but we all missed it.”

“He’s never said much about that extended dream, only that it was an experiment and they became trapped on a level where time moved very slowly. Slow enough that he was able to teach Mal to build.” Miles sighed in frustration. “As much as I’d like to know more, especially about my daughter as an architect, I won’t push him now that he’s doing so much better.”

Sabine looked across the room at the sleeping couple as if seeing them for the first time. “He’s told Ariadne about it or he let it slip in when they did that job together. It explains so much. Why she was avoiding you when she came back to Paris; why he came so quickly when he knew she was having problems; why she came with him and then willingly followed him into a dream. I know they talk. I’ve seen them.”

“Dom talk?” he denied then remembered two whispered conversations that had taken place in his study that evening. One that convinced her to stay and the to other, after they woke from the first disastrous shared dream. “You may be right, but he’s usually as closemouthed as Ariadne.”

“Look at them, Miles. Take a good careful look. What do you see?”

“Two people clinging on to each other for dear life,” he mumbled.

“Exactly,” Sabine whispered and took it one step further. “I don’t know what’s in store for them. I know there is an attraction. I can see it when they look at each other but...” She shook her head refusing to speculate on the future, preferring to stick to what she knew best. “If we’ve learned anything from losing Mal, it’s that real life problems can’t be solved in shared dreaming. Over the next few days, as you take them deeper into Ariadne’s dreams, we need to be sure they have a structured time to talk. Though I am sure they are talking while they sleep, it isn’t the same.”

“Is all of this we’ve been discussing, your roundabout way of saying I should stop blaming myself for what happened and get on with my life?” He held his wife tightly needing to feel the familiar reassurance of her body against his.

“I’m saying we all need to move on, all of us.” Tears filled her eyes and Miles understood what she’d meant earlier about crying being mighty. There wasn’t a shred of weakness in Sabine despite her wet cheeks and overflowing eyes. “If you need my help with Ariadne, I’m here, I won’t avoid...I’ll do what I can.” She wiped her face and tried to smile. “I know it’s hard. No parent is supposed to outlive their child.” Her voice broke in tiny gasps.

They held tightly to each other until they both could talk and feel again without losing control. “Go upstairs, Sweetheart. I’ll be up soon.” Miles checked the readouts on the PASIV and adjusted the dosage of medication that was being given to Dom and Ari. “I’m going to try something new. I’ve set it so it reduces the sleep drugs slowly over the next fifteen minutes. With luck they’ll keep right on sleeping. Either way I’ll be up since they won’t require monitoring any longer.”

“They’re both going to have stiff necks in the morning, sitting up like that.” Sabine warned.

“Even if the compound were strong enough to allow it, I don’t think we could move Dom. Ari alone, yes, but not him, he’d be a dead weight. It was why I suggested he hold onto her. Even in her subconscious mind she’d be aware that he’d make a good anchor, physically speaking.” Miles smiled at his wife as she rolled her eyes at him. “Now you’ve given me all the emotional reasons my choice was a sound one.”

Sabine stood and began to head for the door when a noise from the couch made her stop. It was Ariadne as she turned into Dom’s embrace and snuggled closer to his body. The older woman looked carefully at the girl and made up her mind. In three quick, quiet steps she was beside the sleeping couple. She took off the soft seafoam green throw and draped it over them.

Dom’s eyes fluttered open. It was dark- midnight dark, his neck hurt and he was sure he was dreaming. There could be no other explanation for him sleeping on the couch in Miles’s darkened study with Ariadne. He remembered the dreams they’d shared and believed he was still asleep on the bed in the cottage in Loire Valley. Since this was his dream, he decided he was going to be comfortable. He tightened his hold on the still dreaming woman, and slid them down the couch until they were both lying down. Her head was on his chest and he had both arms around her. That was better, warmer. He tugged the odd soft blanket up and tucked it under Ari’s chin, pulling her closer, tighter against him. He wasn’t taking any chances of losing her no matter the level or dream they might be on.

To Ch 8 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt I


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Still no comments?! Am I missing something? Anywho I am squeeing in my seat. XD This is just too good a story. I'm sorry I might just leave 5000+ word reviews on FF at this point. So in character I think I might die and the places you're taking it? Oh how I can only dream of them until you produce more glorious ficage! Please, please! Keep up the good work!
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
As a mother it was hard to write this chapter but it was the only way I could get a bit of Mal into the story.

She seems so fragile in the movie and there had to be a reason she got lost in limbo when Dom didn't. Since the writers were silent on the matter, I made up my own.
Nov. 10th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
Well I'm glad you did. It adds to the story nicely. And your explaination was very easy to understand I thought. As a writer you're allowed to take liberties. :P
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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