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Disclaimer: See Prologue
Rating PG13
Pairing: Dom Cobb and Ariadne Bishop
Beta : Huge thanks to Vashti. Any remaining errors are mine, she did a great job.
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 ; Ch 7 - The Heartache and The Thousand Natural Shocks ; Ch 8 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt I ; Ch 9 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt II ; Ch 10 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt III ; Ch 11 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt IV ; Ch 12 - The Undiscovered Country - Pt VI
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
Enjoy





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That night Ariadne was surprised at how easy it was to rest her head on Dom’s right arm while he wrapped his left one around her. He had been correct that afternoon. They'd needed to come down from the adrenalin high that had sizzled through their blood. Standing in that lovely spot, warm and safe against him, had taken the ragged edge off her desire and left her calm and relaxed almost to the point of exhaustion.

As Cobb curled around her in the big bed, she knew he was there with her to face whatever they found in their shared dream. ‘Was that trust?’ she wondered. Before she had time to analyze it, she felt the sleep compound hit her system, wiping away random thoughts no matter how hard she clutched at them.

The Professor had reduced the time on the PASIV to one minute. That gave them twelve minutes on the first level, twenty-four on the second, forty-eight on the third and a little over an hour and a half on the never before explored forth level.

Dom and Ari worked quickly and efficiently, marking each level in their minds by the color of the window high on the wall next to their bed.

On the third level, below a large round red window, Ariadne laid her head on Cobb’s chest. Their bodies pressed tightly together.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Yeah,” her voice quavered slightly but her arm was steady as she reached behind her for the metal unit. “How about you?”

“Punch it.” He’d hardly finished speaking when her hand moved and the compound rushed through their veins.
.....................................................................................

Ari blinked and shivered. Her hair was blowing in her face and across Dom’s chest. They were falling. Wind rushed against them, its noise almost drowning out voices that started as whispers she could hardly hear but grew louder as they plunged downward. “Cobb,” she cried out, clutching his shoulder and front, surprised to discover they were both wearing familiar white snow suites.

“I’ve got you.” He held her tighter, relieved that this time down the rabbit hole she wasn’t alone and they were able to breathe, unlike their first attempt at shared dreaming in Miles’ study. "Is this what it was like when you fell off the porch of the Loire Valley cottage?"

"No, look at our clothes. It's the kick out of limbo, back to the hospital level. Have all those months been an illusion?" She was sure she’d been here and had done this before, except she’d been alone and able to block the voices that were becoming more and more insistent. "Are we still asleep on the airplane? Is this our limbo now, always falling and never landing?"

"No, I refuse to believe that." He thought of his children and the progress they'd made as a family in the last seven months. "James and Phillipa are in bed in the nursery at their grandparents’ house in Paris," he declared through gritted teeth. "You brought us here, now we have to find out why."

“You’re wrong. There’s nothing here but pieces of unconstructed dreams shaped like chunks of ice. I didn’t build this," she shook her head, trying to block the voices that were being dragged from her memory. "Why would I...? You weren’t even there...Oh God, why won’t they stop arguing?” she screamed, her words tumbling out fast and hard.

"Who’s arguing? What do you hear?" He tried to get her attention but she kept shaking her head, fear etched on her face as she fought to shut out the event that had changed her life. For the last nine years, she’d kept it deeply buried; now it was battling its way into her conscious mind. As it roared to life all around her, Ari and Dom’s feet hit the ground and the dark shadowy room slowly shifted. Lights came on and people appeared out of the mist.

“No, no, I don’t want you to.” An angry teenaged voice sliced through Ariadne’s memory, bringing with it everything she'd forgotten in an attempt to deal with tragedy and death, and still remain sane.

“But, honey, we’ll have fun. We can bicycle through Provence or hike in the Pyrenees the week before your classes start. Then once you're settled in, a quick trip to Paris for some shopping.” A soft feminine voice that was always accompanied by the gentle scent of Joy perfume, tried to reason with a stubborn fourteen year-old.

“No, it wasn’t my idea to move into the City or be sent off to boarding school. You and daddy want me gone. Well, I’m going but I’m going alone. I’ll never forgive you for taking me away from my friends. I hate you. I hate both of you!”

Moments later Dom and Ariadne were standing in the middle of a bustling, brightly lit terminal. Nothing was left of the dark three-dimensional canvas Cobb had created for Ari to use as a foundation for her dream. They were dressed in the clothes they’d appeared in each night; Cobb a gray button down, navy slacks and dark shoes; Ariadne in black slim fitting pants, deep red, long sleeved tee and charcoal vest with flat heeled brown half-boots on her feet. People moved around them with determination and purpose, never giving them a second look.

Ari’s jewel-colored shirt underscored her shocked, pasty complexion, as she fought to get out of Dom's arms.

“Ariadne, it’s all right, we aren’t falling anymore...” He pulled her tighter against him as he looked around trying to make sense of where they were.

“It doesn't matter,” she gasped, shaking her head. “Nothing is all right.”

“Look at me, Ariadne. We're still in a dream but it’s your dream. The one we’ve been searching for?” He was worried. She was disoriented, losing her grip on reality. “Reach in your pocket for your bishop and it will help you orient yourself. You’ve built this room out of the empty one I devised and you’ve filled it with projections. The answers we’ve been looking for are here."

She held tightly to her totem, recognizing the unusual feel and weight. She knew she wasn’t awake but wished she were because, if things unfolded as she was afraid they would, this was the moment that changed her life and there was no going back. “Don't you get it? This can’t be what happened. I don’t remember it like this but...but...it seems familiar…”

“It feels that way because you've reached the bottom. Down here, some place, is what you've kept hidden for so long. I think you've been subconsciously trying to get here. That's why you keep falling in your sleep. It's not a kick but a way to get back to this moment.” He kept her trapped in his embrace, her back tight against his front. They were on the fourth level and it was unstable as hell. If she bolted, he was worried the dream would collapse. “Ari, I know this is difficult but we need to see it through.”

“Dom, please make the voices stop.” Her breathing hitched. She fought to wipe out the words that echoed all around her, ‘hate you…hate you….hateeeyouuuu…’ They pounded on the door to her locked memories, threatening to explode around her. “Make them stop, now.” She didn't give a damn about his theories. She wanted out.

“Who, Sweetheart, whose voices?” Cobb covered her cold hands with his and tucked them against her body. He had her in a restraint hold to keep her calm, and to touch as much of her as he could in hopes of keeping her emotions in checked. The move was cold, and calculated, one worthy of Dom the Extractor. He discovered it brought him pain on a whole new level to force her to confront her hidden terrors. “Ariadne, talk to me. What do you hear that I can’t?”

“Them,” her voice shook. “The three people arguing at security.” She motioned with her chin to a well-dressed couple in their early fifties and a petite young girl standing on the far side of the couple. “No, no, it didn’t happen this way.” Ari refused to accept what she was seeing and hearing. “I would have remembered this.”

“Who are they?” he demanded, afraid he already knew the answer.

“My parents and me." She spoke in a monotone as if all emotion had been washed away. “This is wrong, I know it is. We didn’t...I didn’t...Oh God, no.” Ariadne shook her head and held on tightly to Dom. “Please, don’t make me remember this...”

“You’ve got to, Sweetheart. This is where the answers are.” Cobb was sure that they’d finally hit the core of her problem.

“Don’t you get it?” she yelled at him, fighting to break his hold. “It’s already far too late. The damage is done and there is no changing it.”

“Where are we?” he probed. “Tell me where we are and why it’s too late.”

“Kennedy Airport, Air France concourse. Now get me the hell out of here!” She struggled but it did her no good. He had her securely against his body.

Dom looked around. To his left there was a large advertisement for The Concorde... 'three and a half hours to Paris.' "Ari when are we?" He knew it had been years since the supersonic jet had flown.

"It's the day I left for France, nine years ago. September 2nd, 2001, the day I killed my parents.” She leaned against him in defeat. It was all coming back to her in a rush of mixed memories. She felt stretched thin and beaten. “Months earlier they had planned to come with me, make it a family vacation in Europe before school started, but I told them to stay away, that I never wanted to see them again and I never did," she whispered.

The pieces fell into place for Cobb. He wasn't sure how he'd missed it when they'd talked that afternoon. All the clues had been there. “Your parents worked in The World Trade Center?”

Ariadne nodded slowly. “Both of their offices were located there and our apartment."

"Sweetheart, that wasn't your fault." He kissed her neck glad she was snug against him as his heart broke for her. "My God, it was a terrorist attack."

Cobb's memories of that time were sketchy. He had been new to dream sharing and had been caught up in the beginnings of a wild affair with Mal. His realities had become the dreamworld and the passion they'd shared. Unlike the rest of the world, that had gasped and held its breath as news came out of New York City, the impact on his life had been that the military had stepped up their dream sharing war games as troops were readied for possible war. The extra time spent dreaming blunted the tragedy, making it seem as if it had happened in another lifetime. Looking back he supposed that, for him, it had. Nothing much except his children had been able to penetrate the dreamscape where he had existed. It had taken Mal’s death to wake him up for good.

"Weren't you listening to what I said?” She hated to repeat her greatest sin to this man, of all people. “My parents wanted to come to Lyon with me, get me settled in and then take a trip through the south of France or the Pyrenees. If I hadn’t told them to get the hell out of my life, they would have been out of the country, too. They. Would. Have. Been. Safe,” she bit off each word as if explaining the concept to a very young child

"Ariadne, they were your parents. It was there job to make the decisions. They chose to stay in New York." He couldn't imagine any circumstances that would cause him to send either of his children away to school but if he did, he'd sure as hell go with them to be sure they were safe and happy.

"Cobb, you have no idea how angry and mean a fourteen year-old can be. I'd been making their lives a living hell all summer. They probably breathed a sigh of relief when I left them standing at security." She gritted her jaw to fight tears that were welling up. Ari didn't think she had any right to feel sorry for herself. She'd done everything in her power to drive them away. "Please, don’t make me relive this. Don’t make me watch them walk away from me, glad that I’m gone," she whispered, burying her face against his arm to keep her lips from trembling.

"You're looking at what happened through years of buried guilt." He pulled her closer to the three people. "Look at your mother. Does she look like she's happy to see you go?"
.....................................................................................

Lillian Bishop was a small slim woman in a well-cut grey suit and silk blouse. She looked every inch the Executive Vice President of a major brokerage firm that was her professional title but today she felt like nothing more than a worried mother, as she tried to reason with her daughter. "Ariadne, I know you weren't pleased about moving from Westchester into the City but it was time. Since we have the means to send you to any private school in the world, why not choose the best?" It took all her effort to keep from crying.

"The best for whom?" Ari from nine years earlier was dressed in low raise jeans and a tight orange top that ended just at the waist, showing off creamy white skin and a navel ring, when she moved her body. She had a short brown leather jacket over her arm and a backpack at her boot covered feet. “Certainly not me. It's not my fault you don't trust me. I wasn't even at that stupid party."

"No, dear, you weren't, but you would have been if you hadn't been out with that boy..."

"That boy, as you call him, is Ellie Peterson’s older brother. I’ve known him all my life." Young Ari crossed her arms and glared at her mom. “Daddy plays golf with his dad, and you and his mom have been doubles partners for years. Where’s the crime in what I did?”

"The crime, as you put it, is that Brian is eighteen and you had just turned fourteen. The only reason you weren't at that party, with all your other friends, is that you were out on the back of an adult's motorcycle. Don’t try and shrug it off, young lady. The police found more than loud music, alcohol and pot that night. There was cocaine." Lily had been immensely relieved her daughter wasn't one of those dragged home by the police, but it made her blood run cold at the thought of Ariadne joy riding on a motorcycle with a young man four years her senior.

“Why do you think I didn’t go? I’m not stupid and neither is Brian. I wish we could have talked Ellie into coming with us.” She glared and rolled her eyes. Her expression a younger version of one Cobb was very familiar with. He held tightly to the adult Ariadne, frozen in place in his arms. “You’re overreacting, Mother."

“Riding on the back of a motorcycle isn’t a good way to show your intelligence. With those things it isn’t a question of if but when you have an accident. I know you and Ellie have been practically joined at the hip since preschool, but you are growing up and changing and so is she. You need a new set of friends.

“Darling, you'll love it in Lyon. The school is known for it's innovative art programs." She reached over to slide her daughter's overlong bangs out of her eyes. "I’m going to have my secretary see if there are still tickets available. Daddy and I can visit this weekend. We can meet you in Paris for shopping on the ninth and spend some time in Lyon. I can reshuffle everything on my schedule except a meeting on the 13th."

"Don't touch me." The teen pulled away as if she’d been burned. “I don’t want you there.”

"That's enough young lady. The decision had been made." Curtis Bishop had had all he was going to take of his daughter’s outburst. “You’re upsetting your mother.”

"What about the way the two of you are upsetting me? I should have some say-so in where I attend school. I was interested in their summer program, not boarding school." She spoke quickly and sharply, using her hands to emphasize her words. “Since you want me gone, I’m going. That way you won’t have to worry about parties or boys or...or...or me. I'll be out of sight and out of mind.”

"Ari, how can you say that? We'll always worry about you." Curtis smiled sadly. "It’s part of being a parent. Not the easy part, I might add. Someday, when you have children of your own, you’ll understand that. But until you can show some maturity in your decisions, Lily and I will make them for you. That way we’re sure you’ll live long enough to give us those grandchildren I was talking about."

"I thought it was pretty damn mature to avoid that party." Young Ari was furious.

"Curtis, Ari, stop it," Lillian Bishop interceded between father and daughter. "You two are too much alike to ever come to terms about anything, and I'm tired of playing referee." Tears filled the older woman's eyes, glinting brighter than the diamonds in her ears or the tennis bracelet on her left wrist. "Ariadne you are correct. Not going to that party was a good thing but what you chose to do instead is just as questionable."

"We are too much alike." Curtis looked sadly at his daughter reading the same determination in her eyes that he saw each morning in the mirror when he shaved. "But no matter how angry you are, you'll always be my baby girl. I love you," he had to clear his throat to continue talking. "We'll see you at Christmas, at Grandma's."

"We can't just leave her!" Lily turned to her husband, wondering for the first time if they had been too harsh with her.

"Yes, you can. Just go, both of you, just go." The teen knew that she was about to crack. She loved her parents, but was angry with them. That anger was intensified because she was as sad as they were about saying good-bye and hated that, in a small way, they were correct. Her friends were changing and she didn’t want to hang out with them like she used to. The last weeks she'd been living a lie, and pride had made her continue.

“It’s what she wants, Lil.” Curtis put his arms around his wife. “Let’s give her that much.”

"Have a good semester, darling," Mrs. Bishop whispered, her throat clogged with tears. "If you need anything, anything at all, let me know. I love you, Ariadne." She tried to hug her child but felt Ari stiffen at her touch. Turning quickly, she moved away, crying.

Curtis stood for a moment caught between an angry child and a crying wife. There had to be some way he could make this better. Solving problems was what he did and it earned him an excellent living. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a precedent in any law book that would help him here. All he could do was rely on his own judgment. "Love you, Brown-eyed Girl,” he murmured and gave Ari’s stiff fingers a squeeze before turning and hurrying after Lillian.

He didn't see Ariadne's eyes fill with tears that spilled down her cheeks. Neither parent heard her gasp their names as she turned and, with hands that shook, gave her belongings to the security guard to be processed.
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"I’d forgotten it all.” Ari leaned her head against Dom’s shoulder, glad he was with her. “I don’t understand why I didn’t remember it, not the arguments, not the angry parting at the airport, not any of it. Especially not that they would have been with me, in France, instead of at work if I hadn't lied." A half laugh, half moan bubbled up. "Well, I guess we have the answer to why I'm a stickler for the truth. It’s because I killed my parents with a lie." Her eyes filled with tears. She slumped against him, hardly able to move. "Please get me out of here. There is no more to see. The damage was done nine years ago and there is no changing it. I don’t understand why it was so important that I remember this."

"Ari." He swung her around so she was facing him. "If you could talk to them one last time, what would you say to them?"

"I...I'd tell them I loved them and to get the hell out of New York."

"Sweetheart, you can't change the outcome for them but you can for you." Cobb began to tremble. It felt like it had months ago when he'd held his projection of Mal for the last time and told a lie to set them both free. But this time it would be Ari telling a truth. “Go to them, talk to them, and tell them all the things you’ve always wanted to say if you had that last moment in the airport to do over.”

“They won’t recognize me.” She shook her head wanting desperately to have a chance to say good-bye, but terrified of facing her mom and dad one last time.

“Ariadne, they’ll see you exactly as you were then. To them only a few minutes have passed,” he urged. “Take a leap of faith, Sweetheart. It’ll make all the difference in the world if you allow it.”

“It worked for you with Mal?” She already knew the answer but needed to hear it one more time.

“Yes it did. I’ll be right behind you, only a few feet away.” He looked at the hands of his watch moving slowly in a circle and then at the projections of the man and woman walking up the concourse. “If you’re going to do it, you’ll have to do it now. We're running out if time.”

Ariadne rose on her toes and quickly kissed Dom’s cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered, suddenly filled with energy and purpose.

“Mama, Daddy,” she called out as she ran. She could almost hear the clip clop of her favorite high-heeled black boots, the ones her father had brought her from Spain a month before the disastrous party and motorcycle ride. As a fourteen year-old, she’d practically lived in them. She'd been wearing them that day at the airport.

“Ari Baby.” The couple held out their arms and adult Ariadne flew into them but they only saw the child they’d left moments earlier.

“Oh, you smell just like my mom.” Ari rubbed her nose against the collar of the older woman’s raw silk suit coat.

“Of course I do, darling, I am your mom. I’ve worn the same perfume since your father gave me that first bottle of Joy years ago.” Both women laughed.

“I’m sorry I was so angry, I didn’t mean it. I love you both so much.” Tears ran down Ari’s face. She’d wanted to tell them she’d cared and had missed them for nine years.

“Sweetie, your mother and I understand. You forget we were teenagers once ourselves.” Bishop knew that to his daughter he was an old man but he didn’t care. He was thrilled to have a truce in the war that had been going on in his family for the last four months.

“Darling, I’m going to miss you so much.” Lillian held onto her daughter as the couple walked their child back to the security checkpoint.

“Mom, Dad, there is something I’ve got to tell you.” She gripped her parents’ hands tightly.

“Ariadne, no, they’re only projections.” Dom called from a few feet away, though neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bishop heard him. “You can’t bring them back to life and it will only hurt you.” He was sure she was going to try to warn them.

“I…I…” Ari faltered, knowing Cobb was correct. Her eyes filled with tears and she hugged both her parents one last time. “I love you and I’ll miss you,” she whispered. "I'll...ah...see you at Christmas..." Her voice broke on the lie. Her arms were around her mother and father and she didn't want to let go.

"Oh, Baby, we’re going to miss you." Lily wept.

"Mom." Tears ran down Ari's face. It was time to finish what she had started. "I'm going to love Lyon and all of France. I'm sure of it. Daddy you are right about the school. It's going to change my life. I just know it. I'm not a real artist, but they will find a way to channel my talents so I can use them. Don't ever be sorry you made this decision for me."

"It sounds as if my Brown-Eyed girl may be growing up." He enveloped both his women in a hug as the overhead speaker announced Ari's flight. "That's your plane, Baby."

"Do me a favor." Her eyes darted back and forth from her mom's blue ones to her dad's dark hazel ones. "Give me a kiss, then leave and don't look back. I want to remember you happy, walking arm-in-arm like you always do. I'm gonna love Europe,” she whispered as she kissed her parents and watched them do as she asked.

When the Bishops walked away, the room dimmed. People became shadows and faded into the dark mist.
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"Cobb," Ariadne called out and gripped his hand.

"We're..." His word echoed. "Out..." The cottage in Loire Valley appeared and then shifted. "Of..." the red window became green and quickly changed to blue as they moved up the layers of the dream.

"Time..." Dom finished speaking as he blinked and his vision cleared. He was in bed in the room he'd been using at Miles and Sabine's house. His father-in-law was bending over them gently removing their IV's.

"What happened?" Miles gasped and jumped back in surprise.

Ari sputtered and gasped for breath as if she'd been under water too long. Her world shook around her and memories filled her conscious mind. "Was that real?" The words tore from her, filled with pain.

"I don't know, Sweetheart, but it is what you believe to have happened." Cobb spoke, as he and Ariadne automatically reached for their totems.

"Jesus...I...I..." She shook her head as she scrambled over Dom. She felt crowded in, unable to breathe. Her feet hit the floor and she turned to the men, unsure what to say.

"Shall I wake Sabine?" The Professor asked quietly, meaning to steady and reassure.

"No, please, I just need some time alone to figure it all out in my head...I need to understand and accept what happened." Ari held her hands out in front of her as if to block their way but only Cobb moved forward. He was a step behind her and gaining fast. "Dom, I need to do this myself. Please, I gave you the time you needed." She turned quickly and headed down the hall.
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Soon after, Sabine Elkins moved quietly through the house. The light over the stove and the mudroom door slightly ajar, gave her a clue to where the missing girl was hiding. She backtracked into the dining room and made a quick stop at the liquor cabinet before heading into the backyard.

“How are you doing?” Sabine joined Ariadne on the steps to Mal’s tree house.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to make sense of what happened.”

“That is understandable. Here, drink this.” She handed Ari a brandy snifter with a small amount of light amber liquid in it.

“You’re giving me alcohol?”

“Not much, but there are times when it is called for. Just do not tell Miles. It is his special stock. Dominic brings him a bottle whenever he comes from California. We cannot get that particular brand here. It is a Pear Liqueur, rather unusual.”

Ariadne took a sip and let the smooth, slightly sweet liquid slide over her tongue. “Cobb told you what happened?”

“Yes. He is very worried about you. The first thing he did was check your room. He was sure he would find you packing.”

“I admit it crossed my mind, but I couldn’t do that to him or you and Miles or…or me.” She sipped her liqueur and watched a sliver of the moon high in the sky. “It would be running again and… and…since it appears I’ve been doing that for nine years, it is necessary to make some changes in my life."

“You are being a bit hard on yourself.” Sabine moved carefully into therapist mode.

“Am I? I believe what Dom and I saw in that shared dream really happened.” She blinked refusing to give in to emotions. “But up until tonight I have no memory of it. The summer before I left for school in Lyon has always been vague. I never remembered going to the airport or boarding the Concorde. Even that first week in France, there is almost nothing. What I don’t understand is why it has taken so long to surface. I had intense therapy. The school brought in a team that specialized in trauma. There were three of us who lost people that day. A German girl lost her brother. He worked for an import-export company whose American headquarters was there. A senior, from Paris, lost her dad and me…well you know about my parents.”

“It is possible that the memory would never have returned, if not for the project you worked on seven months ago.” Sabine had spent years studying the psychology of shared dreaming. Much of her work, though classified, had been ground breaking. “You know that limbo is made up of unconstructed dream space. That is basically tiny pieces of things buried in an individual’s subconscious.”

“Arthur said that it was the unconstructed dreams of someone who had been there before. Cobb was the only one who had been there.” Ari was struggling to understand what she was being told. “It doesn’t make sense that a stray memory of mine would be there.”

“That is the usual school of thought.” Sabine agreed. “Dom told me that he took you down a number of layers, once when it was just the two of you. They weren’t normal levels but arranged in an order that had importance to him rather than according to depth. Did you ever hear the rattle of a train while you were in that elevator with him?”

“Yes.” Ari paled at the memory. “That train also had the power to come roaring out of limbo to any level it wanted.” She remembered it hitting their car just after she’d joined Cobb on the first level.

“Very interesting, but I think the more important event was you passing through limbo. You don’t have to stop and take a guided tour to leave fragments behind. In the sleeping mind, subconscious ideas move about and rearrange themselves. It is why we have no control over projections. My son-in-law has never shared the importance of that train with me, but I know it was a significant part of his limbo.” The Frenchwoman studied the problem from all angles. “I believe you stumbled on that lost memory while falling during the kick seven months ago and it’s been trying to get out ever since.”

“What do I do now?”

"A lot of that is up to you. Have you ever been back to New York since it happened?" she probed gently.

"No, there was no reason. At first, only military planes were allowed in American airspace... I couldn't have returned even if I had wanted to…I flew to Florida when my grandmother died six months later but other than that and going to LA for the job I did with Dom, those are the only times I've been back to the US."

"How have you survived all this time on your own?"

"Between my parents' estate and my grandmother's...."

"Ari, I was not asking about money but about you the person."

"Lots of therapy, though it appears they missed an important detail. Though I can hardly blame them if I didn’t remember myself.” She sighed softly and looked back on those days and weeks after she’d gotten the news. “I think what really saved me was that I fell in love with architecture and Europe."

Sabine smiled as Ari spoke. It was easy to see that the girl had fallen in love again. This time it was with Dominic. He was much better for her than countries or even the most beautiful art in the world, and she would be good for him.

"Pardon, Ariadne, would you repeat that last bit. It is late and my English isn’t translating as I would like." She’d lived with Miles too long not to think in English. It was a small lie to cover her romantic thoughts.

Ari switched quickly into her almost perfect French. "I fell in love with architecture and Europe. I went on that bicycle trip through the South of France with a group from school. On another vacation, I hiked through the Pyrenees with a different group. Everywhere I went I carried my sketchbook. It was as if I came alive here. I wish...I wish my parents could have known."

Sabine's eyes filled with tears. She was an older woman who had lost her daughter and Ariadne was a young woman who had lost both of her parents. The therapist in her knew that the dark haired girl beside her wasn't Mal and never could be but maybe, just maybe, they could help fill the dark emptiness each felt. "Ari," she gently stroked thick hair behind the girl's ear. "I am not sure if this will help you or not but I can say unequivocally that the moment your mother and father realized what was happening they were thankful that you were safe and far, far away."

Ariadne turned as she realized the depth of what she'd been told. "You would have traded places with Mal as she went off the ledge, if you could have."

"In a heartbeat. But like you the option was not given to me and, like you, I could not warn her or prevent what happened. My daughter excelled at hiding her depression; she knew she would be banned from shared dreaming and dreams had become as important to her as breathing.

"I could have saved my parents. If I hadn't been such a spoiled brat, they would have been with me, safe and far, far away," Ariadne argued.

"Would they?" Sabine dug deeper. "From what you and Dominic have told me your parents had demanding careers that they both enjoyed. Would they have been able to stay in Europe once your classes began?"

"I don't know." Ari slumped against the old woman. "I wish I'd been given the opportunity to find out."

"You need some sleep, my dear, and time to see if the bit of magic you and my son-in-law worked in that dream session will make things easier for you."

"He told you about that?" The young woman wondered how much more he'd told her.

"Yes and you need not look guilty. He told me that you gave him the same opportunity, months ago. I think it saved his sanity, for which I am grateful. Now, go on up. I’ll see to the stemware." Sabine picked up the snifters and the two women headed for the house.
.....................................................................................

Dom was sprawled out on Ariadne’s bed when she opened the door. The light woke him immediately.

“You can’t sleep here,” she whispered, sitting and facing him on the bed.

“I know. I wanted to be sure you were all right.” He sat up, as close to her as he dared. He needed to ask her about something that was none of his business and wasn’t sure how to begin.

“I finally understand so many of my actions over the last nine years. That has to mean something.”

“It does, but you’re still in free fall. I can see it in your eyes.” He cupped her cheek and ran his thumb over her lips, knowing she was still searching for answers to her missing memories.

“How long until I hit bottom?” Ari’s eyes slipped closed at his touch.

“I don’t know. It took me awhile but Mal’s ghost had been haunting me for a long time.”

“That feels nice.” She ran her nails through the scruff along his jaw, smiling at the sensations it created.

“Ariadne, look at me.” He tumbled them to the bed, his body half over hers. “I need to know if he hurt you.” It was what had been bothering him, what had driven him to camp out on her bed. He needed to know she was all right in every sense of the word. The issues with her parents were big ones and would take time but that was Sabine’s field not his.

“He who?” She blinked in surprise at his grim expression.

“That kid, Motorcycle boy.” Dom’s rough voice became gentle as he ran his fingers up her arm and skimmed her neck. “Was he careful with you? You were only a kid. He shouldn’t have touched you at all.”

“He didn’t...we didn’t...I did not have sex...” Her temper was about to slip its leash when she realized his face was filled with concern for her. “He didn’t touch me unless you count helping me fasten the helmet.” Ari cupped his jaw and let him read the honesty of her answer in her eyes.

“I had to be sure he didn’t hurt you, Sweetheart.” He slid his arm under her neck and ran his hand through her hair. She was a tiny thing and the thought of some ham fisted, walking hormone of a kid, taking advantage of her had eaten away at Cobb from the moment he’d heard about it.

“Dom, is that what my parents thought?” She pulled his hand out of her hair and sat up in his embrace. “Do you think that’s why they sent me across the Atlantic to school?”

“I only saw your projections of your parents but they seemed like the type who would have asked you straight out if they had any doubts.” He sat up behind her and pulled her close, leaning his cheek on the top of her head. “If it was Phillipa, I’d sure as hell find out.”

“You’re right, they would have asked,” she sighed and melted against him. “Do you ever remember the good times with Mal and not worry about the bad or the what ifs?” It would be easy to curl up beside him and doze off, but she knew she had to be able to sleep on her own before she would be healed enough to deserve this man who had fought his own past and won.

“Yes.” He ached to slip them between the sheets of her bed and sink gently into Ariadne, but he knew it was too soon. “After she killed herself it was only when I looked at James and Phillipa, but after I returned from the inception it became easier. Now when I remember the time Mal and I were trapped in limbo, I think of us growing older. It’s as if my marriage to her happened in another life. My personal inception worked for me. It worked so well that I’m selling the house in California.” Dom felt Ari stiffen in his arms and pull away. “Arthur is packing up the children’s things and my clothes. There are a few family antiques that will be shipped to Sabine and Miles, but the rest is being sold.”

“What are you going to do? Where will you live?” She couldn’t imagine being anywhere but beside him, and here he was making plans and moving on before she was ready.

“I’ve got that job waiting for me on the island of Hera, about fifty miles off of Crete. My children and I will be there until the plans are finished and construction starts. I hope you’ll be joining us. I’ve talked to Saito and you can telecommute until you find your footing.” He spoke carefully, laying out his plan to hopefully bind her to him.

"What about after?" She turned until she was caught in the blue of his eyes. All she could think about was that if one had to be lost, there was no better place.

"I've some ideas but they can wait for later." He pulled them both to their feet beside the bed. “You’re exhausted, you need sleep.” Dom kissed her gently on the forehead and headed toward the door.

“What…wait?” She swayed slightly. Her hand reached for where he’d been moments earlier. Her expression was filled with doubt. Did he want her as a partner in business or a personal one? If he only wanted her for business reasons and because they both knew there was chemistry between them, was she willing to gamble with her heart?

“You still don’t get it do you.” Dom’s brow rose unable to believe she didn't understand what was between them. In two swift strides he was beside her. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her until she moaned and her knees turned to liquid. “I guess under the circumstances I can forgive your confusion. You’ve been through a lot in the last seven months.” He helped her into bed and walked quickly out of the room while he still had the willpower to leave.
.....................................................................................

Later, when Dom and Ariadne were asleep in their respective rooms, Miles entered the master suite carrying the metal PASIV case.

"I know how much you hated shared dreaming, my dear, but how about we give it a go, see if we can’t make our lives a bit easier." He smiled at his wife and laid the machine on the bed between them.

Moments later Miles and Sabine were dreaming in their large bed, but in their minds they were in their sun filled backyard. Every rosebush was in full bloom, marking the time as late summer. Their arms were around a laughing projection of Mal, as they told her how much they loved her and how proud they were of her. The young woman held onto her parents tightly. Once they set her free, the grieving could end. She would live in the shadow world where she was happiest and her family could get on with their lives. They could live and love others as it was meant to be.

The truth Mal had always known had finally come to light. She was too fragile for reality. She was a being meant to live in a world of her own making. Now they understood it too.

TBC

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
impish_dragon
Sep. 15th, 2011 09:52 am (UTC)
I stayed up way too late reading all the parts of this fic. I hope youc come back to finish it. Good job.
lattelady6
Sep. 16th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading my story. I will be coming back to this, in fact I've got two different versions of the last chapter written, neither of which are any good.

I've just completed a major move and change in my life. Writing has been difficult for me. I'm doing a story about a different pairing that was begging me to give it life. After that, I am right back to Dom and Ariadne.

kotay3
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Wow, this fic is amazing, I usually don't read het but your writing was incredibly good. Read all of the chapters in one go and longing for more. I really hope that you'll come back and finish this fic soon:)
lattelady6
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. I am working on the final chapter but it isn't coming together as I would like. But not to worry it will be finished. I care too much about my characters to leave them hanging
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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Quotes

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

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

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

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