03 August 2010 @ 07:13 am
inception fic: torque  
Torque.
Inception coda. 1000 word concept fic. PG.
This is not his curse, this should not be his madness. This was always Mal’s, this totem, this virus.


It’s late at night and the children are dreaming and the top won’t stop spinning. This is a nightmare, Dom thinks, hopes, prays to the god of himself who has lived through infinite lifetimes and a limbo of paradise, this is my mind.

His head slips off his fist and slumps onto the table. When he wakes up, the top is tumbled, and it will not spin again.

This is not his curse, this should not be his madness. This was always Mal’s, this totem, this virus. The paranoia of the job, sunk deep into his mind. This is my mind, but this is not my world.

The children run passed him laughing, shining and spinning like golden tops in the kitchen. They are perfection; they are his heart, ripped from his chest and shredded like fairy floss against the morning sun.

His children were never blond. The thought slams through gut like a freight train. They were Mal’s children, through to the bone, all dark and porcelain. Her voice, her eyes, mad and blue, shrivel his soul; come with me.

He turns, it is night, and the children are curled up in a blanket fort that he has some notion of having built; an afternoon of honeycomb and bittersweet giggles, but can’t quite remember the actions contained within the knowledge. How did you get here? He thinks, looking at the hair of his daughter, bundling out dark and wispy across a white throw pillow.

He smiles at her, at the way she mumbles and shoves at her brother, who is curled up back to back with his sister, and tries to think why he is awake at this hour.

Cobol should have come calling by now. Cobol calling on Cobb, if only to have him silenced by papers and lawyers. They cannot touch him now, Cobol of the dreamers, of the fighters, of the men with no life to live but the life of dreams and shadows, who chased him so perfectly, so adroitly, that he barely kept his feet on the path to salvation.

Cobol has shrivelled.

Dom tries to call Saito, to ask if he’s bought Cobol too, but gets a dead tone.

This is when the horror looms, and he can’t see the faces of his children, buried beneath their dark hair and feather throws.

He calls Arthur, Miles, Eames, even Ariadne, who knew his secrets before she could even run in this crawling world of dreaming.

Dead, dead, dead, dead.

He stares at his phone, and down at the floor. Sparkling in the upturned pile of feathers set loose from a cushion, half-forgotten from what must be years, or at least hours ago, is a quiescent top.

He reaches down, but it keeps slipping farther down the soft white pile. He’s still reaching when the phone jumps in his hand, buzzing electric against his skin.

Caller blocked.

He flips open the phone and hears Robert Fischer’s voice. It’s saying, ‘hello, dad.’

Dom drops the phone, catches his palm on the blunt top, blows away feathers and sets it spinning. On the floor, beside the phone where that calm, gravelled voice is saying something, anything, it doesn’t really matter what, the top skids and spins on polished wood, and falls.

‘No,’ Dom says, ‘No, no, no.’ He stares into the blinking white screen of the phone, turns to his children, and sees only a daughter, because of course, Mal killed her son when she killed herself, leaping into the abyss with a blue eyed boy clutched to her deadly chest.

He’s only ever had a daughter for years, at least hours, now.

He sets the top spinning again, picks up the phone, presses it to his ear. ‘How many lifetimes have I lived in dreams?’ He asks himself.

Robert Fischer, of money and of loss, breathes for a moment, and hangs up.

Dom nods, catches his forehead on a palm, and drops to the floor, on his knees, slow and steady, and stares as the spinning top spins forever. It’s late, and his daughter is dreaming, and the top won’t stop spinning.

A totem is a magic feather, Dom remembers, it does nothing, it’s no use at all; all it does is remind you of things you should know already.

Mal laughs in his mind, a bad dog, barking her bite. This world is not your own.

He crawls to his daughter, puts his palm against her cheek, and when she opens her eyes, they are Mal’s unblinking and wet with tears.

Always, the shade says, and when she reaches up with a kitchen knife, Dom catches her child’s fist in his own and drives the knife home.

He wakes up in a bed, old and magnificent, draped with the same red that had heralded the deathbed of Robert Fischer’s father.

‘You made it,’ Ariadne’s voice says half-bitter and nearly kind, and like a puzzle piece in a library, she slots into a place she shouldn’t belong; the family business, hunting down her own father with skills born into the blood and the line.

She is sitting in a chair, exhausted dark all around the eyes, and at her feet is Robert Fischer, his head leaning back against her thigh, her palm on his forehead, like a sister would comfort a brother. Beside them, the snake of a dreaming device is falling from the crooks of his elbow.

‘You,’ Dom croaks, his voice all run aground, ‘your name isn’t Fischer.’

Robert stares up at him like he is seeing the face of god, a baby blue eyed boy all grown up in a world with a sleeping beauty, a dreaming myth for a father, following in the footsteps of a looming genius in the family arts of dreaming and thieving. Stares at him with Mal’s eyes. ‘No,’ he says, and smiles at Mal as she runs through the door, flushed and aflutter, and Ariadne turns her head slowly to trace Mal’s path across the room.

‘How many lifetimes?’ Dom asks, persistent, wary, wishing he could look into a mirror.

Mal stops at the foot of his bed, full of righteousness and petty I-told-you-so, full with pride, with marvellous haste. Cobol is hers, is theirs, a Cobb and a Mal, phonetically married. Robert never had to play make believe at being an heir. Ariadne was never an ingénue. Mal was only ever sometimes a shade.

‘Only as many as we’ve got left to go.’ She smiles now, and he realizes that he never quite got the curve of it right.

fin.
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Draconic Voices[personal profile] draconic_voices on August 2nd, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Wonderful, chilling and all too easily believable. I think this is what I most like about Inception: all the imaginable possibilities.
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Something like a crossroads song[personal profile] charlieblue on August 5th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the concept. :)
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goodbyebird: Inception you're waiting for a train[personal profile] goodbyebird on August 5th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
Lovely prose, as always. Fun to see I wasn't the only one that had the idea of Ariadne being Cobb's daughter.
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Something like a crossroads song[personal profile] charlieblue on August 5th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's the best part about the fandom for this film; practically anything is feasible. I read this beautiful short story by Jorge Louis Borges about a man who created a child, sinew by nerve by thought every night in his sleep, only to discover that he himself was such a child. This could all too easily be the case for Cobb. There are creations within creations within creations, and all symbolic, so anything could happen; all that matters are the emotions and personal revelations. *clings to crazy inception-brain-fucks*
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