alostcorner: (omg)
[personal profile] alostcorner
So I, um, have been trying to avoid getting into Inception fandom for a while, because I figured I'd get over my suit kink after a few days. But apparently that didn't happen.

Title: The Lady is the Tiger
Fandom: Inception
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Ariadne/Mal
Word count: ~1700
Rating: R
Warning(s): Bloodplay, sexuality, slight departure from canon for porntastic purposes, second-person narration
Summary: written for this prompt and this prompt on the kink meme. Ariadne encounters three different incarnations of Mal.
(Let's not lie, this is nothing but self-indulgent back-to-school porn.)



The first time you go under, there she is to wake you up with a the twist of a knife. You feel the shuddering pain and the rush of warm blood for maybe a second before your vision goes hot white like it's never done in the waking world. So this is what your subconscious imagines it must be like to be stabbed. Or is it Cobb's mind that supplied the nature of the pain?

You jerk back to reality on a battered lawn chair. Goosebumps rise on your bare arms. Arthur takes your hand and offers you instant coffee in a paper cup, but all you want to know is who she is.

She's a cautionary tale, a clever addendum to your on-the-fly training: never take your emotional baggage under with you. She's another bullet to dodge. She's a challenge to help keep you on your toes.

You're goddamn pissed about the whole being stabbed thing, but you're not one to turn away from a challenge.

The next time you see her, you swear you'll have the upper hand. You know what you're up against, and she's only a figment of a haunted man's imagination. But the tears in her eyes catch you off-guard, as does the sad little quirk of her lips. She asks you a riddle, but you barely hear the words over the clamour of your heart and your impatient thoughts. You want to ask her what's happened here: the broken wine glasses, the overturned furniture, the flapping white drapes. You want to know but her eyes stop you in your tracks, and before you know it, you're up against a bare white wall with your collar undone and she's making you bleed again, careful little cuts that make you shiver all over, delicate little slices along the pale skin of your upper chest, and she's trying to make you understand what it means to be half of a whole, to give half of yourself—

She takes your hand and places it over her heart. “Do you feel this?” she asks.

You nod. It's a strong heartbeat, stronger even than the one pounding in your ears.

She holds out one hand and holds a shard of broken wine glass in the other. Without flinching, she makes a cut across the heel of her palm. The line reddens quickly and before the blood can well into droplets, she presses her bleeding hand to your bleeding chest.

“Together,” you hear yourself say, but you can't remember moving your lips.

She pushes against your shoulder, holding you up against the wall. She puts her other hand over your mouth and she dips her head down to your chest, lapping at your wounds in tender little strokes.

Your hips jerk forward involuntarily and in your embarrassment, you reach out and grab the nearest solid object. You end up wrapping your hand tight around her upper arm, and her flesh gives slightly beneath your desperate fingers before you feel bone. She has none of your sharp tomboy angles; she's all inviting softness, contradicting the panic and the stern sense of propriety building in the back of your throat.

This is Cobb's mind, you remind yourself. This is your employer's mind. You have responsibilities, you have expectations to meet. You do not allow your employer's subconscious's projection of his dead wife to do this, no matter how curious you are.

You push against her shoulder and will your jelly legs to support your weight. She responds, pulls back from you and you hear yourself moan quietly against her hand as cool air rushes over your skin where her mouth had been. She smiles, uncovers your mouth. She leaves a bloody lip print on your cheek, warm and slick. Then she pulls her arm back and assumes an unmistakable posture.

From behind you, you hear metal rattling and someone shouting your name just as she drives a shard of glass into the flesh below your collarbone. You scream and, suddenly rejuvenated, you throw your arms out in front of you and drag yourself back to the elevator.

Cobb has a hard time looking you in the eye for a while after that.

All this time, you've been thinking of him as the solid core of this operation, but now you realise that you'll need to keep your eye on him.

*

You find her in Arthur's little maze, smoking in an alcove that is nearly invisible except to people who already know to look for it, one of the new little tricks in your arsenal. You freeze when you first spot her, but upon closer inspection, you realise that there's no way to mistake her for Cobb's Mal. She isn't trying to kill you, for one. She couldn't get in here without Cobb bringing her, for another. And her outfit looks like something Arthur would dream up: a deep blue sheath dress with a gathered neckline, eggshell-white heels and matching opera gloves, glittering pear-shaped diamond earrings. Her hair is pinned into a neat, sleek twist, and she holds out a silver cigarette case to you when you catch her eye.

You're supposed to be learning about paradoxes, Arthur's left you to building up this maze, and soon there'll be a test. But isn't this a paradox of sorts, this woman who's left such different traces in the minds of the men who knew her?

She blows a puff of smoke in your general direction, but she smiles warmly enough. You take the cigarette even though you don't smoke—not in the real world, anyway, but you've always been attracted to the old-Hollywood glamour of the habit—and try to make small talk.

“Nice place, huh?” you say, gesturing at the arched doorways and vaulted ceilings.

Her smile deepens. She lays a hand on your shoulder, heavy and solid, and says, “Sois prudente, mon chou.”

"Is there something in particular I should be concerned about?"

She shakes her head and a few curls come loose from their pins. "T'es si petite, et le monde est si vaste."

"I can handle myself."

She squeezes your shoulder again and gives you a look that makes you feel as small as she says you are. Your cheeks go warm, but you maintain your composure and put the cigarette between your lips.

"Arthur said you were lovely," you say.

She lowers her eyes and laughs coyly. "Il est toujours gentil."

She produces a lighter and you have to lean forward to reach the flame.

You've never been able to stand the smell of cigarettes, but when you inhale, the smoke tastes like cinnamon and burnt cedar. It tickles your throat but you don't need to cough. You're grateful for that at least.

You exhale in a long, steady stream. You watch the smoke curl up towards the ceiling. You blink slowly.

She's gone when you open your eyes, and the cigarette in your hand has almost burned down to the filter.

*

Long after the Fischer job—well, it seems long to you, but time is relative, isn't it?—you're heating milk in a shallow pan on the stove. You're in the flat you share with two other students from the States, and your eyes are sore but you're too restless to sleep. Between measuring out the cocoa powder and pouring the honey, you unconsciously touch each wrist. The skin there is unbroken.

You drink your hot chocolate and shuffle to your room. You switch on the light, sit down at your desk, and glare at the mess there as if that will make straight and true pencil lines appear on the mostly-blank paper.

A cold gust of wind pushes hair into your eyes. With clumsy fingers, you button up the oversized cardigan you wear to bed, and you twist your hair into a loose braid, but your attention's been drawn away from the unfinished sketches.

Someone is kneeling beside your chair. Someone is running her nails along the side of your neck. Someone is puffing hot air against your cheek. But you're not frightened because that cold wind is still blowing, and you know that the window in your room has been stuck shut for as long as you've been there.

You slide one hand into the pocket of your cardigan and feel the hollowed bishop there. Its weight is what you expected, so you take your hand out again and ghost your fingertips along her jaw. You curl your fingers against the back of her neck and urge her closer, and you let her sink her teeth into your lower lip. She won't draw blood, but your lips will be swollen soon enough.

Sometimes the two of you talk. Sometimes she tells you about the life she once had—or at least, she lets your imagination elaborate on the bits and pieces of information you've picked up from the people who knew the real Mal. And sometimes you tell her how bored you are with the real world, how you crave the power of creation and the thrill of the chase, how you just doze through classes and hand in mediocre work.

(In fact, you might be in class now. You might be sitting beside Michel, the boy who bought you a coffee after he knocked your textbooks out of your hands one time, who periodically asks what your plans are for the weekend and never seems upset when you turn him down. He has no idea what you really are, cannot imagine the terrifying and awesome features of your imagination.)

Now, you are not in the mood to talk. Now, you let her unbutton your cardigan and trace her nails over scars that doesn't exist in the waking world. Sometimes she reopens the wounds on your chest. Sometimes she bites the insides of your arms and thighs hard enough to wobbly C-shaped indents. But there's no panic anymore, no danger. She's the last souvenir you have from that trip down the rabbit hole, and she's only as tame or as wild as you will her to be, because this is your mind and here, she's all yours.

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