Title: The Mouths of Babes
Rating: PG, K+
Summary: For the inception_kink prompt: "Five people who get the wrong impression about their relationship and one person who gets it right"
I'm not Nolan, but if I was Ariadne/Cobb would have
been canon and amazingly smutty sex scene.
“It's not a visit to Disneyland,” says Cobb, seriously, “if you don't have photographic evidence that you were here.”
The young woman gives him a pointed look and refuses to hand him the camera. “Just go stand with your children, please. This is an important memory for you, too.”
He gives up, because arguing with Ariadne when she's intent on something is pointless. Two years of knowing her has taught him that. Five months of sharing a state and visiting often has ingrained the lesson into his mind better than any inception.
The petite brunette fiddling with a camera attracts a colorfully dressed woman in black orthopedic shoes.
“I can take the picture if you'd like,” says the Disney employee, smiling far too widely. Before Ariadne can refuse, Cobb is thanking the woman, and Ariadne is standing behind Phillipa and James in their mouse ears. Cobb slings an arm around her shoulder, and all that the young woman can do is smile awkwardly at the camera. They hear a click, but the woman waves at them to stay in place.
“No, no, let's take it again,” she says. “Your older daughter wasn't smiling. Okay, now smile!”
The picture, which featured two scowls adorning the faces of the older pair in it, is deleted from the camera and never spoken of ever again.
Stewart is a decent guy who is giving him a chance at the first real architectural job he's had in years, and when he offers to just meet Cobb at his own house, he already likes the guy.
Ariadne, who is genuinely thrilled that Dom has a (legitimate) job opportunity, offers to keep the kids occupied for the time being. Which isn't hard, because his kids are asking for her from the second their heads are off the pillow until the time they're crashing back onto them. When she's not at her graduate classes, she's usually over at his house, and ensconced in some art-and-crafts project that could only be cooked up by a five and seven year old.
Stewart and Cobb sit at the dining room table to talk business, and there are twenty whole minutes that pass before James, ever the escape artist, comes flying into the room, pursued by a petite young woman and a pint-sized ninja girl.
“Woah, there, little man,” Ariadne sing-songs before snatching James up and into her arms. He squirms with delight when she tickles him, then shrieks when Ariadne holds him so that Phillipa can get in a good tickle as well. “Sorry,” she says to Dom, who waves off her apology with an easy grin. They're becoming much more frequent, and usually when she is around.
“Come on kids, let's leave your father to his business meeting.” And then she's following the two back up the stairs.
Dom listens to the pounding of feet on the floor above for a minute before shaking his head. “We wouldn't have lasted twenty seconds without her here,” he says to Stewart, truthfully. His children are everything, but they are everywhere, and he's only one man, as he's reminded constantly when he's overwhelmed. Ariadne's presence is a saving grace and a calming one, as well.
Stewart dismisses the almost-apology. “Not a problem. Didn't even know they were here. She's good.”
Dom settles back in his chair. “She is. She's amazing with the kids. I don't know what I'd do if she wasn't here; I owe her far too much”. It's the first time he's ever admitted that aloud and a business meeting doesn't seem to be the appropriate place, but it's better than a train suddenly ramming into the room.
“Does she charge that much?” asks Stewart.
Dom gapes. “What?”
“Your babysitter,” reminds his almost business partner. “I'm looking for one, myself.”
The meeting ends and Dom forgets to call Stewart back. Which is fine, because he gets a consulting job for one of Saito's companies, and can work from home.
His girlfriend still comes over every possible chance, if not more.
Eames swings an arm around Cobb's neck, careening into the bar. “The kids are fine,” he cajoles. “You really ought to relax, mate.”
Cobb gives him a grim look and goes back to his drink. “Somehow, blaring music and 'relaxing' aren't synonymous in my book.”
Eames doesn't hear him muttering, so he just goes on bobbing to the music next to Cobb. The song ends and then the missing pair are back from the dance floor, breathless and flushed. Ariadne climbs onto the seat next to Cobb and leans against the bar and his arm. He's got to admit he's impressed, because the dress she's wearing bares more leg than he thought she had and that move was flawless. She's grinning.
“Okay,” she says, taking a sip from Cobb's drink before turning back to Eames and Arthur. “You can have Arthur back now, Eames. See if you can get your boyfriend to dance.”
Eames shakes a finger at her. “One dance, young lady, than you are back out there. Got to make up for this one here.” He jerks a thumb in Cobb's direction, before Cobb can even give him that patented look, the pair has disappeared into the crowd.
She sighs and gives him a grin. “You've got to admit it's nice to see the two of them. It's been almost a year.” She bumps his shoulder with her own, a novel move achievable only because of the stool's height. “And I think this is the first music you've heard in a while that isn't Veggie Tales.”
“This qualifies as music?” he deadpans, causing her to roll her eyes.
“Fine, continue to hold up the bar.” She gives him a chaste kiss on the cheek, because that's what they do in public. He's still getting used to being a single parent and he thanks God every day for sending him Ariadne and all of her understanding, limitless patience. She's a better girlfriend than he deserves.
Before she hops down, she whispers in his ear “But if you change your mind about not dancing, you know where to find me.”
The bartender waits approximately 3.4 seconds after she is gone to sidle over to him. He jerks his head in Ariadne's direction, where she is dancing carelessly with Eames and Arthur. “Isn't this all a little weird?” asks the bartender.
Cobb looks over at the trio, sees Ariadne trying to get Arthur to dance in a way that isn't painful to watch, and then turns back around. “Two gay guys and a girl dancing? Isn't this California?”
The bartender laughs and shakes his head. “No, man, I mean...going out clubbing with your sister. That's got to be awkward.”
The man has taken his silence as an invitation to continue prattling. “I mean, if she's single...”
Three hours later, nursing a broken nose, the bartender walks out the back of the club, down the alley towards his car, when he spots a couple going at it against the wall.
The girl realizes they are spotted first and gives a small shriek. When they both turn their heads towards him, he takes off in the other direction. Clearly, that was not that guy's sister.
Ariadne pulls the comforter back angrily as she climbs into bed. Dom looks up from a parenting magazine he's skimming through to watch her, silently. She returns his gaze with an expectant one.
“I can't begin to fix it or explain it if you don't tell me what it is,” he says, dryly, causing her to huff. When he sees that she's a little tearful (and Ariadne never, ever cries), he flips the magazine shut and rolls onto his side to face her, instantly understanding. “It's about earlier, isn't it?”
“Of course it is!” she moans. “'Your student'? That professor was ready to staple a red letter 'A' to my chest right then and there after he saw me come out of your office. The only time I've been more embarrassed was...I can't think of anything right now, but I'm sure it has to do with Eames.” She settles back into the pillows looking petulant, and he tries not to smile.
“So I guess you're not putting on the schoolgirl outfit for me, then.”
She rolls to face him, her face deadly serious. He prepares himself for some sort of monologue on the psychological implications of role-play.
“Of course I am,” she says, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. “This just means we'll have to be more careful when I visit you at lunch.”
“Your Mommy is shorter than your Daddy,” whispers Kayla to the blonde girl beside her. James frowns at his sister's friend.
“She's not our Mommy.”
“So who is she, then, if she isn't your mommy?” asks Phillipa's playmate. Dom looks up from chopping a tomato to his daughter, and then to the woman next to him in the kitchen, who is avoiding his gaze while she watches the pasta (her skills in the kitchen almost rival her skills as an architect, but boiling water is an art that escapes her). He holds his breath, mind racing for an answer that will save his daughter from being a social misfit but also himself from the doghouse and is coming up with nothing.
Ariadne is still focusing on the pot, but her lips have thinned, and he knows that it's not as easy for her as it is for him. He's the one who gets a clap on the back and an approving look from other men, but Ariadne...she's been called many things and been given looks that say worse. And all the while she rants and raves about the double standards of American society he knows she's hurting. He has a moment of miserable despair where he wonders if this is it, this is the moment when the woman who saved his life and given him more than he could ever dream of is going to throw in the towel and call it quits.
But Phillipa speaks.
“She's my Daddy's best friend,” she says, in her little soprano-bird voice. “And she's my friend, too.”
“Best friends, like they share secrets?” says the playmate, trying to understand. She puts her crayon down and twists around to look at them. His daughter nods.
“They share everything. She's the one that found my Daddy and brought him back. And they really love each other. That's why they're going to have a baby,” declares his daughter, sagely. “James is really happy because he'll be a big brother.”
The little boy looks up to nod serenely at this but goes back to drawing on what had been a paint sample for the nursery. Ten minutes ago.
Ariadne has been predicting a future in graffiti art for him.
Dom covers Ariadne's hand with his, where it rests on the counter; he can feel the warmth of her hand and the coolness of the ring on her finger. She turns to him and gives him a watery smile before moving past him, muttering something about 'hormones'.
The girls have gone back to coloring, but Dom cannot help but walk over and plant a kiss on his daughter's golden-haired head.