|Λύσσα (hysterical) wrote in repose,|
@ 2018-03-02 14:47:00
|Entry tags:||*log, alyssa vaughn, f eames|
log: dreamland, eames & alyssa!vaughn
Who: Vaughn(actually Alyssa) and Eames
What: She finds him in a dream and turns his memories into a chewtoy
When: Most recent.
Warnings: None I think.
Eames didn’t dream often, darling. Peril of the job.
But he was tired, presently. His consciousness spread thin as cheap margarine through construction and reconstruction as delicate as building houses of cards. It was hard, brutal work, dreaming as delicately as lace for other people’s consciousnesses to weave in and out of like ribbon. They were good dreams, because he was the very best but it wrung what was left of him out dry and when he was home in the house in the woods the nights were long and dark and he filled up the space with music to hold it at bay until he fell into the long, flat bed in the eaves and slept almost instantaneously.
He didn’t dream often but he dreamed now. His dream, not someone else’s. He wasn’t walking with intent, darling, not on an astral stroll through other people’s landscapes. The dream had walls and ridges, it was constructed with the equivalent of muscle memory, the way a dancer might sketch out steps in their sleep, a sloppy version of control but control nonetheless. Eames’ walls were ivory, the slender strength the color of old bone. They were like screens in an ancient Maharani palace, some concoction built between 1001 Nights, imagination and a little of the genuine India in the patterns and punctuations in the ivory that laced like honeycomb.
It was a construction of walls, centered around a tiled courtyard and corridors and porticos that wrapped around this central courtyard no matter which way you roamed. Eames wasn’t an architect, he didn’t have it in him to conjure up all manner of receding rooms or high-stone defences. His were painfully acquired, darling, with years of practice. Eames himself sat in the center of the courtyard, in a woven chair and a cream-colored linen blazer over silk, pink pants and a newspaper folded into his hand. Eames dreamed, and the world was dust and heat and the smell of baked earth and sandalwood and the soft bone and pale pink and brick of memory blurred into dream.
Mind games minus conviction, life was a rushing fever that propelled her awareness through bloodied red dwarf stars and plum-punched bruise galaxies. Have you ever seen everything? Have you ever known all of the absolutes? Not just the Hawking equations or Newton with his wormholed apples, but everything. The spindle-prick of dark matter that swirled extra-dimensional on her tongue, it was blood and chocolate. Try the new Massacre bar by Willy Wonka today! Top secret recipe made with real stem cells and carpenter blood-turned-wine.
That whole story was a little funny to her, but she liked it. In a world where carpenters got a second chance, anything was possible. But she wasn't about resurrection or death, those concepts had never tugged on the barbed puppet strings of her spinal column the way that they might have for a human. And yeah, she had a human body, but who was fact-checking? So what if it was beginning to come apart under the surface? No mortal form could hold this kind of power for long. Eventually her mask would begin to pocket with radiation burns and decay, but that was okay. It's not like she was attached.
To sleep, perchance to dream. Alyssa didn't think that she slept anymore, so she wasn't aware of the fact that she was dreaming. She was only aware of the fact that the head she was in was not her own. This was nothing new. Invading the heads of strangers had become more than a hobby in recent months, it was her favorite way to eat. Repose was like a Las Vegas buffet, there was so much fucked up power in these sad little people. She'd lick their brains like cleaning panna cotta from a rusty spoon.
She smelled sandalwood before she saw him, the man with the newspaper. Recognition wasn't immediate, not exactly. But there was something that echoed like a glass breaking from seven million light years away. She didn't know what it meant, not yet. It did, however, inspire her to step closer. From beyond the polished curve of a pillar just opposite from where the man lounged with his newspaper, dark eyes and a dust storm rolled into his periphery. She was avian bones and skim milk, chaotic wind-whipped curls that stopped somewhere near her chin. Her outfit? It matched his completely when she breached the courtyard.
"Eames," softspoken as a lamb in her linen and pink.
Eames knew the sensation of someone in his dream, like fingers stroking ripples into water. The newspaper sagged in his hand - which was the burned caramel color of long days in Indian heat. He lacked the panama hat he would have worn the last time he had sat in this courtyard and he caught the changing light as it bloomed malevolent overhead, chiaroscuro with the strong sunshine, the color of tea. It had been a long time since he’d been invaded, darling. The men who ran his life didn’t dream, it was too intangible for them. They liked violence, clean and convincing. Eames hadn’t bothered to tell them he feared people inside his own head, taking him down and down, into the dark spaces he didn’t think of at all, more than he feared being shot or stabbed or poisoned. Why give someone who desperately wants one, a hold over you?
Behind the newspaper, he squinted into the sunshine toward the figure. And when his eyes focused, intent and startlingly blue, Eames’s face washed out, greyish-white and papery. The newspaper collapsed onto the tile as it fell from slack fingers, a soft dry sound like a spatter.
“Vaughn?” Eames lacked the sensation of breath in dreams, he didn’t need to. But he looked like he lacked air now. The dream wasn’t foreign to Eames, it was a place rooted in a physical location and one he was fond enough of that he returned to its fascimile. The problem, darling, was that the woman who’d walked into it was one who had walked into a dream before.
He stared at her. Pink and white and utterly un-Vaughn in linen and pink silk and he stood without real sense of motion, the sort of intent that took him three steps and in front of her, and he reached for her in that ridiculous get-up he couldn’t believe he’d dream her into. Vaughn didn’t dress like sugarplums which meant she was either his imagination stretched to where disbelief could creep in or she was real.
Eames didn’t care terribly for the limited reality dreams presented. He understood, as most did, why people found comfort in dreaming up worlds in which they had exactly what it was they wanted. A person, or a home, or a memory to play over and over. He reached for Vaughn now, the intent clear and his concern fitted heavily over his features - one hand sliding for the back of her neck, the other arm across her back to pull her in. It was just a dream, darling, but Eames forgot, momentarily.
It was like flipping through a stack of the aged polaroids, those found in a stranger's attic. Glimpses of another life, but she lacked the attachment or understanding of any such memory. She had nothing to grip from her own side of the fishing line, and could only root through Eames like an aphid in its new favorite tomato plant. She would nibble along his greenery and devour memories the way that he saw them, him & her. The vessel was rather useless when it came to giving up information on her own end, what with being comatose and all. Still, there was something to be said for cell recognition, it was a metaphysical aspect of life that she didn't need to understand because she could feel it so completely. It was a dream, yes, she knew that now, but this man had touched the host's body before. She glimpsed it through the swollen lens of an antique camera in the back of her skull. Vintage, and different in the way he remembered her. Vaughn's hair would have been a little longer, less curled. The pink was all wrong. The linen would not have been a personal choice except for the fact that Alyssa was mimicking the dreamer.
But dreams could be altered. There was no resistance when his arms slid around her with the kind of familiarity that could only be bought by years of personal knowledge. Chin tipped up and she was Vaughn, dream or not, there was no question of the woman's likeness. The eyes were that same ruddy brown color that echoed an artist's afterthought of rust and ocher. If Eames would will himself to glance downward, or just grew more explorative with his grip of wonder, he'd have discovered that the linen and pink was quite suddenly replaced by an outfit glimpsed through his past. A camisole tank of cream-colored silk and trousers of dark flowing chiffon that bore slits way up the sides of both legs. It allowed for more of a breeze, a tasteful flash of more leg. She was too fair for this kind of sun, but… like he knew, it was only a dream, darling.
"It's me," she promised. And, to a certain extent, it was the truth. "I knew I would find you here."
Eames’s dream was like an envelope. It folded at the sides because it was the easiest way to keep the dream whole and defensible without populating it with an army of guards for the subconscious. This dream wasn’t very low-down, darling. It wasn’t very far beneath the surface (Eames, who was lying in ink-colored silk sheets in the bed under the eaves, had gone very still and quiet in his sleep) which meant both that the surface of the dream was easily breached but also that there was less need for defensiveness. The corridors and hallways inside the palace ran down and sideways and through. If you wanted to go deeper, Eames’ dream provided. He was a forger, darling. He’d never been able to hide his nooks and crannies like a good architect might.
He pressed the weight of her head into his shoulder, the soft-nubbed silk of her hair under his palm. Eames’s smile was full-blown, and when he drew back, he still held her within the framework of fingers and palm, took a good look at her from head to toe. He didn't doubt. Perhaps, darling, he should have. With anyone else - save Janus - he would have. But Eames had believed as strongly as cured salt that Vaughn would never show up in his dreams again if he hadn’t put her there.
He hadn’t dreamed of her. If he’d dreamed of Vaughn, it would be in her own environment, cradled in a memory like a jewel-box for a particularly complicated woman. And she was complicated, darling. Eames had half a dozen jobs and more than a couple of rainy Sundays in Paris in bed to draw from, if he’d felt like digging about for a memory. He believed. It was simple, it was complete, it was the only possibility he believed in. The totem weighted his pocket but Eames had his hands full.
“Are you alive?” The mocking note was wiped clean. Eames’ throat was hoarse with the question, he swallowed on it. If Vaughn was alive, then sod the clinic for a game of soldiers, darling. He’d fuck off to find her. Or to keep her clear from the greasy reach of the clinic. Vaughn’s dreams were like art, modern and sharp and clever.
Paris. She could remember Paris as glimpsed from the interior of moistened window panes, humid clouds on the glass where warm breath gathered and provided the palette for a thin, French-tipped finger to draw an idle and swirling labyrinth through the condensation. She could remember what it felt like to have a heart beat heavy with risk and reward. The thrill of it all, the chill of it all. These were not her memories, they were his. She appreciated the input because it allowed for him to see her in every familiar way that he wanted to. She smelled the same: almond oil and peppermint, sweet but cool.
When he asked if she was alive, she drew back from him only enough to give him a wide-eyed and smiling look. It was like a soundless laugh until she spoke. "Yes, of course." She touched at the fabric of his shirt, exploring the strength of it, the way it felt so real between her fingerprints. The shirt felt very real, and that was very curious to her. Dreams were rarely infused with such high-definition. "I woke up in a hospital," she told him while still marveling over the shirt. She picked at the fabric with the edge of her thumbnail, trying to find a stray thread. What a mind he had, she could only think of how wonderful it would be to unravel him. Slowly, like a spool of thread that she could unwind with gentleness before tangling it all up into cat's cradle knots... or even a noose.
Eames was very used to supplying the background noise. The hubbub, darling, the kind that kept you dreaming because there was no frayed edge on which to catch yourself awake, a hangnail-sharp pull into awareness. Scent didn’t have weight in Eames’s dreams. It was usually one-note, perhaps two but it lacked sophistication or complication. It was like written words, they rarely appeared in Eames’s imagination although if it was supplied by someone else it lingered, the craft was too unusual to go unadmired. He wasn’t concentrating on scent as it filled the sandal-scented air and bloomed over it. Vaughn’s smile ran an idle thumbnail up the back of Eames’s spinal column, he took her hands as they plucked at his shirt seams in his, one very large one wrapped around both for convenience. “Which hospital, Vaughn?”
Eames looked, rather a lot of the time, like a very large and very sleepy good-humored man. He was, to a degree. But his mind could also narrow in and focus precisely on the details and he had caught on Vaughn entirely. He remembered Vaughn’s clothes because he remembered the moment Vaughn had worn them, he remembered the curl of her mouth a little sardonic and the exacting nature of the landscape she had built. Eames remembered people by the way they moved, darling, and the way they dressed. He had enough of Vaughn to build her, Galatea in a dreamscape but he never had.
“Which hospital, darling?” Intent and insistent. “Where are you dreaming?”
His hand on hers. He was warm and strong, but she was a little cold. She was fine-boned china that held the chill of being forgotten in a cabinet, but he was good at warming her. Like frozen feet under the covers of an extravagant hotel room, astronomically high thread count sheets. She could beg, laughingly insistent that she let him warm her soles on the muscle of his calf. Dark hair strewn over a pale pillow, sunlight in shafts. Her eyes that opened always so slow and aware, pupils growing with consciousness and pride, chasing away the glimmer of apricot kernel irises.
She let him keep her hands, and she thumbed at the place where his own thumb bone ran down toward his wrist. He wanted to know about the hospital, and he had to ask twice before she looked away from his fingers to his face. He wanted to know, but it sounded like more than just wanting. He needed to know. Was that worry she detected? Emotions were still somewhat difficult for her to navigate, there were so many derivatives. Whatever the note that built in his voice then, it wasn't something that she could chase down through memory. It was here and now, so she brushed over it with a shush of reassurance.
"Shh, or they'll find us.." They'd run from something before, hadn't they? Is that the hole-punch of guilty horror that she could hear from the bottom of his mineshaft mind? Or was it something residual from the host? Something had gone wrong in the past, and she didn't know what, but the whisper felt like a good place to start. Her cheek found the front of his chest, reassuring. "What was the name of that song, Eames? The one we heard in Paris?"
Eames’s memory contained fragments of that job. It was long and complicated and he grew bored in a cold, twitchy sort of way of the long periods that were necessarily sitting and waiting. Eames didn’t like to sit and wait, he never had. He preferred to sleep instead, with the army’s education of learning how to drop off quickly, and in odd places. But to sleep was out of the question and instead he had waited in corners and in bars, and he had watched the slice of Vaughn’s chin from across the room because she irritated him enough to draw attention. No, darling. He hadn’t liked her. She had been young and new and had habits that set Eames’ teeth on edge because she wasn’t the architect he’d been used to. But he’d lost that one. Vaughn wasn’t him, she didn’t deliberately ruffle feathers or soothe. Vaughn was Vaughn.
His memory contained fragments of what had been drawled ‘getting to know one another’. Red wine in a carafe, he’d kissed her largely to see what it was she would do, a provocative, deliberate frustration. That job hadn’t been the only one, of course. A good architect was better than no architect at all. And Vaughn’s mind had been elegantly sparse. He hadn’t believed she could look unconstructed until he’d seen it across hotel linen.
She lifted her face to his and fitted her fingertips to the meat of his wrist. Eames hadn’t left them, darling. He wouldn’t. It was every man or none at all, obliteration or die trying, he might look relaxed on a good day but he never was when it came to the crew. As constituent parts before they’d been drawn together, perhaps. Vaughn was Vaughn but she had been the architect first. Had he not gone back? Who was out there, potentially, tossed about in a lost tide? So many of them had their own dreaming to do, and guilt saturated Eames in this dream because he’d never let it loose unchecked in the waking world.
But it was his dream, darling. Eames was asleep and he didn’t often dream. The old job. The one he’d woken from slowly, held under like an arm across the chest beneath the waves. Sick certainty, he folded his thumb across the ridges of her knuckles.
“Mm?” Distraction. Eames hummed. Low. Surprisingly tuneful for a man. “Il me dit des mots d'amour, des mots de tous les jours, et ça me fait quelque chose.”
What a mind. It was a maze of realities and illusions, all of the layered places where dreams intersected and threatened to suck one even deeper. Shark teeth pulling down and down. They could go down together, if he'd only let her lead. To sleep, perchance to drown.
It wasn't love, not that a creature like herself had such a solid grasp of understanding on that sort of thing. She understood it in the same way one might watch a foreign movie with no subtitles. The movements and expressions could be studied through repetition, but the whole of it was a mystery to her. A mystery she had no interest in solving. No, this man and the host had not been in love. Not the ordinary kind, she was sure. What they'd had was futureless, a blink of passion rife with threat and wartime shadows and then snuffed out easier than a candle flung underwater.
In a movie, the maiden would surely cry. Maybe she would sob and clutch at the man's chest, but not the host. If this man, this Eames', memories were anything to stack together like a house of cards, the host would have been sloe-eyed and satisfied smiles. The host was no wilting flower. Well, she might have been a dandelion, but at the end of the day… that was only a weed. And hadn't she grown back? Risen out of poisoned dirt despite the odds to dig her roots as deep as she could?
There was a murmur of contentment at the way he hummed, and she swayed against him even as the beautiful sky above gradually darkened with a stormcloud overcast that was rolling in from the distant horizon.
Eames had encountered danger in dreams. They took the elevator to the basement and they indulged in repetitive memory, dreamed obsessively until the chinks could be found and dragged upward to the surface in some desperate, madman’s hope of changing what had been. Danger was almost inevitably, darling, your own mind. You couldn’t die dreaming, you would wake up. And he didn’t fear Vaughn, the edges of her curling like rice-paper against the fringes of his own mind.
He let go her wrists, took up the curled white fingers of her hand in his against his chest, the other held against the violin-curve of her waist, and hummed until the ivory and sandstone walls played it back like a gramophone record rather than one man’s almost-notes. La vie en rose, in throaty blare as they rocked together. It took the patter of hailstones against the woven chair to send the record-sound skipping. Patter, patter and then a skirl of drum notes and Eames’s mind was shadows in the passages around the courtyard as the heavy pressure of the dark-throated sky slammed in.
“Come on,” he tugged her hand, beyond the courtyard, intending for the passages that reeled outward, each a route deeper.
Through him, she remembered what it looked like for their dreamworld to fold in on itself like beautiful, intricate origami. Doors could be drawn in chalk outline legerdemain and opened without a key or a password. Perhaps then the door could be blown to smithereens with a kiss, like a spiderweb in a strong wind. That was what it meant to be an architect, she understood. There was an art form and an imagination to it that Alyssa did not possess. It was something that she barely understood, and even that barely was glimpsed through the coziness of Eames' own dreaming mind. How sentimental. Alyssa couldn't even care to try.
Her hand was tight and real in Eames' own when he tugged with instruction for her to follow. His urgency fomented the storm, kicking up dust and disaster. She ducked her head against the threat of falling hail as they made an escape from the open air of the courtyard. Her hair was a galactic swirl of darkness in the battering winds, kinking up wildly… madly. They raced over the tiles, and surely she'd had shoes on a moment before, but now her feet were bare. As they darted past the woven chair where she'd first found him, a black asp curled around one chair leg. It was a bad omen, out of place and surely uninvited while it tasted the air with a nefarious, forked tongue.
Eames did not understand architecture. The control needed required an affinity for structures and for rooms within rooms, the ability to hold oneself apart in order to finesse something that could not be undone simply by knowing the architect. That, Eames had no interest in. People, darling, were far more fascinating and required less formal study to pull off. The structure here as expensive leather soles slapped tile was borrowed almost entirely from real life which meant it had a vague impression of substance that in places solidified more than others, owing to particular spots or glimpses. The corridor that shielded them from the skirl of the winds was muted, the walls old bone and ivory. They necessarily went deeper, and Eames in his sleep stilled as he sank further below wakefulness.
He missed the asp. He missed the asp entirely, darling. Too busy running in the opposite direction to notice a small, alive creature loose in his mind. He steered into a room that was somehow open off the main thrust of the corridor and once in, its aspect appeared to be entirely at odds with the structure of the palace itself. The roil and murk of the sky overhead was moody through a floor-to-ceiling window draped with gorgeously-colored silks, the floor was parquet and there was a large wooden couch piled high with cushions, and behind a folded-out screen, a bed with rumpled white linen tossed back.
Eames closed the door behind them. There was a room door, behind where the bed had been pushed, that was only just caught on the latch but it was difficult to get to. That was further in, and this an ante-chamber of sorts, but comfortable and deep enough for anyone who wasn’t Eames to stay in.
“It’s going to collapse soon,” he said to her now, squinting as the roil was replaced by thick, buttery sunshine. “You’ve a minute. Perhaps two.”
It was Eames' dream, he'd made this world. It was his mind, but in that was the rub because the mind was Alyssa's playground. He might have built the monkey bars, but she could kick up dust and gravel on any poorly-constructed swing set. She wasn't afraid of getting a little dirt in her skirt should the structure collapse because of his insufficiency. She knew that they were dreaming. She knew it now like she knew deeper tastes of the darker parts of the universe. She knew the touch of Eames' hand like she knew the weight of her own two thousand year old grave. She knew his voice and his thieving tricks just like she knew every lyric of that Edith Piaf song that she'd never known before this moment.
She relived a shared life through his mind, when he'd held Vaughn, danced with her and caught her most off guard with a mouth so blushingly full and heart-racingly frustrating. Je ne regrette rien could have been his life's motto if everything hadn't gone to shade in the end. How much could one man lose with one wrong move? Through him, they both knew that the answer was almost everything.
Alyssa knew that on some level, even if it was deep in his subconscious, Eames had to know that she wasn't real. The host was gone, he knew that… or at least had the strongest of suspicions with no evidence to suggest otherwise. A dream was not evidence to the contrary, and Alyssa did not intend for it to be. She could be a figment of his imagination. The goddess was no longer starving, but toasty cake crumbs were still better than nothing at all. And this man's creative mind tasted like pound cake, rich and butter-sweet with a past that couldn't be undone and the sort of possibilities of otherwise that bloomed bright and desperate in the afterglow of waking.
She could be that for him, that option to question reality, to wish for something else or a way to change the past. He quoted the time at her and she brought her angular chin up with utter denial in the psychedelic prism of her eyes. "It is not enough." She said it like two lifetimes still wouldn't be enough. It may have been an illusion of the moment, but the floor seemed to shudder briefly beneath their feet, and she knew the signs through his own memories, that it was a signal of the dream collapsing.
"Stay with me," she pleaded. The want in her voice sounded real, more afraid than desperate, as if she knew that this might be the last time that she saw him, and him her. "We've only just found each other again…" And the clock was ticking.
Eames was not a fanciful man. Don’t, darling, let the dreams deceive you. He had, as most men who have spent significant periods of time in entirely male environments - the army, darling? Or boarding school before that, or did the army strip him clean of all natural inclination toward socialising with the fairer sex? - an easiness with men, a sense of certainty built of course, darling, on the shoulders of generational assumption. Camaraderie: not colleagues but brothers. That he slept with one or two of them was bygones, darling, what was more than a bottle of good wine and a trace of fragrance was the sinew-twist of comrades rather than anything soft and ribbon-like.
Eames martialled emotions far too carefully for that. He wanted to believe Vaughn was alive because he wanted rather badly for the whole lot of them to be alive and well but he was a professional dreamer, darling and his mind was for all its lazy constructions of physical architecture, boxed into layers and layers and schooled tidily into steps. He knew, with an emotional distance that was practical, darling, that cut through with savagery when awake - that Vaughn tap-dancing through a dream did not mean all comrades were lost. But he knew also the fingerprints of someone else dreaming onto his landscape and this was not his creation. He was not somebody who looked back overmuch: Eames moved forward. He did after all, detach himself from any sort of meaningful past.
Vaughn was here and with a melodrama that belonged to Mal rather than a professional. She could have been clipped loose from herself, Eames was vaguely aware that Janus had been locked inside his own mind, but Vaughn was not demonic, she was an irritating, flesh-and-blood woman with a fondness for neutrals. Eames looked at Vaughn and even in a dream, his assessment was not soft or blunted, it was candidly sharp.
“I’m going to wake up,” he said, frankly. “Dream somewhere, Vaughn. Where I can find you.” Because he was practical and a landscape sustained by an architect managed rather better than one by a forger. The dream was rumble and ash.
Soft and ribbon-like, she was not. Physically, perhaps. But in her mind, she was hammered steel. She was barbed wire. Eames asserted that he was going to wake up, and she peeled loose from the front of him with a smile that didn't remotely reach her eyes. Remember the asp? The serpentine slit of a pupil was reflected back at him during one slow blink. A dose of venom for Cleopatra veins, it was a quick-moving look. Migratory, here and then gone by the second blink, when her attention turned to the splinter-cracks of destruction that began to climb the walls all around them. "I won't stop you." And she said it like she could, like that was somehow an option… or maybe just wishful thinking. There was no more urgency or need for cow-eyed goodbyes. She simply turned away from him and walked toward the edge of the room where plaster and dusty beams were coming loose from the ceiling. No final glimpses from over the shoulder, no longing farewell. She was buried beneath the partial collapse of the ceiling. A laugh that didn't fit her at all, the final echo in his head.