Four years ago...
Tokyo was a city that was always illuminated.
The streets glowed at night, neon lights exchanged for sun, the din of cars traded for the voices of people out on the town. The Shinjuku district's usual uniform of business suits were shed for posh designer clothing at night and the crowds of locals and foreigners moved about almost as if they were they rhythmic heart beat of the entire city. The Shinjuku Mitsui Building offered the perfect view of the clatter, the twinkle of stars reflecting the electrical bulbs, but the two men who sat atop it were far more interested in the chessboard laid out before them than the world alive beneath them.
The chessboard was wooden, and the pieces were old but the two men didn't seem to notice or care, both far more concerned with the opponent they were seated across from. The man dressed in black advanced his rook and exhaled waiting for the man dressed in white to move. "We may have a problem," he said. He was unsure if the man dressed in white had heard, his blue eyes too fixated on the next move. The man in black ran his tongue over his teeth and opened his mouth to speak again. The man in white raised his hand and he held his tongue watching as a white pawn captured one of his rooks. The man in black felt a rush of heat to his cheeks in a mixture of rage and embarrassment.
"Now then," the man in white started, "what seems to be the problem?"
The man in black pulled his gaze away from the chessboard and met the man in white's eyes. He composed himself and spoke slowly, "I've lost track of her." He looked back down at the board quickly, unwilling to read the reaction from his statement in his opponent's eyes. He advanced his queen and spoke once more, "Check."
The man in white chuckled lightly. "I told you she couldn't be controlled." He moved his King into a safer position and sighed slightly, "You should have known that better than any of us Antoine."
"Yes well, that doesn't excuse the fact that whomever she encounters will not live to speak about it. You know as well as I do that if she is not leashed she will destroy countless minds. She killed your last Point Man; I wouldn't want your new one to meet a similar fate." He advanced a pawn slowly, hoping the bait would be taken. His eyes moved up from the chessboard and he caught the blue eyed gaze staring back at him once more. He swallowed and stared back, keeping his face even and emotionless. He knew it didn't matter, the man in white, his ex partner and long time friend could read him better than anyone else.
"Arthur is smarter. Eames found him in Monte Carlo and has faith he won't be as easy to kill. I wasn't inclined to believe at first but since he nearly broke the pickpocket's hand, and seems to have a bit of a temper I'm almost certain that if he crosses her path he'll survive." The man in white's smile widened slightly, "Mal likes him, though she thinks he needs to loosen up a bit."
The man in black bit the inside of his cheek in an effort to control his mounting rage as best he could, "How is Mal, by the way?"
The man in white didn't answer immediately, once again focused on the chess board. He moved his bishop ignoring the trap set by his opponent and leaned back in the fold up chair, "Doing well, staying stateside until the baby is born. Little boy this time."
The man in black could feel his fingernails digging into his palms. "You're a lucky man Dom, too lucky sometimes." He forced a smile before redirecting his attention back to the game.
The man in white nodded, "Maybe so." The conversation faded into nothingness, the sounds of the busy streets coiling around them as they played. "That's not the why I asked to meet you," the man in white said as his opponent finished his move. "You see, there is something that has been nagging at me for a little while now, and well since you've already brought it up."
The man in black looked up, "What is it?"
"Who was her last target? I mean, I haven't heard any jobs for assassins come across the line in a while so I was wondering
" The man in white glanced at the board indifferently before twisting the captured black rook in his fingers. He shrugged after a moment and replaced the rook with the other captured black pieces. "Eames couldn't get it out of her when we found her, quite surprising actually, and he's the only Forger I know who can impersonate you."
The man in black's gaze became a glare, he had been afraid their idle chit chat would take this turn and since it did, he saw no point in denying anything or withholding any truth. Checkmate he thought slowly smiling at the man in white. "He couldn't get anything out of her because I warned her this time that the consequences for speaking with the Forger would be dire. I couldn't allow myself to be incriminated, not when I was the one to finger the target. Of course it seems, her silence spoke the truth regardless."
The man in white shook his head, "Foolish to use your own assassin. Miles wouldn't approve, but then again he was never partial to the idea of using someone like that for Mind Breaking."
"Miles never approved of anything I did," the man in black sneered, "I had ambition, I wanted to do more than create cities unlike you whom he loved so much, you with your architecture and charm."
"I got what I wanted; I didn't need to create an empire to feel like a king."
The man in black felt the grip on his rage loosen ever so slightly, "Make your move Dom."
The man in white did as he was told, sliding his Queen across the board before rising slowly. The man in black followed mimicking the action, smoothing out his sport's coat in an effort to create the façade of composure. They stared at each other for a moment before the man in white spoke, "So you've lost your assassin, how unfortunate it is that you are no less dangerous."
"No, and I haven't lost her you've merely hidden her from me haven't you Dom? She always comes back, and if she was dead I would know. If she was dead you wouldn't be here gloating about it."
The man in white strode to the edge of the building and stared down at the cityscape, "You know I don't do that, but I am curious, which one of us was the intended target? Now that I know that's why she was there; if your leash on her was so strong you must have been the one who sent her. I had figured it was me but the way her focus turned when she saw
" He turned and faced the man in black. "Do you hold us in so much contempt my old friend that you would wish to kill us?"
The man in black smiled, "You know as well as I do that she wasn't there to kill either of you. I wouldn't do that to my god child or, children soon enough it seems." He approached the man in white slowly, circling him, his gaze predatory. "But if she had broken your mind, had dropped you into the depths of that hell, well
" he smiled and shook his head, "It was a long shot but perhaps I would have finally gotten what was long owed to me."
The man in black nodded, "Yes."
The man in white turned back and looked down at the city once more when the click of a cocking handgun echoed around him, "Mal would never have you, she views your desire for power as a weakness. As for your assassin, she's of no use to you anymore"
"I will be the judge of that." He snapped, "Now, where is she?"
The man in white stepped up to the edge of the building and looked down. "Somewhere you will never find her. Sofia deserves her peace, and as long as she has it she won't cause anymore harm."
"Damnit Cobb!" the man in black snarled, "I won't let this one go, I'll destroy every aspect of your life until you give them back, both of them!"
Cobb stopped listening to his old friend. He listened instead to the sound of the city and thought of his wife, thought of her smile. He thought of the concern in her eyes when she found him in a deep dark corner, clinging to his sanity. He thought of her lips and the words she had spoken to wake him up.
"Come back with me, come back to me
He turned and looked back at the man in black. Antoine was enraged, and it made him smile. He hadn't deserved her and he would never have her. "Leave us alone now, let us live our lives. Let us be a small shadow in your empire" He stepped off the Shinjuku Mitsui Building and felt the air surround him moments before he hit the ground and was kicked back to the real world.
The man in black stood atop the building feeling it crumble beneath his feet. The dream was coming apart. Cobb had known all along, but he had always known hadn't he? He laughed aloud and looked at the chessboard once more. The White Queen had placed the Black King in Checkmate. He knocked over the wooden pieces with the nose of his gun and shook his head. "You are a lucky man old friend, but this isn't over yet." The ground gave out beneath him and he fell into the blackness of dreamless sleep.