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 Inception - DeCosta Job

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Fri May 04, 2018 8:32 pm

"My subconscious?" Tess asked as she slipped her lipstick back into her bag. "Oh." As if suddenly realizing what Hunter was referring to, Tess chuckled to herself. "We're not in my subconscious, at least not on any real level. This is

just my repository of dream structures."

Still smiling, she pushed past him and through the bathroom door. "C'mon. I'll show you a few of my tricks."

Once in the hallway, Tess made her way past several doors before stepping into the library. She waited until Hunter followed her through the door before turning towards a paiting on the wall. "Have you ever heard of the Torggler door?"

Tess asked as she dipped her fingers behind the edge of the painting and pulled. The edge pulled out at an angle, folding and twisting at the same time to rotate out of the way, revealing a new doorway.

"It's subtle. So, you don't have to worry about the projections finding it by accident." She gestured for Hunter to step through the doorway, pulling the opposite flap afterwards and squeezing past before it closed behind her. "You can

also lock it from this side with a latch and chain." Tess grabbed the small chain hanging from the roof and attached it to the hook on the back of the door. "So, even if they find it, they can't open it."

"And the best part?" Tess tapped her knuckles on the door now covering the wall. "It's bulletproof, since the door is made from kevlar. You'd need armor piercing rounds to get through that."

---------------------------------------------------------------------

John held Sofie's gaze all the way through her explanation, but her apparent amusement didn't carry over. No, if anything, his expression was even more serious than before, and while her offering might have felt like a step in the right direction to any other man, to John, it only felt like more bravado.

Still not letting his eyes shift away, John took her outstretched arm by the wrist and stood, grabbing her shoulder with his other hand to gently maneuver her into a laying position on the couch. "You know, there's a funny side effect to losing yourself at some point in your life." John spoke softly as he reached for the PASIV port on the table beside them. "The only place for your self to get lost is under the layers you build around her. So, regardless of how far she's strayed, she's still there. Trapped inside and looking for the surface."

"You may believe every word you just told me, but that's only because you've lied to yourself for so long that you don't know the difference." He deftly slipped the needle beneath her skin. "But now I understand at least."

"For the briefest of moments, she found an outlet, the tiniest bit of hope that she might get to see the light of day again, and she took that chance." John pressed a whisper of a kiss to Sofie's wrist before laying her arm down on the couch.

"When she's actually ready to talk, we'll finish this conversation. Until then," John hit the button on the machine, "we have work to do."

He stood in silence as Sofie's eyes drifted closed, then let out a long sigh. "Maybe we won't kill each other in the process..." John muttered as he dropped into the recliner beside her and reached for the second needle.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Mon May 07, 2018 12:07 am

Hunter mouthed an "oh," feeling a little stupid. When she'd said "factory level," he'd just made the assumption.

Tess didn't seem to mind though. She smiled and led him out of the bathroom, promising him some tricks. They traveled back through the hall and into a library, stopping in front of a painting.

"Have you ever heard of the Torggler door?" she asked, pulling out the painting and twisting at the same time to rotate out of the way, revealing a new doorway.

"It sounds familiar," Hunter mused, impressed by her work. He followed her through the doorway, which closed behind them. Tess explained all the benefits, which were numerous, while he nodded.

"Pretty cool," he said, rapping the back of it. "Where did you learn this?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Tingles traveled up Sofie's hand and shoulder as John took hold of her and led her over to the sofa. Was he taking her up on her offer then? Fear clawed suddenly at her insides, but she kept calm as he laid her down and reached for the PASIV.

"You know, there's a funny side effect to losing yourself at some point in your life," John said, his expression painfully serious. "The only place for your self to get lost is under the layers you build around her. So, regardless of how far she's strayed, she's still there. Trapped inside and looking for the surface."

Her eyes widened. She wanted to snap at him, deny everything he said, but the words were lodged somewhere in her throat.

"You may believe every word you just told me, but that's only because you've lied to yourself for so long that you don't know the difference. But now I understand at least."

Sofie barely felt the needle as she stared into John's eyes. No. No no no. He didn't understand. He didn't understand anything.

"For the briefest of moments, she found an outlet, the tiniest bit of hope that she might get to see the light of day again, and she took that chance."

John pressed a whisper of a kiss to Sofie's wrist, and she stared at her pale skin in stunned silence as her protests fluttered into the wind.

"When she's actually ready to talk, we'll finish this conversation. Until then."

Sofie looked up as John hit the button on the PASIV.

"John..."

The words died on her lips as her eyelids fell shut.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie brought down the sun visor in her car and applied a fresh layer of pink lipstick as John slipped into the seat next to her. She took a moment longer than needed to gather her composure before putting the lipstick away.

"So, your initial role will be a police officer," she said, glancing at the police station across the street. "Would you like to practice that? Maybe book me for tearing up a parking ticket?"

She turned to John and raised her eyebrows, a faint but playful smile on her lips.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 08, 2018 10:22 pm

"It's a holdover from some of my earlier stage magic, actually." Tess responded as Hunter inspected the door. "Several of the escapism performances involve similar contraptions that allow the victim," She gestured to herself, "to escape her fate."

"So, it wasn't overly difficult for me to translate the concept into something usable in the dream." Leaning around Hunter, she poked the hinge in the door, causing it to swing back open.

"While this is a nifty trick, it's not quite devious enough for the particularly stubborn projections though."

Tess slipped past him and motioned for him to follow her back in the direction they'd come from. "There are a few other methods I've used, several of them similar to yours." She paused for a moment, tapping a finger to her lower lip. "Although I don't think I've ever setup a maze inside of a frat party. That could be fun."

Waving her hand theatrically, Tess walked back into the bathroom and opened the closet, revealing the stark, white room again. She waited for Hunter to join her before closing it and moving several doors down the hallway.

This time, they emerged from a pantry door into a kitchen that could only be found in a mansion. The entire setup looked like it was made to feed an army, but the decorations were too nice for it to be any type of public environment.

"Now this... This was a stroke of true genius." Tess exited the kitchen and took a left, putting her into a small hallway. Beside her, a staircase rose upwards, but rather than taking it, she walked to the closet built beneath it and opened the door.

"Mind that first step." She gestured to the floor of the closet, which was just empty blackness. "It's a one way ticket to getting nowhere fast. Or at all, for that matter."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

"Does that involve giving you a pat down, doll?" The female officer sitting in John's seat responded. She looked to be in her mid-thirties with frizzy, blone hair. The southern drawl in her voice was unmistakable. "Although there's not much place to hide anything on you."

She gently pinched Sofie's arm, which had practically no fat on it. "Why, if my moma had a hold of you for a week, she'd stuff you so full of peaches and biscuits. We could definitely put some meat on these bones."

"I'll have to recommend not tearing up any parking tickets though." The woman continued with a syrupy sweet smile. "The prices on those have a tendency to multiply when the offender is unable to produce the original receipt."

"You know how that goes, right, doll?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 08, 2018 11:50 pm

"Stage magic, huh?" Hunter raised his eyebrow. "You'll have to give me a demonstration sometime. The best I can do are a few card tricks."

Maybe it was a little silly, but he'd been impressed by professional stage magicians since he was a kid. In this day of technology and science, being able to pull off a performance so skillfully that it appeared like modern magic was something special.

Tess slipped past him out the passage, and Hunter followed. She commented on setting up a maze in a frat party being fun, but Hunter just shrugged.

"Eh, it did its job. But frat parties aren't really my thing, I guess." Honestly, hanging out with John and the others in the warehouse planning for a job was more fun to him.

Oh, god, hanging with John was fun.

Shaking off that thought as quickly as it'd come, Hunter trailed after Tess through the bathroom and back into the white room they'd started in. Another door deposited them in a luxurious kitchen the likes of which he'd never been in. Whistling under his breath, Hunter wavered in the kitchen for a moment, taking in the impressive amenities before continuing after Tess.

"Now this... This was a stroke of true genius."

At first, Hunter thought she was referring to the stairs, which didn't appear to be anything unique. But the she led him to a closet in the back of the stairs. When she opened the door, Hunter found himself staring into a black void.

"Mind that first step." She gestured to the floor of the closet. "It's a one way ticket to getting nowhere fast. Or at all, for that matter."

Hunter nodded and took a safe step back. "Actually, I used something just like this on that same job as the frat maze. The second layer was a business office with a looping first and third floor. Some of the doors led into void space like this."

A memory flashed, unbidden, of his ex staring at him before opening one of the doors and plunging into the blackness. Hunter closed his eyes and pushed that memory back where it came from. He was over that now.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie blinked at the unfamiliar voice - distinctly southern and female at that - and turned to where John should have been sitting. A female police officer with frizzy, blonde hair stared at her through sunglasses. Oh, were they starting already then?

"Does that involve giving you a pat down, doll? Although there's not much place to hide anything on you."

Pat down? Doll? Sofie raised an eyebrow. Was John playing out some kind of fetish here?

The officer pinched Sofie's arm abruptly, and she let out an "oww" as the rubbed her arm.

"Why, if my moma had a hold of you for a week, she'd stuff you so full of peaches and biscuits. We could definitely put some meat on these bones."

Now Sofie's other eyebrow went up and joined the first. Peaches and biscuits? God, where was he getting this material? It was so... corny. But so authentic. The woman continued on talking about tearing up parking tickets with that same sweet smile as Sofie goggled at her.

"You know how that goes, right, doll?"

"Right... Of course, Officer," Sofie replied, pressing her lips together to stifle a smile. "Damn it, Sofie. You're supposed to be mad as hell at this guy."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed May 09, 2018 11:40 pm

"The void space is a necessary portion of the puzzle, but that's not what made it so innovative." Tess responded with a grin.

She leaned over the emptyness, gripping the coat rack on the far wall with both hands. "This is the cool part."

Tess stepped off of the edge, but instead of falling, she suddenly turned upside down. Still grinning, she planted her feet on the underside of the staircase, which was also carved into stairs, disappearing into the darkness below (or above, from her new perspective).

"No hands!" She giggled as she pulled her fingers from the coat rack, leaving her standing on the ceiling with nothing holding her up.

"The dreamspace along the roof of the closet has been folded over. So, gravity is reversed, but only once you've made contact with the portion of the dream that's out of sync."

She took a few steps down (up from her perspective), leaving room for Hunter behind her. "If you grip the bar and fall, gravity will pull you up, not down."

"To make it more difficult for the projections to follow us, we can remove the coat rack, which makes it far more difficult to get into contact with the desyncronized space. Additionally, several of the stairs on this side are actually pillars that the upper layer has been folded into. So, stepping on them re-syncs you with the original dream's gravity and..." She gestured to the darkness below her. "Bye bye projections."

---------------------------------------------------------

"Well, now that you've seen the error of your ways, I guess we can just be on our way. No need for that pat down after all." She leaned back in her seat, pushing her sun glasses up into the hair over her eyes.

After a moment of silence, the woman looked expectantly at Sofie. "If you want your license reinstated, I'm afraid the car does actually need to move. That's sort of how this works, sugar."

"Not that I'm trying to rush your or anything." The woman sounded different now, more concerned than flippant. "I understand the emotional toll it can take on a body to sit behind that wheel for the first time after a DUI. Especially considering that crash they pulled you out of, but the good news is you didn't hurt anybody."

"Always best to look on the bright side, my mama always told me. So, you sit there for a few minutes if you need to, and we'll get going whenever you're good and ready."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 10, 2018 1:16 am

Hunter, distracted by Tess' grin, took a moment to realize what she was doing as she leaned over the void and gripped the coat rack.

"Isn't that-"

He had no time to say "dangerous" when Tess stepped off the edge. Hunter's eyes flew open, and he lunged forward to grab for her.

"Tess!"

His yell died out in a sudden strangle of surprise. Instead of falling, Tess was now grinning at him upside down.

"How... but..." Hunter shook his head, looking from her to the void space in confusion.

Tess seemed to enjoy his surprise, as she continued her antics and showed off the workings of this space. He couldn't help but laugh and shake his head as she pulled a "no hands!" and waved her arms from where she stood as though nailed to the ceiling.

Tess continued to explain the workings of her trick, but Hunter was more focused on trying not to die as he followed Tess' example. Muttering a mixture of prayers and swears under his breath, he leaned out to grip the bar and stepped out.

The sudden transition was dizzying. He staggered a bit, trying to get his bearings, and bumped against Tess. He grabbed her on instinct to steady them both, then realized what he'd done.

"S-sorry," he said, retracting his hands like he'd touched a hot stove. "This is... pretty wild. How'd you come up with it?"

---------------------------------------------------------

No need for a pat down? Sofie was half-tempted to press that point further and ask if she/he was sure, but then the woman continued on about getting her license reinstated. The sudden transition into matronly concern left Sofie bemused and staring.

"What?" A DUI and a crash? Wow, John was really trying to push the bounds on this.

Well, two could play at that.

"Yes... thank you, officer," she said, smiling. "It is hard. I was five years sober, but I went back to the bottle. I think that was the hardest part, knowing I caved and threw away all that progress. But my boyfriend John - John Lattimer - has just been so distant lately."

Sofie wiped away tears and shook her head. "Ever since he found out I'd been faking all my orgasms with him. I just didn't have the heart to tell him how bad he was in bed, but he accused me of deceiving him. And when I tried to show him there were pills that could help him, he stormed out."

Sofie ran a hand through her hair and shook her head, scattering crocodile tears. "What do I do?

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 10, 2018 9:39 pm

Tess shook her head at Hunter's reaction, but she didn't comment on how quickly he'd backed away after suddenly grabbing her. Considering the disorientation of switching perspectives, she couldn't blame him for needing something solid to hold onto. The fact that he'd let go almost immediately stung a little, but she understood the reason for that as well.

"Well, it started as a similar concept to what you mentioned earlier." Tess said as she took a few steps up the staircase. "Skip the fourth and seventh step." She dropped into the conversation as she did just that.

"I needed a way to keep the projections away from the dreamer, but I also wanted to create a situation where they couldn't simply ignore the rules I created. So, I decided to break a few of those rules for myself."

"The projections learn, but they are inherently only as intelligent as the subconscious that created them. Rather than trying to redirect them with terrain they understood, I created a situation where they had to completely ignore the rules to progress."

"Steps fourteen and twenty are also reversed." Tess said as she hopped over the first of those.

"Or was it nineteen?" She asked as she took the nineteenth step, throwing an unnecessary hop after the step to make it look like she'd begun to drop.

"Kidding." Tess said as her feet hit the ground again, and she jumped over step twenty.

----------------------------------------------------

The officer blinked a few times at Sofie's words, but then shook her head slowly. "Honey, I'm a patrol officer, not a therapist. They don't pay me enough for that." She grinned and dropped her sunglasses back into place.

"But if you're asking me, there's no man in the world worth faking an orgasm for. Ditch the guy, skip the alcohol, and go buy a battery operated boyfriend. The Duracell twins will get you further, trust me."

"Now, if you don't mind." She gestured to the road through the windshield. "How about we do what we came here to do. Otherwise, I think we're going to need a red sofa and a pint of Ben and Jerry's."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Mon May 14, 2018 1:32 am

Hunter followed Tess up the stairs, skipping the steps she indicated as he listened to her explanation.

"You're..." He shook his head. "Really something."

While he considered himself pretty creative, he had to admit that he worked within the box of techniques and logic that he understood in both real-life architecture and dreamspace architecture. But Tess was just willing to mess with rules and boundaries just because they didn't suit her, and she made it work.

Hunter hopped step fourteen just as Tess suddenly seemed to drop after forgetting the right step. He lunged forward, only for her to flash a teasing smile and jump the correct step.

"Not funny," he sighed, shaking his head and following suit.

Now that he thought about it, he was supposed to be the Pointman on this case. He should probably be fishing for more information on her. But what to ask.

"Hey, you mind if I ask you something?" he asked, trying to decide on the best course of conversation. Unfortunately the first thing that came to mind was- "Why didn't you tell me about your son on out da- dinner... outing."

----------------------------------------------------

Sofie raised her eyebrows at the officer's advice, and at the mention of the "Duracell twins" she burst out laughing.

"I think that's the most sage advice I've heard in a long time," she said, smiling.

Sofie put the car into drive and started off down the road. Personally, a red sofa and a pint of Ben and Jerry's sounded good to her. Even though she knew this was a dream and John doing a very convincing forging, it was almost easy to forget. Honestly, she didn't have many female friends. Okay, she didn't have any friends of either gender, if she were really being honest. But this sort of thing might be nice every once in a while.

Sofie glanced in the rearview mirror and sobered up. Might be. But what-if's weren't really her thing. Thinking about what-if's and might be's never led anywhere good as far as she was concerned.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue May 15, 2018 10:53 pm

Tess remained silent for a moment as she climbed over the last stair and opened the door at the top, putting them in a small study. "You always take things seriously, don't you?" She asked, rather than answering his question right away.

At least that's how it probably seemed until she continued. "That's why I didn't tell you. It would have changed the way you acted around me, and I didn't want that."

"Don't get me wrong." She said, sinking into a comfy chair. "I love my son, and he's a big part of my world, but it changes a person's perspective of you when they know you're a single mother."

Tess leaned back in her seat, but she didn't take her eyes away from Hunter's. "Unlike you, I do enjoy playing the game, but I haven't told you any outright lies. That just isn't my style."

"If John was any good at his job, and we both know that he is, despite his flaws, you were going to hear about my son anyway. So, for one night, I let you think what you wanted so that you'd act naturally around me."

"Now that you know, you're second guessing yourself, acting more careful with me, even if you don't consciously realize it."

--------------------------------------------------------------

"Maybe you just need a therapist." John joked, rolling his eyes with a grin on his face.

"You really should do that more often though." He continued, pulling loose his tie and leaning the seat back one click.

When Sofie shot him a questioning glance, he clarified. "Laugh. It softens your whole expression."

Changing subjects, he shifted the conversation back to business. "So, how about it? Think I can acceptably pass for an officer of the law?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed May 16, 2018 12:01 am

Did he always take things seriously? Hunter bit his lip. He assumed she was taking about her joke with the stairs, but he couldn't help it. He didn't want to see her- to see people get hurt.

"That's why I didn't tell you. It would have changed the way you acted around me, and I didn't want that."

Hunter stopped short, staring at Tess as she into an armchair in the study they'd walked into. Had he really started viewing her differently knowing she was a single mother instead of just single? Sinking into the chair across from her, Hunter furrowed his brow. In truth, he couldn't deny that on some level it did matter, even if it shouldn't. And realizing that this was something Tess had dealt with so often that she'd come to expect it made him feel like crap.

"I'm sorry," he said, looking up. "If I made things weird. I didn't meant to. But honestly, it doesn't make me think any less of you."

He scratched his cheek, averting his gaze slightly. "I mean, if anything, I'm even more impressed. Being able to do all you have and raise a kid is pretty amazing."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Sofie turned at the sound of John's real voice and raised her eyebrows. "Don't we all?"

Some more than others. A morbid thought, but better than thinking about how much she appreciated having John smiling at her again instead of giving his perpetual stare of clinical judgment.

"You really should do that more often though."

"Hmm?" Sofie turned to John with a questioning glance and watched him loosen his tie and lean back in his seat.

"Laugh. It softens your whole expression."

Her eyes widened, and she quickly turned back to watch the road. It was fortunate that John got the conversation back on track, as she somehow found herself at a loss for words.

"Oh, there's no doubt you can pass as a police officer," she mused. "The only thing in question is the kind of tone you're trying to set. I don't think Officer Duracell Twins is going to instill the kind of high stakes we're going for."

Sofie shot him a sidelong glance and smirked. "Unless you're hoping Tess will gift you her password over Ben & Jerry's."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 17, 2018 9:37 pm

"You didn't make things weird." Tess responded with a chuckle. "If anything, this is the response I expected, and the problem isn't about how you think of me. It's about how that affects your actions."

It was the unfortunate truth of the situation. A person's perception of others affects how they deal with them in the day to day. Obviously, they would find a new 'normal', but it would never be what it was before. Of that, Tess could be certain.

"It's admirable that you're trying, really." Tess reached out to pat the top of Hunter's knee before pulling her hand back. "But it's better if you don't force yourself to be anything other than yourself."

"Take that from someone who knows what it looks like when you try and fail."

------------------------------------------------------

John chuckled at Sofie's response. Obviously, she wasn't ready for that real discussion yet, since she'd easily taken the "out" he'd offered. Not that he'd expected any differently.

"I happen to know Tess is a fan of Ben & Jerry's." He responded with a grin. "But I have serious doubts about her sharing anything over it. Secrets or the ice cream itself."

Now that his tie had been removed, he popped the top button of his shirt open and leaned back, running a hand through his hair. "I can pull off serious. Trust me on that."

"You're in charge here though. How do you really want to play this? The basic setup should be reasonable as we defined it in the meeting, but I don't expect Tess' subconscious to play nice. We'll need a few extra things to trip her up along the way."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Sun May 20, 2018 5:15 pm

Hunter nodded, unsure what else to do. Whatever Tess might say, it sure felt like he made things weird.

"Right. Well..." Hunter looked around the room. "Anything left to show me?"

Man, he really shouldn't have brought this conversation up.

------------------------------------------------------

Sofie watched John pop the top button of his shirt open and run a hand through his hair. Why? He made that look more attractive than it had any right to be.

"You're in charge here though. How do you really want to play this?"

He turned to look at her, and she averted her eyes to the road.

"The basic setup should be reasonable as we defined it in the meeting, but I don't expect Tess' subconscious to play nice. We'll need a few extra things to trip her up along the way."

Sofie contemplated this and tapped her nails on the steering wheel. If the plan was to forge an officer and create a kidnapping scenario, it might be a good idea to actually create kidnappers to draw the attention of Tess' subconscious. Under the scenario, they would naturally be seen as the greater threat than anyone in their team.

Sofie related this information to John, then bit her lip. "The question is the second layer. As police officer, you'll have the greatest ease of access to getting Tess under for the next later. But as to what we create on the next level, we need to direct he paranoia we've built up in the previous later. Perhaps a bank robbery scenario? Her subconscious will automatically seek to fill such an environment. Our Architect can easily manipulate the vaults to trap projections inside and keep them from us."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed May 30, 2018 11:37 pm

Tess tented her hands together and raised a questioning eyebrow at Hunter. "You can rest assured that a lady never shows a man everything on the second date. You have to save a little bit to keep them coming back for more."

With a cheshire grin, she got out of her chair and moved back towards the door they'd entered through. "Perhaps another time, I'll show you more, but for now, I think this is enough."

Still smiling, she twisted her hand, producing a remote from thin air. "Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll be seeing me in your dreams." With the push of a button, the room exploded around them, engulfing them both in flames.

When she opened her eyes, Tess slipped her hand from beneath Hunter's and twisted on the bed, putting her feet on the floor and her back to him. "Oh look. I'm already here." She muttered around a giggle.

--------------------------------------------------------

John scratched his chin, contemplating Sofie's idea. "A bank is good. It provides us lots of secure places for the information to be stashed, and aside from the lobby, there shouldn't be a lot of projections."

"The only concern I have is that the scenario just begs for a SWAT team to show up. That could put a damper on our plans very quickly. Still, if we did it right, I don't see a problem." He turned in Sofie's direction with a grin. "We might want to enlist a little help though. I just so happen to be visiting a friend this weekend who might be interested in helping out with a robbery. Perhaps you should join me and discuss it with her?"

There was no reason for Sofie to know that he was inviting her to Trevor and Karina's place for Thanksgiving. He imagined that if she suspected as much, her answer would be an instant "no".
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu May 31, 2018 11:26 pm

Second date? Hunter couldn't help the smile that tugged at the corner of his lips. Probably not a good idea to start getting hopeful, but... it was a start.

Hunter got out of his chair to follow Tess, wondering how she planned to wake them up. When she produced a remote, however, he stopped short and raised his hands.

"I think we could probably try something a little less-"

No time to finish. Tess pressed the button, and for an instant heat and flames were his entire world.

Even so, her words still drifted through his subconscious. "Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll be seeing me in your dreams."

Hunter sat up and looked around. They were back in the frat house, the sounds of partying faint beneath their feet. He shook his head at Tess' quip and stood up.

"If it's all the same to you, I think I'll just wait for the timer on this level," he said, checking his watch. "Should only be another minute or so anyway."

He glanced at the bed and tried to turn his thoughts to other things. Like...

"You know, John seduced our Mark on that bed," he said, half-laughing and half-cringing. "He makes for a surprisingly good woman." More than he'd like to admit.

--------------------------------------------------------

Sofie smiled, pleased to see that John took to her idea so well.

"Even if a SWAT team showed up, some of us might be able to pretend to be special agents to direct them in unhelpful ways," she mused. "Well, I think playing it by ear is bound to happen to some degree."

Enlisting more help was a surprising suggestion. Who would John have in mind? If he was really meeting with them - her, actually - this weekend to discuss the matter, it would probably be a good idea to be around.

"All right. Could be worth it," she said, nodding. "I'll let you drive next time though."

Only because it would be nice to do the relaxing. Not because that popped button was annoyingly distracting.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:29 pm

When Hunter mentioned John seducing the Mark on the bed, she inwardly cringed. So not something she needed to know. His next comment had her holding her sides and belly laughing though. She might have even snorted, but she'd never admit to that if asked.

"I can't decide which is more funny." She wheezed, still trying to catch her breath. "The mental picture of John in drag or the one of you two sharing an intimate moment." Tess barely got the words out before collapsing into giggles again.

And that's how she woke up, with a grin on her face.

----------------------------------------------------------

"True. So long as they don't catch on, that could work." John considered the course of action as the cars sped by. "I think it's a sound enough plan to work with. We can hash out the details later."

"I do have to admit, my car is more comfortable than this." John took the subject change in stride. "And I don't mind driving. How about I pick you up at four? Dinner won't be until six, but we can talk shop before that."

"You can dress casual, it's not a fancy dinner or anything. Just some friends getting together to hang out."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:32 am

Well, that was unexpected. Tess burst out laughing at his comment, and between gasps for breath, tried to decide which mental picture was funnier.

"Wait, we didn't-" Hunter began, but stammered halfway through. I mean they did sort of- but that didn't count!

"Tess!" he growled, blushing furiously as she collapsed into giggles once more.

When he woke up, his face felt he'd been sunburned all over. Thank God the weekend was coming up. He was going to need a break before facing her again after this.

----------------------------------------------------------

"Four sounds fine," Sofie replied. She was used to doing business after the pleasantries, but it shouldn't make much of a difference, especially since John was taking the lead here.

Casual, not fancy. Already, her mind was scouring her wardrobe for the perfect wardrobe even as they drifted back to consciousness.

----------------------------------------------------------

Thanksgiving Weekend

Sofie strolled up to John's car, hugging her cream-colored jacket to her body against the wind. She'd gone with a simple black dress and boots, a safe option without knowing exactly what she was walking into.

"Points for punctuality," she said, slipping into the passenger's seat. "Do I look all right?"

Truthfully, she didn't need his opinion. She thought she looked perfect for the occasion. But the impulse to put him on the spot was too tempting to ignore.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:07 pm

"I didn't realize there was a grading system." John commented as he put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb. "Out of a morbid sense of curiosity, I feel compelled to ask how many of these points I have."

His lips curved up in a smirk as he maneuvered into traffic. "You're slightly overdressed, but considering this is you, I expected as much."

John glanced in her direction for only a moment before turning his attention back to the road. "You don't need me to tell you that you could probably make a garbage bag look good."

"I like this Sofie that fishes for compliments though. So, I'll grant you the ego stroke."

John himself was dressed in a charcoal button-down and a pair of black slacks. Typical fare for him on the weekend, and comfortable as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:37 pm

Sofie gave a silvery laugh and patted John's hand. "Oh, John. There's always a grading system."

She retracted her hand and ran a hand through her hair as she inspected herself in the car mirror. "You can ask. But some things are better left unsaid," she replied, smirking.

John thought she was overdressed, which wasn't unexpected, but his compliment was appreciated. Even if there were more flattering ways to phrase it.

"And I like this John that gives compliments," Sofie replied, "So I'll admit that you look presentable as well."

It was nice to feel like the air between them was finally cleared. It wasn't an easy thing to admit, but she liked her repartee with John, for whatever that was worth.

"So, you haven't told me much about this friend we're visiting," she said, glancing at him. "Anything I should know?"

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:05 pm

John raised an eyebrow at Sofie as she patted his hand, but he kept his attention on the road.

"You know, you're a lot more relaxed than you were the last time we went on a date. I might even call that last move mildly affectionate."

"Is there something you'd like to share with the class?" His smirk ticked up on one side again.

Still, there was no sense in pushing too hard. So, he accepted her subject change. "Well, despite the fact that neither her husband nor herself are actually from the States, she's convinced that she must have a Thanksgiving dinner this year, even if it is a few days late. She also has no idea how to bake a turkey. So, I think the plan is to have turkey fajitas instead..."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:42 pm

Sofie laughed and cocked her head.

"Are we on date two already?" she asked. "I hope we're not moving too fast."

Apparently, he was reading into that move a little too much. Or he was at least playing it that way. "It was meant to be consoling, not affectionate," she said, returning his smirk. "But if it makes you feel better, you can read it however you like."

When the topic changed to their hosts for dinner, John informed her that they weren't from America. Interesting. Well, it was sporting of them to celebrate American holidays regardless, even if it apparently wasn't going to be traditional by most standards.

"Turkey fajitas?" Sofie raised an eyebrow. "That's new. I've never been much for the traditional Thanksgiving scene, so I can't say I mind much."

It had been too many years since the last time she celebrated Thanksgiving, if "celebrated" was the right word. So the less this felt like it, the better really.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:09 pm

John continued to grin as he pulled the car into a residential area. "Was it really, or is that what you're telling yourself?" He wasn't going to press the issue, but it might be good for Sofie to question her own motives for a change.

He chuckled as he turned down a driveway and pulled up next to a latin styled two story house. "Yes, our host is a little unconventional, but you should know that already."

As he got out of the car, the front door swung open, and a familiar woman stepped out onto the porch. "Sofie, mi amiga. It's so good of you to join us."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:34 pm

"Was it really, or is that what you're telling yourself?"

Sofie snorted at John's question - the only appropriate response, really - but it made her realize that was the first time they'd really touched. And while it was probably just suggestion brought on by him overemphasizing it, she could still feel the sensation of his hand on her skin and lingering warmth.

"...but you should know that already."

Should know what? Distracted, Sofie looked up as they pulled up next to a house. She stared up at it as she slipped out of the car seat and joined John on the sidewalk. Was this the home of someone she knew?

Just then, the door opened and a familiar voice drifted out in greeting. Sofie turned and blinked at the sight of Karina, and everything fell into place. There was a half-moment's hesitation and surprise before she easily slipped back into her usual confidence.

"Karina," she said, smiling and tucking her hair behind her ear. "Thank you for having me. John's been telling me in for a treat."

She turned on John, flashing him a smile laced with poison. Well played.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:57 pm

"Oh, has he now?" Karina asked Sofie as she gave John a knowing smile. "Only good things, I hope, he's told you about my cooking."

"Nuffin wrong wiff ya cookin, luv." Trevor's voice drifted from somewhere inside the house.

"Except for the fact that it almost killed me last time." John muttered as he stepped past the ladies, dodging a jab at his ribs from Karina in the process.

"I'll have you know that cayenne pepper and napalm powder look almost identical when they're in unlabeled jars." Karina shot back as John stepped through the door.

"Yeah, but you generally only keep one of those in your pantry." John called back over the sound of Trevor's laughter.

Karina rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Sofie. "Men..."

She paused, seeming to think about that for a moment. "So, you're here with John then?" Karina asked in a low voice. "What happened to all that talk about the bad first date?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:01 am

Cayenne pepper and napalm powder? A traditional Thanksgiving was starting to look like a much more appealing prospect right now.

Karina rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Sofie, muttering, "Men..."

Sofie smiled and followed Karina into the house. John was already in another room talking to Trevor, when Karina spoke to her in a low voice.

"So, you're here with John then?" Karina asked. "What happened to all that talk about the bad first date?"

"I've been on worse first dates," she replied, shrugging. "Besides, time has a way of putting things into perspective."

It was a bit evasive an answer, but she couldn't really own up to the fact that she hadn't actually known about this arrangement. And while she liked Karina, she wasn't ready to talk to anyone about what had been transpiring between her and John, even if she could put it all into words.

"And how have you and Trevor been?" Sofie asked, transitioning the subject.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - DeCosta Job   Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:43 pm

"Yeah, time is funny like that." Karina responded with a sappy grin. "Trevor and I met in a Cuban prison. Now, that's some hard time I wouldn't mind doing again." She waved her hand as if dismissing the memories from the air around her.

"We've been good." She replied to Sofie's question as she led the other woman into the kitchen. "He's been trying to take jobs closer to home for the last month or two, and it wasn't difficult for me to get behind that idea. Not that I don't love travel, but it's difficult to enjoy owning a house if you never actually live in it."

Karina lifted the lid off of a sizzling pot and sniffed before stirring the contents and covering it again. "Don't let John's banter scare you off of my cooking. I didn't really put anything toxic in his meal. He was just being a bear that day. So, I decided to get back at him through his stomach."

"You'd be impressed what the right combination of ground peppers can do to the interior lining of a person's stomach." The corner of Karina's mouth tipped up at that.

"Speaking of him being a bear..." Karina continued as she bent to peek at something in the oven. "I asked him to invite you, but judging from the look on your face when you first saw me, you had no idea what you were walking into. That was very sneaky of him."

Rising back to her full height, Karina reached into a cabinet and pulled out a jar full of crimson powder. "Want to get him back for it?"
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