Kind-a like sugar,
Kind-a like spices
Ohio Express, 'Yummy Yummy Yummy'
To say this was one of their strangest extractions could be - and Ariadne shrugged as she thought this - a gigantic understatement.
"The producer is the mark," Cobb said tonelessly, pointing at a picture of a man in his forties with no hair and twinkling blue eyes. "He's also the host of a reality TV show."
"And you want me to plan the levels around the TV show?" she asked, feeling embarrassed at the slight hysteria to the edge of her voice.
Eames snorted from behind her. "Do I get to be one of the contestants?"
It's Arthur who picks up from Cobb, and explains to Eames that, no, he doesn't get to be a contestant - more like the co-host who's body is to die for, "especially after just having a baby."
You couldn't keep the smile from Arthur's face at Eames' frown.
The job's going seamlessly as they ready themselves to go under, the bald producer/host/chef ("prohochef?" ventured Ariadne) under a tasteless cocktail concocted by Yusef that went beautifully with the proscuitto and egg sandwich delivered into the bowels of Bravo TV's production house not fifteen minutes earlier.
It's when Cobb's on the phone to their employer - a faceless reality show producer with nothing better to do but try and open a restaurant, probably - that the doors burst open and they almost collectively pee their pants.
"It's just me," and Saito barrels past them all, slapping Prohochef on the cheeks and smirking. "How are you, my children?"
"Surprised," Ariadne said, her eyes wide.
"Not surprised," Arthur sighed.
"Slightly hungry," and Eames began to nibble at the un-doped side of the sandwich.
"You can't be here," Cobb frowned, hanging up his phone and placing his hands on the sides of his hips in that way cranky managers do just before they have to send a bad co-worker home for the evening. "We're on a job, and you can't be here."
"But I bought Bravo," Saito shrugged, and he leaned down into a dark leather chair like he owned it.
Well, everyone thought, he kind of did.
They woke up in a kitchen. Shiny, clean, the General Electric and Glad logos overwhelming their senses, their clothes replaced with white chef's uniforms and comfortable shoes.
"I'm in Crocs," Eames scowled, his voice dangerous.
Cobb was assessing, digesting; his answer was half-hearted: "so?"
"Considering you usually dress like a second-hand store vomited on you," Arthur said, fingering the knives in front of him, "I can't imagine Crocs are anything but an upgrade."
"It's vintage, you unfashionable twat."
Ariadne managed to distract them from killing each other by placing a colander of snow peas in front of them. "Shell these, stay out of trouble," she groaned, before walking over to Cobb and Yusef who were peering out the glass doors in search of their mark.
"This isn't like it is on TV," comes the voice from behind them, and they turn to see Saito biting into a red pepper.
"Why are you here again?"
"I was bored." He chewed some more. "And I'm the new co-host. Well, for this dream anyway." And he wandered away, stealing some snow peas from Eames and Arthur who were both unsuccessfully trying to use the skins to make the other slip over.
"Why." And Yusef patted Cobb on the shoulder in a show of solidarity.
By the time Eames had changed himself into the buxom brunette co-host, their mark had arrived and their challenge - quick fire, Cobb thinks he hears, to make a "home-style favourite with a twist" - begins.
"I hope you fail!" Buxom Eames said loudly, leaning in front of Arthur, who was trying to prepare a roulade with almonds with little to no idea how the hell it was going to work.
It didn't help that Buxom Eames' breasts were spectacular. And distracting.
Their mark leans into Buxom Eames' ear, frowning. "You can't say that to the contestants, you know that."
"He slept his way here," Buxom Eames replied, his large brown eyes portraying innocence and he pats the mark's cheek before turning back to the cooking. "Go Cobb! Or Ariadne! Maybe Yusef! Or those other people who don't really have names!"
Their mark frowned, causing the cooking projections - that, it was worth noting, surrounded the rest of them with a good arsenal of knives, chillis and fire - to turn and look at them with a confusion that would quickly turn venomous if someone didn't reign Eames in.
"Eames," Cobb warned, cutting an onion for his mean chicken stew that was making his eyes water, "careful."
"Just kidding," Buxom Eames tittered. "I'm just having fun with the contestants."
"Oh," and their mark (and the projections) seem to relax.
"I hope someone cooks flambé." Saito stuck his finger in Ariadne's dahl, and frowned. "I like it when things are on fire."
The mark clapped his hands together. "Okay, time's up! Everyone stop cooking!"
"I hate this job," Arthur groaned, his roulade more square than cylindrical, and he can't help but want to kick a wall when Yusef's apple pie with sour cream kicks everyone's ass.
"I hate how desserts never win," said Saito, his eyes crinkled up in thought. "And Yusef created something worth treasuring as a home-spun favourite. Guys?"
Their mark and Buxom Eames nodded.
"I just had a baby!" exclaimed Buxom Eames.
"Oy," Cobb muttered.
By the time they'd reached the final elimination panel, Saito had managed to eat every single morsel of food, Ariadne had burnt a hole in two pans, Eames had pressed his boobs into everyone's face (including his own), Arthur had kicked the wall so hard he'd broken a toe ("PAIN. PAIN. PAIN. KILL ME."), Yusef was obviously going to win and their mark?
Well, their mark was sitting with a casserole dish to his left, his hand sitting firmly on the top.
"That's where we've got to get into," Cobb muttered to Arthur, making a face at Buxom Eames to signal that the mark was holding on to the key to this whole cooking fiasco.
Of course, this is the exact moment Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien flooded through the panel room, and Yusef disappeared before their eyes.
"Yes! Now I've got it in the bag!" Ariadne grinned, as Cobb moved towards the judges' table with little to no plan as to how he was going to get the casserole dish away from their mark.
"I need you to go back to your spot, Dom," their mark said sternly.
The panic seemed to radiate from the crew as Cobb turned on his heel and started back to his point. The music seemed to be getting louder, the tones of Piaf radiating in their ears as they all struggled to work out what the hell to do.
"Oh," said Buxom Eames, suddenly. "You know what would be great right now?"
"Pizza?" said Saito, from where he was leaning his chin on his hands and looking bored.
"No! This, big boy."
And it was here that Eames grabbed their mark by the face and kissed him in such a way it was enough to make Ariadne blush and Cobb forget that it was, after all, a big fat distraction so he could grab the casserole dish.
This? Must have been a sign of the apocalypse in their mark's mind, and he pulled away from Buxom Eames with a look of absolute shock and pure joy on his face, causing the walls to start to shake and the ground below them tilt.
"Oh, shit," Arthur yelled, their mark's projections marching into the room with anger on their faces. "I let you use my broth!" he protested, as a fair-haired woman with glasses grabbed his arm and twisted it nastily.
"All's fair in love and cooking," yelled Eames, his buxom self slipping away as the dream began to fall apart around them. "I hope you got the info, darling!"
And Cobb nodded in response as it all went black.
"What was the information, anyway?" Ariadne said, putting a bowl of popcorn on the table and pushing herself down into the couch between Arthur and Eames.
"You'll see," Cobb smiled, switching the TV on.
"I hope there's pizza in our future," Saito sighed.
"Why are you here?"
"I bought your house."
"Kidding. Let's watch, yes?" and he grabbed a hand full of popcorn, grinning.
The show began, and the group fell into silence.
"Is this a joke?" It was Ariadne who broke first.
Cobb shrugged. "Nope."
"And we got half a mill each for this information." Arthur pulled himself up from the couch, and walked into the kitchen. "I give up."
Eames spread himself out across the couch, grabbing the popcorn bowl as he did so. "Eh, half a mill's half a mill. And what's another crappy reality TV show?"
"Exactly," Cobb smiled.
"Someone use their iPhone to order pizza," Saito sighed.
And someone did, as America's Next Top Chef Race paraded in front of their eyes.