Timestamp: after season 1 and the tidbit from the storyboard video where Clu punishes Tesler. (Dyson cuts off Tesler's hands in front of Pavel and Paige.) I assume when Tesler is relieved of command, he's executed ta boot. Clu's forces are on their way to Argon.
In utter awe of the cruelty of such a death, he's rendered speechless. Pavel reaches down to retrieve Tesler's disk as it rolls toward him. Despite the shock, he's never been one pass up an opportunity to help himself get a one up in life. He feigns grief as he clutches the disk to his chest and lowers his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Paige's horror and dismay at the loss of her mentor.
Back in his temporary quarters on the flagship, Pavel scans through Tesler's disk. And late in the cycle he finds what he can use.
Paige hears a knock on her door. The door ids the program outside. "Go away Pavel," she dismisses.
"But I have something for you. I know how much the General meant to you, so I thought you might want his disk to remember him by," he wheedles.
The door slides open and Paige just holds out her hand. Her raised eyebrow gives warning that she knows something's up.
Later, Paige gives in to her curiosity. The disk is queued to the hospital scene where Tesler lied about the fact that he killed her friends and blamed the ISOs. Rage consumes her and she smashes the disk to bits and then starts in on the hapless objects in the room. All those wasted cycles following the program who betrayed her from the beginning. What an fool she was! Her rasping breath and clenched closed eyes and fists don't help her to fight back the hurt as she stands in the emotional rubble.
Instinct telling her she needs space, her feet start pounding down the halls and soon she's at the hanger. She grabs a baton and wing chute and bales out of the ship. The wind on her face, as she plummets to the ground, brings her clarity.
When she reaches Able's garage, it surprises her to sees so many programs still milling about. What are they still doing here? They don't know about what is coming, do they? But she can do something about that. She grabs a random program's arm and demands, "l need to see Beck right now, and tell the Renegade that Clu's armada is on the way. You programs need to go into hiding. On the double, program!"
Zed and Mara come running up to the defense of Link, just as Paige lets him go. "CmdR, you aren't welcome here. Stop pushing programs around and just leave already."
"I need to speak to Beck, and you need to evacuate all these programs immediately! Didn't you hear me tell that program? Clu's armada is on the way to Argon!" She indicates the direction they all need to head.
Running up in his white suit with the iconic T on his chest, Beck leaves his helmet up still unsure if he should reveal himself to his friends. But when he sees Paige, he knows he made the right choice. He can't reveal himself to her until she accepts the Renegade. "Paige, I didn't expect to see you here. Mara said you came to warn us. Thanks."
"I'm tired of repeating myself. I need to talk with Beck. You're the last program I want to talk to right now,"
"Touche. Though, I'll be sure he gets the message. What do you want to tell him, and can you tell me on the way? We need to evacuate."
"It's for him only. He's the only friend, if any, that I have left. But there's programs who need medical attention. I'll help for now, then I'm hunting him down. He's got to be here," she takes off toward the fleeing crowd.
"Paige..." his stunned reply only lasts a microcycle until he realizes he'll be left behind and the programs need him to lead. He scrambles to catch up and shakes his head at the turn of events. So much has changed, yet he still has so much to hide. He voices his main thought as he reaches her, "Paige, why are you helping us?"
"It's personal, ok? Can't you buy a clue?" she spits back at him as they run.
"Ok. Ok. You'll only talk to Beck. But he's busy helping others right now and after you dumped him he was pretty down about it. I don't think you'll be able to find him for a while," he hints.
"I know he's helping others. I'll wait," she starts getting programs to the tunnels underground and grabbing batons for as many as can get on vehicles as possible. "What are you doing standing around? Lead the programs already 'Tron'," the sarcasm in the name drips from her tongue and stings.
"Nice to see you again too, 'CmdR'. Sheesh."
She looks up, "I'm not CmdR anymore. And if...IF Tron really did exist - which is impossible - and I could see him face to face then I'd join him."
"You're not just saying that?"
"What? That Tron's dead?"
"No, that you'd switch sides," Beck has to press this to be sure she's not just saying it. He doesn't want to jump off into this if she's not really ready. He's made that mistake before.
"He's the type of program I could have followed. But he's gone, so there's no chance of it," she challenges.
"It might be arranged. Paige, I tried to recruit you once before. What's changed? When you're ready to tell me, I'll listen. But I need to know..."
"I'm not telling you. Tron's dead. End of discussion."
"Fine. What ever." Beck takes out his baton and speeds off on his bike. He swears to himself, "By the distant users, Paige why? Why can't you see me for who I really am?" He revs up the speed to let off steam so he can lead the refugees into the tunnels and out of the city.
Another program steps up beside Paige clad all in black and visor up, "Don't be so hard on him. He's got alot to shoulder right now. He's the one who believed in you. I didn't think we'd ever be working beside one of the occupation's former CmdRs. Yet, here you are."
Paige won't look into his mask as she gets a comatose program onto an impromptu stretcher for transport. "What is with you all and the masks? I just want..."
He interrupts her and steps into her personal space. "It protects our identity and especially those we care about. Think about it. Now...are you serious about following Tron?"
She looks at him skeptically. "So, you have a connection with the dead? Yes, I was serious. But..."
Tron lets his mask fall back but only lets Paige have a quick glance, 'Wish granted. But I won't turn you." His visor flips back into place finalizing his words.
She pales and her hands slip letting the patient fall not so gently into the stretcher. Paige picks her jaw up off the floor and reaches out to touch his chest to be sure he's not just a ghost image. Then it dawns on her what he just said. She demands indignantly, "Am I not good enough for your rebellion?"
Tron stands his ground. "The Renegade or not at all. None of the rest of us feel we can trust you. If he still believes in you, then he'll be the one to turn your colors. If not, you'll be cut loose from the group."
"I'll get Beck to do it!"
"Good luck with that...Now will you or will you not help these programs to safety?"
"Yes, sir," she growls letting the answer be as biting as possible. Then it hits her - all the things she's done. They can't just be forgotten. She'll have to work hard - really hard to prove herself to them. She closes her eyes trying to shut out the burning shame inside. What if she's a lost cause?
Tron turns to help the last unconscious program and motions for her to get going down the tunnels toward the outlands.
The ragtag group stops at the old drill site where the tunnels converge to make plans for who goes which direction. Tron in his imposing black walks up behind Paige, "Come with me. This needs to be decided, before we go any further. The group will split - those who are with the rebellion and those who aren't."
As she follows him through the crowd, she can feel all the eyes boring holes in the back of her skull. What is she really doing here anyway? She can't go back to the occupation. But can she trust the Renegade?
"Paige has something to ask of you. I told her only you can do it," Tron speaks directly to the Renegade who remains unnervingly silent.
Oh Users, this is so humiliating. Why does she have to ask HIM? She steels herself by biting her lip for a second. "Tron lives. I know it now." Looking down she continues, "Will you turn my colors?" the slight bitterness in her words catches him off guard.
Beck blinks behind his dark mask and takes a step back., "Do you still need to talk with Beck? I'd like one of our group to know what changed your mind," he's really torn. Why can't he just say ok? There's nothing he wanted more before, but why can't she accept The Renegade?
She grits her teeth in the frustration and hurt that he won't just say yes. Isn't this what he wanted? He was the one that tried to recruit her those many cycles ago. "Only him..."
Beck nods feeling like he's betraying her behind the mask, hoping he will understand what she says, "You..." Beck points to Tron, "... with me. The rest of you will need to decide if you're with the resistance or not. We'll be splitting up after this. I won't lie to you, it's going to be a hard road. But you know what's at stake. The resistance will group up on my right and others on the left. We have a safe place planned for each group. You have 20 milicycles. Make use of it." Turning to Tron he indicates a direction to head and uses a hushed whisper, "Now what? Beck has to be 'found'."
"I have a plan. You can't be in two places, but we can make it look that way. Give me the disk. I don't have to talk, just be here."
"Understood," Beck says a little dispiritedly. "Behind the rubble of the old generator I can change and then mingle into the crowd. Find me when it's time."
Beck finds his way to Mara and Zed. "Beck! You made it out!" Mara runs up and hugs him.
"Good to see you both, too. I heard I need to talk with my ex-girlfriend. Can you help me find her?"
"You sure you want her with us? What if she's not for real?" Zed questions with his usual suspicion.
"I've seen the good in her, Zed. She and I saved a whole train full of people together. She used to be a medic. Did I ever tell you that?"
"You just want her back. You've not been the same since then," Mara teases as she takes his arm.
Beck runs his hand through his hair nervously, "I wouldn't' say no..."
Zed rolls his eyes, "You have it bad, Beck. Just don't mess this up, ok? Don't let your emotions get to you - do you hear me?"
Beck only nods as he sees Paige waiting for him by a tunnel entrance, and takes off at a dead run oblivious to all else.
"Lover boy heard nothing. We are so doomed," Zed laments.
"Give him some credit Zed. Like you, there's more to him than meets the eye," she slyly takes his hand with a wink.
Zed suddenly walks a little taller, but opens his mouth before he can stop himself, "Glad you finally see it." It makes Mara giggle and he's suddenly back to his deflated self.
"Don't be a dummy Zed," she rebuffs him with a smile but laces her fingers into his. This time he just keeps quiet, enjoying the moment.
Beck takes a deep breath to calm his nerves and hopes he doesn't have bad helmet hair as he slows to a jog. He tries a light approach and holds his hands open, brazenly indicating himself, "Once again, I'm the one you're looking for."
She's propped against the tunnel wall with her arms crossed and only lets the smallest of smirks appear at his cockiness.
He leans up against the wall next to her, less sure of himself now, "I've missed you. What's on your mind?" The turn of her expression makes him concerned, "I'm listening."
She glances at the ceiling to collect her thoughts, "Beck, I keep thinking about what you said that day on the bridge. Last time I tried, I picked the wrong way to go about it. Tesler, I thought I could trust him. Now he's dead, and Pavel gave me his disk. I don't think it was tampered with. All the memories are complete, not just fragments..."
She closes her eyes and slides down the wall as she hangs her head.
"Paige, what happened?" Beck tenderly queries as he slides down beside her and puts an arm around her, "I'm here. You can tell me, no matter what is."
"I was so blind, Beck. He lied to me all along. He's the one that killed my friends, not the ISOs. I believed in him, thinking he gave me a second chance. But he used me all along. So many wasted cycles! Damn - so many things I did that were so wrong because of him!" The anger and darkness start to build in her as she vents, "If only I could have been the one to derezz him!"
"Paige, be glad you didn't have to," he tries to get her to look at him to make sure she hears him. "It would tear you apart inside. It's not who you are."
"At least I can believe you. I need you to turn my circuits from red to white."
"Paige, you wanting to help the rebellion is everything I could have dreamed of. But why can't you trust the Renegade? And what if I had to lie to you in the past to protect programs I care about?" He pulls his arm back and faces her.
"What could you have to lie about? Being out past curfew? And why should I trust him? If I can trust you, isn't that enough?"
"It's important to me that you trust him," Beck fidgets with his wrench in the hand that used to be around her. "I think he sees the same things I see in you. He believes in you and needs the same from you."
"Give me one good reason. This makes no sense, Beck. Tell me what you lied about... Wait... Do that again..."
"Twirl that wrench again."
Beck glares, "No." He puts the wrench that likely gave him away back in his pocket, and tries not to fidget.
She slams her fist against the wall, "So you and he are close. I get it. And you were spying on me when we went on that date?"
He lets out his breath with as much control as he can muster. "On the train I was trying to help Keller too. Then I ran into you, and I just couldn't get you out of my mind. I was pretty crushed when you wouldn't see me anymore. But I knew you had to watch out for Pavel and I was a distraction."
The silence is thick between them when Tron, clad in symbolic white, interrupts, "Time's up. Which side is she on, Beck?"
Paige brings up a fact as Beck hesitates, "He still hasn't told me what he's hiding. He asked me to trust the Renegade. But if he can't tell me the truth, how can I trust him?"
"If you two are at an impasse, then it's decided. Paige you will go with the other group," Tron answers.
"Wait, why is Tron's voice coming from you? The Renegade has a different voice... more... like... Beck's..." She glares at him and she tenses, "It really WAS you the whole time."
"As much as I want you to come with us, it all comes down to this. Paige, will you or will you not trust the Renegade?" Beck asks with pleading in his eyes.
"Why can't you just say it?" Paige demands.
"I don't have to, not any more than you are willing to trust the Renegade," he responds with hurt just barely showing and starts walking toward the rebellion group. It's so hard for him to keep his head up. This is so against everything he wanted. Did he just make the biggest mistake of his life?
"I want her to be with us so bad it hurts," he laments.
Tron puts a sympathetic hand on Beck's shoulder, "I know it was hard. But you did the right thing, Beck, by standing up for yourself and what you believe. If she's really all you think she is, she'll come around."
"She's so used to being in charge and blaming everything on the Renegade. And I can't go back to just staying behind her like I had to when we broke out of prison..."
"You have to be equals. Like Yori and I were." Tron finishes.
"You had a program like her?" Beck asks surprised his mentor is revealing something so personal, and needing a distraction from his despair.
"Yori was a light in the darkness - talented and beautiful. Not as boisterous as Paige, but just as determined and brave," the whistfullness in his voice chokes off.
"So what happened?" Beck automatically asks, wishing now he could take back his words so it doesn't hurt his mentor to remember.
"Flynn brought me over from the old system. For some reason, he never saw fit to bring her over too."
"Tron...How did you manage it?" Beck needs to know how to deal with this.
"I sank myself into my work and into the games. The passage of the cycles has made it a little easier. We have work to do. Are you ready?"
"No. But the cycles won't wait for me," he forces determination into his voice. "I can't choose for her," the bittersweet taste of it reminds him that choice is what he's fighting for. The freedom to choose.
"Beck! Why is Paige walking over to the other side?" Mara shouts as she and Zed run to meet him and see his ultra moody expression.
Their worry shows and Zed gets in Beck's face, "Beck have you lost all your bits? You let the girl of your dreams just walk away?"
Tron speaks for him knowing how hard it will be to answer, "It's not that easy Zed. She doesn't trust in the Renegade. She's got to if she's coming with us. Beck knows that."
Zed looks to Tron, then to Beck confirming what he just heard. Then he grabs Mara's wrist and asserts, "Let's go," as he drags her off in Paige's direction.
"Wasn't he the one who was going to turn you in?"
Beck shrugs, "That's Zed for you."
"Paige!" Mara and Zed shout together.
She keeps walking but turns her head to acknowledge them.
"Why aren't you coming with us? Are you crazy?" Mara accuses and pleads at the same time.
"I can't follow someone who can't tell me who he is. Even if I've figured it out. I need the truth, after everything I've been through. Everything until now was a lie," Paige vents.
"Beck is crazy about you. I thought he was short circuiting when he was dating you as a CmdR. But he wasn't the same after you dumped him. And NOW you let him down by refusing what he believes in? Why did you bother coming?"
"Do you even know who the Renegade is? I know, and Beck can't even tell me now that I know!" Paige spits.
"Does it matter? We don't know, but we've seen what he's done. We'll follow him for what he stands for. He's got his reasons for not letting everyone know." Mara retorts.
"You really haven't put two and two together and you're Beck's best friends?" Paige keeps up the attack.
"So?" Zed asks ingnorant of her hint.
"Beck IS the Renegade," Paige spells it out for them and taps a finger on Zed's forehead.
Their eyes go wide, but Zed puts it together a step beyond Paige, "So you're mad at him for keeping that from you? Paige, you and I would have BOTH happily turned him in and he'd have been derezzed! How could he have told you then? You just can't deal with the idea of him being in command over you, can you? You've chased him too long. "
Paige's brows furrow.
"You know I'm right. You just need your emotions to catch up with your circuits. Now, what are you going to do about it?" Zed turns to look back at Beck. "He and ... that means" he leaves off in mid sentence.
"...the real Tron are gathering he new troops," Paige finishes. "How do you think I could have ever said 'Tron Lives'?"
"Are Zed and I going to have to drag you over there?" Mara verbally pokes Paige.
A snicker escapes her, as she stalls and lets it all sink in, "Like you could..." Jeez. Zed's annoying, especially when he's right. But what in the world can she say? Well, first things first. Beck is about to have to leave her behind. She starts at a run and leaps into the air as she activates her light cycle.
"I like it when you have the guts to do what's right," Mara gives Zed a little kiss on the cheek then starts her light cycle too.
When Zed recovers and pulls his hand from his cheek, he chases after her, "Does this mean you're not romanticizing the Renegade any more?"
Beck and Tron have already activated their cycles. Beck turns when he hears the screech of a sudden stop. Paige pulls up beside him, followed by Mara and Zed. She has a determined look as she steps from her cycle and pokes her baton into his chest. It makes him cock his head a little, unsure if she's going to hit him or say something.
"Do you really think I can let the Renegade get away from me that easily?" she says for the crowd to hear, but leans in to whisper, "You really were the one I was looking for all along. Beck I believe in you, even the side you've only hinted at."
Beck lets his cycle resolve back into the baton and reaches out for Paige but she backs up, "Ah-ah-ah! I was promised that only the Renegade would change over my colors."
Tron reveals his face to the whole group, "Go ahead Beck." The collective gasp brings a barely visible upturn to his normally somber facade.
"You ready for this?" as he asks the trademark white encompasses him.
Paige steps forward and traces his cheek and jawline. He sees for the first time, she actually has dimples as her lips form that rare smile. She confesses, "You told me to look at things from a different perspective, so I am. Even though it's not been easy."
He pulls her to him and revels in the closeness as the white light races up her circuits. She rests her forehead on his as her eyes flash to show the transformation is complete and she quips, "You're mine, Renegade."
"Yeah. You got me this time," his free hand slides to the nape of her neck, then draws her lips to his.
The shouts of "Tron Lives!" start up and Tron lets them go for just a milicycle. Then he motions for silence, " We have a long way to go. Let's get moving before Clu's armada catches up to us."
Beck starts up his light cycle and Paige gets on behind him as she sets things 'straight', "I can't always be in your shadow, you know."
"I can't be in yours either. We'll just have to figure it out together," he concedes. She tightens her grip around him and he revs up the engine zipping to the front of the column of the new rebellion with a light ribbon trailing behind them.
Re-watched episode 17 and 18 to be sure I remembered right. When she broke up with Beck - Her stepping back into the shadows was so foreboding... Oh the feels it gave me. Those episodes are why I had to write this!
One of the songs that influenced me most while writing this chapter:
New Divide by Linkin Park "Wash away what I've done...give me reason to fill this hole, connect the space between."