Disclaimer: The Matrix and its characters belong to Warner Brothers and the Wachowski's
Author's Notes: My first Matrix fic in… years, I think. Wow. It's good to be back. I'm not too sure about this one – let me know what you think. Oh, and there's little spoilers in this for Reloaded. I'm sure mos of you have seen it by now, but it never hurts to be safe, right?
This is dedicated to Tasha, who really did get electrocuted in New Zealand.
Her memories of her past life were fading. She didn't want to hang to them anyway; none of it had existed, so why bother with it? The present was the only thing that mattered in this world; that was what they fought for. The council prayed in the temple for the future of mankind, and when they did, Trinity found herself thinking more of the present. The war was not in front of them, but with them. It forced them to live underground, to scurry around in abandoned sewers, terrified of a midnight attack.
In the quiet of those attacks, when breath was stilled and bodies frozen, it was hard to think about a past that hadn't actually existed. And so, she had mostly forgotten. Places, names, faces… they had all rusted away until she had only a vague idea who she'd been before the name Trinity had become hers.
There was only one memory that persisted, and she blamed him entirely for it. She might have forgotten about her uncle and his damned cows if Neo had never touched her. When the squiddies came he reached for her hand and it was hard to concentrate on the present. Sometimes she could fight the memory; more often, she couldn't.
It was a foolish memory, really.
When she'd been young, before everything had gone wrong in her family, she'd gone to visit her Uncle Wilbur, the black sheep of the family. Whereas most rebellious youths moved to the city and tried to become rock stars, Wilbur had moved a little further away than most – New Zealand, in fact – and became a cattle farmer. Trinity's grandparents were puzzled by this abrupt career change, since he'd been majoring in Art History at college, but he seemed happy in Hamilton, and he invited the rest of the family out there to stay, as soon as they could get the chance.
It was the third time Trinity had been to visit; she was nine-and-three-days old (she could remember that clearly because that was how Uncle Wilbur referred to her: Miss Nine-and-Three-Days, or Miss-Eight-and-Three-Quarters, or whatever). Her memory of this particular day was so clear she could remember that she'd been wearing dungarees and a blue t-shirt, and that Uncle Wilbur had been wearing a very old, torn pair of jeans and a black t-shirt with The Rolling Stones blazed across it and a red neckerchief.
Uncle Wilbur was trying to herd his cattle – they needed shots, or some other such thing, and Trinity's job had been to open and close the electrified fence after Wilbur had switched off the power so that Wilbur could filter the cows through one at a time.
"Do you remember what to do, Miss Nine-and-Three-Days?" he asked, and she had nodded. She liked working so close to the fence; even though the electricity was dead, she still felt a little frisson of excitement. She imagined that the wire still hummed with an unseen power as she grasped it, that it was hot underneath her fingers. But this wasn't a worry; Wilbur would never let her get hurt. He always called out to her when to touch the wire and when to let go. The idea that he might slip up and call out at the wrong time never occurred to her – she'd still been at an age where grown-ups didn't make mistake, but behaved as omniscient gods.
Trinity wasn't exactly sure what went wrong. Perhaps he had called out to her and then made to switch off the electrical current. Maybe her eager hands had been just a mite too quick. All she knew was that when she had grasped the wire there had been a blue flash and then she was shaking. Her whole body rattled and shook, and her hands had been glued to the wire. She heard a scream being torn from her throat and still she could not let go off the wire. She thought that her bones were being torn loose from her muscles, her skin must be on fire, it must be-
And then Wilbur shut the power off, or she was thrown loose from the wire. She lay on the ground, certain that she'd been broken beyond repair and was oozing like a broken insect. She could smell the aroma of cut grass and a strange fresh smell – the smell of a thunderstorm. Of rain and lightning pounding against the ground like missiles.
A foolish memory. And yet, it wasn't so foolish. Trinity could still recall bringing Neo dinner as he sprawled out across his bed, exhausted by training. She'd bent closer to him and inhaled his scent – he hadn't smelt like sweat, or aftershave, but something much cleaner. It reminded her at first of the smell of printing ink, or computers even. Hot, and slightly musty and clean. Of lightning and rain, and in her dreams that night she'd been lying back on that turf, head and body still buzzing, but this time it was because of the man lying next to her. Trinity woke up shivering.
When they'd first kissed all she could taste from his lips was blood and she'd been grateful to it because it meant that he was alive and that was all she cared about. His hand was on the back of her neck holding her to him, and the pressure from it sent shivers up and down her. No; not shivers. It was something stronger than that, something that pulsed through her veins and rattled her bones and she could not let go off him. She would not let go off him.
It was like that each time he touched her, even if he had just brushed her back with his hand. Her skin was alight with him. When they lay in bed at night she felt as if her muscles were unwinding from her bones, like she was unravelling before him. Sometimes, it hurt because she loved him so much and he could be taken away from her, or she from him
"Wherever you go, I'll go too," she said once and he'd nodded and kissed her.
"Wherever," he'd murmured back.
He was like an addiction, she thought. Control was something she'd craved before; something she'd vowed would never be without. She was in charge of her own destiny. It was the only thing she'd been certain of. And then Neo had come along and made everything so uncertain. He made her remember and feel things she'd forgotten, and she found she didn't mind relinquishing some of her destiny onto him. He would cherish her and she him. They could look after each other.
It soon got to the stage where she could not imagine not sharing her bed with him. He kept her warmer than any blanket or heating system. She imagined that if she opened her eyes in the darkness, their little room would be illuminated by blue flashes and crackles. He was like a storm in the Matrix, a twister that destroyed selectively. One side of a street could be obliterated and the other left intact, if that was how he wanted it. At night, she felt that immense power flicker through him and she knew that in the midst of all the chaos of war, the two of them were in the eye of the storm.
Sometimes before he jacked in to the Matrix she told him to be careful.
"I'll be fine," he said once. "My heart will still beat back here." And then he had disappeared through the looking glass, as Morpheus sometimes liked to put it.
Trinity hadn't quite understood what he'd meant by that at first. It was only later, when she'd helped him out of his chair and felt the tattoo of his pulse underneath her palm that she'd understood.
"You saved me," he'd whispered after their first kiss. She'd nodded, not knowing exactly how she'd done it, but grateful beyond words that it had happened. Her heart had been thumping in her ears and looking down at his pulse now, so many months after he'd been resurrected, she understood. Whatever she'd done to him she'd bound him to her, forced him to feel her heart beat and respond to it. One heart, she thought. She knew she'd never be lonely again. She'd known that before, of course, but she felt safer anyway. Perhaps even death wouldn't be able to separate them.
That night, she'd woken up to a cold bed. Neo was gone, and she panicked for a moment, thinking it had been a dream. But no; there were his boots in the corner. Wherever he'd gone, he was barefoot. She crawled out of bed, pulled on her own boots and went in search of him.
Eventually she found him on the main deck, curled up in the operator's chair, his bare feet poking out from underneath his legs. His cheek was rested on his fist and his eyes were half-closed, flickering faintly to follow the code. As she watched, they drooped shut. Trinity felt a half smile tug at her.
"I remember watching you fall asleep in front of computers a long time ago."
"I remember you waking me up after I fell asleep in front of computers," said Neo, opening his eyes and looking at her. He smiled sleepily at her as she pressed her hands over his feet, shivering as she felt how cold they were. He sighed and shifted in his seat.
"If you're tired-" Trinity began.
"I'm not tired," said Neo. "It's easier to look at it this way."
"With your eyes shut?" asked Trinity. Neo said nothing. Trinity touched his arm lightly. "Why aren't you in bed?"
"I didn't mean to wake you-"
"It's okay. I just wondered where you'd gotten to."
"I couldn't sleep," said Neo. "I had a bad dream."
"It was-" began Neo, turning to look at her. His eyes fixed on hers and he froze for an instance, as if he'd suddenly remembered something. He looked very young suddenly; like Mouse almost, hunched up in the chair, his eyes glittering green from the code. Before she could ask him what was wrong, he turned back to the screens. "It was just a dream," he said quietly.
"Are you sure?" asked Trinity. He nodded and then gave her a tight smile.
"Link said he'd relieve me in a couple of hours… He was dead on his feet, and since I was awake I swapped shifts with him… I'll be back soon."
"Okay," whispered Trinity. She suddenly felt oddly protective of this man – oh, not in the way she'd always felt protective of him; she'd die for him, and they both knew it. She had a sudden urge to tell him not to look at the screens for too long, that he'd ruin his eyes. She wanted to scold him for not putting his boots on; the ship was far too cold to run about barefoot in. She wanted to tell him to come back to bed and get some sleep, that he needed it.
After a moment, she said none of this and kissed him quickly on the temple.
"See you," she said and went back to bed.
A few hours later, she was woken by the sound of their cabin door opening. She felt him slid into the bed beside her, spooning his body against hers. He kissed her neck, just below her plug and she felt that familiar crackle rush through her. He murmured her name once and then his breathing slowed and she knew he was asleep.
Weeks later, she was again watching him sleep. Except this sleep was deeper than any she'd ever known, and she couldn't reach him, couldn't imagine where he was.
"He's in some kind of coma," said the medic, "but his vitals are stable." She paused and looked at Trinity. "What about you?"
"I'm fine," Trinity said, not mentioning how much her heart ached. Every beat sent fire through her veins; the memory of coldness and then a sudden heat, electric and painful, touching her very core still pulsated through her. She wondered if she would ever forget it; part of her didn't want to.
She'd always known that they'd die for each other, and it was a powerful feeling. But somehow, the realisation that he wouldn't let her die was more moving.
Trinity could feel his pulse beat languidly in his palm, feeling that her own had slowed to match his. Perhaps he had transferred part of himself into her, just as she had done to him, and now their heart beat in time to his own electrical rhythm.
I guess now we're even.
She held his hand tightly and thought, every pulse is yours, Neo. Every beat belongs to you. She squeezed his hand.
I'm not letting go.