TITLE: Reaper

AUTHOR: spin

SUMMARY:Neo and Trinity come to terms with the fact that nothing lasts forever. Pre-Reloaded, and a bit of Post-Revs.

CATEGORIES: Adult/Romance

AUTHOR'S NOTES: dedicated to the Hardline for endless inspiration

DISCLAIMER:not mine

She sat in the military lounge, her boots propped on the table. She and Morpheus had been going over tech schematics for a new construct loading program that she and Link had been tweaking for the past two months. Morpheus scrolled down the last page on her PPU, sighed, and set it on the table.

"It looks sound. You've ran simulations?"

Her lips quirked upwards, and she pulled her legs down and sat up.

"Of course."



Morpheus nodded. "Good. I want you and Link to have it up and running as soon as we're back on the Nebuchadezzer. The systems check should be done tommorow afternoon, so I want you and Neo at the dock at 22:00. I'd like to get back to the Matrix as soon as possible. I don't like leaving our potentials unmonitered, but we just don't have enough ships to watch everyone carefully."

She inclined her head. "I know. We'll be ready. Is there anything else?"

It was late, and was time for Neo to be getting out of his meeting with the Council members. She hadn't seen much of him this visit to Zion...it was only Neo's second time in the city, and as he'd been in the hospital ward for much of his first stay, he hadn't seen much of the Council members. They were, in her opinion, overly eager to get their hands on him. Especially because every minute he spent with the council was a minute he could be with her instead.

"Actually there is. I wanted to talk to you about what you're going to do."

She quirked an eyebrow. "What I'm going to do?"

He smiled a little, and leaned forward, clasping his hands on top of the table.

"After the war, Trinity. All this will end soon. Zion will need people to help rebuild its infrastructure. I'm planning to recommend to the council that you be put in charge of the surface development team. We need to set up communications, water purification centers,transportation systems and the like. You're a brillant engineer, one of our best. What do you think?"

She stood up abruptly, knocking over her chair in the process.

"I'll talk to you later," she muttered hurriedly, and retreated out of the lounge.

Unsettled, Morpheus stood, and righted the tipped chair. He lingered by the table for a long moment, wondering what he had said.

Trinity pushed blindly through the crowd, shoving people left and right, ignoring the muttering and the glares sent her way. She reached the opposite wall of the military atrium, which was blessedly free of Zionites.



She gripped the railing, breath coming in gasps, and tried to ground herself. Her chest was constricted, and her head was pounding.

She pressed her fingers against her mouth, squeezed her eyes shut, and sank heavily against the wall.

What had happened back there? One minute they were talking about a program, and Morpheus said mentioned the end of the war.

Suddenly the walls were closing in and she couldn't breathe like she was drowning, struggling silently through murky waters, trying to break through to the surface so she could fill her lungs again and...

"Get a hold of yourself, Trinity," she told herself sternly, and tried to ignore her pounding heart, and willed her ragged breathing to even.

She was suddenly embarressed. She'd lost control. And in front of Morpheus, for Chrissakes. She shut her eyes, and ran through one of the calming excercises Ghost had taught her when they were teenagers. Her temper had been quicker then, and much too sharp for her to survive in a war, when orders must be followed without hestitation or question.

Ghost had taught her the beginnings of control, and she had clung to what he taught her, expanded and built upon it. She loved it, made it part of herself, and so it stung bitterly when she lost her tight grip on her emotions.

There. Center.

She pushed against the wall, standing tentatively, afraid her body would betray her again. But she was steady. She shook the thoughts of the last few moments away, and strode on through Zion as if nothing had happened.

It wasn't until she was on the elevator, halfway up to her room and to Neo, that she went over her conversation with Morpheus again.

The end of the War. Jesus.

There had never been an end in sight for her; she hadn't realized that there should be. There had just been an endless stretch of cold lonely nights on watch, in stark constrast with strings of nerve-wracking, pulse-pounding firefights in the Matrix.

Neo's arrival had been a welcome remedy to the cold,lonely nights, but while she had known he was the One, known it like she'd never known anything before (except perhaps the way she had known something was wrong with the world before she'd been unplugged), she'd been more preoccupied with his newfound identity's effect on her personal life than its effect on the entire human race. It hadn't actually occured to her that his coming meant that the war would come to an end, and soon.

She shivered, chills running up along her spine. It was unnatural to never imagine the end of the war. Never, in her entire career, had she made a plan for afterwards.

"Maybe," she pondered, "it's because I've always known I'm not going to live to see the end of it."

She froze. Where had that come from? But now that she had thought it, it felt....inescapeable. Inevitable.

Bile rose in her throat, but she choked it down. A man in the uniform of Locke's guard gave her a strange look, but blessedly the elevator shuddered to a halt, and the ancient gears squealed as the door slid open. Trinity stumbled out of the crowded elevator, and into the busy hall.

She was relieved to see there was no crowd of supplicants around her chipping red door.

"He must not be back yet."

Though she was normally glad not to have to push past those who wouldn't leave her Neo in peace, for once she was thankful for the crowd of admirers that flocked after him like lambs after their shepard, if only because they let her know where he was or was not. She needed some time to herself, to think, to breathe.

Trinity paused outside the door, running her fingers over the rusted wheel. How long had this been her room? These had been her quarters in Zion ever since she'd been unplugged. But they'd never felt like home. Her cabin on the Neb, however sparse, was home. She shook her head, feeling calmer, tugged at the wheel, and quickly stepped inside.

And froze.

He was there, in the process of changing his shirt, his hair sticking in every direction. His few sweaters were thrown carelessly over the desk and the moniters they had moved into the room for him, and naked to the waist, he appeared to be trying to determine which one was least dirty. He looked up when she opened the door, and his face lit up.

And something in her just broke. The feeling hit her like the Mac truck her Matrix uncle had used to drive cross-country.

She lunged at him, mashing her lips against his. He tensed, surprised, but then relaxed into the kiss, and let his arms float up to wrap around her hips.

She was frantic, desperate for him, fighting against the dread, the helplessness that was threatening to overwhelm her. She needed control. Her hands were everywhere, fingers rough in his hair, on his chest, but it wasn't enough. He could be her lifeline if she could hold on tight enough, long enough.

She pushed him backwards, his knees buckling against the sharp stone ledge, and she urged him up onto their worn mattress. He reached for her, but she pushed him down onto his back, perhaps a little too roughly.

"Trin...." His voice was breathy, but ragged with want.

"Hush. Not right now."

She straddled him, pinning his body down. He squirmed insistently.

"Trinnnnnnn...."

In one smooth motion, she grasped the hem of her shirt, and lifted all of her layers off over her head. She tossed the shirts away, and moved down to assualt his neck. He reached up to touch her, but she grabbed his fingers,lacing them through her own, and she pressed his hands back against the mattress.

"No," she whispered, "No."

He looked so adorably bewildered that she had to lean down and kiss him again. She then reached down to slide out of her pants, and divested him of his own as well. She slid quickly back up his body, and moved so that he was inside her as she laced her fingers through his again. He jumped a little, startled at the sudden connection, and moaned quietly.

Trinity buried her face in his neck, and began to thrust against him. She needed this. She needed it or she would be swept away...pulled under by the current of emotion...she was drowning...

Her pace was frenzied, and she had no idea if he was close or not, practically insensible to his quiet gasps and ragged breathing.

She kept her face pressed against his skin, eyes shut tightly, the sweaty hair on the nape of his neck prickling her forehead. She'd almost forgotten about him, concentrating on building her own pleasure. Purely selfish. She had to escape, and this was the only way she knew how.

She was so close...so close.

And she let out a choked sob as her orgasm caught her, her fingernails digging hard into the backs of Neo's hands, so hard that she broke the delicate skin over his knuckles. Neo thrust upwards one last time, and then gasped quietly into her shoulder. "Whoa." His fingers tightened around hers, and then he was still.

******************************************************************

Trinity sat across from Ghost at a tiny table in one of Zion's louder, dingier bars. She swirled her drink, staring into it as if she could find the answers she sought in its depths. Ghost had been quiet, unusually so, and she was unsettled. She was already on edge, and she'd been hoping Ghost's comforting familiarity would help her center herself.

"I'm going to miss them," he mumured, and she hardly caught what he had said over the din. A glass smashed to their left, and a very drunk Mauser roared and rose to chase after an equally drunk AK.

Trinity was a little surprised. She and Ghost and been drinking for over an hour, catching up as they usually did when docked in Zion at the same time, but they had both pointedly avoided mentioning their recently dead comrades. She sighed.

"I know," she mumured back, and paused, searching for the words to express what she wanted to say.

"It seems like....everything's changing. Everything is changing so fast, and I don't know if I can keep up." She put an elbow on the table, and rested her chin in her hand, and swirled her drink again slowly.

"You know," she started, "today, for the first time in my life, I ignored something Morpheus told me to do. I just completely ignored it."

Ghost's eyes widened a little, and he leaned forward. She saw the alarm flicker in his eyes, and had to laugh a little.

"Oh, don't worry, I didn't do anything stupid. At least...not that stupid."

He leaned back and waited for her to continue.

"Neo came out of the hospital wing today. They've finally finished testing him...though I'm not sure they even knew what they were looking for. Morpheus told me to take him to the housing authority, get him a room, get him registered, and help him settle in."

She sighed at herself.

"Guess what I did instead?" Her lips quirked upward a tiny bit, and against his will, Ghost's did also.

"That's right. I brought him back to my room, and well, I don't think he's going to be getting his own room anytime soon."

Ghost shook his head a little in disbelief.

"He's going to live with you?"

"Damn straight. Besides, he's practically moved into my cabin on the Neb already."

"You, the woman that told me that you'd have to, and let me make sure I quote you correctly, "be banging a guy for years before you let him into your fucking personal space?"

Trinity grimaced. "Did I really phrase it like that?"

Ghost nodded.

"I must have been really drunk."

Ghost smiled a little, raised his eyebrows, and nodded again.

Trinity sighed heavily, suddenly exhausted, and ran her fingers through her hair.

"But this is what I'm talking about. Suddenly...everything is different. And I don't understand why."

Ghost smirked a little at her. "Change is the only constant in the universe."

"I'm just not sure I know who I am anymore."

Ghost reached across the table, and covered his hand with his own. She looked up at him, and was startled at the blazing depths of emotion in his eyes. He was always so calm, his eyes so empty, so even.....She couldn't read it, and wasn't at all sure she wanted to understand it.

"That's bullshit, and you know it. You're Trinity." He smiled a little. "THE Trinity. You're one of the strongest people I know, and I've seen you pull through much worse than this."

She smiled back at him, and squeezed his hand. "Thank you, my brother," she whispered. He nodded back, serious once again.

"I should go...he's been alone for a while now," Trinity said, moving to stand.

"Wait," Ghost said, and it came out sounding less confident than he had meant it to. She turned back, her gaze questioning. Ghost swallowed hard.

"I wanted to tell you.....that you look better. More....relaxed. Centered."

She half-smiled, a little sadly. "Regular sex will do that for you. See you later." She turned and strode out, always moving purposefully. Nothing Trinity ever did was wasted.

Ghost's eyes followed her out, and lingered on the doorway long after she was out of sight. Even after what the Oracle had told him, he had always hoped that maybe....But he'd always known that the hope was empty, something he clung to because he was weak....

He would be strong.

Strong for her. She deserved happiness. And her happiness required he be brother...not lover.

Ghost stood, and left the warm clamour of the bar behind, heading towards his empty room. His books would keep him company tonight. He could always count on Sartre.

*********************************************************************************************

Trinity had collapsed atop of him, and had yet to remove her face from the crook of his neck. She slowly untangled her fingers from his, and rested both of her hands on his chest. He was breathing unevenly, and as she let go of his hands, he moved one to her back, running his fingers along the plugs on her spine.

She felt numb. But it wasn't the blessedly peaceful numbness that usually followed their bouts of lovemaking. She felt empty, dull, like someone had pumped her full of painkiller and she wasn't sure which parts of her body were still attached to her. She breathed in deeply, trying to memorize the way he smelled.

Neo began massaging the muscles along her backbone, rubbing in small gentle circles.

"Is something wrong?" he asked her quietly.

She finally lifted her head from his neck to watch the outline of his too-wide lips from under his chin.

"Why would you think anything's wrong?"

Neo snorted, and shifted her on his chest so he could look into her eyes.

"Well, you don't usually jump me as soon as you walk in the door, without so much as a 'Hello." He grinned. "Not that I'm complaining. And then...that was a little different, Trin. Not that it wasn't enjoyable, but it was.....different."

She looked away, avoiding his eyes. "How did you get down here without your fan club?"

He chuckled. "I snuck down the back stairwell. Wearing that ridiculous hat that Zee knitted."

That made her smile a little.

He rubbed her back, and dropped a kiss onto the top of her head."Now stop changing the subject." He nudged closer to her, and took her hand in his. "It's okay, you can tell me."

She sighed, and wrapped an arm around his neck.

"It's just that...I mean...Have you thought about the end of the war? And I don't just mean the end...I mean after the war.Because I never have. Morpheus was talking about it, and I realized that I've always expected to die fighting this war. I've never expected to live through it."

His arms tightened around her, and she wanted to stop talking but she couldn't. She couldn't look at him, and focused her eyes on the pillow next to her head. The words were pouring out of her, thoughts and half formed ideas that she hadn't put together until this moment, lying skin to skin with him, his heart beating against her chest.

"I'm a soldier, Neo. I don't think I've got anything else left in me...at least not enough of anything to be anything but a fighter. I'm going to die in this war. I have to. It can't happen any other way. And now that you're here...that means the war is going to end. Soon."

Neo had gone very still, and his breathing was shallow. His arms were still tight around her waist, and his fingers were digging into the skin below her ribs.

It was suddenly hard to speak, hard to form the words that she knew had to be said.

"I was ready to die, Neo. I had no qualms about sacrificing myself for the Resistance. I still will. But today I realized...I'm not ready to go. Not now. Not after you. Three months isn't long enough to be happy."

Suddenly, Neo rolled them over so she was underneath him, and pressed his forehead against her collarbone. He made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a sob, and she was immediately concerned when he wouldn't meet her eyes. She smoothed his tousled hair.

"Neo.."

He looked up at her, and his eyes were bright. "A lifetime with you wouldn't be long enough."

She almost laughed. Almost. "Oh, Neo."

He sighed, and then rolled off of her, and moved up onto the pillow. He lay on his back for a long moment, staring at the ceiling, his expression unreadable.

"I know what you mean," he said slowly, and she turned to him and reached for his hand. "Like, if I'm supposed to be some sort of savior or messiah or something. If you hadn't noticed, most people that were saviors had to die to save whatever they were...saving. Or something."



Trinity grabbed his arm, and pulled him back against her. She was starting to understand why everything with them had moved so quickly, how their relationship had solidified in less then a week. They had so little time, so they had needed to do all the living they could while they were together. Things had been different with Neo because they needed to be.

She rested her head under his chin, and wrapped her arms around him.She smiled sadly as she felt him do the same. She felt...lighter. No longer was she struggling in an ocean of doubt. He knew. He _understood_. She was not alone.

Perhaps their fates were tied even more closely than she'd come to accept, to understand.

She listened to the steady thump of his heart against his ribs, and felt him spread his fingers across his back. She realized that he was measuring her heartbeat too, and suddenly felt closer to him than she ever had before. He understood. No one had ever understood the way he did.

"I wish I could give you forever," he whispered.

She shook her head. "Forever", she said slowly, "is an awfully long time." She rose up on her elbow to kiss him softly. He rested his forehead against hers when she pulled away.

"I'll be happy with the time we're given."

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

Morpheus stood outside their chipping red door, clutching the rusting railing as he looked out over Zion. The city was still buzzing with activity, though it was near lights out. There was so much to rebuild, and now that the war had ended Zion's people were eager, filled with energy.

Three weeks had passed since the sentinels had left their city, and Morpheus was lost.

He had been planning for the end of the war, of course. Morpheus always had a plan. He had been ready. But he realized he hadn't been prepared for the losses. Especially not the two losses that had saved Zion. He'd loved them, and now he had lost them. Trinity had been so happy these past six months...happier than he'd ever seen her.

He couldn't escape them. Everywhere he went, they found him.

He'd wandered out this evening because he wasn't getting anything done, and somehow had found himself here, standing in front of their red door, peeling off the paint and crumbling it between his fingertips. He hadn't gone inside...that seemed as if it would be wrong.

Ever since he had realized the last of his crew was not returning, that he had lost all but Link, he had began to second guess himself. Had he been a good captain? Had he led them well? Captains were not supposed to lose entire crews. Captains were supposed to go down with their ship. And here he was, with crew and ship long gone. Alone.

He wished he had been more lenient with Neo and Trinity these past months. Usually he was understanding,glad they had found such happiness in each other, but sometimes their relationship had grated on him, and he'd been sharp with them. Several times he'd found them in the Core, drawn there by laughter in the middle of the night. Trinity often had the graveyard watch, and he had walked in on them several times, Trinity in Neo's lap, kissing or tickling each other or, once, playing I Spy.

"I spy, with my little eye, something......METAL!"

Trinity had dissolved into laughter, genuine laughter, and as much as Morpheus was glad to hear it, his already frazzled nerves, frayed from a long confrontation with Locke, would not allow him to deal with the situation calmly.

He had snapped at them, forbidden them to visit each other during watch shifts, and sent Neo to bed. He'd then had a talk with Trinity about not letting her personal life interfere with her duty, how he could understand it with Neo, recently unplugged, but not from his second command. It had hurt her, he had seen it in her eyes, but she had accepted his disappointment, and as always, strived not to disappoint agin.

Now that they were gone, there were so many things he wished he'd done differently...so many things he wished he'd said. They'd had so little time.

Morpheus crumbled the red flakes of paint between his fingers as the lights in Zion began to wink off. He let the crumbled paint particles slip off his hand, and float down over the railing, down, down, until he could see no more amid Zion's endless platforms and walkways.

"Dust to dust," he whispered, and moved away from the railing. He would not come back here again.

***************************************************************************************************************************************

Later that night, after they had both slipped into sleep, Neo stirred, uneasy.

Trinity...An Agent.

She was falling...shooting..the agent falling after her.

A bullet from the agents gun burst through her chest..

wide eyes....her mouth slack...

With a hoarse cry, Neo bolted upright in bed. He gagged violently, and vomited over the side of their bed in Zion.

"Neo!" Trinity was beside him rubbing his back. "Neo. Are you alright?" She felt his forehead. "Jesus, you're burning up."

He fumbled for a rag, and she helped him clean up.

"Neo, you're shaking."

"S'okay," he mumured, and clutched her to his chest. "I just had a dream. I'm fine."

She looked at him skeptically, but settled back onto his chest, and soon her breathing had slowed again. Her tightened his arms around her.

"Just a dream," he whispered.

-fini