TITLE: Scissors

AUTHOR: spin

SUMMARY:"...would you help me cut my hair? It's getting really annoying. In my eyes. And stuff."

CATEGORY:Romance

A/N: A huge freaking thanks to Tamsin, who betaed AND came up with the title. Woot! And thanks to eveyone on the Hardline, for all the encouragement.

P.S. I hate Link, but I'm trying to get over it, so this is also a peace offering.

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













Things were quiet.





They'd settled into an uneasy routine, scanning for potentials and searching for weaknesses in the system in daily trips into the Matrix. They were freeing minds at a speed unheard of before Neo's unplugging. But they didn't seem to be moving forward. The end of the war was no closer than it had been five months ago, when they'd realized he was the One. When she'd told him she loved him.





He wasn't smiling enough. And she loved that smile more than anything.





Things were quiet. Too quiet.





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



Trinity glanced up as their door squealed angrily on its rusty hinges. Neo's head appeared around the corner, followed by the rest of him as he awkwardly folded himself through the small doorway.



"Hey." He was smeared head to toe in engine grease.





Her eyebrows rose. "You're filthy."





He peered at her from under his hair, mouth set, eyes wide and uncertain. Uncomfortable. She was suddenly worried again. A month ago, he would have smiled easily, would have sat down on their tiny cot, wrapped his arms around her, and made sure he got her good and filthy too. Now he was so....distant.





Her throat constricted a little, and she looked down at her boots, frustrated. A long moment passed, and the silence was strained. Neo started to panic a little, and cast around for something, anything to say to her. He'd hurt her again, and Jesus, that was the last thing he wanted.





He desperately pushed hair out of his eyes, and then froze. There.





"Uh, I was wondering..." he started slowly.





She looked up to meet his eyes, and under that even, expectant gaze, he became inexplicably nervous. He dipped his head a little, and ran fingers over the rough edges of his data port.



"...would you help me cut my hair? It's getting really annoying. In my eyes. And stuff."





He felt like an idiot.





After a moment, she smiled. A real smile, and there was something in her eyes he didn't think he'd seen before, something he didn't recognize. She really was beautiful.





"Sure," she answered softly, and suddenly he didn't feel quite so stupid anymore.





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





Link slouched comfortably in front of scrolling green code, idly drumming on the monitors. He was half-watching Binary and Vector making a routine drop, but not much interesting was happening. No mishaps as of yet.





"Link."





He jumped, startled, and dropped the pencils that he been using for his impromptu drum solo.





"Jesus, Trinity. Could you make a little noise?"





A corner of her mouth pulled upwards a little. "Sorry. Can I borrow your scissors?"





"Hmmm...yeah. Go ahead. They're on my bed."





"Thanks." She strode off. Link shook his head, and turned back to the screens. He didn't get that woman at all.



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



He was making his way to the mess hall when he heard muffled laughter. It seemed out of place...lately the ship had been so quiet, so tense. He peered around the corner, and saw the door to the lav was open, light steaming out through the door.





"Neo, hold still!" More laughter. Curious, Link moved to the door. Neo and Trinity were crammed together into the tiny space, with Neo bent halfway over the sink and Trinity leaning over him. He leaned on the doorframe.





"What're you doing?"





Neo's head snapped up, and collided with Trinity's jaw. She grimaced, and glared down at him, but her eyes were warm.





"First haircut," Neo stated proudly, gesturing excitedly to wild locks. He looked about half done, one side cut back and out of his eyes, the other still shaggy. Link shook his head incredulously. Poddies get excited over the strangest things...he just couldn't understand it. Trinity grabbed ahold of Neo's shoulder, and pulled him lower again, over the sink.





"You're not done yet, soldier. Back down." The tone was stern, but Link saw the way her lips curled upwards. He decided to leave them alone.



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





He liked this. It was nice, and strangely intimate, with her warmth pressed against his side, slender fingers in his hair. He'd realized today how long it had been since he'd made her smile, smile wide and easy, and he'd been a little ashamed. He hadn't been physically distant, but he'd been so confused....and now he saw that he'd pulled away from her, and he wanted to make her understand she was not the reason. God, she was definitely not the reason. These dreams.....





"Finished," she murmured, her hand sliding down to rest on his shoulder, and he straightened to look in the mirror. His hair was very close to the way it had been before he'd been unplugged, and was surprisingly neat.



"Wow," he said, amused, and she smiled a little and pressed closer to him so she could meet his gaze in the reflection in the tiny piece of glass. "You're pretty good at this."





"I've had practice," she told him in the mirror. "I used to do this for Switch.." and she trailed off, breaking eye contact, her hand sliding slowly off of him. He caught it, though, before she could draw away, and ran his thumb slowly over callused fingertips. He turned to her, and spoke softly.





"Thanks."





"You don't need to thank me. It's nothing," she murmured so quietly that he almost didn't catch what she had said. Her eyes flicked back up to meet his, and they were wide and clear. Unguarded, for him. He could recognize the old pain, and saw new along with it. But there was such trust in that depthless blue...





He bent over her, arms wrapping tightly around ribs encased in muscle, and their lips met furiously. Her arms locked around his neck, and she began to half-drag him backwards, but they stumbled over the doorjamb and got tangled around each other. A chuckle escaped his lips, still pressed tightly against her own, and the ragged sound sent waves of warmth through her. She hadn't heard him laugh in weeks. She pulled him closer, and together they managed to get across the hall to their room. A booted foot kicked the door shut behind them, and the clang echoed throughout the ship.





In the mess hall, Link smiled, and dug into his dinner.

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





Panting, Neo collapsed onto the bed, and Trinity curled against him, her head coming to rest on his bicep, his fingers combing through her hair. He grinned down at her, feeling unusually playful, and moved to nuzzle her nose.





"You're sweaty," he stated fondly, and pressed a kiss to her hair.





Her lips tilted upwards, and her eyes crinkled. "So are you." She reached up to brush away the dark hair plastered to his forehead, and smirked a little at him.





"What?"





"Your first haircut." She ran fingers through the sweaty mess, so it stood up on end. He looked ridiculous. "You're just growing up so fast." He had to laugh, and pulled her closer, held her tighter. When was the last time they'd had fun? He couldn't remember. He could feel her smile pressed against his skin. They lay that way for a long time. Finally, he shifted her, so she was resting on his collarbone.





He moved his lips close to her ear. "Thank you." She pressed on his chest a little, rose up to meet his eyes.





"I already told you...you don't have to..."





He cut her off gently. "I wasn't talking about the haircut."



She searched his eyes, and then suddenly pressed a long, chaste kiss to his lips, a hand rising to cup his face, thumb moving lightly along his cheekbone. When they broke apart, she settled back to his side, head in the space between his neck and shoulder.





"I'm sorry that lately I've been so....." and he trailed off and sighed.





"I know," she mumbled sleepily into his neck and she trailed fingertips along his sternum. "We can talk when you're ready." He stroked her hair, and her breathing slowed, and evened.



He began to think about the words he'd never actually said to her, though in his dreams he said them nearly every night, when the dreams weren't filled with death. He thought them almost every minute of the day, and even more when he was with her, but he could never bring himself to speak them aloud. They never seemed appropriate. He'd been so close to saying it so many times....and now with her here, sleeping peacefully, legs tangled with his, breath moist on his neck...





"I love you," he whispered, and ran a hand slowly over the curve of her hip. "I love you so much." He liked the taste of the words, the shape of them on his lips. Satisfied, his eyelids drooped, and he drifted contentedly into sleep.





A few minutes later, Trinity's eyelids cracked open. He was asleep. She smiled softly, and tightened an arm around his pale stomach. She watched him sleep, his expression finally easy, until the fluorescent lights flickered on the next morning.





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





Link splashed cold water on his face in his small Zion bathroom, trying to wake up. It had been especially hard today..he hadn't wanted to leave Zee and his nice, warm bed, but he had a training session to get to. He leaned over the sink, and began to trim his beard, humming absently. The light flashed off a reflective surface, and his scissors caught his eye. His throat tightened.



He only lived long enough to have one haircut...



And he remembered the way they'd looked at each other. She'd only gotten to keep him long enough to cut it once. And then Trinity made him think of Tank, and Tank reminded him of Dozer, and suddenly he was sitting on the edge of the tub, head in his hands, thinking about how nearly everyone he'd grown up with was dead and gone.



Every time he thought he was through this.....



He was trying to get it together. Trying his damnedest. He had a little daughter now, and another on the way. How was he supposed to be a father to them, to forge on in this new life when the past wouldn't leave him alone? When there were ghosts waiting around every corner?



How the hell was he supposed to move on if he couldn't even trim his beard?



Frustrated, he hurled the scissors against the opposite wall. The bolt that held them together, made fragile by years of rust, shattered, and pieces of metal skittered across the floor. He slumped again.



A moment later the door creaked open. He stood, blinking furiously.



"Link? Are you all right?" He forced a smile for Zee, and bent to pick up the debris.



"Fine. I'm fine." She looked unconvinced, but he simply shrugged. "I think I might need a new pair of scissors."













-end