Diclaimer: Okay so I own them... No not really... One day I'm gonna get smacked.
Notes: This was really spawned from 30 minutes of sleep, 10 hours of work and a lot of sugar. Don't expect a lot.
If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a part of his own heart?
There was no competition or argument to be had; Neo spent more time plugged in than any other two people did anywhere. The exception was of course those people who were still hooked up constantly. Completely unaware of the world at large. Neo though clocked up a scary amount of time in the matrix and when he wasn't in such a state, then he was hooked up to one of the PC's down-loading god only knew what. Trinity was almost certain that he was a certified doctor in every state and had mastered every fighting style there was.
The matrix though for Neo was something of an addiction. He was there right now shifting through the lines of code...
The world for Neo had always been lines of code, even before he'd known that the world he lived in was just the sugar coated topping. Sad as it was technology had always been his life. Lines of code, that's the world. Neo reflected faithfully. He loved this world, he did. This world had an easy freedom to it. But he unlike most other people here knew it was unreal, these other people were no better than slaves. Double A batteries, but that wasn't him, not anymore.
Neo strolled along casually; there wasn't much he had to fear these days. A weekend market was set up on either side of him out on the footpaths, regular shops sitting behind. Their were precious few cars crawling through the street, most of the traffic being people switching from one side of the road to the other.
Neo stopped outside an ice-cream shop that rested on the corner. Ice-cream for breakfast his mother would have slapped him. Despite that fact he was back to walking five minutes later this time licking macadamia and chocolate cone. That was just it though even as he swallowed. Neo knew it wasn't real, yet that didn't stop the taste from dancing on his tongue.
Neo turned down a side alley, where he needed to be was across the other side of that building. It went about six storeys up, orange bricks crumbling slightly in places. A rusted fire escape climbed on wall. Neo glad that no one else was present as he stuffed what was left of the melted ice-cream into his mouth and wiped his cold hands down his pants almost subconsciously. Swallowing he started up the fire escape throwing himself up the edge from one railing to the next rather than actually using the stairs like a normal person. He landed on the roof, gravel crunching noisily underfoot. The sky was huge and blue overhead. He started across the flat expanse and stopped at a taunting little bit of sarcasm.
Neo stopped and turned, blinking in disbelief, he couldn't be seeing what he was seeing.
"Mister Anderson." The voice was deep, husky and flat. Everything he'd come to expect. Neo just watched gave no reply. It was odd and entirely unexpected, the agent just standing waiting casually. The suit too was black and the tie a deep blue. Whatever had happened to the grey. The glasses are different again, thicker, darker, more like Neo's. Changes, but agents don't change. Change would be against their very nature.
"Surprised Mister Anderson." Smith said lazily.
"Not really." Neo sighs trying to get under the others skin.
"Actually I'm kind of flattered, I don't think I've ever had a pet be so devoted." Neo spits nastily. Smith only smiles acidly.
"I think you're confused on whose master here." He smirks.
"Am I?" Neo says brow raised.
"This is my world Mister Anderson." The sky suddenly darkens, clouds rolling in like the tide. Everything starts to look washed out. The colour disappearing, Smith never really was fond of it. Clearly they're not in the matrix at large anymore but rather in a smaller side sim. Neo stiffens slightly unsure of what to expect.
"Everything here belongs to me. Including... You." Smith smirks. Neo can think of no reply to that, except to say that he doesn't belong to anyone. Only that's rather tired and old and in the end Smith's would be better. The agents cruel little smile twists even higher. He seems to take Neo's silence as a form of agreement or defeat at least. Smith pushes off the wall he's been leaned against and sighs happily. Neo steels himself for the eventual fight as Smith moves toward him. But the agent for all his posturing seems harmless. Neo stifles a chuckle; the last word he'd ever use to describe the agent is 'harmless'. But that's what he's being, totally un-threatening.
"Don't be frightened Thomas, I'm not such a cruel owner."
"Don't flatter yourself Smith. I'm anything but frightened of you." Neo spat, almost in the agent's face they were standing so close now. When the hell did they get so close?
"Then why are you shaking?" Smith gravelled. When he mentioned it, that was when Neo noticed it, felt it. Just the slightest trembling, god he even felt it in his bones.
"I'm cold." Neo snapped, angered by the agent's presumption that it could be anything else.
"Cold." Smith is even closer now, touching him.
"Yes your world is freezing. I..." Neo snaps. He's cut off by Smith's finger on his mouth. Neo stumbles back into the wall, the small stone platform hits the back of his knees and Neo starts slightly almost falling over the edge. He catches himself at the last moment. Leans perched on the edge and damn it Smith is still right in front of him.
"What is this? And why is it all over your face?" The agent asks his tone curious, insidious and a little bewildered all at the same time. His finger is sticky from Neo's lips. Neo tries vainly to grasp for an answer.
"Ice-cream." He finally manages.
"And it's all over your face because?" The agent seems truly baffled.
"Sometimes it just happens that way." Neo blinked, perched between his worst enemy and a six-storey drop.
"I suppose that explains all the sticky faced toddlers." The agent sighed. Neo almost thought it was an insult at first, but it doesn't seem to be.
He licked his lips almost nervously; this was not what he expected of the agent. He watched as Smith's look turned from bafflement to interest.
"Do you always lick you face clean?" Smith asked, tilting his head to the side slightly as if that would somehow gave him prefect insight. It was an entirely human action that offered neither knowledge nor understanding. It wasn't something an agent should do because it was neither logical nor practical.
"Usually." Neo said numbly.
"Does it taste better?" The agent asked suddenly
"Does it taste better once it's been around your mouth?" It was an odd entirely illogical question, which Neo couldn't answer. Despite its simplicity.
Smith waited for what seemed like eons, then when it became very apparent that Neo had no answer he looked down at his own hands, index finger still sticky.
Neo swallowed painfully as Smith sucked the finger into his mouth. His tongue rolling around the digit. He pulled it back out, looking somewhat disappointed.
"I don't get it?" Smith sighed.
"Really I don't." Neo licked his lips again, shifting uncomfortably.
"I was always under the impression that this stuff was somewhat addictive." He shrugged then and once again Neo is shocked by the humanness behind this.
That however doesn't compare with the shock that comes when Smith cups his face, hand resting under his chin. Neo clutches the wall sure he's about to be shoved off when the agent licks him. Nothing can compare to the icy disbelief of what's just happened. Agent Smith just licked his lips, agents didn't even lick their own lips, let alone other people's. But the wetness of it is still chilling against his mouth and there's no missing that. The bitter chill that seems to cling in this world and the distant rumbling of thunder all fade into the background as Smith's mouth traces back along that wet line, teeth scraping lightly.
Neo makes the mistake of letting out a shaky breath through his mouth. The agent seems to take that as an invitation and his tongue is suddenly twining with Neo's. The wall is gritty and rough beneath Neo's fingers and he clutches it desperately, trying to hold onto something that's not so incredibly surreal. But nothing here is real, which makes the kiss seem so much less absurd. The agents other hand pulls at Neo's waist drawing him closer, fighting and making a fuss seems pointless to Neo at this point. Why try'en fight where you wanna be. Smith draws back slightly both panting hotly, dragging in short puffs of air. No, agents don't breath either, but he is, Neo can feel it against his neck.
"Perhaps it's you that's addictive Mister Anderson..."
Neo sat up suddenly panting into the still air. Dreams... Dreaming... He thinks panicked burying his face in his hands. Neo sighs and falls back onto the bed, only he's shifted slightly since sitting up and he's too close to the wall, his head smacks against it and star burst before his eyes. He rolls over, pain searing his head and topples off the bed landing heavily on his knees and elbows. He lets out a groan and when his heads quieted to a dull throb looks up at a still sleeping Trinity. She could sleep through anything. Neo rises and leans against the wall in confusion. What the hell was that? Just a dream. He thinks wildly, a very fucked up dream. Or was it a vision? Neo doubts it instantly after all what scenario would have Smith kissing him on a rooftop. Tasting would probably be more appropriate. Neo immediately scrapes the thought. This isn't going to be studied or catalogued. If it's a dream then it's sick and disturbing and if it's a vision... Neo shudders... That's even worst.
Back Down The Rabbit Hole
And of course the universal question is...
Do we see what is or just what we assume is?
"Neo man your up early." Charcoal sighed staring at the matrix's code much the way Cipher use to. He's a new recruit to Morpheus's crew and Neo can't help but wonder if he's going to go the same way. Probably not, after all Agent Smith isn't exactly around anymore to offer bogus deals. Neo's thoughts are drawn back to his dream. He blinks rapidly trying to forget how the agent tasted. Impossible. A small and very unhelpful part of his brain informs him.
"Or have you like not slept yet." Coal breathed.
"Hook me up." Neo ordered.
"I need to see the oracle." He explained briefly.
"Oh good man, got a message from another crew who'd just been to see her. Said she wants to talk to you." Coal said as Neo hopped into the chair.
"And you were going to tell me..?" Neo bit, the air cool and gritty.
"Dude you were just in there for like two days I thought you needed some down time." Coal said lighting a cigarette, smoke pouring thickly from his mouth a second later. He was only 26 at the most and yet still he was short for his age, bone thin and frail looking, like a strong breeze could bruise him.
"Next time Coal she calls you come get me." Neo leaned back in the chair and felt the cold pinch of the metal plug being inserted into the back of his head.
"Bitch, bitch, bitch." Neo heard dimly as he disappeared back down the rabbit hole.
Neo's vision cleared and he found himself staring at the bland cement starkness of the basement wall. Piles hung squarely from the ceiling and the walls looked slimy and wet. A staircase, marring one wall. What a place to wake up to... Neo climbed up the stone steps and pushed through the door up top. Neo stepped out into the street, people shuffle past in an endless stream, yet he was definitely in Kansas... Well New York actually but you get the point. Smoggy unbreathable air, high temperature and rude people, everything Neo remembers it as being. Home sweet trash pile. Neo couldn't exactly say much though, he lived here mot of his life. Well sort of. Technically he'd spent most of his time in a tub of goo.
Neo walked the six or seven blocks to a familiar little apartment block. He took the stair rather than the elevator. Very much for the same reason that he walked instead of drove. Neo may have been the 'one', which he was still contesting. But for all intents and purposes he was still a child leaning to walk god only new what would happen of his control slipped while going 200 Kay's down a packed highway. He didn't think he could die in this world anymore but everyone else could. As for the elevator what would happen if he suddenly decided that the cables holding it weren't really there. Okay on the same token he could also decide that the stairs beneath him aren't real either but that somehow seems less likely.
Same dark tacky red door. Neo reflects as he reaches the apartment. The door opens under his hand, not surprising really Neo doubts that it's ever locked. It's warm, pleasantly so, as though the actual whether has no bearing on it. Fresh baking hanging heavily in the air. It almost feels like home to Neo, or at least what a home should be. Neo pushes the door open fully and steps in, the slab of wood swinging shut behind him. Agent Smith is standing casually in the lounge, children doing their tricks around him. Neo freezes for a fraction of a second. By the looks of it so does Smith.
"Mister Anderson." It's no less formal or threatening but it isn't as drawn out as it can be.
"Agent Smith." Neo says coolly, the cold ice of shock receding. The two give each other barely even a second glance, before Neo lunges at the agent. Scaling over a chair to do it. Neo's foot braces against the seat of the chair; he sails over the back and crashes heavily into Smith's chest. The two stumble back into the wall, Smith grunting as he's crushed between Neo and the chipped paint.
The children shrink back to the edges of the room not in fear but rather disinterested tolerance. Neo pulls back his arm and swings forward connecting solidly with the agent's jaw. Smith's lip tears and splits. Neo pulls back and swings again. Smith brings his palm up and into his shoulder throwing the punch off. He grabs Neo's shoulders and shoves. They pull away from the wall and stumble, trip. Landing heavily in a heap on the floor, Smith on top. The agent pulls himself up onto his knees. Both their glasses have been knocked askew, falling off at some point during the tousle, neither knows when exactly. Steel grey peers down into coffee brown.
Smith brings his shoulder back intending to throw a punch, its only fair after all. Neo's expression though is most peculiar. Smith jolt's and pauses as Neo's hand, thumb in fact, gently grazes his bottom lip, resting near the corner of his mouth.
"You're bleeding." Neo says in wonder his eyes wide. Agents didn't bleed, they were cut and hit and shot... But they didn't bleed.
"So nice of you to notice." He snarled and brought his fist down. It was caught suddenly by a dark brown hand.
"Generally I only say this to the younger children but if you boys can't play nicely together then you won't play at all." The oracle drawled. Smith sighed and sat up on his knees, each of which was resting either side of Neo's outstretched legs. He had no patience for this right now.
"Let's not forget that you invited me, I can leave." He growled.
"Don't fence dear, I had to invite you because you couldn't find me." The oracle said releasing Smith's hand. Neo had struggled up onto his elbows during the exchange and was now studying them both, his attention switching between their expressions and the small trickle of blood. It dazzles him for some inexplicable reason. The oracle seeming satisfied that the fights over steps back off into the kitchen. She stops halfway there and turns back to them. The children have gone back to their studies un-phased and uninterested in people twice their age.
"When you two are finished playing doctor... step in and see me." She said casually, then disappeared.
Neo blushed at the comment, but Smith didn't bat an eyelash, clearly he didn't get the significance of playing doctor with someone. Why would he really?
Neo's attention is drawn back to the line of blood. Smith catches his gaze and wipes his mouth angrily with the back of his hand.
"It's nothing." He spits shoving himself up and off of Neo. Smith follows the oracle's path into the kitchen.
"Like I'd care." Neo says with no intention of having Agent Smith hear him. He catches it. Neo pulls himself up sluggishly and traces the other two's steps.
The oracle is pulling cookies from the oven when he steps inside and Smith is sulking leaned against the counter. What had she said to him? Neo wonders mutely.
"So my two little love birds." She sighs placing down the tray.
"To be blunt on what's going on, there's a groups called the techno punks..." The oracle rolls her eyes slightly, showing her disdain for the rather pathetic name.
"They were booted out years ago, anarchists. At any rate they're been working for years on hacking into the matrix's mainframe. Their succeeding was never a concern, after all... Hacking the mainframe, ridiculous." The oracle sighed speaking very much with her hands.
"Now its not only a distinct possibility, its an almost certainly. Now if they mange it the Matrix is going to shut down for five minutes at least, which means no air will be pumped through those tubes." The oracle looked at Neo.
"People are gonna die." He stated weakly.
"Thousands and thousands... and that's just in the initial shutdown. A thousand other problems can occur when the systems restarts, after which they have control so we're all fucked anyway." The oracle started to make another batch of cookies.
"On the upside though I do have something else to offer..." She tossed Neo a folded piece of paper.
"What's this?" He asked, unfolding it. Parway Library, terminal 3.
"It's a small public library. Terminal 3 is always left on and is always out of order." The oracle smile, neo frowned.
"It shifts through the matrix's throw away codes before their deleted making sure nothing important is going out in the trash. Unfortunately there about a two-day delay between when the computer receives the codes to when it deletes them. The bumbling idiots steal these codes and then can access the matrix from any computer anywhere while they're inside. This library is the only constant for them." She explained.
"Why doesn't the matrix do something itself?" Neo questioned. The oracle half shrugged.
"Consider this a favour to me." The oracle sighed and Neo had the feeling there was more to it.
"This hardly concerns me." Smith grumbled after a second and the feeling slipped through Neo's fingers.
"You think so?" She asked.
"How is it my problem?" Smith growled.
"Normally it wouldn't be, agents are hardware of the computer. The computer restarts you all go back to whatever the hell it is you do when you're not harassing that general population." The oracle paused fidgeting with the edge of her apron. Neo has sunk back into the corner watching the two once more.
"But ever since Neo corrupted your data you've been booted out of the mainframe's hard drive. You are your own program. When they restart you'll be deleted. Gone forever down that hole like another piece of human trash." The oracle tormented. Smith's jaw clenched slightly but his expression remained reasonably neutral. His eyes that same mask of ice.
"Better that than things staying as they are!" Smith snapped storming out threw the bead curtains.
"What happened to him?" Neo questioned coming to lean where Smith had just left. The oracle tutted and slapped his hand.
"Neo! Would you appreciate it if I just told everyone your business?"
"Everyone already thinks they know my business." Neo sighed.
"And fair enough I'm suppose to be this big saviour, but why do I feel so out of my depth?" Neo asked. This being the first time they've talked since Neo's little bullet stopping escapade.
"Because you're not the one Neo. I told you that." She says simply beginning to spoon the mixture onto trays. Neo's mouth hangs open for a second, startled by the casualness of her tone.
"I told you kid, your not it."
"I thought that was just to..."
"Motivate you?... No, don't get me wrong Neo your special, enormous potential, but not yet... You're waiting." She breathes.
"For what?" Neo chokes.
"Another life, I'm fairly sure. You're special Neo, just not yet." Silence stretches as she fills the next tray. She looks back up at his morbid expression.
"Oh babe, you're feeling down..." She cups his cheek.
"Have a cookie and as usual you'll feel right as rain." She cooed. Neo knowing better than to argue took one.
"I can handle this." Neo said.
"I don't need Smith." The oracle pushed him towards the door.
"Don't' worry he'll come round and trust me you do need him." She said sending Neo out into the hall. He stopped abruptly as he found Smith leaned against the wall.
Neo's thoughts raced. How much had the agent overheard. Neo opened his mouth to say something but the oracle shushed him and sent him out of the hall and back into the lounge.
"You're feeling hard done by love, oh well." She sighed.
"Must be hard burgeoning upon being everything you hate. Being so close to human that you can taste it." She taunted.
"Tell can you smell it on yourself, the stink." Smith gave a growl and pushed himself up from the wall. The oracle pushed him back.
"Do this and all your problems will disappear."
"How?" Smith ground.
"I'll fix your programming, re-format you into the hard drive and you can go back to never having to worry about coming anywhere near individuality." She sighed.
"You can't do that." Smith bit.
"Dear, by the time we get to that stage that won't even matter." Smith gave her a questioning look.
"Beside what other choice do you have?" She asked. He sighed huffily. She smiled.
"Here have a cookie and go play nice, everything will seem brighter." She offered.
"I don't eat." He snapped and stalked away.
"You will." She sighed and this he didn't hear.
In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
"Smith... Smith..." Neo called sourly chasing the agent down a flight of stairs after he breezed passed him and out the oracles front door. The agent jerked to a stop at the bottom step and twisted around to face him.
"What?" He growled irritably.
"The oracle said that we need to work together." Neo breathed.
"Yes I know. I was there when she said it." Smith cut snidely and Neo has to grit his teeth to stop from snapping back, arguing will get them no where. Smith gives a nasty smile after a moment and pushes open the door.
"After you." Neo takes the offer and steps out into the lobby, heading across the small carpeted walkway. His back prickles and the hairs on his arms stand on end as he moves in front of the agent. Its strange this sudden shift between Smith and himself, there's another dimension that wasn't there before. Neo can't see it, but he can feel it... there's something that's very wrong here, or very different at least. The memory of last night's dream surfaces in his mind and Neo's cheeks flare with colour at the implication. At the thought that perhaps that could be... Neo shakes his head and fights the urge to stop and turn around...
Neo pushes open the door and steps out, intent upon holding it open so that the agent will be in front of him rather than behind and so that every hair, muscle and fibre in his body can stop prickling so acutely.
He steps out into the street, the day almost blinding overhead, Neo blinking slowly as everything dims into focus. Grey suits are the first thing that spark into his mind, the wearers looking just as surprised to see him as he is to see them. Then in a fraction of a second, guns are being shoved into his face. Neo stumbles back a step and tries to focus pushing away the shock, because really there should be none.
"Stop!" Smith orders as he steps out the door, which Neo had let close in his face. Both agents look confused and skittish. It's not just Smith! Neo realises as he watches more of an expression cross their faces than what should.
"What are you doing?" The shorter of the two asks insidiously of Smith with so much accusing in his voice that neo winces. Smith blatantly doesn't answer.
"What are you doing with him." The other agent repeats.
"Agent Jones, Mister Anderson will be joining us for a while... A very short while." Smith sneered moving passed them to a car parked at the corner, he stepped around it into the street and opened the back door, sliding out of view.
"Well that an unexpected turn." The taller agent frowned speaking exclusively to Agent Jones, or so Neo thought considering the two agents had turned from him and were currently sidling along to the Black Nissin.
"We've gotten that a lot lately!" Agent Jones frowned. Neo stared, just stared, because it was all too surreal... He looked at the car, was he really just going to go with them... was their another choice... Something was so terribly off with all of this...
"So are you driving?" The taller agent asked as they got to the car.
"Yes Agent Brown... if you don't mind." Jones intoned as the two reached the Nissin. Jones stepped around to the driver's side. Neo almost tilted on his feet, this wasn't right, it was like being in the middle of drowning then realising that you can breathe underwater. Not necessarily a bad thing, just not a natural thing either.
"Mister Anderson, you have to be in the car before we can leave." Brown informed quietly as though he were explaining it to a child. Neo blinked as he realised that Jones had disappeared inside the car as well and now it was just Brown standing behind an open door, watching him as he leaned against the window frame.
"I don't think I should... I need to..." Neo babbled thinking of how he had to think about this first, thinking of how he had to go out, see Morpheus... Talk it over with Trinity and the crew... On the other hand, what advice could they possible have to offer...
Smith opened his door back up and pulled himself back outside, looking over the hood to Neo who hadn't budged an inch. Brown looked at Smith fleetingly, questioningly then hopped into the car.
"Mister Anderson we are on somewhat of a time frame... in case you don't remember..." He sniped and Neo's cheeks colour slightly, because he's right, Neo is using time that they don't have.
"So I'll only say this once..." He paused as though thinking.
"Hop on the train or get off the tracks." He breathed finally seeming puzzled, like a child using a new word for the first time and wondering if they've gotten it right. Neo frowned, pushed away his insistent doubts and then made his way towards them.
"We're not on a train..." Neo heard dully from Agent Jones as he opened the door. The forbearing sigh though, misplaced and strange as it was, came from Smith's parted lips.
The next strained sigh came fro Neo's own dry mouth as in sat leaned back in the Nissin Smith uncomfortably close beside him. Even though the agent and himself were currently leaned against the doors, a large strip of dark seat between them. Silence hung thick and palatable and Neo had to wonder if he was the reason why. Did they usually talk or was it a more comfortable silence that accompanied them. Neo shift unsure of why he cared... They were currently sitting outside of the Parway Library the sun full and hot overhead. Sweat trickled in small rivulets down Neo's back and he swallowed painfully.
This was ridiculous, they had no idea when these idiots were turning up or even what they looked like.
"I don't get it, you guys are still hooked into the matrix aren't you?" Neo bit suddenly, his temper frayed.
"You never had problems finding us." Neo said the car at large.
"We'd have trouble finding you now." Jones offered and stopped at Smith's dirty look. The petite agent had turned around in his seat to an odd angle. Another unnecessary action, because having to look at someone while speaking to them was a human quirk that served no real purpose... No wait... it did... You could tell a lot by facial expressions, but those too were uniquely human. Neo shook his head clearing it, he was reading too much into this... trying to gain insight into something that was probably beyond his comprehension...
"He probably should know!" Brown said staring at Smith, meeting his gaze full on, whereas Jones had blinked and looked away. Good to see the old dynamics were still working... Even as odd as they were now behaving, Smith still seemed to be in the lead, the other two following... Though perhaps not as blindly as they had before.
Smith sighed and went back to looking out the window... Jones had turned back around and was staring out of the windscreen, but brown though seemed willing enough to talk.
"We're not connected to the matrix anymore..." Brown explained.
"Just us three... other agents are still apart of it..." He frowned.
"We think it happened when you separated Smith's code..." Jones added, turning back around.
"Somehow you corrupted the data, it couldn't be deleted..." Brown stated. Neo looked over at Smith, it was all very ho-hum considering, essentially he'd killed the Agent, ripped him to pieces and yet these two were talking calmly about code and deletions. It was so impersonal, so mechanical... Neo almost chuckled, he was definitely starting to lose perspective... these were machines, for all intents and purposes... yet... not entirely.
"So it was restored and here I am." Smith gritted suddenly glaring at the two.
"So how did this happen to the two of you." Neo pushed. They both shrugged.
"We were essentially the same program, perhaps it bled over..." Jones offered.
"We're not sure..." Brown added.
"But none the less we're separate from the mainframe now... it's harder for us to find what we want in it because we're no longer connected... it can't anticipate what we'll need." He finished.
"Can't jump bodies anymore either." Jones said rumpling his nose.
"Its a little disconcerting." Brown added, more to Jones than anyone else.