Title: Lines

Author: SilverAshes

Rating: M

Category: Drama/Romance

Summary: In the beginning, there were only lines between them.

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Don't claim to. All hail the almighty Wachowskis for their ingenious creations. I'm just taking them for a walk while Warner Brothers is counting the takings. Don't even bother trying to sue, because I'm sure that the court case will cost more than the 50c you'll get from my dwindling bank account at the end of it.

A/N: Just a bit of a ramble from my muse – a word-based case study and a collection of short ideas all colliding in my head.


The magical concept of never ending numbers was rounded off inside the machine system and the simplest shape – the circle – ceased to exist. An irony, that the world constructed around pure mathematical perfection could never perfectly describe the world it was supposed to represent. Smooth curves were replaced by sharply interpolated lines, and the latticelike complexity of existence replaced the once leisurely flow of life.

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In the beginning, there were only lines between them. Hundreds of them, unspoken and unexplained and totally unbreakable. Intangible.

Like her, really.

Aboard the Neb, she was a series of flows and troughs and icy crests breaking on a bitter shore. He found the curves of her words and her shoulders equally intriguing and ultimately unattainable. Trixside, the natural beauty was rendered into a series of angles and planes and not-quite-so-smooth silence and she's still the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

The lines of coding falling before her were a great waterfall of deceit and manipulation. It's an elaborate game of imperfect noughts and crosses with an infinite number of solutions that never lead to anywhere.

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She watches as he trains day after day in the dojo, slamming into walls and being pelted into the floor. Landing hard, the lines on the matting beneath him begin to swim as he passes out. Before long, he's dumped on his bed, and later opens his eyes to the rusty joins in the ceiling. Over the next few days, he's so tired he can hardly tell where he is, apart from the constant of roof or floor and those edges which blur and unblur between lucidity and slumber.

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He doesn't know anything about this world he's been thrust into and he wants to learn. He really does. But he's so naive and they're all so tired of the prophecy and so quick to remind him how idealistic he is. He opens his mouth, they shoot him down, he gets up and soldiers on.

But under her pale blue scrutiny, when she's got him in her sights and he's caught in her line of fire, he falls forever.

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The borders between their physical spaces cordon off neatly the-newbie and the-second-in-command. It's like living inside a fucking tin can, with the sharp, jutting edges worked into rudimentary smoothness. Steel separates them all, and thin though it is, its presence is unmistakable and unavoidable. He's standing at one end of the hallway, staring down the long parallel walls of metal into the darkness at the other end. He can faintly make out a line of light under her door, perpendicular to the hallway thoroughfare. They're at right angles again.

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But in their dreaming state, this breath, that touch and those eyes are never far away. Intangible lines separating them in life are blurred and eventually crossed by the deceptive workings of the subconscious. They can feel everything heightened a thousandfold, and in their minds, when they are twisted and contorted around each other, it's like nothing on this Earth. It's fire and ice and he tastes salt and she tastes copper and it's black and white and full spectrum colour all at once and it's exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely agonising because it's love and loss and fear and need and they don't know they're dreaming but they never want to wake up and when he kisses her she looks into his eyes-

and can't say it.

And it all happens in the space of a heartbeat.

The irony is that the only time they are alive is in their dreams.

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When he dies, he's almost in her reach and suddenly her mind goes blank. The only event that registers is the horrific wail from his monitor and the stark profile of the flatline, and she begins to feel the arm of the chair split and tear underneath her fingernails.

Afterwards, when the adrenaline has seeped away, the pounding in her head has eased, and he's been taken away to be given something for the pain, she has no idea what to do with herself. Her barriers creep up again and suddenly she's lost inside the ship she knows so well. Slinking away to smoke in the engine room seems a little desperate and there are only so many times she can walk around the core without making it obvious that she's pacing. Without becoming a fucking coward. In the end, she returns to her room and when she reaches for the door, her hand stops as she realises it is shaking. Shit. The tiny wrinkles that run around her knuckles are far more ingrained than she remembers, and to some degree, she realises, are a reflection of what has happened to her life as a whole.

Once she steps beyond the threshold, she slams the door to vent some of the emotion that's riding high inside her. It cuts her so fucking deep to realise that her eyes are stinging - with hatred for a traitorous bastard and anguish for almost losing the love of her life - and she swallows hard before it all gets out of control.

This time her own rules of engagement take over automatically and the warrior inside her saves the woman before she completely unravels.

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The first time for real is better than the dreams, though they had never imagined it possible. The firelight interlaces, the flames bleed through each other, the room is doused in an ethereal glow. Shadowy outlines dance across the walls around them and the stone ceiling above them seems to shapechange in the flickers.

They both bear scars and in the moments of discovery, fingers trace the borders between healed and unhealed skin. Bullet traces slice across arms and legs and they're a mess made of two people and there's no telling where one ends and the other begins.

There's the fire and ice, the copper and salt, but this time there's real heat, real sweat and real tear stains on their skin. It's real needs and real wants, and underneath it all, it's real love.

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The lines that exist around us can become the boundaries that segregate us, or the connections that inextricably bind us.

It's your own choice.