"No, I won't accept your apology, Dot. You know why? It's because you have nothing to apologize for." Matrix stood and rubbed his face roughly. "Look. This.. isn't easy for me to say.. but I'll give it a try." He let out a sigh, and with a worried expression on his face, began.
"I'm.. sorry. I never meant to hurt you, please, believe me. I was just.. well, you know how I was. Ready to go off at a flicker in the datastream, you know? The slightest thing could set me of.. and did."
Matrix stood up and walked to the far wall, making a show of examining it before turning back. He stood with his arms behind his back, and a concerned look upon his face, and Dot had a sudden flash back to her childhood, a half-hidden memory of her father looking very like Matrix did now. Matrix began to pace from wall to wall in front of Dot and Bob, talking while he went.
"Well. I was very much on edge when we got back from the Daemon war, and the main problem on my mind was 'what was I going to do now?'. I certainly wasn't ready to settle down into a business-like type job, I wasn't a Guardian," he nodded to Bob, who winced at the reminder, "and besides.. Andy and I weren't sure if we would stay in Mainframe. After Turbo's reaction to your offer to sponser me to the Academy as an adult, Bob, I didn't think I'd be welcome in any main system in the Net. The possibilty of returning to the Games had been in the back of both of our minds, it just happened to be back luck that our little.. disagreement was what triggered it all off."
"Disagreement? Matrix, we practically- no, we DID accuse you of killing your own child!" Dot held out her hands to her brother, pleading. "I wouldn't call that little-"
"Dot.. I overreacted. From what you knew, I had accedentally caused the death of a child. All I had to do was tell you the facts, let you know what had really happened... and I didn't. I just assumed that you would know-". Matrix broke off and rubbed his left forearm, right at the discoloration.
"We'd lost Kylla only a month before we jumped into the system where we found the Captain. We were just trying to get away.. drown our pain by immersing ourselves in the Games, thinking we could out-run the memories.." Matrix sighed and stopped pacing, looking far older than his 5 some-odd years.
When he turned back to Bob and Dot, is eyes were so different from what they had expected.. Bob finally realized that Matrix was no longer the young boy Enzo, nor Cadet Enzo Matrix, and not even the young hothead Matrix.. he was simply Matrix - the founder of a vast internetworked society that had been based on a random chance. Not everyone would have had the ability to see that chance, never mind sieze it, yet Matrix had. More then that, he had built on it, made it something that hundreds, even thousands of people believed in, lived for, and sought to spread to others.
Matrix was someone far greater than Bob could ever know.. and Bob realized that he felt honored to have known Matrix when he was a child. He felt an odd pride at seeing the result of a man's life, knowing that he had at least added in a small part to Matrix's life, perhaps even given him someone to look up to.
Bob blinked as Dot clutched his arm tighter, bringing him back to the present, and he realized that Matrix was still talking.
"..so there's nothing to forgive you for, Dot. And Bob, it wasn't your fault either - neither of you knew anything of Kylla other than what Andy and I had told you - that she had been our first child, that she had died, and that a virus was partly responsible for her death. Considering what Andraia and I had been doing since childhood, travelling from system to system, there was no reason for you two to assume anything other than that we had been travelling non-stop in search for Mainframe. We didn't really want to let you know that we had gotten tired.. and finally given up. Telling you the truth would have been.. betraying the memories I had of you as a child." Matrix winced, remembering a time when he had been accused of exactly that.
"But, Matrix, we cou-" Dot shook her head and tried to say something else, but Matrix cut her off with a movement of his hand. Dot stopped in mid-word, and that surprised Bob as much as Matrix's appearance had. Dot must have realized the same thing that he had.. that her little brother had grown up. She was now ready to accept him as an adult.. and she showed it. It was too obvious -not- to accept him now - he wore an air of authority like a cloak, one that spoke of long-term acknowledgement of his place as first among equals.
Matrix was no longer a young man trying to make a place in the world, he had found his place, and had spent his adult life knowing that he had discovered his true calling. This is what both Bob and Dot had realized, and they recognized it in each other, their newfound shared acceptance of the man who stood before them. Dot felt incredibly proud of her brother, and tears glimmered in her eyes as she realized that her parents would both be honored to know what their children had accomplished in life.
"Dot.. listen to me, please." Matrix stepped infront of her and took her hands, pulling her to her feet. Bob stood as well, and Matrix took one of his hands as well. He held them firmly and looked into their eyes, and spoke again, his voice ringing with sincerity.
"I can't forgive you.. not until you forgive yourselves. After you've managed that... then we can talk. And I'm certain that you'll find out I'm not as big a monster as you may have thought I was." Matrix grinned, and Dot smiled shakily back at him.
"But for now.. Dot? I haven't hugged you since I was a kid... could we.. maybe.. make up for that now?" The look on Matrix's face was so wistful that Dot surprised herself with a laugh before grabbing her brother up in a big hug. His arms wrapped around her, holding her tight, and she could feel the power in them as he carefully held her safe. User, but she had missed this.. missed the chance to think of him simply as her brother, not 'big Enzo' or 'little Enzo', but as her brother, Enzo Matrix. Dot stood there, hugging her brother tight for a few nano's before she realized that there were really three of them in the hug, that Bob had somehow found his way in there beside her. It didn't matter, Matrix's arms were big enough to hold both of them, and more. It just felt so right to have her brother back again... she looked up into his smiling face to discover that tears were sliding down his cheeks. She brushed them away with one hand, and smiled when he leaned into her hand.
"I.. I never meant to hurt you, Dot. I love you too much to have done that on purpose," he said, his voice rough with emotion. She smiled, and opened her mouth to say so when-
"MATRIX!" The doors burst open, revealing a wild-eyed Kendra. She was out of breath, but even so, managed to speak her message.
"You have to come.. It's Dana!"
A/N: Unfortunately, this is all I have left of chapters 20 and 21. Shortly after finishing chapter 21 I suffered a complete hard drive failure, turning my HD into a solid piece of junk. Let's just say that the grinding sounds coming from the thing when I tried to start it up sounded worse than shifting gears in a manual drive car without popping the clutch.
However, I did have both chapters posted for a short while on my (very) old website, and I know quite a few people read them then. Some may have saved the files. If anyone knows of anyone else who may have a copy of these files, could you please, *please* have them email me? If someone can manage to find them for me, I'll write them into the sequal. (Which I do have scripted out, but not written yet.) I kind of lost my urge to write Legacy when I lost the last two chapters.