The first thing Sam realized, when he and Quorra were un-digitized, was that he looked a lot like that old poster he had in his room when his dad disappeared. The second thing he realized was that Quorra was wearing his Dad's old clothes. The third thing was that he really wished they had come out somewhere more impressive than the basement of an abandoned twenty-year old arcade.

"So," she said, and looked around. "I thought it'd be bigger."

As if on cue, her pants fell off.

"This is the basement of Flynn's Arcade."

"What's an 'arcade'?"

"It's a place where people play games."

"I don't think you could have Disc Wars in here. Or did you mean computer games?"

"Yeah. But those are upstairs. Wanna see?"

"Yes."

"You'll need to put on some pants."

"These are defective."

"Of course. You've never used a belt before."

There was a certain amount of cinching, and tugging, and rolling.

"Done," declared Sam, and found Quorra staring at the computer.

"Strange," she said. "Everything I've ever known is in that little box. Why are you smiling?"

"Twenty years is a lot of time in the real world, too, computer-wise. That entire box could probably fit on this little box." He held up his Nokia.

"And that is?"

Sam cocked his head. "It's a cell phone."

She stepped next to him, clasped her hands around his, and stared intently at the phone.

"Kevin Fly-your father told me that they were much larger."

She was leaning slightly into him, and Kevin found himself, well, blushing. Funny. He hadn't been embarrassed when the sirens had stripped him to nearly-naked-actually, he had been thinking mostly about whether he was going to need a safeword-but Quorra barely touched him and his heart was in his throat-

Uh-oh.

"Seems easy enough." She tapped the touchscreen with her thumb. "How do you enter the disk sect-I mean, the phone number?"

"Press this."

"Uh-huh."

"And then you enter in the first three digits. I guess that'd be the cluster address."

"Mm-hmm."

"If you wanted to enter my number, that would start with three...one...zero...yeah, like that?"

"And then?" She looked up at him with those big blue eyes of hers.

Funny. He was suddenly drawing a blank.

"Pants," he forced himself to say. "You need better pants. And better clothes. And breakfast."

He had a few quarters, and he pushed them into Quorra's palm along with a burner phone. "You can just play some of the games upstairs. My number is 310-555-5356. Please don't go outside: this isn't a nice part of town."

"And?"

"Bad things might happen to you."

She smiled. "I can take them."

"Maybe. But if you lose an arm here, it can't be re-rezzed. At least, I don't think so. I'd like to see what you can do-um, that came wrong."

"I would be happy to explore my full range of capabilities with you later, Sam Flynn."

He paused, wondered if she had learned about double entendres, and then headed for the door. "I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Bring me back a McDLT."

Sam thought for a second. "They stopped making those twenty years ago."

"Oh. What do they have now?"

"Assuming I can find a McDonald's open at this time of morning, McGriddles?"

"'McGriddles'?" She cocked her head. "Acceptable. Hurry back, Sam."

Sam cleared the door, locked the grate behind him, and leaned against the lightpost he had left his bike next to. He hadn't exactly made a plan for what would happen when he got his dad out, and he had never expected to take Quorra. His head was still spinning in a way that wasn't entirely due to the speed at which events were moving, and he closed his eyes for a second.

She smelt kinda like ozone. He wasn't sure if that was just what someone smelt like after being un-digitzed, or whatever it was called. Was it really un-digitization if she never had an analog existence in the first place, just zeros and ones and lighted curves on black why was he thinking about this?

Sam jammed his helmet on, climbed on his bike, and left the visor up. Maybe the wind would clear his head.

Inside, Quorra chose a narrow machine, and pulled a tarp off of it.

Ms. Pac-Man.

She cocked her head. "Hmm."

At some point during his life of adventure, Sam had figured out where to buy things while the world slept. Between his own connections to A Guy who Knows a Guy and his Nokia N8's Ovi Maps, he was able to find all the shops he needed. The clerk smiled at him-more of a smirk, really-as he tried to figure out whether Quorra would need a bra, or know how to use one.

"Charge these, please," he said at the counter.

"Certainly, Mr...Flynn. Excellent choice, really. Other brands tend to, well, chafe."

Sam was two blocks away before he realized that the clerk had seen a man buying women's clothing at two-thirty in the morning and made Assumptions.

Somehow, there was a dude who had the tech needed to save information from a twenty-year old computer to a high-end smartphone. By contrast, a McDonald's that was both open and serving breakfast already was fairly easy. Sam wondered if they were competing for the lucrative insomniac partygoer crowd with Taco Bell, and scanned the menu. They were promoting some Disney movie about hair.

"Would you like hash browns with that?"

"What? Oh, yes. Yes I would."

He got two McGriddles for Quorra, and Egg McMuffin for himself, a smattering of hash browns, oatmeal, coffee, and orange juice.

The fun started when he tried to get it all on his bike.

By the time he got back to the arcade, he was somewhat uncomfortable from having hot food inches from his crotch, so he was a little distracted when he opened the grate.

"Quorra, I'm back, I-"

She seemed entirely unconcerned with the fact that her pants had fallen off again. This would've been disastrous enough for Sam's concentration even if the dust didn't diffuse the glow of the arcade cabinet to something soft and pink.

She turned to face him, and she smiled, and it wasn't the smug "Made it." smile, or the shy conversation smile, or anything else he had ever seen before. It was the smile of a young woman who had done something she was proud of, and wanted someone to know, and was glad that the someone was him.

It was beautiful.

Samuel Alan Flynn suddenly couldn't breathe.

"Sam! Look!" She pointed at the screen. "I got the high score!"

THE END


AN: There's another story with a similar premise that takes place after the film, and I honestly think it's better than this one. I'm not writing a sequel, so if you're jonesing for the continuing romance of Sam and Quorra, you can find it at bit(dot)ly(slash)h64Eqb