A/N: Tron: Legacy AU - Alan got into the Grid with Sam.
Inspired by the 'bondage' prompt at the tronkinkmeme, but it's sort of reversed, there's not much bondage and certainly nothing kinky. Unless you find excessive description of circuitry kinky. I just might.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. No profit made.
Double Portrait (raster graphics on OLED display)
Alan watched uneasily as his prisoner shifted, the program's black opaque helmet tilted towards him. The continuous grinding noise coming out of that helmet reminded Alan of the noises the hard drive in his old desktop computer made. The poor thing sounded as if it was on its last legs, but worked without a hitch.
Alan shifted closer to the bound program and the noise intensified before dropping down a level or two.
He eyed the intricate knots, reassuring himself that the rope held. When they were tying the program up, Sam made sure their prisoner wouldn't be able to contort himself free. They'd seen what Rinzler was capable of.
Now, lying on his side, knees bent so that his feet nearly touched his buttocks, and the rope tied around his ankles, torso - hands tied back - and neck, Rinzler wouldn't be able to escape or even move without strangling himself. Alan had no idea where Sam had learnt to tie knots like that. It looked more like a decoratively presented torture than simple trussing up.
Alan watched Rinzler and Rinzler watched him back. At least that was what Alan gathered from the angle of the helmet and the undeniable, uncomfortable feeling of being stared at. He cast an eye over the rest of Rinzler's armour/suit. It was eerily similar to his own. No broad stripes of light decorating Sam's own suit, or even Clu's. These were the thin short lines, the dots and dashes - tiny pinpoints of light in the all-black uniform.
Alan's eyes rested on the four small squares at the base of Rinzler's throat. They shone bright red, and Alan unconsciously fingered a similar pattern on his own uniform. His emblem was blue, though, and consisting of only three squares forming a small pyramid with the middle bottom square missing.
Rinzler turned his head a little. The angle made the black surface of the helmet catch the light and Alan saw his own face reflected in it. The reflection was uneven and fractured by the curves and angles of the narrow plates.
Alan blinked and remembering time was somewhat of the essence, looked around. What was Sam doing that was taking so long? He and Kevin should be here already.
Alan smiled ever so slightly. Kevin Flynn... now that was a real surprise.
He glanced back at the program and sighed after a moment. "Well, let's take a look at you, at least."
He had enough of this not-quite staring contest. Besides, there wasn't much to do anyway.
Alan moved closer, reaching for Rinzler's helmet and the program recoiled. If he could, he'd probably try and shuffle away, but bound as he was, he could only ineffectually jerk back.
"Easy." Alan was rather taken aback by the fact that he apparently had to soothe someone who not only hadn't shown the slightest hint of vulnerability so far, but was probably the most feared program on the Grid. That was odd. "I just want to take off your helmet."
That did absolutely nothing to reassure Rinzler if his rigid posture and the grinding noise - now more like a growl - from behind his helmet were anything to go by.
Alan felt around Rinzler's neck for something, some switch or a touch panel, that would retract the helmet, while Rinzler still tried his best to shrink away. As Alan moved his fingers over to the back and to the base of Rinzler's skull, there was a quiet snick and the helmet's black plates retracted.
Alan froze, staring in horror at his own face that was at least twenty years younger. And damaged as nothing in the real world could be.
There was a deep wound starting below the program's left eye - now milky orange - and running across his forehead, into his hair and ending somewhere in the back of Rinzler's head. It was scabbed over, glowing dull red, the edges jagged and pixelated. It looked like it couldn't heal properly. There was no code spilling, but the glow fluctuated, shifting from red to yellow and occasionally allowing blue sparks to escape.
Alan was startled from his staring as Rinzler's body suddenly bowed back, tendons on his neck growing taut, emphasising the rope around the program's throat even more. His eyes - both the healthy one, that was still a vibrant blue, and the damaged one - were wide open as were his lips that were trying to draw in air.
The circuits on Rinzler's armour dimmed and flickered as if the power was draining out and Alan noticed at last that the program struggled to say something. No sound was coming out of his throat, but he seemed to be mouthing the words that Alan finally identified as "put it back".
Alan hastily re-engaged the helmet and when it slid fully over Rinzler's head, the program's body went slack. He no longer trashed and the circuits glowed steadily red again, but the colour was muted as if there was little energy left and Rinzler simply... passed out.
At least he wasn't derezzing, Alan thought, still stunned by what he'd just seen.
A memory of a five-year-old Sam proudly showing his uncle Alan the action figures his dad just brought him flashed through Alan's mind. The figures were custom-made, they had names like Clu and Tron, and Alan had thought then that it was Flynn's idea of a joke to make Tron look like him. Especially when he noticed Clu bore more than a passing resemblance to Flynn himself. He would have never thought...
Alan shook off the memories and focussed on... well, it could only be Tron. Corrupted, damaged but still one of his best programs and Alan wasn't going to just sit there and stare at the abuse done to his own coding.
He gently laid his hand on Tron's chest, brushing the squares at the base of the program's throat with his thumb. They brightened a little at his touch. Alan could feel Tron's energy levels were still low, but he was in no danger of deresolution.
He carefully moved the unresisting body until he could reach the disc attached to the program's back. He disengaged it from the port and sat back, holding it in his hands. He noticed that the disc's inner edge shone the same dull red as the rest of circuitry on Tron's uniform, but the outer edge was blue. Similarly faint and muted but it was there and Alan smiled. Not all was lost.
He ran his fingers over the disc, trying to open it the way he saw Clu, and later Kevin, do it. He finally succeeded: Tron's holographic portrait appeared suspended over the disc's surface. The image glowed red and bore the same scars as the original and Alan reached deeper into the code, determined to fix it once and for all.
He didn't quite expect the extent of the damage. Some parts of the original code were missing, and the holes were almost seamlessly patched over. It was a pretty good job, Alan had to admit, but it completely changed the program. The most basic functions remained intact - fragments of blue separated by long stretches of red - but the rest...
Alan sighed. It was going to take a lot of work, but he didn't think he could just leave it like that. He glanced at the still unconscious program and amended the thought: he definitely couldn't leave it - Tron - like that.
With great care Alan placed the disc on the floor in front of himself. He was going to need both hands for this.
It was an arduous task. Alan couldn't even tell how long it took, but by the end he was well and truly pissed off at whoever did Tron's reprogramming. He spared a pitying thought for the poor bastard - if Alan ever laid his hands on him, he was going to leave bruises.
Now Alan's fingers glided over the code, almost caressing it, rewriting and restoring the healthy blue glow. He watched fascinated as the light from the circuits on his hands bled into the code, further strengthening it. Finally satisfied with his work, Alan closed the disc. He breathed with relief as he saw the red vanish from the inner circle, replaced by the blue.
He cautiously moved still unconscious Tron, so he could attach the disc to his back. When it clicked into place, its light flickered for a moment before becoming brighter.
And then it spread. Alan watched as the blue glow washed over the circuitry of Tron's armour like a wave of clean water. The pattern of the circuits changed too - the barely there commas of light on his shins elongated, forming lines that ran from Tron's knees, along the top of his feet and down to his toes.
Alan detached his own disc and cut through the ropes binding the program. He had no intention of allowing Tron to wake up trussed like a victim of some kinky game.
As he reached over to cut through the rope at Tron's back, he could see other circuits appearing. The twin circles low on Tron's back were now connected by two lines running up at an angle and merging into one stripe covering the program's spine. When that line reached the armour's collar and the back of Tron's skull, the helmet retracted.
The wound was healing, the pixels filled the damaged area, reconstructing healthy, smooth skin.
The process was over in a matter of moments and although Alan watched his program like a hawk through it all, he saw not even the slightest twitch. The changes were outwardly completed, but it looked like it might take a while for Tron's functions to get back on-line.
Alan settled down to wait, touching Tron's shoulder or his hand from time to time, as if to reassure himself the program was still there. He reached up to Tron's hair, checking if the wound was well and truly gone and breathed a little easier seeing that it really was.
When he was withdrawing his hand, a small electrostatic discharge sparked off his fingers into Tron's hair and that seemed to end the rebooting process.
The program opened his eyes. Alan was still hovering over him so he saw the exact moment the recognition set.
"Alan_1," Tron breathed, lips parting in a smile. The momentary joy at discovering his user was, however, swiftly followed by the look of horror. Tron remembered himself and all he'd done.
Alan didn't remove the memories, storing them instead in a separate file. Deleting the history would serve no purpose and although Alan might have liked to spare his program the inevitable pain and guilt over what he did as Rinzler, he knew Tron would eventually come out of it stronger. Growth and experience were not always pleasant things even when they were necessary.
"Alan_1, I have failed you." Tron was looking up at him, distress in his - once again both - blue eyes. "There are no words—"
"Hush." Alan laid his hand on the program's chest. The circuit that ended just below his wrist connected to one of the four squares forming a small T at the base of Tron's throat and a pulse of gentle energy went through the program. It was... soothing.
Tron blinked and Alan smiled. "Welcome back."