This story is not only a prime example of my own self indulgence, but my gift for the many awesome readers who have given Survivor's Tale so much support. You guys are the best!
This story is also, effectively, a follow up (I hesitate to use the term "sequel,") to Survivor's Tale itself. I hope it will be readable to anyone, but by nature of what it is, readers who haven't read Survivor's Tale may be a bit confused, and just in case, here's what you should know:
The setting is post-Legacy, in a grid which is falling apart in some ways, and rebuilding itself in others. It is completely without a leader, and although Tron is alive, no one but Yori is aware of it. She is also one of only a select few who know about his double identity as Rinzler, and that he was not in fact killed a thousand cycles before during the coup. At this point in the story, his discs have been restored to him, the results if which you will see. Oh, and he has been running around the grid, protecting it like he used to, but without revealing his identity for reasons you can probably imagine.
Anyway, I think that covers it, and I hope you all enjoy this!
End of Line.
Tron is already tearing away the short cloak with which he has been disguising himself as he enters the room. I can see in every line of his expression that he's getting sick of hiding, a realization which is unsurprising after the almost quarter-cycle which has passed, the entire duration of which he has spent executing his incognito acts of heroism, since we found each other again.
I wonder, however, what it is exactly that's finally triggered him. Not that I'll have to wait long to find out. He's full to bursting, radiating anger, murder in his eyes.
In fact, this is probably the most enraged I've seen him since . . .
Since . . .
I have to keep myself from wincing, reminding myself, again, that it can be nothing of the sort. Rinzler is gone. The tortured looks that pass over Tron's face sometimes, the shadows which flit past his eyes, the whisper of a snarl that likes to slip in under his warm voice when he's upset; these are just echoes . . . empty old nightmares that need to be ignored. Rinzler is dead.
Tron, on the other hand, is very much alive, and still beside himself with fury. I stand up from my crouch above my control panel in the corner to look at him, a frown crossing over my mouth.
He is standing in the center of the room; cloak a puddle on the floor in the corner, hands twisted into fists at his sides. His eyes; cold, hard, and dark with irritation, soften when they meet mine, although his nostrils are still flaring over whatever it is that's sparked him. He seems to be at a loss for words until I begin to move towards him, finally speaking as I draw up beside him. I rest my hand on his shoulder.
"The games are back," he says curtly, biting through his own words as he looks down at me.
"Oh dear. . ."Is what I'm thinking, but I speak calmly enough.
"Flynn's games, or Clu'?"
His mouth contorts into some hybrid of a pursed line and a grimace, his nose crinkling slightly.
"I don't know," he says, his tone lowered, the words grating themselves across it, "and I don't care."
I sigh to myself through my nose, and place my other hand against his torso. His arm snakes around my waist despite himself and his mood, and he glances at me before looking away towards some unremarkable point on the floor. After a moment of such staring, his features decompress into a more familiar look of vexation, one I am considerably less wary of. I offer him a slight smile as he turns to me again.
"Not now," I tell him before he can say another word. He simply stares back at me, expression flat. I press a fingertip against one of the tiny circles of light on his hip, ignoring him, and shake my head. He's glowing closer to gray than white, pushing himself as usual, chasing redemption at the cost of his own well being. How very, very Tron.
Without acknowledging his protests, I wrap my hands around his forearms, and steer him, however unwilling, towards the black square of bed at the center of the room, shoving him down into the cushions. He tries to get up again, but I stop him with a word.
"Don't," I tell him, enjoying the way his ever-guarded features cannot entirely hide the fact that some piece of him actually wants very much to sit back, relax, and do exactly what I tell him, "even think about it."
"Yori," he huffs instead, glaring up at me. Digging it way out from under the tiredness, frustration, and exasperation he is feeing otherwise, however, is a sharper, more tempting something. A little surge runs through my circuits even as I turn away, disappearing into the next room.
I return with two glasses of un-refined power, a drink that, though familiar to old timers like us, is potent enough to raise the dead. He begins to open his mouth.
"Not one word, Tron."
Standing over him and bending from the hip, I whisper the words in his ear as I hand him his glass. He is still sitting how I left him; essentially laying on his back, propped up in bed on is elbows. He takes the glass, and looks up at me for a moment before draining it. Smiling, I toss back my own, in turn taking the empty utensil from him to set it with mine on the floor. His circuits are already surging from the boost when I raise my eyes again.
A sort of rueful expression, neither a smile nor irritation, is on his face. His features are gentle, and he sits up to reach out to me. He takes my hands in his, pulling me towards him.
"The lady knows best," he sighs, grinning at me with one corner of his mouth, "I should just make that my mantra."
A laugh escapes me in response as I climb up onto the bed, settling myself in a straddle across his lap. He pulls my arms around his waist.
"I thought you already had one of those," I tease, planting a robust kiss on his familiar, welcome mouth. He returns it with unexpected hunger.
"One or two," he shrugs.
Laughing, teasing, and glaring at each other, we fall back into what is, among many other things, my favorite method of distracting Tron.