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Author's Note: This was written for the prompt "Sam/Tron. Post movie. Something dealing with Tron's inevitable guilt. Sam trying to make him see that he can't hold himself responsible for anything he did under the influence of all that corrupted code." at the Tron Kink Meme.
We Are Pilots
He doesn't really notice his restlessness. He thinks it's the winds of change, moving from largest shareholder to the man in charge of ENCOM, the wayward son stepping into the too-large shoes of his visionary father. He thinks it's the miracle that is Quorra, watching her wide-eyed awe and wonder at the world around her. He thinks it's the move from the old Dumont shipping compartments by the river to a loft downtown, a respectable home for someone who rides an old Ducati to work.
It might be the dreams and nightmares that wracked his nights for weeks and weeks. How does one forget the night he found and lost his father? How does one move beyond the aged face staring at him with so much grief, regret, and wanting, saying his name like he's just an illusion? The lights of TRON City reach for the stormy sky as he takes his first uncertain step on the Grid. Clu laughs at him as the Black Guard haul him away to the lightcycle arena, his father's voice echoing around the walls.
"I'm not your father, Sam."
He'd wake up soaked in sweat, sheets tangled around his legs and Marvin sitting at the foot of the bed, cowering and whimpering while Sam got up and went to the bathroom to splash cold water on his face and neck. Then he'd stare at his reflections, water sliding down his face and dripping from his chin.
He always shivered at the fear in his eyes.
It got better.
He busied himself with overhauling ENCOM from the top, diving into the work his father left lying around his old office and the dingy room under the arcade, trying to understand what Flynn meant when he said that Quorra could change the world.
He laughed the first time Quorra yawned, had a beer, had a cup of coffee, had juice, had a cheeseburger, went shopping, rode a glass elevator, found out that Jules Verne had been dead for over a century, tried out the dusty arcade games. He smiled as she complained about the unnecessary details that made up a User's life, from flossing her teeth to watching her manners so that she didn't offend ENCOM's new board of directors, tried valiantly to explain how in the real world a sentence can mean ten different things. He hugged her when she said she missed the Grid and her fellow ISOs, held her close while she cried. When she talked about the cycles she spent under Flynn's tutelage he withdrew deep into his mind and told himself that jealous was unbecoming.
Sometimes she'd notice his silence and take his hand in hers. "He always talked about you, Sam. Always said he'd give everything up - and I mean everything- for just one more day with you."
He'd look down at their linked hands, turn his over and lace their fingers together, and swallow hard.
In those moments he could feel the shape of the microchip resting against his collarbone, and would pretend that in a way his father was still with him.