They jump him out of nowhere, five of them, just as he's parking his motorcycle in front of the old arcade. Sam's running late, and he knows he should have told Alan to just meet him here tomorrow, but he's so excited about all the progress they'd been making on rebuilding the Grid. Absent-minded, he's parked in the alley and doesn't notice the gang until it's too late.
Sam's no pushover when it comes to fighting, though, and he's managed to take out two of them when he sees the glint of metal. Knife! He dodges, feeling the blade slash through his leather coat, then kicks, trying to knock the weapon out of the thug's hand. Focused on the hulking, slower attacker with the switchblade, he fails to notice the quick little guy who darts in behind his back until it's almost too late. Spinning around, he swings his arm up, catching the blade in his forearm, the knife tearing a gash through his jacket and flesh alike. He gasps, the pain causing him to reel back, and then they're on him in earnest. One of the guys he's taken out earlier is back on his feet, his arm around Sam's neck, and though Sam struggles and kicks, he's soon pinned, his arms held behind his back.
"Shouldn't be out in this part of town, pretty boy," the apparent leader of the gang spits, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. He's a stocky, fair-skinned kid, younger than Sam, his greasy dyed-black hair hanging into his eyes.
"Think I've learned my lesson," Sam says, forcing a grin. "How 'bout you let me go and we call it a night, huh?" He can feel blood trickling down his arm, sliding under the torn sleeve of his coat, making the grip of the thug holding him slippery. If he can just pull free...
"Oh no," the other replies, twirling his knife absently in his hand. "You hurt my boy over there, see?" He nods toward the one still groaning on the ground. Sam remembers kicking out the mugger's kneecaps, then ramming his head into a brick wall... yeah. He isn't getting up any time soon.
Sam tries not to let the fear show in his eyes as he tilts his head up, facing the would-be mugger. "Yeah? He was trying to hurt me, y'know..." The hands on his arms tighten cruelly for that, and the knife is suddenly closer, tracing down the side of his face.
"Whaddya say, boys?" the black-haired leader sneers. "Should we bleed this punk?"
Amidst the cheers and catcalls, Sam finds his gaze wandering to the arcade, wondering if Alan heard the commotion outside, wondering if any help is coming, wondering if they'll find his body outside later and if Quorra will be all right on her own now and oh...! That hurt.
Sam gasps and jerks his attention back, the smirking face of the thug wavering in front of him. Glancing down, he sees the boy's fist against his side, but that shouldn't hurt, not this burning pain like getting cut with an identity disc, but then he sees that he's still holding the handle of the knife and it's buried in his ribs and now it's starting to hurt to breathe...
The gang leader seems disappointed when Sam doesn't cry out, a look of anger crossing his face. "Tough guy, huh?" Pulling the knife out, he stabs Sam twice more, once in the stomach and again in the side, the blade nearly as long as his palm digging deeply into soft flesh. Sam jerks and gasps, his head falling forward, and he's dimly aware that his arms have been released and he's slumping to the ground. Rough hands dig through his pockets, taking his wallet, keys, cellphone, and then boots are kicking him, hard, jeers and laughter echoing overhead. He hears the roar of his motorcycle No, no, that's Dad's, don't take that and then all is utter silence.
Curling up, Sam presses his hand and wounded arm to his side, feeling his t-shirt soaking through with blood. His head is throbbing, and every breath rattles in his chest. Coughing, he feels wetness splatter his lips, and he moans, trying to get his feet underneath him. The wounds in his side don't feel so bad, they don't hurt, but there's a numbness spreading through his entire body, and Sam's been a daredevil long enough to know that's a bad sign. "Alan..." he gasps, pushing himself up on his good arm, his throat raw. "Alan..."
He has to get inside. Alan is downstairs, working on code for the Grid. Alan can help him. Alan will know what to do. Alan always knew what to do, whether it was putting a bandage on a scraped knee after a spill from his bike, or giving him an ice-pack for a black eye after a fight at school, or taking him to the emergency room when he'd broken his arm. This's a little worse than any of that, Sam thinks, and nearly laughs, hysteria beginning to take hold. Somehow, he manages to push himself close enough to the wall to stand, staggering, stumbling his way to the door. Alan had left it unlocked, lucky for Sam since the muggers took his keys, and he pushes the door open, nearly slipping and falling on the linoleum floor. Blood is dripping between his fingers now, and he isn't sure if it's from his arm or his stomach or his side and it doesn't really matter, does it, if he's losing that much?
He has to get to the basement. Focusing on the glowing letters at the far back of the arcade, Sam pulls himself from game to game, leaving bloody handprints on the buttons and joysticks, making his way to TRON, the neon lights wavering and flickering in his rapidly-darkening vision. He throws his entire weight against the TRON game, nearly sliding to the floor as it swings aside, revealing the hidden door, but no, no, he can't fall, if he does he might never get up. The stairs beyond descend into darkness, tilting and beckoning Sam to tumble and fall, but somehow he manages to stay upright, leaning against the wall, leaving bright smears of blood on the brick. It's cold, far too cold down here, and Sam is shaking uncontrollably by the time he reaches the lower door. A twist of the rusty handle, and there, there's Alan, sitting hunched over the old computer, typing away at some new code.
"A-Alan..." Sam manages to choke out through the blood in his throat, and then he's falling, the room tilting around him, a rushing, roaring sound filling his ears.
Sam's voice is all wrong, that's the first thing Alan can think after he hears the door creak open. Even before he can turn to look, his heart is pounding, that oh-god-what-happened feeling thick in his chest, that same feeling he got every time Sam would show up bruised and scraped on his doorstep these past twenty years. But this, this is far worse, and Alan is across the room before he can think of standing, sliding to his knees on the concrete to catch Sam before his head hits the floor. There's blood everywhere, too much of it, soaked into Sam's t-shirt and jeans and covering his hands and dripping down onto the floor now and where is it all coming from?
"Sam," he says, cradling the younger man's shoulders, trying to get him to look at him. "Sam, what happened?"
For a horrible moment he thinks Sam's passed out already, but then there's a shaky breath and those blue eyes manage to focus for a moment. "Stupid... was stupid..." he murmurs, then coughs, blood splattering the front of Alan's pressed blue dress shirt. "Mugged. Me. Silly, huh?" His hand grips the front of his own shirt, tugging it up slightly. "Had... had a knife. Got me... doesn't hurt too bad though... think s'gonna be okay..." Sam's words are slow, slurred, obviously said with effort.
Alan swallows, gently shifting Sam to lie on the floor. Carefully, he eases Sam's arm up, moving his shirt to see the extent of the damage. His breath catches as he sees two... no, three stab wounds, now gushing fresh blood at the movement. Quickly, he replaces the shirt and presses his hand over the worst, trying to ignore Sam's gasp of pain.
"Nnn... hurts now..."
"Good... that's good... no going into shock on me, okay, kid?" Alan fumbles in his pockets with his free, searching for his phone... there's his pager clipped to his belt, his keys, his wallet... and with startling clarity, he sees his brand-new iPhone at home, sitting plugged into the charger. Wincing, he begins searching through Sam's blood-soaked jacket. "Sam... Sam, where's your phone?"
Sam's breath rattles in his chest again as he makes the effort to speak. "Took it... took everythin'..." He coughs, his body convulsing painfully, and Alan's hand slips, blood seeping through his fingers. Sam looks up at him, a slow, lazy smile on his face. "Wha'... you forgot yours? Heh... shoud'a... should'a known... betch'a got... that pager though... same ol' Alan..." His voice trails off as his eyes slip closed, and Alan feels cold dread grip him again.
"Sam... Sam! Stay with me!" There's no phone at the Arcade, he knows that, and in this abandoned part of town, there's no telling where he'd be able to find one. Sam needs an ambulance now, needs to be in an emergency room with doctors and nurses, not an aging software programmer with blood trickling through his fingers, Sam's life force leaking onto the floor beneath them. There's no way he can move Sam back up the stairs either... by the time he got him to the car, it would be far too late. "Sam..." He has to do something, or he's going to watch this boy, this man, his... his son, by all rights, bleed to death on the floor in front of him.
Glancing frantically around the room, he pauses as he catches sight of the laser, looming in the center of the dusty basement. He and Sam have made several trips to the Grid over the past months, rebuilding, recompiling the place, but this... this would be far different. A trip to save Sam's life? Was it even possible? He knows time passes differently on the Grid... could he bring Sam there and return to the world in time to get him an ambulance? Or maybe on the Grid, there might be another way...
Looking back at Sam, he can see that the younger man's eyes are focused on the laser as well. Sam gives him a small smile and a nod. "Y-yeah. Let's... let's go..."
He doesn't remember how he got Sam into position in front of the laser, sitting propped up in the chair by the old computer. There's far too much blood, and Sam's barely conscious any more, his face chalk-white and smeared with dirt. With trembling fingers, Alan types in the sequence that will activate the laser, then holds Sam's shoulders tightly as they plunge into the vortex.