Part 5 - Reunion
After a few more nanoseconds, the hands moved again, lightly moving over his biceps, his forearms. One of them grasped his hand and pulled upward. He could feel warmth and smoothness. Something warm and wet, like little drops from a power pool, flowed in the cracks between his fingers. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was strange.
Tears? His glitchy memory provided the term.
Clu did not weep. That was weakness and Clu was strength...
No. Clu was not strong. Clu was brutal, but brutality was not strength. As Rinzler, he was so glitched, he didn't know the difference.
The hands had taken his own and enfolded it, a slight trickle of power flowing into him through it, and he gasped at the unfamiliar feeling. Something warm and soft brushed his forehead, leaving another kind of touch.
Clu would never do this, and he was so tired. Do you know who I am? What I've done? Let me go. Let me de-rez...
His audio processors started functioning. Though distorted, he was able to make out a few words of a soft, feminine voice. "Been alone so long.."
So have I...Physically, he was rarely alone. Clu would never allow it. But Tron had been trapped within the Rinzler shell, unable to act, unable to speak for himself and with no contact that wasn't pain.
The power that had been trickling into him seemed to be returning his functions. He knew that voice. Her name fought its way into its memory like he had fought the currents of the dead sea – Yori! But how? Her I/O Tower was destroyed. How could she have survived so long and not been found?
As badly as he wanted to de-rez, he didn't want to lose the feeling of her hands, didn't want to lose the sound of her voice. It had been so long since he had the capacity to want something at all...
It's a trick, part of him warned. Clu would have killed or re-purposed her.
The dampness trickled past their hands and down his arm, touching pathways that had been shut off and neglected as inefficient.
"All that is visible..." Tron heard her whisper, starting the prayer he had not heard in ages, and he ached to say it with her, wish them both to a time when the system had hope and the Users were infallible.
De-rez is safer. De-rez means you will never be used again. De-rez means you can't hurt her or anyone else.
A surge of power jolted through his hand, and he could almost feel her desperate attempt to pour life into him, a last-ditch effort, he vaguely recalled. He had seen it so many times – Program and Iso – trying past hope to pull a loved one from the brink. Sometimes, it would drag them both under, as they joined each other in the void.
While all the memories didn't rush back, the emotions did – the purpose, the light, and laughter. Oh, how he grieved for her when Rinzler was sent to pick through the remains of her I/O Tower. When the system had gone dark, he had hoped she was de-rezzed so that she didn't have to know...
The Program she loved has been destroyed. Spare her further pain. Let go.
"Come back to me," she begged, one hand grasping tight while the other cupped his face.
The universe narrowed to the hand clasping his own. As Clu's drone, there was no decision to be made. Now there was one, irreversible, decision gate. He could let go one last time, accepting the brutal peace and certainty of oblivion, with the distinct possibility that he'd pull her down with him. Or he could make the riskier decision to live with all he was and all he might become.
I choose to keep fighting. If there are no Users, then I will fight for her.
Want turned to will. Will turned to purpose. He willed his hand to close and complete the circuit. Surrendering in a way he hadn't done since his re-purpose, he let that energy and love flow into him. Tron gasped as his circuitry burned again, this time with indescribable compassion and longing. Sucking in a deep breath, his eyes opened and he saw her face for the first time in a thousand cycles.
Her wide, blue eyes were darker with sadness, her face leaner and careworn from whatever ordeals she must have gone through to survive. Her blonde hair was pulled into a thick, messy braid, and her gridsuit glowed with those beautiful indigo lines, including the signature mark of a triangle at the base of her throat.
The effort of transferring power spent her, and she collapsed. For a terrifying few nanoseconds, he dreaded she had given up her own life for his. He sighed with relief as she stirred and adjusted her position to lie next to him.
He touched her face. "Brought me back?" Speaking was difficult, taking much more processor resources than it should have. His voice was stilted and had Rinzler's tinny quality. Ah, but being able to say his own words...
She nodded, her eyes not leaving his. The circuits on their bodies were almost to the point of contact "We're in my Tower, what's left of it. We're safe."
The next question was much harder to ask. "You know?"
She squeezed her eyes shut and nodded again.
Yori's smile was sad, but so very her. "I couldn't let you go." Her lithe body began to shake, and her voice cracked anew. "I couldn't..."
Words being difficult and imprecise, Tron settled for wrapping his arms around her a little tighter, stroking her back, savoring the small joy of a gentle touch. He needed this, needed her for so long...The contact alone was enough to break something in him, and he found his eyes stinging as he wept silently - for all the lives lost, for all the cycles lost, for the pain, for relief, and for gratitude.
"There is a lot that can't be fixed," she warned, murmuring into his shoulder. "It won't be perfect."
"Never perfect," he whispered into her hair. "Never."
On a flawed and damaged Grid, the Creator and the Monster have been destroyed, with the Programs left to rebuild the world for themselves. The ruins of an I/O Tower keeps vigil on the edge of a poisoned sea. Inside are two broken Programs who have known too little peace. Eventually, they will have to face the task of salvaging what they can of their world and themselves.
For now, they hold each other as they enter sleep mode, and it is enough.