Title: The Start of Something Dangerous
#: drabbles 11-15
Author: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Fandom: Tron: Legacy
Summary: 20in20, part 2. Round 3 challenge, 'Beginning.' Or, the five times Sam mistakes a beginning for an end and the one time he's certain that everything's starting over brand new.
Word Count: About 2,300
Rating: ranges, but mostly K+
A/N: Man, I'm way out of practice with this whole writing thing. The flow's completely off. It feels like I've forgotten how to write entirely. 5+1 format.
Story note: Part two of the drabbles, the next five. Same thing about voting: I'm fairly certain that there is to be voting of some sort going on from April 21-25, 2012 on the lj comm site: tron20in20. livejournal. com. There's more fic there, which is reason enough to visit IMHO.
o.o One o.o
The beginning of the end as Sam knew it started with the computer in his father's arcade of course, but the end of… well, he guessed, the end began with purring and a mind-controlled Tron – though he couldn't rightly say that he'd known Rinzler had been Tron at the time. It had been a skilled, orange-circuited arena champion that had drawn blood. It had been Rinzler who had straddled him, full weight on his thighs and identity disc poised and ready to kill.
So it had been more acceptable when a strange program had been the one threatening him and how being subdued and underneath that barely contained power had been more of a rush than he'd experienced jumping off Encom's tower, more of a rush than… and he didn't really want to finish that thought because he knew it was Tron now, and it was wholly inappropriate – not to mention embarrassing – to have those particular thoughts about a childhood hero. He couldn't deny however that he had never felt so alive at the moment when he thought he was about to die.
It was as though his brain wanted to catalog every single facet of the moments before his death. He remembered the helmet, seeing his own reflection, mouth ajar, gasping for air, fear so plain in his eyes. Then there was his blood, a mere drip of it while the rest was pounding viciously through his veins, and he'd never been so aware of his body, the circuits on his suit and the way he could feel things through the thin material of his arena gear. And the moment when he could do nothing but wryly muse, even with or maybe because of the certainty of death, that if heaven were a thing, he'd still probably be in this position – but with less blood… or not. Definitely less clothing and under different circumstances though.
o.o Two o.o
He hated to think that his first trip to the Grid would just be a series of near death experiences, but that summed it up rather succinctly. Because between the multiple kidnappings and the End of Line Club, Sam was getting tired of the adrenaline rush, confusion, and helplessness. He'd wanted to save his father more than have an adventure. Still, the next time the bitter taste of fear and blood filled his mouth, the next time he saw his impending death in the form of a rectified Tron in a light jet, he knows he should've just shrugged because of course it would be him.
His mind, however, had been more preoccupied with babbling thoughts that crowded his brain in a series of desperate and worthless questions. Why couldn't their jet go faster? Why couldn't his dad figure something out? Code a shield or something? Fix the broken plane on the fly? And, yes, he'd had a morbid moment of amusement at the pun. More importantly, why wasn't Rinzler firing just yet? The thought repeated itself once, twice, then terminated. End command. Time slowed to a crawl because he saw a motion that surely meant he was going to die but there was something else, a connection past the helmet, something familiar in the hesitation.
CLU's voice cut through the moment, yelling at Rinzler to shoot him down, and as much as Sam knew to brace himself for whatever blast would come his way, he found himself leaning forward, straining for a moment as his eyes locked onto the program who finally succeeded in making his heart stop with one single statement.
"I fight- I fight for the Users."
o.o Three o.o
Sam stood at the Sea of Simulation. He'd run scans from outside, from the console safe behind a computer screen and in a dusty basement that smelled of disuse still as well as a bit of electrical discharge. When those had turned up negative, after the fiftieth re-scan and the assurance that the grid was safe… safe enough, he'd gone in, unable to believe what the scans had reported. There were no signs of a user, reintegrated or not, on the grid, off the grid, anywhere. He'd chased that thought all the way through a devastated grid where programs were barely surviving themselves. Even so, they'd somehow found an equilibrium.
Everyone had found a way to survive except for his father. This… this was it again.
He turned to see a familiar face and had to do a double take because it had been more than a decade since that face registered in his mind. It took longer than he'd like to admit to respond through the tightness in his throat. "Tron." To see the familiar pattern of circuits emblazoned no longer orange but blue on his chest made him pause.
He wasn't even surprised, not scared, not … anything really. Until it came crashing in the next breath that he had lost his father again. He could hear his voice, regaling him with stories of the grid: the great friend that he'd found in Tron, the hopes, the possibilities, the future. Quorra was safe with Alan. The miracle and Sam turned and ran straight into the Sea, desperate to find maybe another miracle.
He didn't make it very far, waist-deep perhaps. He couldn't quite tell with the amount of water he was splashing in his desperation to dive in deep, as far down as possible to find his own miracle, to find his father alive and well. But there was a firm arm around his waist, dragging him back to shore against his will. And he flailed, swung his arms, kicked his legs because he needed to search harder, not give up, go further in. His elbow connected with something hard, a face, a nose perhaps, before his arms were pinned down. He was grappled to the floor and when everything stilled, when he had finally run out of energy, he found himself once again being straddled by this program. This time when he looked up, there was no helmet. He only saw strands of brown hair soaked and hanging limply down, eyes that held within them determination tinged with fear and desperation, and a mouth that was similarly panting for air. He saw Tron.
And all he could do was turn his head to cry.
o.o Four o.o
Quorra was the one who asked to return to the Grid. Sam hadn't been able to find a way to offer it sooner, thinking too many bad memories might be attached to the place. She seemed happy with him, learning the ways of the User world, and adapting in ways that Sam really hadn't expected from the same person who asked him if he personally knew Jules Verne.
He'd been hedging around the topic despite the fact that he tried to keep her informed of his goings-on. He refused to just leave her in the dark about what he'd been doing all those evenings like his father once had. However, just like with everything else with her, one day, she simply looked up from her bowl of Trix – she'd been drawn to the rabbit the first time they were in the supermarket and wasn't that a trip to the market he never wanted to remember again – and said, "I'd like to go with you tonight." All straightforwardness and honesty.
She'd made it sound easy, made him feel stupid for worrying so much about it when she'd proved over and over again just how strong she was, how she could adapt and grow and deal with anything. He'd only been able to gawk at her for a moment and reply.
It hadn't been that easy though, and as he stood shocked into inaction on the sideline of Tron and Quorra exchanging what had to be life-threatening blows and swipes with their discs, he could only watch while they destroyed the meager home base that he and Tron had managed to create, a safe house that was now in shambles. It couldn't be considered much of a battle though when Tron refused to attack, choosing only to defend and dodge in acrobatic moves that Sam still couldn't help but just watch in awe most of the time. This was not a time for that though.
He jumped between them when the moment presented itself and waited for a wayward punch or worse, the sting of a loosed disc, but neither happened. In fact, Tron had somehow flipped over him; one arm held out and pressed against his chest in some attempt to protect him, as though Quorra would ever hurt him.
Quorra didn't lower her guard, staring at Tron then Sam and back again. Sam grabbed onto Tron's arm to convince him to stand down but froze when Quorra pulled her disc back. Tron merely tensed and didn't relax until she reattached her disc.
She held Tron's gaze and said evenly, "What can I do to help?"
o.o Five o.o
Sam didn't have a backup plan for this one. Honestly, he rarely had backup plans so much as he hedged his bets and made an exit route. There was no parachute in his arsenal, not that it would have done any good in this particular situation. Either way, you'd first have to have an actual plan before making a backup one. He wasn't even sure what had possessed him to act anyway. All he remembered was being forced to leave the Grid again and how it had just been getting harder and harder to do so every time. Tron couldn't be convinced to leave even for an evening, and Sam couldn't press the issue because he couldn't explain why it was less wanting Tron away from the Grid and more wanting Tron to spend more time with him.
There had been nothing special about the moment. The light hadn't hit the security program in any special way and Tron definitely hadn't been acting any differently. He always escorted Sam wherever he went, especially when he was heading home. There were no lingering touches or longing looks – at least not on the program's part. Sam might've stared too long sometimes, but it was hard not to when, well, when Tron. One moment he'd been walking toward the light and the next, he'd given into his stupid urges and had finally gone and kissed Tron.
Hand gripping the back of Tron's neck, he basically attacked the program with his lips at the same exact moment that one of the alarms they'd set in the perimeter of the city went off. Obviously, the grid bugs would have to attack at that particular moment, and Tron had jerked away from him, practically running headlong towards said grid bugs.
And Sam had been there to watch him leave without a second look back.
o.o Bonus o.o
Sam hadn't been back to the Grid for the past two weeks and was still not ready to go back just yet. He'd been sending Quorra in his stead to keep himself updated and to make sure the Grid was doing fine. Seeing words on the screen was never quite the same as having an eye witness account nor quite the same as having Tron report to him in person.
And maybe he spent more time at the arcade ever since he refused to go back in, but that wasn't really his fault. He'd made a promise to never let his father's hard work go to waste, and he was just watching out for Quorra, since she'd gone back in for him. It was best not to leave the laser unattended. They'd still have yet to figure out a good way to be able to open the laser from within the system.
The laser hummed louder, and Sam monitored her transition. She was a little later than usual to return, but not so much that he'd begun to worry. He tried to stare into the code to see something more than numbers and letters. Tron would have escorted her back, but from where he was Sam couldn't see anything.
"Were there any problems?" Sam asked, swiveling around to face her.
"No, the upgrades you've done in the past millicycles have been most helpful."
But it wasn't Quorra who'd come back. Sam scrambled to his feet. "Tron?" He glanced back at the computer monitor.
"Quorra will be here shortly," he answered the unasked question.
Sam dragged the chair between them. He didn't really expect Tron to attack him or anything, but the extra space was very much needed so that he could think. "What are you doing here?" It didn't make any sense because Tron never left the Grid, never left his duty.
Tron stepped forward and Sam was glad for the chair or else he would have bolted for the door already – although, he did consider doing just that to avoid this conversation. "You have not returned, and though my time here is short, I wish to speak about…"
Sam cut him off, "Look, about that…" He gestured with his hands vaguely between them, and of course his eyes would be drawn to Tron's mouth, drawn to the way he was somehow still wearing the arena suit even though he was here in the real world. He stared at the material hugging every inch of Tron's body, not understanding how it would be possible to get out of them, but damn well sure that he'd like to be the one to find out.
He was jolted from his thoughts when Tron stepped closer, his hands placed on top of Sam's keeping the chair firmly between them. Their faces were close, too close, and Sam was going to have to start working on his impulse control because he didn't even hesitate to lean forward and kiss him. And of course in that same moment, the laser hummed and he heard Quorra gasp.
He began to pull away, thinking that they were never going to get any further than a chaste press of lips together at this rate when Tron grabbed his face and tugged him forward, wet lips meeting his own firmly, lingering for a long moment before Tron reluctantly stepped away.
"I must return." Tron shared a few whispered words with Quorra before she entered the few keystrokes that sent him back to the Grid. Through it all, Sam could only stare at him blankly.
When it was just him and Quorra left in the room, she poked his stomach. "Well?" she asked.
He cleared his throat, feeling his face flush at her scrutinizing look. "Well what?"
"He cannot stay away for long durations." She added thoughtfully, "Yet, but you on the other hand."
He was already waiting for the laser to fire before she finished her thought.
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: One more group of drabbles left to go. There is that extra little drabble here, but I needed it there. I tried to do a 4+1 but it didn't seem to work.