I am steaming, a slow boil.

I can't get my feet under me, can't catch myself when they drag me into this horrible tiny room with its dents in the walls, holes from my discs Clu never patched even after he'd stolen the memory of how I'd put them there. Of why.

He always liked to taunt me.

I can't stop them from stowing me in here, can't stand or run or cut them down for all of my thrashing. They drag me bodily into the cell, fingers digging into my arms, their rapid cycling manifested by heavy breath in my ears. I loathe this place.

I loathe this place and they do not care.

I loathe this room because I remember it. It crashes back to me. An onslaught more than a memory, I know this room.

This was my room.

No, not this room. Room is the wrong word. This cell. It's a prison. Not a choice. Not a home.

Don't put me back in here.

This is the hole where Clu kept me.


He caged me when he didn't need me. His enforcer, his bodyguard, his murderer on call, his torturer. His executioner that he could take out and put away as he liked.

They pull me through the doorway. They push me across the room. I can't throw them off, can't break their gripping fingers or kick their legs from under them of unclench my jaw long enough to speak, to tell them no no no no, that I won't stand for this, that I won't stand for this . . .

I won't be able to stand this. . .

They drop me in a heap on the hard, jutting chunk of code along the wall. It is all that serves as a bed: a cold hunk of pixels so hard it hurts to lie on, protruding from the wall in space-wasting rectangular wedge.

I try to stand, to lift myself off this sad excuse for a resting place and hurtle myself at them. But I can't. I only succeed in rolling onto my side, a useless, helpless heap while everything I've managed to forget pours back into me in an unstoppable flood.

This is not how freedom is supposed to taste. To feel.

This is a lie and a tease and a cheat.

I was not supposed to come back here. To this. To captivity and rage and the crawling inescapable panic that is rising in my throat, panic because I can't move, can't fight, can't speak—

Clu erased my voice, once. Then he locked me in here, a shell of a program full of pain and rage and the weight of duty, made heavy by the need to serve to please to murder . . . left me alone in my head, choking on my silence to the backdrop of all of their beautiful screaming; a vision of perfection so fantastically warped and twisted and dark. A monster, a beautiful monster. A pathetic broken thing.

. . . A perfect broken thing.

That is what I was.


That is all I ever was, and the truth of it paralyzes me and I wonder if –past the cold violence of my snarl—they can see the desperation that must be hiding in my eyes.

Don't leave me in here…

Don't leave me here with my head. Don't leave me alone with these memories. Don't leave me to face what I am.

Nothing frightens me more.

Author's note: Many thanks to Lightdiscjockey for doing some final edits on this one on VERY short notice, and to Cyberbutterfly as well.

Sorry this is so short, but I am all kinds of stuck right now, so I thought it'd be better to post a short something than nothing at all. Here's hoping it wasn't too much of a disappointment. :P

In other news: I finally got an account on Ao3! I haven't posted much to it yet, but I'm going to start moving some things over this week so that you guys have the option of reading on whichever interface you prefer, just thought I'd let you know.

Anyway, thank you all for reading!

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